Postal Updates

New rule about premiums in marketing mail troubles mailers

Aug 31, 2018, 9 AM

Washington Postal Scene by Bill McAllister

If you have become accustomed to finding a small medal or other premium inside mailed fundraising appeal letters, that might soon end.

A new mailing standard proposed by the United States Postal Service will eliminate any such items from being placed in future marketing mail.

“The proposed change would limit all USPS marketing mail, regular and nonprofit, letter-size and flat-size to content that is only paper-based printed matter,” said a notice published in the Federal Register Aug. 23.

Stephen Kearney, executive director of the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, said his organization will oppose the new rule.

“It would rule out any merchandise or goods in marketing mail,” he told Linn’s.

Many nonprofits include premiums in their fundraising appeals to increase the response rates for donating or joining their cause, he noted.

An image nearby shows an example of a mailing that the Disabled American Veterans sends out. It contains a letter, notepad, stickers, a stamped reply envelope and more.

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Another organization has sent a keychain taped to a piece of cardboard and sent along with a fundraising appeal letter and reply envelope.

“I imagine many commercial mailers will also have problems with it,” Kearney said.

“It reduces the effectiveness and value of marketing mail just when they [USPS] need more, not less volume.”

The notice said the new rule was designed to “improve both processing and the delivery of goods and merchandise moving through the mail stream.”

It also said the proposed change would be consistent with a recent move to remove fulfillment parcels out of the old standard mail category and into other mail categories.

The notice pointed out that other mail classifications, such as Priority Mail and Parcel Select, can be used to mail non-paper premiums.

Apparently anticipating a lot of comment, Postal Service it would allow mailers 60 days after the publication of the notice to file comments with the manager of product classification at Postal Service headquarters.


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