U.S. Postal Service asks PRC for return of 49¢ first-class stamp
By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent
The 49¢ first-class stamp will be returning, if the United States Postal Service has its way.
The USPS announced Oct. 12 that it has filed a request with the Postal Regulatory Commission to boost the current 47¢ price of a 1-ounce domestic letter by 2¢ on Jan. 22, 2017.
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The increase would be part of the annual price adjustment the Postal Service is allowed to make annually to keep its prices in line with the rate of inflation.
The request does not call for increases to the current 34¢ rate for postcards, the $1.15 for international letters, and the 21¢ rate for additional ounces for first-class letters, the USPS said in a news release.
The Postal Service won approval of a 49¢ stamp as part of an emergency rate increase in 2014, but that higher price expired after about 18 months and the rate was ordered reduced to 47¢.
Postal officials have been appealing to Congress to authorize a return to a 49¢ stamp, citing the Postal Service’s continuing financial difficulties, but lawmakers have shown no interest in authorizing the increase.
“While many mailers might prefer a smaller or no increase, the Postal Service believes that any negative impacts from this increase are far outweighed by the substantial revenue benefits from the change, in light of the Postal Service’s current financial condition,” the USPS said in its rate request.
“Furthermore, the Postal Service believes that the rate relationships resulting from the increase are just and reasonable within First-Class Mail,” it said.
The Postal Service proposed reducing the postage price for one-ounce metered letters from 46.5¢ to 46¢, a ½¢ reduction that will answer long-standing efforts for meter companies to get lower prices.
“In addition, the metered letters rate was intended to encourage small- and medium-sized businesses to convert from stamps to meters,” the USPS said.
The USPS predicted the 46¢ rate (a 3¢ discount from the proposed 49¢ rate) would encourage businesses to increase their mailings.
“This strategy is consistent with that of foreign posts such as Canada Post, which provides a meter rate discount of between 5.9 and 20 percent for single-piece domestic letters and cards weighing just over one ounce,” it said.
The Postal Service proposed extending the current free second ounce of each first-class mail presort letter rate, up to a maximum weight of 3.5 ounces.
This reflects a marketing effort to get advertisers to mail heavier letters.
“Data suggest that the “Second Ounce Free” initiative has been effective at keeping bills and statements in the mail,” the Postal Service said.
“The expansion of this strategy to letters weighing up to 3.5 ounces is expected to further mitigate the diversion of mail to electronic channels.”
Prices for large first-class envelopes, or flats, will climb 1.886 percent, “due mainly to the increase in price for single-piece flats from 94 cents to 98 cents,” the Postal Service said.
First-class parcels will rise by 0.624 percent, the filing said. But all parcels weighing up to 4 ounces will pay a uniform price of $2.67, which amounts to an increase of approximately 1.9 percent, the filing said.
The USPS also proposed changing the name of its standard mail, once called third-class mail, to “marketing mail,” a change that the filing said would be more reflective of the nature of the advertising mail it carries.
The filing said the increase for standard (advertising) mail would be 0.895 percent, and for periodicals it would be 0.832 percent.
The Postal Service also proposed boosting the prices for its shipping services by almost 4 percent Jan. 22.
In an Oct. 19 news release, the USPS said the higher prices would result “in an average shipping price of less than $5 per shipment across all shipping products.”
The changes are subject to approval by the Postal Regulatory Commission.
Under the new price structure, the small flat-rate priority mail box would cost $7.15, up from the current $6.80.
The medium flat-rate priority mail box would cost $13.60, up from the current $13.45, and the large flat-rate priority mail box would cost $18.85, up from $18.75.
This story was updated Oct. 19, 2016.
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