The USPS has announced it will offer a 20% discount on bulk rate First Class Mail between October 1, 2009 and December 31, 2009. This is similar to the “summer sale” on Standard Mail.

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On January 18th, 2009, the USPS will increase their rates on certain services. Overall, there will be a 5 percent increase. Most, but not all the “package services” will be effected. All other classes of mail will not increase until the regularly scheduled increase in May 2009.

Specifically, rates will increase for these classes of mail…

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Move Update is the term used by the USPS to refer to a wide variety of address quality standards. On November 23, 2008, they will change the rules. The requirements will cover more classes of mail, and addresses will have to be updated more often.

Besides the obvious need to stay in line with USPS mailing policies, there are many compelling business reasons to comply, even if your primary class of mail isn’t effected, yet.

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As more details regarding the USPS’ plans for the Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMB) are available, it is possible to start deciding how it will effect you, and planning how to use it.

Originally, the plan was to force the mailing industry to drop the old Postnet bar code and change over to the IMB in January 2009. Even though they have adjusted their schedule, you should begin planning. There are already many benefits you may wish to take advantage of. Currently, you can continue using Postnet  until May 2010. It will still receive the base Automation discounts available with “Basic” IMB. “Full Service” IMB will receive an extra discount beginning in May 2009.

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More details of the May 12 rate increase were released today. With these announcements, the USPS continues it’s shift from a mailing service to a shipping service.

With dropping volume in letter mail, the USPS has been emphasizing their packages services in recent years. They have been particularly aggressive with flat rate Priority Mail boxes, targeted at eBay sellers, and Express Mail services. 

Two rule changes allow them to become even more competitive in the package services (shipping) market. They will now use zones to calculate the postage on  shipments that formerly had fixed prices, and they are now able to offer discounts based on mailing volume and source of sale (online shipments for example). 

Here are some of the details of the new shipping rates…

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In a letter from Postmaster General John E. Potter, the USPS announced updates to the implementation schedule and other details regarding the new Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMB)

The IMB, also known as the 4-state barcode, is a replacement of the older Postnet barcode used to assist the post office in routing First Class, Standard Mail and Periodicals based letters, flats and some parcels. You probably have already received mail using the new IMB code. Where Postnet had short and tall bars that were level on the bottom, the IMB “sticks out” on both the top and bottom. The reason for this is to increase the amount of data that can be stored in the code. In the original implementation plan, mailers were to be required to switch over to the IMB by January 2009. While there are still many reasons for mailers to convert as soon as possible, the new plans are more flexible.

Here is the text of the letter from the Postmaster General…

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