2017 USPS Price Changes

2017-usps-price-changes

At the start of each new year the USPS typically announces new pricing, and this year is no exception.  Effective January 22nd, new USPS prices will take effect.

You might recall our post from last year regarding the 2016 USPS price changes.  We talked a lot about the price of a First-Class stamp being decreased by $.02 (from $.49 to $.47).  This year it’s going back up two pennies.  Initially, this seems like a bit of a bummer.  But look at the bright side.  The decrease that happened last year was the first time the cost of postage went down since 1919.  So hypothetically, had it gone up a couple cents last year and this year again, we would be closer to $.53.  Let’s choose to be optimistic and still consider ourselves winners with the 4 cent swing.

You could also try and stave off the postal increase a little longer by purchasing a few extra forever stamps at your local post office before the new rates go into effect.

Below are some of this year’s notable changes (keep in mind, we are quoting the new USPS postage costs, not LetterStream prices. LetterStream typically increases prices only to the extent that the USPS fees increase, but for exact pricing review your LetterStream job invoice when creating mailings on our website):

2017 Postage Rates

– First Class Stamps up from $.47 to $.49
– First Class Postcard Rate staying at $.34
– Extra Ounces staying at $.21
– International Rates staying at $1.15
– Certified Mail up from $3.30 to $3.35
– Return Receipt up from $2.70 to $2.75
– Electronic Return Receipt up from $1.35 to $1.45
– Registered Mail staying at $11.70
– Flats (.0001 – .999 oz) postage up from $.95 to $.98
– Flats extra ounces up from $.20 to $.21

Standard Mail Now Marketing Mail

Another notable change moving forward is that Standard Mail will now be known as Marketing Mail. Not to add to the confusion, but Standard Mail is/was the name of what many of us know as Bulk Mail.  Standard Mail should not be confused with First-Class Mail which is what most of our customers send regularly.

 

Faster Mail through FedEx

 

Fed2 (3)

How Easy!

You already know that we are fast at printing and folding your documents and getting them in the mail, but some of you wish the United States Postal Service (USPS) could deliver mail as fast as we can prepare it.  Well, for those of you who never can get things as fast as you’d like or need, we just may have the answer.

You can now upload a PDF file of your letter or document within your LetterStream account and choose the FedEx Overnight Letter job type.  We’ll print your document, (not fold it), and put it in a FedEx overnight letter envelope.  And depending how early in the day you create and pay for your mailing, we might just be able to get your letter delivered the next business day.  Need your document mailed to many different addresses? Simply upload your mailing list (click here to learn how) and our sophisticated, yet simple, address mapping tool will help you pick the right fields for your mailing addresses.

How Fast!

Image this, you are in New York trying to get a proposal (or some other document with a deadline) delivered to Boston tomorrow.  Unfortunately it is already 5 pm in New York and its too late to get it in the mail.  But, if you load your document to the LetterStream website (where some months it will still be 2pm), we can print and mail your important documents and have them delivered to your recipient in Boston via FedEx by 3pm the next (business) day.  Between you and me, I call that extremely fast!

Currently we have an introductory flat rate price for anywhere in the US.  That makes for easy math and a simplified decision making process so you can focus on getting your job loaded instead of pondering all the different mailing and pricing options.

If you like fast, FedEx and LetterStream may be just what you are looking for to get your next mailing delivered quickly.

USPS Stamp Prices Going Down in 2016!

USPS Postage Rates 2016

USPS Cuts Price of First-Class Stamp!

The biggest news in the mailing business, in maybe forever, or since the forever stamp.  The United States Postal Service (USPS) is LOWERING the price of a first-class stamp.  The price DECREASE goes into effect on April 10, 2016, when your cost for a first class stamp will be reduced to 47 cents each.

The last time the USPS decreased the price of a first-class stamp was in 1919, when the price dropped a single cent from 3 cents each to 2 cents each.  Now, the greatest price decrease in the price of a first class stamp since 1885; the USPS is cutting the price of a first-class stamp by a whopping 2 cents!  For more information check out the wikipedia page on the History of United States postage rates.

Why are Stamp Prices Going to 47 Cents?

The federal regulatory body that governs USPS pricing is the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC)(http://www.prc.gov).  This organization decides whether the Postal Service can raise prices and by how much.  A year ago the USPS was given a special waiver by the PRC to increase prices by more than the maximum amount allowed (according to their rules), so now the PRC is making the USPS roll prices back.

It really makes no sense though, as the USPS is still operating at a loss.  Follow this link to read the USPS press release on the topic of lowing prices (http://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2016/pr16_009.htm).

What Other Postage Prices are Changing in April?

In addition to the decreasing price of a first-class stamp, other stamp prices are going down as well.  In fact, nearly every increase that took effect in 2015 is being reversed.  Seems a bit odd that the Postal Regulatory Commission and the USPS couldn’t work out a meet-in-the-middle solution, but their loss turns out to be mailers’ gain. Here’s a sampling of new postage rates:

  • First-Class Postcards will decrease from $.35 to $.34 each (reversing last year’s increase)
  • Additional ounces for First-Class mail will decrease from $.22 to $.21 (reversing last year’s increase)
  • Certified Mail base fees will decrease from $3.45 to $3.30 (reversing last year’s increase)
  • Certified Mail Return Receipt Green Card fees will decrease from $2.80 to $2.70 (reversing last year’s increase)
  • Certified Mail Electronic Return Receipts will decrease from $1.40 to $1.35 (reversing last year’s increase)
  • International First-Class Letters will go down from $1.20 to $1.15 (reversing last year’s increase)
  • One ounce First-Class flats will decrease from $.98 to $.95, and 2 ounce pieces will fall from $1.20 to $1.15 (reversing last year’s increase)
  • Registered Mail letters will decrease from $12.20 to $11.70 (falling more than last year’s increase by another 25 cents)
  • The price of a First-Class Stamp will fall from $.49 to $.47 (there was no increase in the price of a first-class stamp last year)

We encourage everyone to take advantage of the cheaper postage prices in 2016 and send more mail.  If you need some help with that, give us a call, we are what you call experts.

 

Best Practice – Secret Ballot Envelope

 

Letterstream Secret Ballot Envelope

Ballot Mailing Best Practices

Improve voter turnout with our new and improved ballot envelope! We have researched and improved our Secret Ballot Envelope in such a way to create a Best Practice solution for secret ballots and your next election. We’ve had a secret ballot envelope for quite some time and have worked with our customers to create a new version that accomplishes nearly every requirement of a secret ballot mailing.

A Secret Ballot Envelope is important to protect the identity of the voter.  It is used in conjunction with a ballot and a #9 return envelope.  The completed ballot is placed in a Secret Ballot Envelope (which is large enough to hold a folded 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper, but small enough to fit in a standard size return envelope) and sealed.  Then the Secret Ballot Envelope gets placed in the #9 return envelope and gets mailed back to the management company.  The management company can then open all the #9 envelopes and take the sealed ballot envelopes to the meeting for counting.

For those who need to keep track of which homeowners have returned their ballot or proxy, we have a simple option to add the homeowners mailing address and/or lot number to the return address area of the #9 envelope.  This allows the HOA management companies to see who has voted, while not being able to see how they voted for the election.

There might be a few individuals who say “Ah, nobody cares how other people vote.”.  Well, we might argue that anyone who says something like that has probably not served of a Homeowner Board or talked with their neighbors who don’t vote out of fear that their vote might be held against them. We might also argue that the number of homeowners voting could improve when a secure and trustworthy process is followed.

New Features of our Ballot Envelope:

Instructions for Homeowner – The envelope more clearly explains to the homeowner/recipient/voter what their role is and how to best use the envelope in order to keep their ballot secret.

Instructions for Management Company – The envelope contains instructions for the management company, board member or whoever handles the secret ballot so they can process it while protecting the intentions of a secret ballot.

Save a Page – With good instructions built right into the envelope, you no longer need to try and wordsmith some good directions in your own document.  This might just free up some space in your letter or possibly save an entire sheet of paper.

Professionally Designed – This new envelope looks far more professional in its design which may lead to better utilization and compliance.

Best Practices – We’ve attempted to incorporate the appropriate instructions and simplistic design in an effort to create a “Best Practices” solution to proxy and Secret Ballot mailings.

Same Security Tint – Our Secret Ballot Envelope continues to have security tint on the inside of the envelope to keep prying eyes from trying to see through the envelope.

Same Great Price – While we believe this envelope is far superior to our earlier version we’ve decided to leave the price the same as its always been.

We believe this is the best way to solicit proxies and votes from your members; its secure, its fast and its easy.  Give it a try for your next election or proxy mailing and let us know how it worked for you.

Delivering Mail, The Old Fashioned Way

LeGunflint Mail RuntterStream is delighted to be a sponsor in this years Gunflint Mail Run (www.gunflintmail.com). The Gunflint Mail Run is a sled dog race taking place in Cook County Minnesota this weekend, celebrating the old way of delivering mail and supplies.

As a printing and mailing company, we’re glad for the more modern ways of getting mail from place to place, but it sure is fun to look back at yesteryear and see how things used to be.  Take a moment to check out the Gunflint Mail Run website, they have some beautiful pictures of dog sled teams working through the snow as well as some history of dog sledding in Minnesota.

You can also participate in their fund raising efforts and bid on some $75 LetterStream coupons, which might not be bid up as high as warm winter cabins, crampons and various other cold-weather items. The coupons can be used for USPS First-class mail, postcards, Certified Mail, FedEx overnight letters or any other services that LetterStream offers.

 

Must Be Postmarked Today! Warp The Space-Time Continuum.

LetterStream reverses timeEver get into that position where you need to mail something by a certain date but you aren’t sure how you can make it to the post office in time?

Sometimes you need to get a cancellation letter or an acceptance letter or one of many other letters of a legal nature postmarked by a certain date. Or maybe it’s a bid for an upcoming project. Whatever the case for needing a postmark, and needing it today… there’s a chance we can help.

One of the many neat benefits of knowing a mailing company out west, in Scottsdale Arizona to be exact, is that we can drop your letter at our local post office which is typically still open even after your office closes, especially if you live or work on the East Coast.

This is where the speed of the internet can warp the speed of time. If you live in New York and it is 6 pm, the post offices are already closed, and your letter has no chance to be mailed today. However, if you take 2 minutes to load your letter into the LetterStream.com website, you’ve effectively turned back time by 3 hours (April – October)*, making it 3:10 pm with the post office still open (in Arizona).

We’ll print your letter and get it in the mail before the day is out.

There is some fine print here… if you want to make sure your letter gets mailed the same day, you will need to choose “Rush” on your order, which will increase the price slightly, but we do guarantee same day processing or your money back if you choose that option. Also keep in mind that Arizona doesn’t participate in Daylight Saving Time (DST), so some months there is only a 2 hour difference.

When that letter really really needs to be mailed today, warp the space-time continuum by using LetterStream Rush Services.

New USPS Postage Rates Coming May 31st

It’s official; new postage prices go into effect on May 31st, 2015. On May 4th the Postal Regulatory Commission approved the USPS proposed price change request.

As a recap, the price of a USPS First-Class stamp remains unchanged at $.49. Therefore there is no need to stock up on Forever stamps.

However, most other postal mailing categories will see increases. Below are some of the highlights for First-Class Mail.

  • First-Class Postcards will increase from $.34 to $.35 each
  • Additional ounces for First-Class mail will increase from $.21 to $.22
  • Certified Mail base fees will increase from $3.30 to $3.45
  • Certified Mail Return Receipt Green Card fees will increase from $2.70 to $2.80
  • Certified Mail Electronic Return Receipts will increase from $1.35 to $1.40
  • International First-Class Letters will go up from $1.15 to $1.20
  • One ounce First-Class flats will increase to $.98, and 2 ounce pieces will be $1.20
  • Registered Mail letters will increase from $11.95 to $12.20
  • The price of a First-Class Stamp will remain at $.49

Keep in mind, we are quoting the new USPS postage costs, not LetterStream prices. LetterStream typically increases prices only to the extent that the USPS fees increase, but review your invoice when creating mailings online for exact pricing.

It’s generally difficult to find the new postage rate charts at USPS.com before a postage rate change is implemented, but with a little digging, the rate tables can be found. Follow this link for the new postage rates for 2015. You can download an Excel file in the left sidebar called “Mailing Services Prices excel – Proposed Updated 05/01/15”.

We don’t recommend using the “Calculate a Price” postage rate tool on the USPS website for mailings after May 31 until that date has passed. While the tool technically allows you to enter the future date of a mailing, it doesn’t take into account the new rate increases. (Don’t ask us why.)

If you’d like to see the complete PRC (Postal Regulatory Commission) document, it was published by the Federal Government Publishing Office on May 4, 2015 and can be found here: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-05-04/pdf/2015-10029.pdf

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

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.

Merry Christmas And Happy Holidays From LetterStream!

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

Do You Have A Backup Facility For Your Mailing Operations?

Critical Mail BackupWhile most of our customers choose to outsource their entire outbound mail operations to LetterStream, there are some that are unable to reassign staff or who are hesitant to return leased equipment due to financial burdens that might be incurred.

Whatever the reason not to outsource completely, we have a solution in keeping with our mission of being the best mail solutions partner. We have created a hot backup mailing facility program to allow businesses to keep their own mailing operations up and running, and increase their speed and reliability by using LetterStream when more mailing power is needed.

The program is simple to implement and is fairly inexpensive considering you have all the power of LetterStream print and mail operations at your finger tips. This includes a fleet of high speed printers, a mail preparation and inserting department, and barcode tracking of every mailing project. LetterStream is fast and accurate, and our prime location in Scottsdale, AZ protects us from most of the world’s natural disasters and extreme weather. So if your operations are down because of snow or ice or flood or earthquake… chances are we are still fully staffed and fully operational, and can get your mail out the door and on its way.

For our east coast friends, LetterStream being in the MST time zone results in a few extra hours each day to get your critical mail jobs out the door. We can handle a wide variety of business and transactional mail including letters and flats, checks and invoices, and certified and registered mail.

Contact us to learn more about how LetterStream can keep your mailing operations up-and-running, in any situation.