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Understanding Postal: Biggest Rate Case Threat? Regulatory Changes
April 1, 2007

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

Cataloger Spotlight: Lillian Vernon
April 1, 2007

Having topped out at $287 million nearly six years ago, Lillian Vernon’s sales have been falling ever since; it’s expected to finish out its fiscal year at about $170 million. But the bleeding could stop soon. A public company until 2003, the general mer-chandise cataloger was sold to investment conglomerate Direct Holdings, led by media company Zelnick Media. But despite an aggressive game plan to broaden Lillian Vernon’s reach, Direct Holdings’ initiatives largely backfired. Direct Holdings bailed out in May 2006 and sold Lillian Vernon to investment firm Sun Capital Partners, which installed former Miles Kimball CEO Mike Muoio to turn the company

Postal Matters: NEMOA Town Hall Meeting Brings Out Cost-saving Ideas, Old & New
March 27, 2007

In a jam-packed emergency town hall meeting organized during last week’s NEMOA conference in Cambridge, Mass., to address the impending huge postage increases, catalogers and vendors present tossed out myriad ideas. Some are revolutionary, some revisit past practices, albeit in a modern way. Naturally, not many of them weren’t fully hashed out, but some could have merit for your company, some might be a little obvious (but watch for a new twist), some not so obvious. Take your pick. 1. Find ways to do more co-mailing. Find noncompetitive co-mailing candidates with your printer, pointed out the meeting’s leader, Russ Gaitskill, president of the Garnet Hill

Postal Governors ‘Protest’ Catalog Rates, But Set May 14 for Rate Hike
March 19, 2007

Although the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors today approved most of the rates recommended by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) last month, they asked the Commission to re-think the whopping catalog rates the PRC stunned the industry with, accepting them “under protest.” In making the announcement today in a teleconference, James Miller III, the chairman of the postal governors, said the Board asked that the Commission “reconsider certain issues” regarding Standard Mail flats as well as the First Class nonmachinable surcharge rate and the Priority Mail flat-rate box. Miller tempered any possible enthusiasm of a modification of the catalog rates, warning that the Commission could

Before the Postal Storm Hits...What to Do Now
March 9, 2007

Plenty of mailers got their letters in to the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors by the March 8 deadline, some protesting the horrific catalog postal rate increases recommended by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). In fact, I checked with the Governors’ office this morning (March 9), and heard that the office received more than 1,000 letters — though not all necessarily concerning the killer catalog rates. That’s a nice big number indeed, but I’m taking a glass half empty approach to this edition of The Corner View. That is, let’s go on the assumption that these unfair rates will be accepted by

Before the Postal Storm Hits...What to Do Now
March 9, 2007

Plenty of mailers got their letters in to the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors by the March 8 deadline, some protesting the horrific catalog postal rate increases recommended by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). In fact, I checked with the Governors’ office this morning (March 9), and heard that the office received more than 1,000 letters — though not all necessarily concerning the killer catalog rates. That’s a nice big number indeed, but I’m taking a glass half empty approach to this edition of The Corner View. That is, let’s go on the assumption that these unfair rates will be accepted by

Postal Rate Shock, Now What? Four Ways to Prepare
March 6, 2007

Postal experts at WindowBook, a Cambridge, Mass.,-based postal software solutions provider, urge mailers to start examining mailing systems well before the new rates are implemented in May. In a new report, WindowBook specialists offer these tips on how mailers can get through the postal rate increases by knowing what to look for in their mailing systems. 1. Make sure your software can easily adapt to changes. The WindowBook report says your mailing software should be able to calculate the new rates and produce updated PAVE-approved U.S. Postal Service forms. (PAVE is a voluntary testing program offered by the Postal Service for evaluating presort software

PRC POSTAL RATE MESS: How’d This Slip Under the Radar Screen?
March 5, 2007

There’s a bit of irony as to how the mood among catalogers, printers, industry groups and the like shifted so radically from the assorted kudos to the PRC last Monday after it released its recommendations to the desperate situation mailers find themselves in right now. Word started spreading late last week during a retirement party for outgoing PRC chairman George Omas. “We all first saw drop-ship discounts increase, which was good,” says Joe Schick, director of postal affairs for printer Quad/Graphics, who was at the reception. “But then it seemed as though every analysis we ran on catalog rates, it got worse and worse. Maybe

POSTAL RATE CASE UPDATE: Catalogers Must Take Immediate Action on USPS-PRC Rate Diferences, Vendors Say
March 4, 2007

Among several catalogers and printers who last week uncovered a sizable difference among rate increases that the U.S. Postal Service had requested in its original R2006 rate case and those that the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) on Feb. 26 recommended, was Don Landis, vice president of postal affairs for printer Arandell Corp. “This increase will have a serious, adverse effect on the catalog industry,” he says, referring to the rates for some catalog categories if implemented per the PRC’s recommendations. “It has the potential of moving catalogers to different media, which is the very thing the USPS didn’t want to happen.” (See the bottom

EXCLUSIVE NEWS FLASH: Postal Rate Recommendation Could be Catastrophic for Catalogers
March 2, 2007

The Feb. 26 announcement by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) of its postal rate recommendations on the surface looked like good news for mailers. But a closer look at the rates for the various bulk mail subclasses exposes a number of potentially enormous rate hikes for a significant number of catalogers. The PRC recommendation is now in the hands of the U.S. Postal Service’s Board of Governors, who can either accept, reject or accept them under protest. Although the PRC recommended an average rate increase of 9.3 percent for Standard Mail, the bulk mail category that most catalogers and other direct mailers use, a closer