FOR: FSC MEMBERS AND FRIENDS
SUBJECT: USPS Content Regulations: First-Class v. Standard Mail
DATE: March 24, 2005
You may recall that in June, 2004, FSC submitted comments on the Postal Service’s Proposed Rule Changes to DMM sections E110 and E610, regarding the types of mail that must be entered as First-Class Mail and that which may be entered as Standard Mail. We expressed concerns over the proposed change as it might affect nonprofit mailers.
On October 27, 2004, the USPS issued its Final Rule for Eligibility Requirements for Standard Mail, and the rule is effective June 1, 2005. Subsequently, it updated existing Customer Service Rulings and also issued new Customer Service Rulings clarifying the application of the rule changes.
Since then, there have been a number of questions raised about the application of the new rule to specific nonprofit packages.
For instance, there has been discussion that “personalization,” which would make a letter ineligible for Standard Mail, could include any request for the recipients to contact their specifically-named Member of Congress. And it has even been suggested that, where the purpose for adding the supposedly personal information of the name of their Congressman did not relate directly to the nonprofit’s solicitation of funds, it could still make the letter ineligible for Standard Mail. Obviously, such a rule would be unacceptable, and FSC will work against it.
Our FSC co-counsel, Bill Olson, has just returned yesterday from the National Postal Forum in Tennessee, where this subject was extensively discussed. We will be holding meetings with USPS staff in Washington, D.C. and advise you when there is news.
Due to the alleged ambiguity of the rule, some have encouraged mailers to inundate the Postal Service with previously-sent mail packages, seeking rulings regarding their eligibility to be sent as Standard Mail. The theory is that by requiring a ruling by the USPS on a host of past mailings, the USPS will come to see their rule is unworkable (or some sort of pattern can be determined regarding what is permitted and what is not).
In fairness to our members, I would caution that if one sends prior mail packages to the USPS for a rate determination, and if those packages are determined to have been INELIGIBLE, the result could be assessment of a postage deficiency by the USPS.