I hope you’ve had a wonderful summer.
Along with the changing colors of trees and cooler weather (at least here in WI), Fall brings a few changes to First-Class Mail® parcels. Effective October 3, 2011, First-Class Mail commercial Base and commercial Plus parcels will be removed from the Market Dominant (Mailing Services) product offering (recall that these pricing categories were just introduced in April!), and replaced with a new First-Class™ Package Service Competitive Product (Shipping Services). In doing so, the USPS will have greater pricing flexibility based on a price floor, rather than a price cap (e.g. CPI).
With the move of Commercial FCM parcels to the Competitive category, parcels mailed at commercial Base prices will be open to Postal Inspection and cannot contain documents or personal correspondence, i.e. content defined as a ‘letter’ per 39 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 310.1. (The CFR describes a ‘letter’ as a message directed to a specific person or address and recorded in or on a tangible object.) An exception to this limitation of personal, ‘letter’-type content is that parcels may contain invoices, receipts, incidental advertising, and other documents that relate in all substantial respects to merchandise contained in the parcels.
This change may impact some of you… There are generally two applications for FCM parcels. One application is that of light-weight merchandise such as electronics or pharmaceuticals. In most cases, the new regulations won’t impact this application as these parcels may contain invoices, receipts, incidental advertising, and other documents providing they relate in all substantial respects to merchandise contained in the parcels.
A second application for FCM parcels is often used as a cost-saving alternative to Certified Mail™ and Return Receipt pieces. Documents, i.e., ‘letters’ are placed in parcel-type containers and then combined with Delivery Confirmation™ or Signature Confirmation™ to gain delivery information at a lower overall cost. And since April, with this type of application, you may have enjoyed the discounted single-piece FCM Commercial Base parcel price (15 cents lower than the retail price). However, with the Oct. 3rd change, since personal correspondence won’t be permitted within the new First-Class™ Package Service commercial Base parcel category, you’ll need to resort back to the FCM Retail price for those parcel applications. For “non-personal” type parcels though, First-Class™ Package Service commercial Base parcel pricing can apply.
Pitney Bowes will be providing information as to how to process packages based on the new pricing category…. So please stay tuned!
And as always, I welcome your feedback… including how you most often use First-Class Mail parcels… for documents? for merchandise?
Until next time,