USPS First-Class Mail Slowing Down… Or Is It Me?

February 19th, 2015 Comments off

Stopwatch Man Waiting for First-Class MailDoes it seem like your First-Class letters don’t travel as quickly as they used to? Well, it’s not just your imagination. The United States Postal Service (USPS) has been intentionally and systematically slowing down First-Class letters in order to reduce costs and create efficiencies in their mail handling operations.

This slowing down process has been rolling out for several months now and will continue to be noticed as postal facilities consolidate and the new plans take shape. The most obvious change occurred in January of this year (2015) when the USPS eliminated next day delivery of First-Class mail. This change has effected almost everyone who receives First-Class mail.

Judging by the number of phone calls we’ve already received about this, it’s not necessarily what any of us expected. If there is an upside, the USPS still quotes a delivery service standard for First-Class mail of 3 days (from and to) anywhere in the first 48 U.S. States. (But don’t quote us on this; we are still a little skeptical).

Here’s a good overview published by the USPS in September of 2011; it’s pretty clear and easy to read, and spells out their elimination of next day First-Class mail: USPS Frequently Asked Questions – Service Standards

If you want to dive into all the glorious details in a far-less user friendly document, you can review the implementation plan in the USPS Final Federal Register 39 CFR Part 121. This document spells out the specifics of the USPS implementation process. Phase one began on July 1, 2012, and phase two began on February 1, 2014.

In January of this year, the USPS posted a revised interactive service level map on their website in order for mailers to graphically see the service standards for various types of mail originating at your nearest post office. Follow the link to do some experimenting of your own based on your location. For LetterStream customers, use 850 PHOENIX AZ as your Originating point.

Keep in mind that the USPS service standards are not service guarantees. You know… “results may vary“.

In summary, your next day delivery of First-Class letters is probably gone for good, and we are likely to see additional days of transit built in as the USPS consolidates facilities. Editor’s note: Just between you and me and Mr. Stopwatch here; I’d caution you to not expect faster service if your letters already take 4 to 5 days for delivery.

Official USPS And LetterStream 2015 Holiday Schedule

February 1st, 2015 Comments off

We’ve updated our USPS Holiday Calendar with the latest information from the USPS. In addition, we’ve added important USPS early closing days which are not typically spelled out on the USPS Postal Holidays web page.

We’ve placed this information along with LetterStream’s holiday schedule on a Google Calendar so you can have all the information at your fingertips on your smartphone, tablet or Google account.

If you are already synced to the LetterStream calendar, awesome! Your job here is done. If not, see the instructions below.

One more important mention; most USPS retail counters close early on both Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, so make sure you call ahead and/or plan accordingly. In conjunction, LetterStream will also be closing early on both of those days.

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Click on the “+Google Calendar” button below to subscribe with your Google account.

(*Click here for instructions on how to sync Google Calendar with a mobile device.)

USPS First-Class Stamp Price – Unchanged For 2015

January 22nd, 2015 Comments off

2015 USPS first-class stamp priceJanuary is the month that the United States Postal Service (USPS) has been using to introduce prices increases in recent years. However, for 2015 the USPS has no intentions of raising the rate of a First-Class stamp.

On January 15, 2015 the USPS published a press release about pricing titled “Forever Stamp Prices Unchanged“. The title might be a bit misleading as they are actually talking about the price of *any* First-Class stamp that you purchase for First-Class 1 ounce letters, not just Forever Stamps. Late in the press release the USPS specifically says:

Maintains single-piece stamp prices at 49 cents.

Keep in mind the USPS is requesting authorization to raise the price of other letter fees, including the cost for additional ounces (from $.21 to $.22), the cost of international letters (from $1.15 to $1.20) and the cost of postcards (from $.34 to $.35). “Requesting authorization” means that these price changes need to be approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission before becoming official.

If approved, the changes will take affect on April 26, 2015.

Merry Christmas And Happy Holidays From LetterStream!

December 23rd, 2014 Comments off

Season's Greetings

 

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!

 

From your friends at

LetterStream

This holiday season we want to wish you lots of love, time with family, hot chocolate, and of course… all your mail delivered on time. We are thankful for your support in 2014, and we look forward to serving you well in the coming year as well.

Please note that according to the USPS, most post offices will be closing at 12:00 noon on Christmas Eve (Wed. Dec. 24th) and New Year’s Eve (Wed. Dec. 31st). Be sure to drop mail in blue collection boxes by noon on those days as well, as the USPS will be picking up mail early.

See LetterStream’s holiday hours below, and click here for a link to the 2015 USPS holiday calendar.

Happy Mailing!

-The LetterStream Team

LetterStream Holiday Hours

“Paper Fun Truck”: The Latest Video By Domtar

July 16th, 2014 Comments off

Our paper manufacturer, Domtar, has done it again. The following is the latest video in their Paper Because series.

Who knew paper could spread so much joy! To see it for yourself, search the hashtag #paperfuntruck on Instagram and Twitter.

If you need help with real paper mailLetterStream is here for you. Visit our website to learn more about our solutions for online Certified MailFirst-Class mail, and Non-Profit mail.

 

Porridge Papers – Paper Made By Craftsmen

June 27th, 2014 Comments off

This is a great video about the making of paper. Not only does it capture the art and craft of paper-making, it is a well-produced video that portrays the essence of community and determination.

The story of one man (and his family and community) determined to create great paper the old-fashioned way, from the excess paper of envelopes.

So grab a cup of coffee, find a quite place, and take in this inspiring video…

This awesome short film was curated by WindstreamWe couldn’t help but love that name. ;-)

It’s part of a series of videos produced for the Tumblr blog Locally Crafted. In addition, the film was directed by Kevin Osgood, brother-in-law to one of our very own LetterStream employees.

Nicely done Kevin!

 

How To Export Mailing Addresses Out Of Your Software

June 24th, 2014 Comments off

Export Addresses Thought BubbleGetting an address list out of your software for the purpose of sending a mailing can be a confusing task at times, but we will attempt to decode things just a bit.

You have probably been entering your customer names and addresses into your accounting software or management software. You might even have names in a CRM (customer relationship management) package like Act! or an email program like Outlook. Wherever you enter names and addresses, there is generally a way to get them back out in order to send a mailing.

The process of getting your mailing list out of your software is called “exporting” or an “export“. If you know this simple term you can search the Internet or your software help files for more clues on the subject. Most software packages that allow you to enter names and addresses generally have an export function of some kind.

As it relates to software (not a website or web service), the process is usually as easy as clicking on the “File” menu on the upper left of the menu bar, then choosing “Export“. (The reason we excluded websites and web services is because the standard “File” menu doesn’t exist with websites, and most websites have their own unique way to export data.)

When exporting your data, there are sometimes a wide variety of file formats that you can save your file to. We recommend exporting your data to a .csv file, otherwise known as a “comma separated values” file. The nice thing about a csv file is that it can easily be opened by Excel or other spreadsheet programs, and it can be loaded into other applications as well.

But the best feature of the csv file format is that it can easily be loaded to the LetterStream website for creating a mailing.

The export process discussed here isn’t an exhaustive solution to all software packages and websites, but just know that the magic word is “export”.

If you’d like to share your specific method for getting address data out of your software, feel free to contact us and let us know. We will post it in the help pages of the LetterStream website.

 

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