Off To The CAI Arizona Trade Show In Glendale, AZ

Central Arizona Chapter CAI - Community Association InstituteLetterStream will have a booth at the Arizona Chapter CAI (Community Association Institute) trade show again this year.

The event is this Friday, April 4th, 2014 at the Glendale Civic Center in Glendale, AZ.

This will be a great local event with:

FREE FOOD — lunch provided between 12:30 – 2:30
FREE RAFFLES — drop your business cards for lots of chances to win
FREE STUFF — the usual; pens, sticky notes, stress balls, etc.
FREE FUN — catching up with current and prospective vendors and business partners

We will be in booth H1. Interesting booth number, but we will be in the hallway by the registration table. Be sure to stop by and meet our crew and learn how LetterStream can help improve your mailing process.

This event is free to homeowners, community managers, board members, property management employees, etc. (i.e. just about everyone). Click here for registration.

The Trade Show Floor and Hallway Exhibits will be open from 9:30 am – 12:30 pm.

It’s a can’t-miss opportunity to stop by and say “Hi” to the LetterStream team.

Glendale Civic Center ~ 5750 W Glenn Drive ~ Glendale AZ 85301

 

USPS Postage Rate Increase on January 26th

USPS 2014 stamp 49 centsAs a reminder, the United States Postal Service (USPS) will be increasing the price of a first-class stamp from $.46 each to $.49 each on January 26th, 2014. If you are planning on getting a mailing out the door this month, you can save money by sending it a few days early.

LetterStream will be raising its prices on all first-class mail products by 3 cents to cover the cost of the USPS price increase. Our new prices will take effect at 5:00 pm on January 24th, as jobs received over the weekend will be mailed on Mon. Jan. 27th at the new postage rate.

As is our tradition, LetterStream has no plans to increase prices beyond the USPS increase. Keep in mind that the USPS has raised prices on postcards, flats, certified mail and other products as well. These increases will be reflected where appropriate in LetterStream prices. We look out for our customers as best we can!

2014 Postage Rate Increase – Official Rates Confirmed

2014 USPS Postage Rate IncreasesIt’s often hard to read between the lines and figure out if postage rates have been officially approved or simply proposed by the United States Postal Service (USPS).

For instance, the September 2013 USPS rate increase announcement was actually just a proposal to increase postage prices. In order for new postage rates to be known for certain, they needed to be approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC).

The Commission is an independent agency that has exercised regulatory oversight over the Postal Service since its creation by the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970. The Commission is composed of five Commissioners, each of whom is appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, for a term of six years.” – http://www.prc.gov/

The PRC made the official announcement 3 days ago on December 24, 2013 that the USPS proposed postage rates are approved and will go into effect on January 26, 2014. Click to read the press release.

The price of a first-class stamp is increasing from $.46 to $.49 cents; an increase of $.03 per postage stamp.

Common postage prices to be aware of include:

  • Letters (1 oz.) — 3-cent increase to 49 cents
  • Letters additional ounces — 1-cent increase to 21 cents
  • Letters to all international destinations (1 oz.)$1.15
  • Postcards — 1-cent increase to 34 cents

These prices were all outlined in the USPS price change announcement (proposal) on September 25, 2013. You can read the entire announcement on the United States Postal Services website.

Certified Mail service by the postal service is also seeing price increases. Certified Mail base fees will be $3.30. Certified Mail Green Card fees (PS Form 3811) will increase to $2.70 while Electronic Return Receipt (ERR) fees will increase to $1.35. For simpler math, a certified letter weighing less than an ounce with green card receipt will cost $6.49 each at the Post Office ($.49 first-class postage + $3.30 certified mail fee + $2.70 certified mail return card).

Toys for Tots 2013 Event – Join Us on Dec. 21st!

Toys for Tots 2013It’s time to get into the Christmas spirit and round up toys for kids who might not have Christmas presents this year without a little help from us.

LetterStream is again participating with American Family Insurance agents Nanette D. Cure and Nanette Corso for their 7th Annual Christmas in the Park Fund Raiser and Toy Drive.

This year’s event continues to support the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation and promises to be bigger and better than ever, with a visit from Santa, Marines, live entertainment, an antique toy auction and more.

The event has been moved from the Pinnacle Peak General Store to Grimaldi’s in DC Ranch. This is a great backdrop for family photos, and of course pictures with Santa!

What:      Toy Drive, Santa, Toy Auction, Great Food

When:     December 21, 2013: 3:30 pm – 6:00 pm

Where:    DC Ranch, Scottsdale, (20715 North Pima Road)

Please bring unwrapped toys for donation, or drop them off anytime at the LetterStream corporate office.

We look forward to seeing you at the event!

*Click to download flier.

Eliminate Returned Mail with LetterStream Return Mail Processing

Return MailAs part of our goal to be your very best mail room, we have added Return Mail Processing (RMP) to our already rich line of mail room services.

In a blog post earlier this year we showed you how you can reduce the amount of return mail that you receive by cleaning up your address data with our CASS and NCOA tools. Now we are offering a way for you to completely eliminate your return mail by using the LetterStream Return Mail Processing Center as your return address.

This will eliminate the labor you currently spend on processing returned mail and it will keep a permanent record of each piece of mail returned. Imagine when a client of yours says they didn’t get a letter or bill that you sent, being able to see that the mail piece was returned. Then, instead of sending the same bill to the same address, you could work to capture a better or more complete address from your client.

To implement return mail processing we simply swap out your return address with ours, keeping your company name attached for recognition by your clients. Undeliverable mail will then be returned to our RMP by the USPS instead of to your office. We will make a record of which pieces are returned and electronically flag them in your account on our website. Returned mail pieces will be highlighted in your mailing history for instant identification.

Return Mail Processing

This same highlighting will appear on addresses of returned mail when you are searching for mail pieces by recipient name or address. With our handy “show only returned mail” feature, you can see how much returned mail you have by date range, sender, job type, or nearly any other identifier that our system allows you to search on.

Return Mail Search Function

Return Mail Processing might not make sense for you if you have less than a few returned pieces per month, but if you see that stack of returned mail piling up, wondering if you’ll ever have time to figure out what’s going on, now might be the time to see how LetterStream can help.

We have a special roll-out promotion price of $59.00 per month plus $0.10 per returned piece. That’s an insanely good deal, so take advantage of it before we figure out what we’ve done. 😉

LetterStream Uses Same Help Page Software As Pandora

24/7 Service buttonOur IT crew is always working on things to make creating and managing mailings as simple and as easy as possible. However, due to the complex nature of mailings, there’s occasionally the need for a little assistance.

If you ever find yourself in a position of needing some help, please don’t hesitate to contact us in whichever way you feel most comfortable. There’s nearly always someone around during business hours who can readily pick up the phone and give you some old-fashioned customer service, and sending us an email is never a bad option either.

Now you have yet another way to get assistance from us. We’ve packaged up the most common questions we get asked into a brand new FAQ page, utilizing the same help desk software as Pandora.

Since one of our frequently asked questions is “What does FAQ stand for?”, we simply call our page… “Help“.

The link to the Help page appears in the upper right corner of nearly every page after you have logged in, and is always available in the footer of our website.


The new Help page is packed with handy tips and instructions (organized by category), and a powerful search tool is available to help steer you in the right direction. In addition, we’ve included some short, easy-to-follow instructional videos packed with how to’s and product overviews.

LetterStream Help Page
LetterStream Help Page

 

Our phone number and email are handy on the right side if you can’t find exactly what you need.

Bottom line is, we are here for you. Phone. Email. Videos. Help Page.

Postage Rates On The Rise Again, Says USPS

USPS letters with stampsThe United States Postal Service (USPS) has announced a price increase effective January 26, 2014. The new pricing structure was announced a few days ago, September 25, 2013, on the USPS website:

News Release No. 13-007: U.S. Postal Service Announces New Prices for 2014

The Postal Service calls this a “proposed price increase” but generally their proposed price increases are pretty close to what they know they can get approved. The price increase is expected to generate an additional $2 billion in annual revenues for the USPS, which would still leave them a far distance from being profitable, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction.

Highlights of the new single-piece First-Class Mail pricing, effective Jan. 26, 2014 include:

  • Letters (1 oz.) — 3-cent increase to 49 cents
  • Letters additional ounces —  1-cent increase to 21 cents
  • Letters to all international destinations (1 oz.) — $1.15
  • Postcards — 1-cent increase to 34 cents

In addition to the USPS news release, we found a USA Today article that contains additional information on the rate change: Postal Service proposes 3-cent rate hike for stamps

LetterStream typically passes the actual published USPS postage rates along to customers, but we’re evaluating whether this will be our strategy given the roughly 7% increase on the First-Class postage rate. LetterStream also offers eDocument delivery for many of our mailing products to drastically offset the cost of postage.

Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) – Notice of Coverage Options

Obamacare ahead signWith an October 1, 2013 deadline, time is running out to notify employees of the Health Insurance Marketplace and health insurance coverage options.

While the U.S. Federal government has extended the deadline on many items in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the deadline to notify employees of healthcare options has not changed.

We’ve attempted to outline the requirements as we understand them, mostly by quoting reputable sources.  Keep in mind, we are not legal experts, we simply make mail (but try to be knowledgeable about many topics in order to be a good resource to our customers).

The Requirement:

“Section 18B of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), as added by section 1512 of the Affordable Care Act, generally provides that, in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Secretary of Labor, an applicable employer must provide each employee at the time of hiring (or with respect to current employees, not later than March 1, 2013), a written notice:…”

http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/newsroom/tr13-02.html

The Deadline:

“With respect to employees who are current employees before October 1, 2013, employers are required to provide the notice not later than October 1, 2013. The notice is required to be provided automatically, free of charge.”

http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/newsroom/tr13-02.html

Who Must Comply:

“For most firms, a test of not less than $500,000 in annual dollar volume of business applies.  The FLSA also specifically covers the following entities: hospitals; institutions primarily engaged in the care of the sick, the aged, mentally ill, or disabled who reside on the premises; schools for children who are mentally or physically disabled or gifted; preschools, elementary and secondary schools, and institutions of higher education; and federal, state and local government agencies.”

http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/newsroom/tr13-02.html

The Content:

The notice to inform employees of coverage options must include information regarding the existence of a new Marketplace as well as contact information and description of the services provided by a Marketplace.“.

*See http://www.dol.gov/ebsa/newsroom/tr13-02.html for complete requirements.

Sample Notice of Coverage Letters:

If you need some help on creating your own employee notification, the U.S. Federal government has provided some options that you can use. We have linked to them below (will open a fillable pdf for you to modify):

Does it need to be mailed via Certified Mail?

While many of the requirements about notification are crystal clear, like the deadline, some details are open to interpretation.  The Department of Labor FAQ  does not specifically mention the need for certified mail, but it does imply that you’ll need to know that employees received the written notice.

According to Bajaria Law:

“Although there is no requirement to prove that employees received notice, it may be a good idea to have the employees sign and acknowledgement form or send them the notice via certified mail.”

According to G. R. Reid Associates, LLP:

“The Department of Labor is recommending employers provide the forms either electronically or by certified mail to ensure receipt.”

Failure to Notify:

While we couldn’t readily find the fines and penalties that will be imposed for failure to comply with the notification requirement on the Department of Labor website, we know that the government often uses fines and penalties to achieve compliance.  We did find other experts who believe fines could be assessed.

According to the blog of Keyt Law of Arizona:

“An employer who fails to give the required notice to all employees will be subject to a $100-per-day fine.”

According to an article by Raphael Moore from MyTrustedLawyer.com:

“…the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act does have a $100 per day general “non-compliance” penalty that applies to everything from violating non-discrimination rules, to notice violations like the ones discussed here.”

There are other potential costs of non-compliance, according to a blog post by Bracewell & Giuliani LLP:

“Further, employers who fail to send the required notice could potentially open themselves up to claims by employees who suffer damages as a result of such failure.”

How do I mail my notifications quickly?

With time running out, you can fill out the PDF form above or create your own letter and load it into the LetterStream website along with your mailing list, and we will certainly work to get them out the door within 24 hours. If you need a guarantee on that, choose the expedite or rush option and we will move your mailing to the top of the stack.

Time Is Running Out To Give Stars And Get Starbucks!

starbucks card from letterstream

The Stars for Starbucks promotion is nearing its end, so if you haven’t taken a moment to give us 5-stars and a glowing review, now is the time!

We’ve enjoyed receiving and reading the positive feedback and encouraging comments. We’ve liked it so much, in fact, that we’ve upped our Starbucks gift card giveaway amount to $10!

Here’s what one customer, Andrew Flusche, had to say (keep his name handy if you get a traffic ticket in Virginia):

I use LetterStream to fulfill a variety of printing & mailing needs for my law firm. They do an excellent job from start to finish.

Here’s what really got me hooked on them: When I called with questions before I was even a client, they happily gave me some credits to play around with. I sent a test letter from their system, expecting to see it in the mail in a few days. I was amazed when they emailed me a picture of the letter before mailing it! Super cool way to WOW a new customer. 🙂

We’ll be anxiously awaiting YOUR positive feedback, and then promptly sending you your Starbucks gift card. It will arrive in a professional looking mailing that we’ve created, taking advantage of our own color specials for the month.

So in addition to getting coffee on us, you’ll also get to see how nice our Color Express Letter product looks when you see it in the mail. (**Oh, by the way, there are only 6 days remaining in our Color Specials as well**).

In case you want to create full-color letters like the one shown above, here’s how we did it… we simply loaded our logo into our Remembered Items (under My Account) to use as the return address on the #10 envelope. The letter was also saved as a color document in Remembered Items. Each time someone sends their positive review, we simply add their name and address to our private online address book, and in a couple of clicks the mailing is ready to go (except for the Starbucks gift card, which we lovingly attach by hand with those sticky things credit card companies use). Anyway, the process only takes a minute or two.

Keep those 5-star comments coming, and we’ll keep the Starbucks cards flying out the door!

Remember this is for current customers. We are looking for reviews based on your prior positive experiences.