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).

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.

Making Express Letters at LetterStream

color_envelopes

If you need to get a mailing out the door quickly, our Express Letter option is about the quickest way to get it done.

Here’s all we need from you:

1. A mailing list saved as a CSV file

Most software allows you to export addresses in CSV format, and MS Excel allows you to save your spreadsheet as a CSV (comma separated values) format.

Check out our YouTube video for assistance:

2. Your document saved as a PDF

There are various ways to create a PDF from an MS Word document. Word 2010 has the option included. You can also use Adobe products or download a free PDF tool at primopdf.com.

See our help video for more information:

When you have these two items, log into (or sign up for) your LetterStream account and choose Express Letter as the job you want to create. You’ll be prompted for your address list and your document (or documents). If you have a logo with your return address built into it, you can even use it for the outside of the envelope.

There are other options as well:EXPRESS-MAILING

  • the ability to share a proof with others
  • notification when mailing is complete
  • the ability to add newsletters, fliers or other documents to the mailing
  • the ability to add additional promotional wording to the outside of the envelope

See our YouTube video for help with this:

What do we do next?

  • We print your document in black and white or color print
  • We print your document on white or color paper
  • We address a #10 white envelope with your return address and recipient name
  • We add USPS First-Class postage
  • We fold your document(s), put them in the envelope, seal and mail them

We guarantee you’ll be pleased with the speed, quality and service you receive from LetterStream, every step of the way.

Still not convinced? Click here for more information about sending Express Letters via LetterStream.

Which Way To The Nearest Blue Mailbox?

USPS Blue MailboxSome of you know exactly where your favorite blue drop box resides. But I bet most of you drive past these uniquely shaped blue boxes each day and don’t even notice them.

I came across a CNN.com article that claims there are as many as 160,000 of these blue collection boxes in use around America.

If you are having a hard time finding the nearest blue box to drop your outbound mail in, there are a few apps that can help you out. For Android, check out the USPS Mobile or Mail Box Locator apps. You can also try MailboxMap.com from your computer or smart phone to see where all 160,000 drop boxes are located.

If you are using an iPhone, you can try the USPS Mobile app or the Find Postboxes app.

I like Mailbox Locator because it is simply about finding the nearest drop box, and it uses your phone’s GPS to quickly route you to the nearest one. It also shows you the pick-up days and last pick-up times so you know if you’ve still got time to get your letters in the mail that day.

In case you’re wondering, at LetterStream we don’t place our mail in the blue boxes or in our own mail box. We don’t even drop our mail off at the retail counter of the local post office. Instead, our mail gets trucked to the USPS BMEU (Business Mail Entry Unit), for fast, same-day processing of our mail, even after the post office retail window is closed.

Keep an eye out for those little blue boxes and see how many you can count on your way to work this week; you might be surprised.

Of course, when faced with an urgent mailing, skip the box and contact LetterStream instead!

Reduce Returned Mail with Address Correction by LetterStream

USPS Return Mail

Some LetterStream customers are already realizing the annual savings created by weeding out and/or correcting undeliverable addresses.

If you acquire new mailing lists (member lists, community lists, etc.), especially from non-qualified list providers, it might be worth a little investment to make sure the addresses that you’ve been provided are valid ones.

Using address correction tools to clean up addresses and discover which ones are incorrect could pay for itself with the first mailing. If the list is used over and over, the savings keep accumulating.

Consider a mailing list of 1,200 names. If 5% of the addresses are undeliverable, you would be wasting more than $25 in postage fees alone, not counting time, paper, printing, envelopes, etc. If you mail to the same list each month, that would add up to hundreds of dollars in no time. Another cost to consider is the time and money wasted handling the return mail; collecting bins of returned mail itself, looking up new addresses, resending documents by hand, shred fees for properly destroying returned mail and environmental impacts.

So, here’s an idea… if you acquire a mailing list or simply get a lot of return mail, try running your mailing list through our address correction tools. You can upload any size mailing list directly to our website for cleaning and we will return the results fast; often in less than 10 minutes. We’ll format the addresses to USPS CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System) standards, correct City and Street spellings, flag undeliverable addresses, and attempt to assign the correct zip code with zip+4 digits.

If you use our Deluxe Address Cleanup, which includes NCOA (National Change of Address) lookups, we can even tell you if the person filed a change of address card with the Post Office, letting you know exactly when they moved and where they moved to.

Reducing returned mail is good for business, good for the pocketbook, and good for your sanity!

How Can I Look Up a Zip Code?

Map with push pinIf you are trying to find the correct zip code for an address, the United States Postal Service (USPS) website has a quick and easy tool that you can use for free.

However, if you are trying to find the correct postal zip code for multiple addresses in a list, you might want to review our address correction tools. In addition to assigning zip codes to multiple records at a time, our address correction software will fix misspelled city names and improper state abbreviations, as well as standardize the street directions and road names.

If you really want to clean up a mailing list, you might consider using our advanced address list correction tool, which will provide the address someone has moved to (provided they have filled out a change of address card online or at the post office).

Visit LetterStream.com to send first-class and Certified Mail utilizing our advanced address correction tools.

Struggling To Keep Up With USPS Postal Regulations?

USPS DMM - Domestic Mail ManualEver wonder if trying to keep up with the ever-changes rules of the United States Postal Service (USPS) is worth it? Well in their defense, they are trying hard to come up with new and better ways to process mail in order to control their costs.

However, that means a lot of changes to postal regulations. Here’s a few new Post Office rules pertaining to mailings that went into effect in January 2013.

Postage Rate Increase – A whole multitude of price increases went into effect. These price changes impacted First-Class Mail, Certified Mail, Standard Mail and about every other kind of mail.

Tabbing Rules – The size of tabs required for sending out tabbed material changed, making many tabs unusable and requiring acquisitions of new equipment.

Intelligent Mail Barcode – The Postnet barcode has been phased out for getting postal discounts. Now the new multi-dimensional barcode is needed to speed USPS mail processing.

Address Correction – In late December the USPS cancelled the FASTforward program.

We know that more changes are yet to come as the USPS will continually need to change and innovate.

If you are beginning to wonder if you should try to keep up or just simply outsource your mail projects, LetterStream might be worth considering.

We’ve got over ten years of experience making people happy and removing the headaches of mailing.

How Can You Send Mail on Postal Holidays?

USPS Post Office Sign

LetterStream can send your mail even when the post office is closed for a holiday. This might be hard to believe, but it is true! The United States Postal Service (USPS) will accept our mail at the post office on some postal holidays even though the front doors are locked.

The holidays that the USPS accepts and processes our mail include Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (MLK Day), President’s Day, Veteran’s Day and Columbus Day.

Our mailing process is a bit different than putting a letter in your personal mailbox or dropping letters in the big blue USPS mailboxes. In fact, we even skip the front counter of the local post office and go directly to the USPS Bulk Mail Entry Unit (BMEU).

BMEU’s process large quantities of mail each day and are basically the main drop point of large mailers across the country. In order to accommodate the large mailing volume, BMEU’s maintain a slightly different holiday schedule than the retail operations of the postal service. This allows larger mailers to keep their mail traveling through the postal system when most other organizations cannot.

So feel free to use LetterStream.com to create first-class mail, postcards, standard-mail and non-profit mail, even on holidays.

The only catch is that on holidays when we take mail to the post office, we are only able to mail Certified Letters if we have more than 200 of them (that is nearly always the case, but it is something to keep in mind anyway).

We recommend creating your certified letters anytime you have them–most holidays we do have enough to meet the postal minimum.

USPS to Cancel Saturday Mail Delivery

Just Announced on the AP this morning:

“Postal Service to cut Saturday mail to trim costs” (*see link to full article below)

According to the article, the United States Postal Service (USPS) plans to drop Saturday delivery of letters the week of August 5th, 2013 in an attempt to save the Postal Service $2 billion annually.

USPS mail truckThis change should have no impact on the way LetterStream prints and mails letters and correspondence for our customers. It should be noted that without Saturday delivery of mail, homeowner, consumers and recipients may receive their statements or other documents a day later than usual.

In the grand scheme of things we believe the impact will be minimal for the following reasons:

  1. Most of the “time sensitivities” and legal regulations of mail relate to when the mail piece is actually mailed, not when it is received.
  2. Most mail pieces that require a recipient to act in some way allow an appropriate number of days for the recipient to respond.
  3. Most businesses don’t pick up their mail on Saturdays anyway.

However, to reduce any impact this announcement may have, we encourage you to load your jobs to the LetterStream website earlier in the work week and schedule your mailings with this information in mind.

For those not currently using LetterStream for printing and mailing, we believe our services can cut time out of your current mailing process, thus negating the impact of changes to mail delivery.

To keep informed of this and other USPS changes, consider subscribing to our blog by entering your email address in the form provided to the right.

The full AP story can be found here:

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/postal-service-cut-saturday-mail-trim-costs