Understanding Postal: Biggest Rate Case Threat? Regulatory Changes
Usually when we talk about catalogs and postal rate cases, we tend to gloss over the many regulatory details that dictate how new rates will be implemented by the U.S. Postal Service. In many cases, these regulations can have an even greater impact on catalogers than the rates themselves. Regulations can add costs to mail preparation and can detail a host of reasons for not qualifying mail for entry at the most desirable rates.
Although some mailers are smart enough to read the rules the USPS proposes as its regulatory implementation plan, many don’t. For some inexplicable reason, they leave attending such details to their printers or other service providers.
Unfortunately, printers and service providers are like the tail on a dog; they can wag, but they can’t make the dog move once its paws have been set on the ground. There is one set of regulations that should be giving some mailers the willies: the regulations the USPS has planned governing mailer addressing practices.
Know and Use CASS
By now, every mailer should know that to qualify for the lowest possible automation rates, all addresses used in a mailing must be processed using CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System) certified software. CASS software generally is prepared by the USPS for more general use over periods called cycles. The next critical CASS cycle as far as the 2006 rate case (known as R2006) rates are concerned is the August 2007 cycle, also called the CASS Cycle L.
The timing of the release of this information to software providers is key. At least 90 days are needed to ensure the work will be done in time and with the quality it deserves. According to the current schedule, the CASS release is scheduled for May 1.
Unfortunately, the Postal Service has been signaling that it will implement the 2007 postal rate increases on May 6. That gives mailers precious little time to incorporate the necessary CASS Cycle L changes.