Idustry Eye: Shop Talk - Understanding Postal, Letter to the Editor
The rules affect retailers who mail store circulars via Standard mail as well. Catalog mailers should encourage their printers to find out if their designs are likely to pass the new droop test; if they don’t, the consequences in postage could be huge.
The USPS flats deflection test (aka, the “droop test”) has been in effect for several years. But earlier this year, the USPS revised the rules so catalogs and other flat-sized mail pieces now are required to be even less flimsy than before. The USPS says the change is designed to make the pieces run through its equipment more easily with less damage.
Effective Jan. 4
The new rules take effect Jan. 4, three months later than the original September 2009 implementation date, following protests from mailers and their associations. Many catalog mailers and their printers are re-evaluating their designs to ensure compliance.
The rules apply to all catalogs and magazines except those mailed at USPS saturation or high-density, carrier-route prices. The revision to the rule changes the four-inch droop allowance to three inches and eliminates the current exception for oblong pieces — i.e., those with a bound edge on the shorter side. Oblong pieces could still qualify by adding a tab to the open edges opposite the bound edge, or by other design changes.
Oblong designs aren’t the only ones that risk failing the test. Tabloids, press-pasted mail pieces, pieces with lightweight cover stocks and interior page stocks, even blow-ins, can affect a catalog’s ability to pass the test.
Unfortunately, the USPS has yet to communicate any official information on the consequences of a failed test, how it’ll determine whether pieces have passed the test or any process for pieces to be prequalified prior to production.
—Kathy J. Siviter, president, Postal Consulting Services (kathys@postal