With so much communication, information, and commerce now available via digital means, along with the cultural shift away from regular letter-writing, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has fallen on hard times and needs serious realignment to avoid fiscal catastrophe.  This isn’t exactly news—newspapers and the media in general have been loudly predicting the death of paper mail for a long time.

Yet American citizens and businesses still rely on the mail service every day, especially marketers.  We cannot allow a necessary American institution slide further into financial ruin — that’s why the DMA has been supportive of a number of USPS efforts to realign its business model and return to solvency.  Among other things, we support a plan for the USPS to establish its own healthcare program, with “MediGap” to help cover postal retirees.  We support the creation of a defined contribution retirement system for new hires.  We support legislation recently proposed by the Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Darrell Issa (R-CA) that would allow the USPS to eliminate Saturday delivery and door-to-door delivery as it sees fit, potentially saving the organization over $4 billion.

However, our support is not behind an effort to raise postage rates well above inflation, a “solution” which the USPS Board of Governors is potentially considering on a conference call on September 5.  We believe that a hike in the postage rate will not effectively solve the USPS’s problem, instead shifting responsibility to its most faithful customers- data-driven marketers like you! –  to help dig USPS out of its financial hole.  If the USPS is losing money because of reduced mail volume, the solution is not to make it more expensive to send mail—a step like that only drives customers further away from mail.

To make matters worse, the Board of Governors primarily operates behind closed doors and has been reluctant thus far about accepting outside opinions in its decision-making process. Gene Del Polito, President of the Association for Postal Commerce, has made a statement calling the Board to task: “Do the Governors of the Postal Service have a clear perception of the magnitude and seriousness of the harm that a self-inflicted exigency rate increase would have? Heaven only knows, since the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors (all of whom were nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to serve the public interests of the nation) have steadfastly avoided meeting with any of the representatives of the over eight million people whose livelihoods are intimately associated with the operation of the nation’s universal postal system.”

To raise postage rates above the CPI cap is an irresponsible business decision.  DMA, as part of the Affordable Mail Alliance (AMA), has sent a letter to the USPS Board of Governors voicing our opposition to such an increase. We ask them to do better, and to think more carefully about how to solve a problem that affects not only the industry, but the livelihood of many American citizens.

The DMA also calls on you, our members, to make your voices heard. Send a fax to the USPS Board of Governors at 202 268-5211– and urge them to do what is right.   Use the talking points in this blog, or ask us for a template.  For more information, contact Jerry Cerasale at jcerasale@the-dma.org.

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