A Mailer's Take on the State of Postal Mailings, Part 2
In our April 21 edition, we caught up with Allen Abbott, EVP/COO at Paul Fredrick MenStyle, a Fleetwood, Pa.-based marketer of men’s apparel, who shared his views on where the U.S. Postal Service is headed and how catalog mailers fit into the picture. Here's part 2 of that interview. (For part 1, click here.) —Paul Miller
CS: What prospects do catalogers face during the next several years, and what do they need to do to prepare?
AA: As I'm sure most readers are aware, the USPS is suffering significant losses during these difficult economic times. The postmaster general has gone before Congress to request relief from the “double funding” requirement that it currently faces for retiree health benefits. He's also indicated that widespread changes may be required, such as reducing the six-day-per-week delivery requirement.
This is a time of challenge and opportunity. If the catalog community doesn't participate in the ongoing dialog on the future of the Postal Service, changes will be made that hurt our ability to use the mail even more.
If the USPS isn't successful in dramatically reducing its costs, and economic conditions remain stagnant, I anticipate an exigent (emergency) rate case in the next few years, maybe even later this summer. This type of rate-setting procedure has no CPI cap and reverts to many of the processes existent under the old rate-setting methodology. It becomes “dog eat dog” with all of the competing mailing interests fighting for their own self-interest. If this occurs, catalogers will require a significant war chest to make certain that we're not once again victims of exorbitant rate increases.
CS: Does this war chest exist today?
AA: No, not to my knowledge.
CS: Is there anything else catalogers should be doing?
AA: Ultimately, it's Congress that makes the final decisions on postal policy. Catalogers must build a relationship with their local member of Congress by getting to know them and making sure they understand the jobs their businesses create in their districts. Ask for their support for H.R. 22 (www.apwu.org/issues-hr22/hr22.pdf) in the House, which provides a measure of relief from the double funding of retiree health care costs, money that comes directly out of the pockets of mailers.