2012-01-17 / Front Page

U.S. Postal Service Stamp Rate Increase And Changes Will Take Effect January 22

New Prices Will Lift Cost Of First-Class Stamps To 45 Cents
Staff Report

The cash-strapped U.S. Postal Service announced late last year a one-cent increase in the cost of mailing a letter, starting January 22, 2012.

The new prices will lift the cost of a first-class stamp to 45 cents, the first increase in more than two years.

The Postal Service is facing a financial crisis because mail volumes have declined as more people use electronic mail or the services of private sector competitors such as FedEx and United Parcel Service.

The Postal Service said the cost to mail a postcard will go up three cents to 32 cents, letters to Canada or Mexico will increase five cents to 85 cents, and letters to other international locations will increase sev- en cents to $1.05.

The agency, which is allowed to raise prices in line with the rate of inflation, filed the new prices with the Postal Regulatory Commission in October.

Until the price changes take effect, consumers can still purchase 44-cent Forever stamps, which do not require additional postage after prices go up.

The Postal Service has asked Congress for permission to drastically overhaul its business, including cutting Saturday mail delivery and eliminating a massive annual payment to prefund retiree health benefits. The agency also is studying thousands of post offices and processing facilities for possible closure.

Good news for business mailers: Effective January 22, the second ounce for First-Class Mail Presort is free. This gives companies expanded opportunities to advertise new services and products to their customers as part of bill and statement First-Class Mail Presort mailings weighing between one and two ounces.

Postal Service customers will also be able ship a box for overnight delivery anywhere in the country for one price regardless of weight (up to 70 pounds) starting January 22. That’s when the Express Mail Flat Rate Box debuts and new Shipping Services prices take effect.

“The introduction of the Express Mail Flat Rate Box leverages the success of our Priority Mail Flat Rate advertising campaign and further positions the Postal Service as the best value in the shipping business,” said Paul Vogel, president and chief marketing/sales officer. The new box, priced at $39.95, for domestic mailing, will be available for customers who need overnight service for items larger than what can be placed in an Express Mail Flat Rate Envelope.

Other Express Mail changes include lower retail prices for half- and onepound packages and commercial packages to local and close-in areas. The new retail price for the Express Mail Flat Rate Envelope is $18.95.

The overall price change for all Shipping Services is 4.6 percent, with Priority Mail prices increasing an average 3.1 percent and Express Mail prices increasing an average 3.4 percent.

New domestic retail pricing for Priority Mail Flat Rate products include:

•Small box — $5.35

•Medium box — $11.35

•Large box — $15.45

•Large APO/FPO/DPO box — $13.45

•Regular envelope — $5.15

•Legal-size and Padded envelope — $5.30

Commercial base Priority Mail pricing will offer an average 6.8 percent discount off retail prices for customers using online and other authorized postage payment methods. A new, larger Regional Rate Box C (12” x 12” x 15”) will be added to the existing two sizes. If any of the three Regional Rate Boxes is entered at retail, a 75-cent additional charge will be applied.

Also new for 2012 is Package Intercept for commercial mailers, available through a customer interface on Business Customer Gateway. For $10.95 plus Priority Mail postage, customers can request mail be intercepted before final delivery is attempted to the initial delivery address. The shipment can be returned to sender, held for pick up at a Post Office, or redirected to an alternate address. Intercepted packages are shipped using Priority Mail.

First-Class Package Service (formerly known as First-Class Mail commercial parcels and now a Shipping Services product) will see an overall price increase of 3.7 percent. The Intelligent Mail package barcode will provide free visibility to these parcels.

Prices will also be adjusted for other Shipping Services products and services, including Parcel Select, Parcel Return Service, International Mail, Premium Forwarding Service and Post Office Box Service.

The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

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