Understanding Postal: Beyond Rising Postal Rates
The USPS will eliminate all automation-related discounts for mail that exceeds the maximum dimensions of an AFSM 100-eligible piece, but falls within the bounds specified for mail processed on the Universal Flat Sorting Machine 1000 (UFSM 1000). In other words, those nice, flat-size catalogs that exceeded the AFSM 100 maximum permissible mail-piece thickness of three-quarters of an inch, but fell within the UFSM 1000 maximum thickness of 1.25 inches no longer will qualify for automation rates. All UFSM 1000-eligible mail pieces now will be considered nonautomatable mail.
In this case, the USPS is distinguishing flats eligibility according to two new criteria. The first is for mail that meets the maximum permissible dimensions for AFSM 100 mail processing but doesn’t carry a barcode. This category of mail will be known as nonautomation machinable flats.
Yet another category will exist for mail pieces that don’t conform to the dimensions eligible for AFSM 100 processing, and these will be known as Not Flat Machinable (NFM) Flats/Parcels. This proposed category most likely would include pieces that are rigid (e.g., prepared in boxes or other rigid containers) and pieces smaller than 5-inches-by-6-inches, or more than 12-inches-by-15-inches.
To make matters even more difficult to discern, the USPS is proposing to make a further distinction between mail that it would consider NFM flats (“hybrid flats”) and NFM parcels (“hybrid parcels”). The only reason for making such a distinction is to signal for flats and parcels at least one more evolution in classification that fully distinguishes the cost and processing differences inherent in flats and parcels; a decision, it says, that is being put off to another day simply to reduce “rate shock.”
What this means for catalogers is simple: Do whatever you can to reconfigure your catalog pieces to qualify for automation processing. If you decide not to do so, you had better have a very good business reason, because the price you’ll have to pay for this mail will be considerably higher than for
automatable flat-size mail.