Postal News from December 2000
December 31, 2000 -- Looking for the U.S. Postal Service revenue, piece, weight data for any particular year? Well, PostCom's got it. More specifically, PostCom members can review on this web site the USPS' RPW reports for the postal fiscal years 1995 - 2000.
December 30, 2000 -- As Information Week has noted: "typically, business owners pay bills through QuickBooks by generating paper checks on printers and mailing them. Others use services such as CheckFree Corp. that deliver payments to big financial institutions electronically and print paper checks for recipients who can't receive electronic payments. A new CheckSpace option aims to expand the number of small businesses sending and receiving electronic payments. Small businesses pay their bills using the QuickBooks software. When they click 'print,' the payments go directly to CheckSpace and are delivered to the recipient either electronically or by paper check. CheckSpace is trying to create a community for small businesses and consumers to handle financial transactions as big businesses do. It's added a 'pay anyone' feature so customers can send checks to people or businesses that aren't registered CheckSpace customers. Previously, both payer and payee had to be registered with CheckSpace."
December 30, 2000 -- The Federal Times has reported that "smarting from the Postal Rate Commission’s refusal to approve a requested 6.4 percent postage rate hike, the U.S. Postal Service’s Board of Governors announced it may raise postage rates on its own."
December 30, 2000 -- Dr. Kim Howells, Minister for Consumer Affairs, has announced the members of the new Consumer Council for Postal Services (CCPS) which begins its work on 1 January 2001. Created under the Postal Services Act 2000, the CCPS will champion the rights of all the users of postal services in the UK. The role of the Council will involve: (1) monitoring the targets set by the regulator on quality of service, complaints handling and compensation; (2) dealing with complaints and providing training, advice and support to the regional offices; (3) developing policy on service issues with the Post Office and other licensees as they come on stream; (4) advising on licence issues; and (5) commissioning research and gathering information from regional sources on issues affecting consumers. The CCPS will be chaired by Peter Carr, currently the Chairman of the Post Office Users' National Council and will have nine regional offices. The membership of the new Council is: Tom Begg OBE, Regional Chair Scotland Eifion Pritchard, Regional Chair Wales Sir John Semple KCB, Regional Chair Northern Ireland Robert Burgin, Regional Chair Eastern England Kay Dixon, Regional Chair Greater London Judith Donovan CBE, Regional Chair Northern England Charles Howeson, Regional Chair South West Peter Privett, Regional Chair South East Richard Ward, Regional Chair Midlands Moi Ali; Diane Bailey; Janet Candler; and Ann Foster.
December 29, 2000 -- According to The Wall Street Journal, "in a slowing economy, United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) and FedEx Corp. (FDX) face the challenge of getting their largest customers to go along with the higher prices they announced this week." In yet another report, it was noted that "historically, UPS and FedEx have been able to maintain their cost structures at the start of an economic slowdown, Wolfe said, but ``if volumes start shrinking there would be pressure to add packages to the system'' by cutting prices." They ought to add that feature to U.S. postal rates!
December 29, 2000 -- The Wilmington Morning Star (NC) has reported that "Either competition from online bill-paying services taking a bite out of U.S. Postal Service revenues, a mail-processing center proposed for Wilmington will be delayed." Postal officials say that the Postal Service doesn't believe the money saved would be enough to justify the expense of the new processing center, especially given that the Postal Service expects to lose $17 billion to the Internet over the next five years. "The Postal Service had to reassess the need for additional facilities, given the climate of the economy and potential for Internet bill paying," a local official said.
December 28, 2000 -- In a perspective prepared for Direct magazine, postal commentator Gene Del Polito has emphasized the need for ALL members of the direct mail marketing and advertising industry to play a direct and personal role in the postal legislative reform process.
December 28, 2000 -- The Financial Times has reported that "the French post office is to take full control of Deutscher Paket Dienst (DPD), Germany's second largest parcel company, when it raises its stake from 50 to 85 per cent in a E420m ($391m) deal within the next two weeks." According to the Times, "this move will considerably strengthen La Poste's position on the German market. Deutsche Post has been investing heavily over the last few years by taking over several courier, express and parcel companies in Europe. Deutsche Post's expansion means that other German parcel companies will have to catch up if they do not want the yellow giant to take control."
December 28, 2000 -- For the latest on weather-related postal delays, be sure to check the Postal Service's RIBBS web site.
December 28, 2000 -- TNT Post Group's TNT International Express unit named Mark Gunton to the newly created position of president and chief executive of the Americas. Gunton most recently was president of the unit's North America unit for more than a year. TNT Post also named Curtis Watson to the newly created post of president of its USA region. He most recently was vice president, U.S. sales and marketing.
December 28, 2000 -- Writing for DM News, postal commentator Cary Baer has noted that "The Board [of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service] has requested that the PRC [Postal Rate Commission] reconsider its decision "as expeditiously as possible." However, it’s unlikely that the PRC, after this second look, will provide significant additional revenues. The board may have made a tactical mistake by sending the decision back to the PRC. Though the PRC undoubtedly will try to be as expeditious as possible, there is no legal timetable for the review. Therefore, significant delay, however unlikely, could affect the timing of the next rate case. However, if the commission follows the governors’ direction and increases the contingency allotment, the result will be even higher rates for commercial mailers — the same universe that the USPS will need to rely upon for postal reform to proceed."
December 28, 2000 -- AT&T Corp. has said it would pass to consumers an increase in fees the carrier must pay the government to subsidize phone service in rural areas and hook up schools to the Internet, among other things.The nation's largest long-distance telephone company said it would charge consumers 9.9 percent of their total long-distance and international calls to cover payments to the so-called universal service fund, up from 8.6 percent. Hmmmm. A sign of things to come from postal?
December 28, 2000 -- The American Postal Workers Union (APWU) is claiming that "APWU history was made in Austin, TX, last week when private-sector mail drivers at Cook Mail Service staged a successful two-day strike. This was the first strike ever by private-sector mail industry employees represented by the American Postal Workers Union."
December 28, 2000 -- FedEx Corp.has announced that its subsidiary Federal Express Corporation ("`FedEx Express'') will increase list rates an average of 4.9 percent for shipments within the United States effective February 1, 2001. US export shipments generally will receive an average list rate increase of 2.9 percent. FedEx Express last adjusted rates in 1999. Customers can download their rates from the password-secure FedEx Customized Rate Guide Web site. This site allows customers to download rate files or receive customized rate quotes by using a personalized RateFinder application. It also allows customers to select rates to download for specific US and international express services.
The Wall Street Journal described the move as "hunkering down in the face of slowing growth in the delivery business." The paper said the move is "a gamble that customers will stomach the higher cost, rather than shift to lower-price, and often slower, delivery options. Still, with volume growth in the delivery market decelerating, the Memphis, Tenn., shipper and its competitors may have little choice but to try to boost profits through higher prices."
The New York Times reported that " reaction from catalog companies, online merchants and other heavy users of overnight delivery services was muted" even though "catalog or online merchants that sell inexpensive products are among the companies most likely to be hurt by the FedEx increases."
December 28, 2000 -- United Parcel Service will be raising its rates as well. The following is a summary of the UPS rate increase plan. Overall, air rates for the 48 state-origin air services will increase 3.7 percent. Rates for 3 Day Select Commercial will increase 3.5 percent. Total Ground common carrier rates will increase 3.9 percent (including delivery area surcharge). Total U.S. origin international rates will increase 2.9 percent. The residential premium for 3 Day Select will remain $1 more than the commercial rate. The residential premium for Ground will increase five cents to $1.05 more than the commercial rate. C.O.D. charge will increase from $5.50 to $6. Early A.M. surcharge will increase from $25.00 to $27.50. Hazardous Materials charge for air parcels will increase from $25 to $27. Hazardous Materials charge for Ground parcels will increase from $15 to $17. Weekly Service Charge for customers with no weekly billed revenue will increase from $15 to $16. Weekly Service Charge for customers with weekly billed volume up to $49.99 will increase from $10.50 to $11.
December 27, 2000 -- Postal economist/observer Alan Robinson has told PostCom that: "It appears that the economy, and in particular parcel shipping hit a brick wall sometime in Novermber. Both Federal Express and UPS have reduced their earnings estimates for the current period based on the slow down. Federal Express has stated that it experienced a sharp decline in volumes in mid-October in their conference call to Analysts. This has been confirmed for the USPS as well. Through AP 13 Parcel Post and Priority Mail volumes were growing at a large single digit rate on a year to year basis. Parcel volumes were up 8% year to year in AP 13 and down 5% in AP2 and down 6% in AP3. Priority Mail began to show declines in year to year volumes in AP3. AP4 may not have been much better. The USPS probaly was planning to handle about 10 to 15% more parcel volumes than they did in the first quarter. If so, they, no doubt, were not able to react to the downturn as quickly as they needed to. This would mean that instead of showing a significant profit in AP4, it is now possible that they will show a loss. All parcel carriers did not react fast enough to this slowdown and as such all had too many casual employees throughout the season. (Both FedEx and UPS have said that they significantly cutback seasonal hiring due to the slowdown.) Following the slowdown in the parcel market and in retail sales in general, all other classes of mail will decline as businesses cut back on advertising, purchsing and all other businesss activities in response to the sudden decline in retail sales. Expect to see this slowdown come in the first calender quarter."
December 26, 2000 -- TrafficWorld has reported that "Pat Lupo, executive chairman of DHL International, has been dispatched from Brussels to San Francisco to oversee the integration of DHL's U.S. operations into the company's global express network, according to Klaus Zumwinkel, chairman of Deutsche Post, which owns a majority stake in DHL International. A DHL International spokesman says Mr. Lupo's mission will be to work in cooperation with U.S.-based DHL Airways, which owns a majority of the company, to strengthen DHL Worldwide Express' market share in the United States."
December 26, 2000 -- The Times (London) has reported that PostComm, the regulator for the Royal Mail (as opposed to PostCom®, the Association for Postal Commerce), is to scrap the Post Office monopoly on letter deliveries, opening the door for rivals to grab a share of the UK’s £7.5 billion postal market. PostComm will enable new operators to enter the market under licence from March, when it takes responsibility for Post Office regulation.Currently the Post Office is the only company offering postal services in a “reserved area” covering letters weighing less than 350 grams and costing less than £1 to post.
December 25, 2000 -- Merry Christmas! Feliz
Navidad. Joyeux Noel. Buon Natale.
Frohe Weihnachten.Alegre Christmas. 祝你聖誕快樂
Okay, enough of the happy stuff. Now on to the present state of America's postal reality. The Postal Service's accounting period three results are out, and they don't look good. Revenue for the period was $5.007 billion, or about 2.4% below budget and 0.1% below the same period of a year ago. Expenses totaled some $5.0992 billion, or about 0.1% below budget and 5.5% above last year. For AP 3, the Postal Service racked up a $ 91.7 million loss. So far this year, the USPS' net income of $245.9 is about $141.8 million below budget and over $560 million below last year's figure of 816.4 million.
According to postal watcher Alan Robinson, these results are being drive by no overall mail volume growth and for declining volumes and weights of "seasonal products", largely parcels. Robinson said the USPS suffered a decline in 1st Class volume by 1.5% and revenue by 2.2%, worth about $60 million overall. "Declines in revenue per piece for First Class, Express Mail, Standard (B), Parcels and International Mail most likely due to lower weight and more increased proportion of workshared mail," he said, play a part.
Robinson said the AP3 figures show the Postal Service did "too much hiring for Christmas--almost 4,000 more employees than last year (15,000 more casuals - fewer career and transitional)." Delivery points, he noted, are increasing as volumes remain steady. This results in fewer numbers of pieces per stop and increased delivery costs. "Costs," Robinson claimed, "appear to be out of control as volumes drop." And, heck, that doesn't even take into account the likely dampening effect the year 2001 postal rate increases will have on overall mail volume. A key issue to watch, he said, is the binding arbitration now underway with the American Postal Workers Union. APWU, he said, wanted a no lay-off clause in its new contract. For its part, if volumes continue to decline, the need for layoffs will become paramount.
Be sure to check out the announcement on World e-Post Summit 2001.
December 24, 2000 -- According to the British newspaper, The Independent, "it is true that a flat-rate national postal service is both a natural monopoly and a social service, part of the glue that holds the nation together. That does not mean that it has to stay in the public sector, however. Although there would be no efficiency gain from having different-coloured pillar boxes on the streets, it is perfectly possible to privatise the letter post as a regulated monopoly....There should be as much competition as possible for everything other than the standard letter service."
December 24, 2000 -- According to the Indianapolis Star, "all three major package delivery companies -- UPS, Federal Express and the U.S. Postal Service -- say they are delivering more Christmas packages than ever before. Blame it on a dot-com world....Though holiday spending as a whole is expected to increase by only a few percentage points over last year, holiday spending online is expected to triple, according to Purdue University's Retail Institute."
December 24, 2000 -- Reuters has noted that "despite costly efforts to market their Web sites, operators of e-commerce sites, including traditional retailers, have been only minimally successful and have a long way to go to win a place in consumers' hearts and wallets, according to a recent study." ""`E-brands are today where the Model T was at the beginning of the automobile revolution,'' said Stephen Dull, an Atlanta-based partner in Andersen Consulting's eBranding practice, which recently released the results of a survey of 2,000 U.S. Internet shoppers.The North American Internet retailing market, which topped $16.7 billion in 1999, will grow to $142.4 billion in revenues by 2004, a compound annual growth rate of 53 percent, according to a forecast by Gartner Group Inc., a Stamford, Conn.-based technology research and consulting firm.
December 23, 2000 -- The Postal Rate Commission (PRC) has told the U.S. Postal Service to go sit on a tack as far as its request for a shorter reconsideration schedule is concerned.
December 23, 2000 -- Reuters has reported that "European Union governments failed...to reach a deal to reduce the monopolies enjoyed by national post offices on letter deliveries and allow greater competition. A gulf between mostly northern European states, which wanted to completely open up the postal market and those wary of the effect on jobs and service standards, meant EU ministers emerged from 10 hours of discussions with no deal....Under a 1997 EU law, countries opened a minimum of three percent of their postal markets to competition. The European Commission -- the EU's executive -- proposed to expand this to 20 percent by the end of 2005. The issue will now be discussed further by ministers next year, although positions were so entrenched that a deal may not be reached for many years." It now may be up to the Swedish government, which takes up the reins of the EU presidency from France at the start of next year, on how much priority the "extremely sensitive" issue would now be given. Sweden is among the countries pushing for rapid market opening, against countries like France and Britain which are resisting. See also the report by Dow Jones.
December 23, 2000 -- The report published by the British newspaper, The Independent, shows just how emotional the European postal debate has become. It said that "Eurocrats want to throw open the EU postal market to competition, effectively privatising the distribution of mail. This would threaten an end to the tradition of the Post Office as a nationwide one–stamp–one–price service that reaches all parts of the country, however remote. The commission says the move is vital to modernise Europe's antiquated national postal systems by 2003 as part of EU efforts to catch up with the United States markets in information technology." SkyNews noted also that "Royal Mail has warned it would risk one third of its 160,000 jobs,lead to higher prices, and allow private companies to 'cherry pick' lucrative markets, leaving remote corners of Britain without a proper service." One can only imagine the emotion that will laden the debate over postal modernization when the seriousness of the Postal Service's fiscal problems come home to roost.
December 23, 2000 -- Well...it wasn't just Britain and France that resisted the push for opening markets to competition. Irish Public Enterprise Minister Mary O'Rourke also moved to block the proposed liberalization of postal services throughout the community. Ministers are split on the issue, both on the date by which the services will have to face full competition from the private sector and the speed at which liberalisation is implemented. The Irish Government believes the plans go too far and would threaten Ireland's rural postal network
December 22, 2000 -- At Jupiter Research, a Jupiter Media Metrix company, analysts are ratcheting down their earlier numbers and making new predictions. Last year, for example, online retail sales were forecast to grow to $78 billion by 2003. Now, the market research firm says online retail sales in 2003 will be around $70.8 billion. In a report released this week, Jupiter estimates Web sales will increase from $36.4 billion this year to $51.6 billion next year. To make matters worse, A CBS News/New York Times poll has revealed that growth in Internet usage over the past year does not appear to have produced increased holiday traffic at e-commerce sites. According to the survey, 35 percent of Americans who have access to the Internet either plan to buy gifts online or have already done so, virtually unchanged from 1999's 33 percent.
December 22, 2000 -- Horst Manner-Romberg of the MRU Consultancy GmbH has reported to PostCom that "last night a pre-contract between the French La Poste and six of the seven remaining shareholders of the German DPD Deutscher Paket Dienst has been signed. La Poste aquired the parcel business of Hellmann, Cordes und Simon, Zufall, Honold, Streck and Rhenania for an estimated amount of EUR 420 mio.By that deal La Poste has reached it`s selfgiven goal of getting the majority of the biggest privately held parcel network and has now a share of 85% of DPD Germany, the major partner within the European DPD organisation." Things postal in Europe are beginning to get very interesting.
December 22, 2000 -- In a commentary published in The Wall Street Journal, Philippe Bodson, president of the Free and Fair Post Initiative, wrote "nine months ago European Union leaders met in Lisbon and agreed to speed up liberalization of the EU's monopolistic postal companies. As ministers of member states meet tomorrow in Brussels to discuss the European Commission's proposal for a step-by-step opening of postal services across Europe to competition, they are under pressure from a handful of national interest groups -- as well as the European Parliament -- to retreat from their Lisbon commitments. How this meeting turns out will speak volumes about the EU's determination to actually modernize the European economy, rather than merely promise to do so."
December 22, 2000 -- Airborne Freight Corporation , which operates under the trade name Airborne Express, has announced the adoption of a holding company structure. The name of the new holding company is Airborne, Inc.
December 22, 2000 -- The French newspaper, Le Monde, has reported that "the French council of ministers has appointed socialist Martin Vial as managing director of the post office (La Poste) and three new directors from the industrial, technological and financial sectors. Trade unions say the appointments demonstrate government ambitions for the post office, and the finance ministry has confirmed that in the medium-term, a change in status for the public service will be necessary. Unlike most of its counterparts in Europe, the French post office has no capital and is therefore obliged to confine itself to commercial partnerships and modest investments rather than substantial acquisitions. Although it has purchased companies in Germany, the UK and the US, it has limited room for manoeuvre. European ministers are expected to approve a vote in the European Parliament for limited privatization in the postal sector."
December 22, 2000 -- Agence Europe has reported that : Deutsche Post, La Poste (France) and Canada Post have expressed interest in taking a maximum 25% stake in Hellenic Post Office (ELTA) as well as 50% in Tachymetafores, its courier business.
December 22, 2000 -- TNT Post Group NV and Ikea AB have signed a letter of intent to develop, implement and manage a global home delivery service for Ikea customers. The new service will be rolled out in the Nordic countries in 2002, followed by Germany, France and the UK, before being extended to other parts of the world. TPG said initial indications show volumes could reach up to 7 mln deliveries a year by 2004. Wouldn't it be a hoot to see the same sort of service offered in the U.S.?
December 22, 2000 -- Canada Post claims it has closed the loop in the online shopping cycle, providing businesses a rapid, cost-effective and easy-to-use returns solution that's as convenient as the nearest mailbox or post office through its special eReturns Management Center. The service provides Internet shoppers with rapid credit/exchange flexibility: customers obtain credit/exchange and return authorization from merchants via the Internet, download a prepaid Xpresspost label which they print and affix to their parcel, and then deposit their item at a mailbox or nearby post office. Canada Post employees electronically document the returned items and send them back to designated customer warehouses.
December 22, 2000 -- The Journal of Commerce has reported that "the European Union's 15-year struggle to deregulate its $75 billion mail market is at loggerheads as postal and telecommunications ministers prepare for a crucial meeting in Brussels." See also the report from the BBC.
December 22, 2000 -- According to Sherry Chiger, editorial director of Catalog Age magazine, mailer should organize a million mailer march on Washington to bring home the fact that the Postal Service needs some serious legislative fixing.
December 22, 2000 -- In an "opinion letter" issued earlier this month, the Department of Labor appears to conclude that FedEx's ground-delivery drivers are employees rather than independent contractors. The distinction is important, because labor laws make it almost impossible for unions to organize independent contractors, which FedEx (FDX, news, msgs) claims its 9,000 ground-delivery drivers are since they usually own their own trucks. Those drivers also pay for their own fuel and other operating expenses, and have flexibility in their work routines.Teamsters officials claim the federal agency's finding gives them a new weapon against FedEx's longstanding efforts to keep unions out of its 124,000-person work force. Pilots are the only unionized employee group at the Memphis, Tenn., package-delivery company, and it took more than five years of bitter negotiations to agree on a new contract early last year.
December 22, 2000 -- The Salt Lake Tribune has reported that "United Parcel Service (UPS) has decided not to renew its global Games sponsorship after eight years in the driver's seat, sending Olympic marketers scrambling for a replacement. Suitors could include Federal Express, the U.S. Postal Service, Airborne Express and DHL Worldwide Express."
December 22, 2000 -- Now here's a neat idea! Linn's Stamp News has reported that Finland Post has introduced two firsts with its Christmas stamps for the year 2000: its first Christmas self-adhesive stamps and its first stamps that could be personalized with a photograph on an attached label.
December 22, 2000 -- According to DM News, United Parcel Service and FedEx Corp. reported softening volumes this holiday season as a result of a slowing across the U.S. economy, but the U.S. Postal Service said its package volume exceeded expectations this year.
December 22, 2000 -- Gains in a United States Postal Service Handwritten Improvement Program (HIP) are most noticeable during the holiday mailing season. At a time when Americans are expected to mail more than 20 billion mail pieces, address recognition equipment from Lockheed Martin Systems Integration - Owego is helping to put letters into the processing and distribution streams faster.
December 22, 2000 -- According to CNET.Com, "Many consumers scrambling to prepare for the holidays are saving time by sending electronic greetings instead of writing cards by hand.E-cards have undeniable advantages for the holiday harried. They are usually free, filled with graphics and animation and, best of all, they usually get there when a person wants them to.
December 22, 2000 -- According to European sources, British Post Office Minister Alan Johnson has published draft guidance for the Postal Services Commission (PSC) requiring it to take into account the unique social function of post offices when it carries out its duties.
December 22, 2000 -- Handelsblatt has reported that economics minister Werner Mueller has said a cut in postal rates is "possible" now that the German postal monopoly will be extended beyond 2002.
December 22, 2000 -- Must'a missed this one redux....According to Patricial Ireland, President of the National Organization of Women (NOW) has declared that "this holiday season the U.S. Postal Service has more to worry about than overwhelming quantities of packages to deliver. Today the National Organization for Women names the U.S. Postal Service a Merchant of Shame and launches an internet campaign to stamp out discrimination at the post office." PMG Henderson must be quaking in his boots.
December 21, 2000 -- Be sure to check the latest weather advisory from the U.S. Postal Service to learn more about how inclement weather may be affecting mail delivery.
December 21, 2000 -- ChangeAddress (http://www.changeaddress.com) has reported that it is continuing to sign distribution partnerships. The market-leading provider of online technology solutions for the change-of-address process today announced a marquee partnership with two online real estate sites owned by Classified Ventures (www.classifiedventures.com) , a leading provider of consumer-focused, online decision support services. Classified Ventures' nationally branded online real estate marketplaces include: Apartments.com (www.apartments.com), one of the largest online apartment sites on the web; MovingCenter.com (www.movingcenter.com), a widely distributed moving portal; HomeScape.com (www.homescape.com), a leading real estate information web site; HomeFinder.com (www.homefinder.com), a home listings indexing site; HomeHunter, a local real estate service available through newspaper web sites; and NewHomeNetwork.com (www.newhomenetwork.com), a premier online marketplace for builders, developers and buyers of newly constructed homes and listed as one of the "best of the web" by Forbes.com. These real estate web sites can now help their users avoid the tedious process of going to the Post Office to forward their mail, and calling or writing every business or institution that needs to be informed when one moves. Instead, visitors to Apartments.com or MovingCenter.com can quickly and easily use ChangeAddress' online application to update all of their addresses in 15 minutes or less.
December 21, 2000 -- According to Contra Costa Times, the good folks in Contra Costa, CA are far from pleased with the quality of mail service they're receiving. Late deliveries, parcels left out in the open on mailboxes, and credit card interest charges resulting from the untimely delivery of credit card payments are some of the major gripes. As the Postal Service's fiscal crisis ripens, this sort of phenomenon will become much more commonplace and will worsen.
December 21, 2000 -- Must'a missed this one....The Washington Times noted that on December 15 the National Organization for Women held a protest at the National Postal Museum to demand "Women-Friendly Post Offices" and call on the postmaster general to stamp out harassment and discrimination against female postal workers.
December 21, 2000 -- A booklet of three 22-carat gold postage stamps celebrating the birth of Jesus has been issued by the Palestinian Postal Authority. It contains stamps based on Giotto's The Nativity, issued last December, Giotto's The Crucifixion, issued last Easter, and Madonna of the Star by Fra Angelico, which it was planned to issue this Christmas. That has been delayed by the current crisis in the Middle East. A special postmark for Christmas Day will be available from the Palestinian Postal Authority.
December 21, 2000 -- Online auction leader eBay has begun to give its users direct access to United Parcel Service shipping options through the eBay Web site. The partnership, which UPS called the first integration of a shipping company into an e-commerce site, is designed to make it easier for eBay users to ship packages -- often a hurdle in completing consumer-to-consumer auctions. A link to the UPS Service Center within eBay can now be found on eBay's home page.
December 21, 2000 -- ReturnValet has been billed as "a convenient, low-cost option for returning products purchased from catalog and web retailers." Nearly 90 area mail and parcel centers in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex are providing the new ReturnValet service for product returns beginning Dec. 26. The new service is delivered by Newgistics Inc. through innovative technology that integrates mail centers and retail partners' databases with ReturnValet's technology center. The new technology offers instant access to a customer's order transaction, allowing quick credit back to the consumer by the retailer. The participating mail centers provide convenient neighborhood brick-and-mortar locations to return goods. In addition, the ReturnValet service at the mail centers will offer consumers quick credit, low shipping rates and friendly customer assistance. Consumers need to bring a receipt of purchase or shipping invoice to the mail center with their item. Participating mail centers include Eagle Postal Centers, Associated Mail & Parcel Centers (AMPC), Handle With Care Packaging Store, Neighborhood Postal Centers (NPC), Pak Mail, Parcel Plus, PostalAnnex+ and PostNet International Franchise Corp., as well as other independently owned centers.
December 21, 2000 -- Dow Jones has reported that "the European Union Commission's drive to liberalize the E.U.'s EUR80 billion a year postal market is facing stiff resistance, but the upcoming Swedish presidency may breath new life into the long-running and politically sensitive reform. At stake is whether the E.U. will eventually force its national postal companies to give up their monopolies in standard and direct mail, and open the market for outward cross-border mail and express mail services."
December 20, 2000 -- U.S. Postal Service (USPS) chief technology officer Peter Jacobson has announced that his Information Platform team has been working with its internal and external USPS customers to standardize and replace the current 8- and 10-digit sack and tray labels with a single 24-digit barcoded label format. The proposed barcode routing and tracking strategy will uniquely identify every tray and sack processed throughout the entire postal distribution network, allowing near real-time measurement and confirmation to: enable advanced e-business capabilities provided by PostalOne!; provide visibility into mailings by enabling real-time verification and reconciliation of origin and destination mailings; provide real-time information to improve service through better business decisions and resource management (advanced volume forecasting, identify and help resolve sources of misrouted mail); and provide a real-time information system that would allow plants, customers, and transportation planners to use available information to dynamically optimize the allocation of resources.
December 20, 2000 -- PostCom President Gene Del Polito has announced the re-opening of the PostCom Forum -- an online information and message exchanged maintained for PostCom members only.
December 20, 2000 -- According to the MRU Consultancy's newsletter, CEP News (Courier, Express, Parcel), "Deutsche Post will in future be banned from using its slogan stating that '95% of all domestic letters in Germany reach their destination within 24 hours of being posted.'" According to CEP News, this outcome was the result of a "crucial hearing before the Cologne higher regional court, which followed upon a temporary injuction obtained in August by the Federal Association of International Express and Courier Services against the use of the slogan." The Federation claimed that only 86% of mail reached its destination within 24 hours. Deutsche Post reportedly already had agreed to drop the slogan, thus mooting the judicial challenge.
December 20, 2000 -- Quicken.Com has reported that FedEx Corporation has reported earnings increased to $0.67 per diluted share for the quarter ended November 30, up 18% from $0.57 per share last year. The following are its consolidated results for the second quarter: revenue of $4.9 billion, up 7% from $4.6 billion the previous year; operating income of $345 million, up 13% from $305 million a year ago; net income of $194 million, up 13% from last year's $171 million. The fastest growing portion of the business remains FedEx International Priority(R) (IP) shipments--IP revenue increased more than 16% compared to last year's strong second quarter, as FedEx experienced double-digit volume growth of 11% and a solid yield increase of 5%. In the U.S., average daily volume growth rates for FedEx Express' U.S. domestic overnight box service increased 4% over last year. Meanwhile, growth in U.S. domestic deferred services continues to be slow, as expected, as we proceed with the repositioning of our FedEx Express Saver(R) service. Total package yield at FedEx Express increased 6%. Average daily volume from the new FedEx Home Delivery service doubled from the end of the first quarter to the end of the second quarter, as previously forecast. The continued expansion of Home Delivery, in conjunction with FedEx's new bundling and rebranding strategies, helped increase FedEx Ground's average daily volume growth rate to 7%, the best in more than two years. FedEx Ground's yield also improved, increasing more than 4%.December 20, 2000 -- Here's one for the book from the Annals of Improbable Research.
December 20, 2000 -- January brings new higher postal rates for "The Great White North" as well as the U.S. New Canadian domestic, international and U.S.A. postal rates that will take effect January 1, 2001. Canada Post had announced July 1st that an increase in the domestic basic letter rate, the first in two years, will take place January 1st, raising the price of a stamp by one cent to 47 cents. Under the price-cap formula, the domestic basic lettermail rate cannot exceed 66.67 per cent of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index. Even at the new rate, Canadians will still enjoy the second lowest domestic letter rate in the industrialized world. Postal rates for International and USA destinations will also increase effective January 1st. International rates will rise 10 cents to $1.05 and mail to the United States will increase by 5 cents. The rate to the U.S. will remain significantly less than the rate the U.S. postal service charges on basic letters addressed to Canada. It will cost 60 cents to mail a letter from Canada to the U.S. compared to 82 cents to mail a letter to Canada from the States. For U.S. mailers, here's the key--Canada Post announced its postal rate increases a full six-months before implementing them. Here in the States, the geniuses who run our postal system will implement new, higher American postal rates in less than 40 days.That leaves American mailers precious little time to adjust their operating and marketing plans to the prospects of changed postal rates, classifications, and implementing rules.
December 20, 2000 -- Put this into the "to make matters worse column." The following communication has been distributed by postal headquarters to all postal software vendors:
I'm sorry to inform all of you of this, but there are errors on seven of the 3602s, one nonprofit permit imprint and six postage affixed forms. The 3602-P, 3602-PRV, 3602-PN, and 3602-PNV (all postage affixed forms), contain some line numbering inconsistencies. The errors are confined to the "3/5 Presorted" and "Basic Automation" entries in Part D. The statements will be corrected to show: D5 Basic Automation D6 3/5 Presorted; D12 Basic Automation D13 3/5 Presorted D19 Basic Automation D20 3/5 Presorted These corrections will make all the line numbers consistent across all permit imprint and postage affixed 3602s for letters and flats. * The 3602-NS, and 3602-NPS, incorrectly contain the "check box" for enclosed reply pieces. This standard does not apply to barcoded Standard Mail parcels. * Finally, to conform with new DMM P600.4 & P600.5.3 (Fed. Reg. Notice 12/15/00), the 3602-PS, and 3602-NPS postage affixed forms with residual shape surcharge, did not allow for precanceled stamps or for postage to be metered at the lowest rate in the mailing and for the mailer to "pay up" on any basic rate pieces. This provision is ONLY permitted without special services, and the parcel mailing is either 100% barcoded, or 100% nonbarcoded. New PDFs of the above statements will be forthcoming. These errors will be corrected and the incorrect statements will replaced on the Internet on both the PAVE and usps.com sites as soon as possible. These statements will be corrected in time for the hard-copy statements to be printed and distributed to the field. Unfortunately, the statements contained in the Dec. 21, 2000 Special Postal Bulletin will be in error.
This baloney is INEXCUSABLE!! It has become increasingly apparent that only a legislative directive will change this sort of behavior.
December 20, 2000 -- The British newspaper, The Guardian, has reported that the U.K. Post Office has blamed increased competition in the industry and unexpectedly high costs for an £80m first half loss and warned of tougher times to come.
December 20, 2000 -- State-owned postal operator New Zealand Post Ltd. Tuesday said it anticipated a ratings downgrade from international ratings agency Standard & Poor's Corp. following a difficult year with declining mail volumes. New Zealand Post Chief Executive Elmar Toime, in a statement, said the lower mail volumes were due to a flat economy and increasing electronic substitution for mail as well as competition in the mail sector.
December 20, 2000 -- Disturbing footage captured by ABCNEWS affiliate KSTP in St. Louis shows Northwest Airlines baggage handlers tossing U.S. Postal Service packages around with little care.The outrageous video shows three baggage handlers working in the snow, taking packages off the conveyor belt coming from the plane and, instead of placing them gently into a nearby bin, tossing them high in the air, flipping them about and even trying some "stunt" moves.
December 20, 2000 -- CardStore.com, the on-demand solution for personalized print communications, has launched a custom card service for the U.S. Postal Service. Under the agreement, users visiting the Postal Service's Web site at usps.com can create, personalize and send high-quality, custom-printed cards and photo cards in minutes through the "NetPost CardStore.'' CardStore.com will provide the online card selection and personalization experience as well as next day custom printing and mail services, while the Postal Service will promote the service and handle delivery of the cards from CardStore's production facility to the card's recipient.
December 20, 2000 -- U.S. postal service franchise PostNet has been dealt a potentially fatal setback in Shanghai after China's postal authorities moved to squelch a challenge to its domestic monopoly. Shanghai's postal bureau this week ordered PostNet to tear out its mailboxes, and ordered them handed over to authorities in a week, highlighting the uncertainties of doing business in China and leaving the company wondering what to do next. The boxes that apparently drew the ire of the city's postal bureau, which this week moved in to prevent PostNet from encroaching on its territory. The clampdown came after the official Xinhua news agency reported earlier this month that some of PostNet's offerings, like the rented mailboxes, were prohibited. Postal authorities had launched an investigation into services that were in effect a form of mail delivery. See also the story from the Xinhua news agency.
December 20, 2000 -- A reporter from the San Jose Mercury News gets some first hand experience of what it's like being a postal counter clerk during the holiday rush.
December 19, 2000 -- The Postal Service has published in Commerce Business Daily a request for proposal for companies who are interested in providing for the removal of more than 800 replace FSM 881s from some 500 sites nationwide.
December 19, 2000 -- The Postal Service has published in the Federal Register a final rule adopting a proposal to amend section A920 of the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) to provide an electronic address sequencing service.
December 19, 2000 -- The Daily Telegraph has commented that "it is becoming increasingly clear, however, that there is indeed something wrong with the mail. Post Office staff are more strike-prone than any other workforce in Britain....Until recently, many Britons seemed to be under the impression that the Royal Mail was an enviable institution....This helps explain why successive governments have been reluctant to de-nationalise the Post Office....While people clung to their belief that there was nothing much wrong with the mail, politicians were reluctant to push ahead with a major overhaul. It is becoming increasingly clear, however, that there is indeed something wrong with the mail. Post Office staff are more strike-prone than any other workforce in Britain....As private companies show how easy it is to deliver post swiftly and accurately, the Royal Mail's monopoly on small items is becoming indefensible....Supporters of the status quo use one argument, above all others, to oppose liberalisation. The monopoly is needed, they say, in order to keep rural post offices in business. This is a clever piece of PR: at a stroke, the argument is shifted away from keeping unnecessary jobs and on to preserving a vibrant countryside. But it is sheer nonsense. The same tactic was used to oppose privatisation in Sweden and the Netherlands. But those countries have found it far cheaper simply to pay a direct subsidy to their remoter post offices. At last, the public is waking up to the fact that our Post Office is in a mess. They can see, too, that privatisation has worked elsewhere. Perhaps the voters are finally ready to try something new."
December 19, 2000 -- Well, if you think the continuing saga of U.S. Postal Service surpluses and losses is a bit perplexing, get a load of this. According to the British newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, the chairman of the British Post Office, Neville Bain, said "he was confident that the organisation would end the year in profit, despite announcing an operating loss for the past six months."We are sharpening our competitiveness and strengthening our focus on customers," he said, adding that "there will certainly be no speedy return to the unsustainable profits made in the 1990s, when our ability to invest was restricted and the business was heavily driven by the need to meet huge Treasury cash targets. The Post Office is going to have to work much harder for every pound of profit we make in future." "No one is certain of the impact on mail volumes from the growth of the internet, email and mobile phones," he said, "but we have to accept that mail volumes may one day start to decline. This is why we are investing to improve our productivity and diversify the range of services we offer our customers." Has a certain ring of familiarity to it, right?
December 19, 2000 -- For those who'd like a backgrounder on the hopes and the state of postal reform in Britain, a copy of "Post Office reform: a world class service for the 21st century - White Paper, Department of Trade & Industry" would make good reading.
December 19, 2000 -- British postal workers have walked out on 24-hour strike in parts of London and Coventry, England, but the Royal Mail said it is confident the stoppages will not have a severe impact on Christmas deliveries. See also the article in the British newspaper, The Independent.
December 19, 2000 -- As the BBC has noted, controversies surrounding the state of affairs with the Royal Mail have caused Britons to ask: "With the final deadline for posting your Christmas letters and parcels fast approaching, can we be sure everything we mail will arrive on time?" What controversies? Well, according to the Post Office Users' National Council, almost one million letters go astray each week. The Council has said that,30 per cent of public complaints about services relate to lost mail. The British Post Office disputes the figure, but admits that "mail lost in the post" is a problem.
December 19, 2000 -- European sources have reported that Martin Vial, managing director of the French post office (La Poste), will this week replace Claude Bourmaud as the organization's chairman.
December 19, 2000 -- According to the postal grapevine, the Postal Service's efforts at breakthrough productivity are taking on all of the hallmarks of the free-fall no-productivity so wryly predicted by Postal Rate Commission chairman Edward Gleiman at the recent Graphic Communications Association seminar. Word has it that field managers simply are unable or unwilling to work to achieve the targets set out for them by postal management. So what's new?
December 19, 2000 -- The Journal of Commerce has reported that "Federal Express Corp. has asked the U.S. Department of Transportation to award it at least one more flight to China." FedEx, the Journal said, did not contest the agency's designation of United Parcel Service as the fourth U.S. air carrier entitled to serve the U.S.-China market, nor did it challenge the department's award of six flights a week to UPS. But it vigorously objected to DOT's decision to award three of the four remaining flights to United Airlines and Northwest Airlines, the other carriers currently serving China.
December 19, 2000 -- The Journal of Commerce has reported that DHL is seeking to expand its presence in the U.S. market. Uwe Doerken, a Deutsche Post executive who has been on the DHL board of directors for the past three years, has been named executive chairman. The move reportedly "underlines the determination of DHL's new 51% majority owner, Germany's Deutsche Post World Net, to grow its business in the world's largest express market." DHL International is in the process of getting approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation to split San Francisco-based DHL Airways and its ground operations. DHL Airways will continue to operate.
December 19, 2000 -- According to Adlaw.com, "the sweepstakes mailing list name removal provisions of the Deceptive Mail Prevention and Enforcement Act took effect on December 12."
December 19, 2000 -- The National Postal Forum is extending to all PostCom members a Group Registration discount for the National Postal Forum that is scheduled to be held from March 25-28, 2001 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, FL. The discount represents a savings of $55 off the regular Forum registration rate. To take advantage of the Group discount, however, it is necessary to complete the "Association Membership" space on the registration form and mark the Group box when submitting your registration. Stay tuned. More on this later.
December 18, 2000 -- Congratulations to one of our sister organizations, which has approved a name change of its own from the Mail Advertising Service Association to the Mailing and Fulfillment Service Association.
December 18, 2000 -- Here are the results of a poll conducted by the folks at Catalog Age Weekly. The question was: "Is your company prepared for the new postal rates, which take effect Jan. 7, both with regard to budgeting and mailing production?" The answer? Sixty-two percent said "yes;" 13% said "no;" 25% said "we're scrambling but we'll be ready in time." In other words, 38% either found it impossible or costly and burdensome to make the Postal Service's needless hasty implementation of new rates a reality. There's got to be a better way to run a postal system than this.
December 18, 2000 -- There's no other way to describe it. If you had to judge on the mail timeliness and delivery data compiled by The Hauser Group for Catalog Age Weekly, catalog delivery service has a long way to go before it can achieve the kind of reliability, timeliness, and consistency that alternative media can provide.
December 18, 2000 -- Freightquote.com ( http://www.freightquote.com ), a provider of online business-to-business freight and logistics services, next week re-launches their site with a new look, enhanced navigation features, and broader service options.
December 18, 2000 -- TNT Post Group NV said it will launch a 4 mln usd Rail Logistics Centre, scheduled to be operational in January. The Ohio-based center will manage the transportation and transfer of automotive parts and general merchandise shipments between rail cars and trucks, "increasing efficiency between both modes of transportation," TPG said. The Ohio center is the first in a network of rail logistics centres to be built by TNT Logistics North America, the company said, adding it will be able to handle up to 6,000 rail cars and over 20,000 truckloads annually. Coming next...local mail delivery? It could give a whole new meaning to the expression "going Dutch."
December 18, 2000 -- The Wall Street Journal has reported that by "using a combination of new technology and old-fashioned arm-twisting, companies like United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx are helping e-retailers overcome the black eye they got from online orders last year that didn't arrive in time to make it under the tree."
December 18, 2000 -- The Wall Street Journal has reported that "a 13-day nationwide postal strike ended late Sunday after the Indian government and the striking unions arrived at a settlement....Nearly 600,000 postal workers had been on strike demanding better wages. The strike had paralyzed postal operations. The strike was spearheaded by the National Federation of Postal Employees, the Federation of National Postal Organizations and the Indian Postal Employees Federation."
December 18, 2000 -- The Telegraph (U.K.) has noted that "hundreds of postal workers went on strike last night amid fears that millions of Christmas cards and parcels will fail to arrive until the New Year. The latest industrial action follows a rash of wildcat strikes in recent months, prompting a consumer group leader to describe the Post Office as "the last unreformed industry" in Britain. Union militancy has aggravated the crisis facing a service struggling to cope with the highest volume of mail in its 365-year history." Makes you wonder....Whick is better? A quick death by strike or a slow strangulation by binding arbitration."
December 18, 2000 -- According to the Editor-in-Chief of DM News, "postal reform may not sound as sexy as election reform right now, but it’s just as necessary."
December 18, 2000 -- A writer for The New York Times has asked: "If snail mail is an endangered species, what happens to the post office? That is a question that alarms the United States Postal Service, which is watching as the world of mail delivery is transformed before its eyes, thanks to the rapid spread of e- mail messages and other Internet transactions. Its answer — that the service will join the move to electronic commerce rather than fight it — has already spurred opposition from some of its competitors in the worlds of postal delivery and electronic transactions."
December 17, 2000 -- In a commentary written for Federal Times, Leslie Paige, senior vice president of policy and communications at Citizens Against Government Waste, said that it's time to privatize the Postal Service and end the waste.
December 17, 2000 -- According to Traffic World, "charitable giving is engrained in the culture at United Parcel Service. Living up to the mission that began with founder Jim Casey nearly 100 years ago, UPS's dedication to giving to the less fortunate and instilling a spirit of volunteerism in its employees has only grown with time."
December 16, 2000 -- iTraceYou.com is the name of a new, and free, Web-based service that allows users of almost any e-mail service to know the exact date and time their messages were opened.
December 16, 2000 -- The Guardian has reported that the British government faces an annual bill as high as £350m to create the Post Office based universal bank because 10 high street banks have refused to meet demands to pay £125m a year towards running costs. The creation of the universal bank is at the core of Trade and Industry Minister Byers' plans to throw a lifeline to the 18,000-strong Post Office network. Funding by the banks is crucial to its establishment. The road to postal reform can be politically perilous indeed when politicians haven't the guts to make hard choices on tough issues. The "creation" of a post office bank was meant to be a political sop. It's turned into political slop.
December 16, 2000 -- The Financial Times has reported that TNT Post Group NV (TPG) has expressed a "possible" interest in a 25 pct stake in Greek postal company Elta.
December 16, 2000 -- The U.S. Postal Service has published in the Federal Register the final rule governing the implementation of rates, classification, and mail preparation changes subsequent to the R2000 postal rate case.
December 16, 2000 -- APBNews.Com has reported that an increase in mail theft is prompting postal officials to plaster stickers on drop-off boxes warning customers to hold on to their letters if the boxes are full. Thieves are fishing bill payments out of the boxes and alter the checks inside after "washing" the ink off them, officials said. The thieves then cash the checks.
December 16, 2000 -- The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has said that holiday shipments will likely rise this year, even as the country's two largest delivery companies warn of a slowdown in seasonal volume. Holiday volume of letters, cards and packages will increase about 3 percent this season as more Internet companies look to the service to carry their goods, a postal service spokeswoman said. "More Internet companies are offering the postal service as a shipping alternative," said the USPS' Rita Peer. "It is possible that we are gaining market share from the major shippers."
December 16, 2000 -- The Journal of Commerce has reported that United Parcel Service has urged the U.S. Department of Transportation to finalize its decision granting the carrier the authority to fly directly to China "In order for the airline to begin service to China by the negotiated start-up date of April 1, 2001, the Department needs to issue its final order as soon as possible," UPS said in comments filed with DOT.
December 16, 2000 -- Richard Barton, senior vice president, congressional relations for the Direct Marketing Association, is retiring from the DMA after 22 years. Dick has been a fixture within the direct marketing industry. While he's leaving the DMA, he intends to hone his legislative and lobbying skills to an even sharper edge as a private consultant.
December 15, 2000 -- PostMag.Com has noted that t"The USPS had predicted that its total daily truck receipts at its 21 Bulk Mail Centers would rise from 5000 to 6000 over the Christmas period. They have reduced this estimate to 5500 and confirmed to us today that volumes were not achieving the levels that had previously been predicted."
December 15, 2000 -- Federal Times has reported that "despite winning an overall 4.6 percent postage-rate increase that takes effect next month, the U.S. Postal Service is more than doubling its loss projections for this fiscal year. The agency expects to reap nearly $1 billion in additional revenues from the postage rate hike, but it now expects to end fiscal 2001 about $1.2 billion in the red, say Postal Service officials. This is up from projections Nov. 1 that the Postal Service would end fiscal 2001 with a $480 million loss."
December 15, 2000 -- According to CNET.Com, "E-tailers are demonstrating that they've learned from last year's mistakes, this year giving shoppers a 92 percent chance of success with their Web orders, according to a new study. Online holiday purchases are a better option for shoppers this season than last, when only about 75 percent of attempted Web orders were successful, according to a study released Thursday by management consulting firm Andersen Consulting."
Be sure to check out the announcement on World e-Post Summit 2001.
December 15, 2000 -- The latest issue of the PostCom Bulletin is available on this site.
December 15, 2000 -- Mounting job cuts at major U.S. companies and a flurry of recent warnings of weaker profits and sales points to a dramatic slowdown, if not an end, to America's unprecedented decade of economic prosperity, Wall Street experts say. While few economists see a recession in the near future, some are growing less confident the Federal Reserve can engineer the economic "soft landing'' it had in mind when it began raising interest rates last year to slow growth and ward off inflationary pressures. This isn't good news for the Postal Service or for anyone who uses, or supports the use of mail, for business communication or commerce.If the USPS takes it on the chin in binding arbitration, another rate case with the new year will be a sure thing. Everyone, other than single-piece First-Class Mailers, should brace themselves for another round of double-digit, greater-than-inflation postal rate increases.
December 15, 2000 -- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has reported that "the slowing U.S. economy has given a lump of coal to United Parcel Service Inc. and rival FedEx Corp. so far this holiday season." See also the report in The Commercial Appeal (Memphis) and Traffic World.
December 15, 2000 -- Kozmo.com, the Internet-to-you delivery service, has announced that it can guarantee gift delivery of orders placed past the traditional ground shipping deadline to anyone in the 11 Kozmo cities throughout the United States -- even orders placed on Christmas Day.
December 15, 2000 -- The Times (London) has reported that "members of the European Parliament were under fire last night for scuppering Europe-wide postal plans which the Royal Mail says would cost more than 50,000 jobs. The Parliament reversed a Commission attempt to throw open the EU postal market to competition, arguing the proposals would damage rural postal services. The Commission’s aim was to open up 20 per cent of Europe’s antiquated postal systems by 2003 as part of efforts to catch up with US markets in information technology. MEPs voted instead to open up 6 per cent of services by 2005, keeping the market for letters weighing less than 150 grams in the hands of national post monopolies. Under the plan the monopoly of European services would be broken by making letters weighing more than 50 grams subject to open competition. Companies would compete to deliver letters of more than 50 grams — down from a current 350 grams — as well as competing for cross-border post."
Other European sources have reported "there will be deadlock because I am sure that France (which holds the EU presidency) will redouble its efforts in the light of the parliament vote to push for a political agreement." According to one European diplomat, "there is a blocking minority among member states, who say this is not going far enough or that the commission has got it right. These are the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, Sweden and Denmark." The French are likely to press for a compromise similar to that voted by the parliament, which apart from the higher weight minimum, includes amendments to limit other liberalising moves, he said. Internal market commissioner Frits Bolkestein said in a statement that he is 'disappointed' that the parliament has been 'side-tracked into an outdated ideological debate instead of concentrating on real issues of interest to consumers and business users of postal services." See also the report in The Wall Street Journal.
December 15, 2000 -- According to the MRU Consultancy's newsletter, CEP News (Courier, Express, Parcel), the German daily Die Welt has said that the EU Council, which convenes in Brussels on 22 December, intends to establish that the postal monopoly will not be abolished until the end of 2009. "Quoting the mail policy spokesperson for the German Christian-Socialistic Party, Mr Elmar Müller," CEP said, "the paper reported that the previous 2007 deadline had been dropped. Current discussions would only concern the weight limit for market access, Mr Müller said. It is therefore almost certain that Mr Frits Bolkestein’s proposition, which involved the reduction of the monopoly limit for standard letters to 50 grams from 1 January 2003 (CEP News 22/00), did not get a majority."The Council," it said,"is thus likely to decide on the gradual reduction to 150 and 100 grams respectively of the current reserved area up to 350 grams stipulated by European directive, and not to achieve complete deregulation of the postal services until 2009."
December 15, 2000 -- Again, as reported by CEP News, "fundamental restructuring of the Argentinian postal market seems to be on the cards. A merger between the Argentinian post Correo Argentino SA and the private mail company OCA (Organizacion Coordinadora Argentina SA, postal market share approx. 12 %) is expected within the next two months."
December 15, 2000 -- CEP News also has reported that "in Ireland the question of maintaining postal services in rural areas is currently the subject of intensive discussions. While An Post claims that the business is ‘unviable’, the Irish government is convinced that any attempt at thinning out the existing network of post offices (including the so-called sub-post offices) represents a political time bomb.""A report, which is shortly to be presented to the responsible minister Ms Mary O’Rourke," CEP said,"lists government subsidies as one possible solution. There would have to be guarantees, however, to prevent the subsidies from being misused for the cross-subsidization of competitive sectors." A complete copy of the CEP newsletter is available for PostCom member viewing on this site.
December 15, 2000 -- Looks as if things are slowing down with Fedex as well as the USPS and United Parcel Service. Fedex recently told the Street that it "will continue to impose strong cost controls as well as defer some capital expenditures until business conditions warrant further expansion. The company's fuel surcharges and hedging programs are helping to mitigate the effects of high fuel prices."
December 15, 2000 -- The word heard through the grapevine is that the Governors of the U.S. Postal Service are interested in hiring an ex-Member of Congress as the next Postmaster General. High on the agenda would be shepherding the USPS through the treacherous legislative shallows of postal reform. Key would be doing whatever leg-work needs doing to ensure the appointment of a Kappel-like Presidential Commission. The word circulating through the grapevine that former U.S. Senators Alan Simpson and James Sasser are high on the "are you interested" search list.
December 15, 2000 -- If you ask senior postal officials, they'll deny it. But it is becoming increasingly clear that the U.S. Postal Service will be filing yet another postal increase request with the Postal Rate Commission sometime by late summer 2001. The Postal Service's accounting period three numbers don't look so good, and most high level postal officials expect the USPS to get its clock cleaned in the binding arbitration now taking place with the clerks, rural letter carriers, and mail handlers unions.
Won't an arbitrator have some sympathy for the poor Postal Service? Not when you consider that postal management is going ahead with its plans to shell out some $200 million in EVA bonuses to postal managers. That $200 million, by the way, is about the same amount the USPS said it lost in FY 2000, and is roughly equal to the field reserve fund being sought during the present remand of the R2000-1 PRC recommended decision. In this instance, the field reserve was meant as a safe harbor in the event field postal officials are unable to attain their "breakthrough productivity" targets. And while we're at it, exactly what is breakthrough productivity? Given the Postal Service's near fiscal free-fall, perhaps it would be better termed "brake-through" productivity. All in all, it just sounds as if some postal Pooh-Bah has read some 2new business book. They ought to lose that term.
December 15, 2000 -- Mainland China, which has decried the "mini three links" that Taiwan will soon launch between the two sides, has actually established a task force to deal with the matter. Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Chairwoman Tsai Ing-wen was quoted by Legislator Lai Shih-pao as saying at a closed-door legislative meeting that the government is now "cautiously optimistic" about the "mini three links" - transportation, postal and trade - between the outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu and designated mainland ports. Anyone remember the role Quemoi and Matsu played in the Kennedy-Nixon presidential debates?
December 15, 2000 -- A European court has ruled that the European Commission has been wrong to assume that a unit of France's state post service operates without subsidies, marking the latest phase of an EC inquiry into subsidies at state postal services in Europe. The case, brought by an association of private French couriers as well as two U.S. courier firms, DHL International and Federal Express International, centers on the question of whether La Poste, largely a monopoly in France, is providing subsidies to its SFMI Chronopost unit.`The Court observed that La Poste might, by virtue of its position as a public undertaking engaged in provision of a monopoly service, have been able to provide some of the logistical and commercial assistance to its subsidiary at a cost lower than would have been charged by a company operating in normal market conditions.
December 15, 2000 -- Chronopost International, the express parcels subsidiary of French post office La Poste, and e-liko, the internet delivery group, has announced the creation of a business to consumer e-commerce joint venture called Chrono e-liko. The venture will be 45 per cent owned by Chronopost International, 5 per cent by Eurodispatch Publi-Trans and 50 per cent by the e-liko founders.
December 15, 2000 -- Alysis Technologies , a provider of end-to-end, component-based electronic bill presentment and payment (EBPP) software, has announced that The Post Office, the national postal service of the United Kingdom, has licensed Alysis' WorkOut EBPP software.Alysis' partner docSense, a division of Pitney Bowes Inc., will provide systems integration services in support of the implementation.
December 15, 2000 -- When it comes to a dampening of demand, the U.S. Postal Service is not alone. United Parcel Service Inc. became the latest victim of the slowing economy as it announced shipments in the first two weeks of the holiday season have been flat and fourth-quarter earnings per share will fall short of estimates.
December 14, 2000 -- In recognition of the hard work and dedication of mail carriers and postal workers throughout the country, and especially during the holiday season, Johnny Rockets restaurants will provide "The Original" hamburger to postal workers on this day for free. The company said, "in the spirit of the company's roots, Johnny Rockets, which was founded on the old-fashioned American value of service, honors postal workers who continue to exemplify the service of a bygone era. Dec. 14 marks the single busiest mail day of the year".
December 14, 2000 -- The Financial Times has reported that four international postal operators have expressed interest in buying an equity stake of up to 25 er cent in Hellenic Post Office (Elta), together with 50 per cent of Tachymetafores, its profitable courier business, in what would be Europe's first direct sale of a public postal operator. The interested operators are: Deutsche Post, France's Lapost, TPG of the Netherlands and Canadian Post. NM Rothschild, the UK investment bank, is advising the government on the sale.
December 14, 2000 -- The Finnish postal service Finland Post Ltd is to reorganize its strategic growth areas into separate business areas. The reorganization, undertaken in order to boost the overall growth of the group, will lead to the establishment of separate business units for electronic communications and for business logistics.
December 13, 2000 -- Federal Computer Week has reported that the Department of Veterans Affairs will distribute 200,000 smart cards to military veterans and agency employees by next June to help them apply for their benefits over the Internet. The cards contain administrative, clinical and eligibility information as well as a veteran’s digital signature on a microchip. The technology will enable veterans to conduct digitally signed transactions over the Internet for such benefits as education reimbursements, disability checks and survivor benefits. In other words, they WON'T be using the mail. Look for this trend to expand to other governmental programs.Whoooosh! There's that sucking sound again.
December 13, 2000 -- According to Mike Causey at PlanetGov.Com, "In theory, anything can happen when labor and management--in this case the Postal Service and the American Postal Workers Union--go to arbitration. But in fact arbitrators look at recent decisions in similar cases. And they have an excellent, almost identical model to study: the arbitration award granted to the National Association of Letter Carriers."That can't be viewed as good news for the Postal Service or postal rate payers. An adverse outcome is sure to trigger another postal rate increase.
December 13, 2000 -- The Times (London) has reported that the British "Post Office may be on the verge of a national strike amid the worst outbreak of local walkouts in years. Strikes have hit 18 towns and cities over the past two weeks, losing the organisation more than 8,500 working days and crippling services. Additionally, the main postal union is believed to have warned the Post Office that it will face a national strike if it does not improve a pay offer."
December 13, 2000 -- According to TransportNews.Com, "in its first peak season, FedEx Home Delivery service has become the preferred shipping solution for many retail shippers of all sizes who are looking to distinguish themselves in a crowded online retail market and meet customer demand during the busiest time of the year."
December 13, 2000 -- Der Spiegel has reported that "thousands of employees of Deutsche Post AG, the recently privatised German post office, will start the new year having been hit in the pocket by a new wage structure. This affects about 30,000 employees, and equates to a pay cut of up to 28 per cent. The deal should apply only to new recruits, as current employees received a guarantee of their terms and conditions, but those affected include temporary workers, who belong to the lowest earners in the service, and do not fall within the terms of this guarantee."
December 13, 2000 -- The U.S. Postal Service has published in the Federal Register a final rule that revises the standards for preparation of Periodicals nonletter-size mailing jobs that include both an automation flats mailing and a Presorted flats mailing to require use of the co-sacking preparation method in Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) M910.
December 12, 2000 -- The Postal Rate Commission has issued an order specifying the matters it will review in conjunction with the request by the Governors of the Postal Service for reconsideration of the R2000-1 recommended decision. The Postal Service's comments to the Commission on the remand are due January 3, 2001.
December 12, 2000 -- When he addressed the Graphic Communications Association meeting held recently in Chicago, Postal Rate Commission Chairman Edward Gleiman said, "you have already heard the doom and gloom projections about USPS finances generally and about this Recommended Decision not providing the Postal Service with sufficient revenue to breakeven in the current fiscal year. But think about this: if rate increases are implemented in January---which the Service has indicated is likely---and the Service’s best estimate from just this past July is on target, the Postal Service should be sitting on a sizable cushion at the end of this fiscal year." The entire text of Gleiman's remarks is now available on the Postal Rate Commission web site. The paper, also presented at the GCA meeting, by Robert Cohen, PRC Director of Rates, Analysis and Planning, also is posted on the PRC web site.
December 12, 2000 -- Universal Express, Inc. has announced that its subsidiary, the Postal Business Center Network.com (PBC Network) has signed a national agreement with Global TeleMedia International, Inc. to offer their unique, Smart-e-Cash(TM) Automatic Banking Machines (ABM) to PBC Network Members. The new Smart-e-Cash(TM) ABM is the most versatile, customer-friendly, multi-function machine on the market today. It is extremely easy to use with fully bilingual on-screen instructions. It takes the consumer through very easy steps to conduct the transactions of their choice. The Smart-e-Cash(TM) ABM gives consumers the opportunity to use typical ATM services plus check cashing, payroll check cashing, money orders, government checks cashing, wiring of funds and dispenses a Smart-e-Card(TM)/Master Card/debit card allowing them to return to any Smart-e-Cash(TM) and use any of the services available. Cardholders will also be able to enjoy the benefits of their own MasterCard.
December 12, 2000 -- Planet411 Inc., a provider of e-business solutions, has announced the completion of a shipping and co-marketing alliance with Canada's Postal Service - Canada Post Corporation, a Canadian crown corporation. Under the agreement, Planet411 will offer shipping with Canada Post as part of its bundled e-business solution, and Canada Post Corporation will co-market Planet411's solution on its online Portal. The agreement calls for the integration of Canada Post's eParcel Shipping Module and Expediter Shipping Software to Planet411's solution and services. E-tailers using the Planet411 e-business solution will now be able to offer competitive shipping through Canada Post to online buyers of their products in addition to flexible delivery: scheduled evening and Saturday delivery in Canadian major centers.
December 12, 2000 -- Monday marked the busiest day of the year for the U.S. Postal Service.
December 12, 2000 -- The British Post Office's newly appointed watchdog said the U.K. post office must be forced to open its infrastructure to competitors at reasonable prices when the letters market is opened to competition next year. Graham Corbett, chairman of the Postal Services Commission, said making sure that competitors were given access to core Post Office services at fair prices would be crucial if new entrants were to compete effectively.
December 12, 2000 -- The Postal Service has created an interactive voice response (IVR) application designed to identify problems in an effort to improve mail delivery times. The U.S. Post Office wants to know at what time in the day people receive their mail. Using an access database, the Postal Service has created an IVR application callers access when telephoning the Postal Service with a touch-tone telephone. The Postal Service is currently testing a specific delivery area in South Georgia and has provided customers residing within that area with a toll-free number that places the caller directly into the application. The application prompts the caller to enter a pin number. Afterwards, the IVR prompts callers to enter their zip code and the date and time the mail carrier delivered their mail. With the information acquired by the application, the post office will be able to improve delivery times by adjusting routes, increasing carriers or taking other appropriate action.
December 12, 2000 -- According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "in an industry that relies on high technology to provide ever-faster, more reliable deliveries, United Parcel Service Inc. has rediscovered a low-tech tool from its past. The company founded in 1907 as a Seattle bicycle messenger service has gone back to its two-wheeled roots in downtown Atlanta.
December 12, 2000 -- PostMag.Com says it "is not yet ready to predict whether Christmas 2000 will be the boom Christmas everyone had predicted. Rumors abound that volumes are not achieving their expected levels and the e-business explosion is simply not happening."
December 12, 2000 -- The Postal Service is changing the rates for Global Express Guaranteed (GXG) Document service and Global Express Guaranteed Non- Document service and announcing the inclusion of GXG in the current U.S. Postal Service collection pickup service.
December 12, 2000 -- Remarkable! Despite the report from the mouth of the Chairman of the U.S. Postal Service that Bill Henderson will be leaving as Postmaster General, the USPS' media spinmeisters still tell The Washington Post "I know nothingk!" From Sergeant Schultz, that should be expected. From the USPS? I don't think so.
December 12, 2000 -- The American Customer Satisfaction Index, a respected quarterly survey published by the University of Michigan School of Business, has found that consumers are unhappy with the quality of service provided by many top Internet companies. The survey also discovered that consumers see large disparities between the quality of service provided by the best online operations and the weakest. In comparison to the results of an earlier survey on government services, online shoppers seem to be no happier with the performance of e-commerce companies than they are with the performance of the U.S. Postal Service.
December 12, 2000 -- Down for the count! National Mail (New Zealand) will pull the plug on its mail distribution business on December 22 with the loss of nearly 200 jobs in Wellington and Auckland. Chairman Richard Flower said the closure was due to continued "unacceptable" losses and comes less than a year after the company listed on the Stock Exchange. National Mail was set up to compete with New Zealand Post for business and home mail in Auckland in May last year. It listed in March this year and expanded to Wellington in August. The company offered a prepaid envelope service to any home or business addressed in the two cities.
December 12, 2000 -- The Direct Marketing Association's Charles Prescott asks: "Does The USPS Want Your International Mail and Parcels?" "Well," he says, " I guess they do. But the new international services and rates announced by the USPS on September 28 in the Federal Register are not good news for direct marketers, or for companies who send international parcels." According to Prescott, "one thing is sure. If you are mailing substantially overseas for promotion or fulfillment purposes, you definitely need to re-budget, and you better think about warning customers, especially in the UK and Japan, about increased delivery costs."
December 12, 2000 -- The Financial Times has reported that "most of Europe's postal services and privately owned express and courier companies are interested in competing with the Post Office when its monopoly is loosened."
December 12, 2000 -- The British newspaper, The Guardian, has reported that British "ministers...moved to rescue their plans for a post office based bank by offering up to £275m of taxpayers' money towards its running costs."
December 12, 2000 -- Indian postal services were affected throughout the country for the seventh consecutive day due to postal strike even as the Delhi High court asked the government about the steps being taken to resolve the indefinite strike.
December 12, 2000 -- File this under "you ain't seen nuthin' yet." According to PCWorld.Com, Intel has developed a technology that will pack as many as 400 million transistors on a single CPU that will be capable of running at 10-GHz on a desktop PC. Compare that with the 42 million transistors you will find on today's Pentium IV or the 29 million on a Pentium III. Oh yes, the original Intel 4004 4-bit CPU that powered calculators in 1971 (the real hot stuff back then) consisted of 2300 transistors.
December 12, 2000 -- The Standard has reported that "e-commerce sales this year have increased over last year by 50 percent or more, but are slowing as the season wears on." That can't be good news for the Postal Service who had so hoped to be the e-biz fulfillment vehicle of choice.
December 12, 2000 -- If it had its way, Greyhound would have the "last mile delivery" business go to the dogs.
December 12, 2000 -- According to TechWeb.Com, "online holiday shoppers are staying away from Internet buying due to election concerns and the unpredictable economy."
December 12, 2000 -- WebCriteria, Inc. has released benchmark data ranking several online shipping sites this holiday season. The U.S. Postal Service site rated the highest in the rankings for ease of use. Other sites ranked included DHL, UPS and FedEx.
December 12, 2000 -- More on the SBA's Office of Advocacy request to the Justice Department to review a new postal rule that requires private mailbox users to include either "PMB" or the "#" sign in their addresses.
December 12, 2000 -- The United States Postal Service (USPS) has announced that it will install Chesapeake's Total Reconciliation Solution (T- Recs) financial software package. T-Recs software automatically reconciles and verifies daily deposits, payroll accounts, ledger to ledger balances, identifies exceptions, and automatically suggests resolution adjustments. Janet Crowe, USPS purchasing specialist for information technology, remarked how the USPS will utilize T-Recs. "We will automate our reconciliation of bank and credit card accounts with the T-Recs package and provide our staff with case management tools for problem resolution. We will integrate T-Recs into our existing management systems. This will vastly improve what can be an error-prone, manual process."
December 12, 2000 -- The reports for Accounting Period 01 and Accounting Period 02 of postal fiscal year 2001 are posted on this web site.
December 11, 2000 -- In their busiest quarter of the year, InfoWorld has reported, retailers have traditionally pulled out all the stops in their stores, with elaborate merchandising displays, holiday gift villages, and even light shows. Not to be outdone, the online counterparts of these brick-and-mortar stores have entered the holiday fray: From streaming video product demonstrations to offers of free shipping, online retailers are pursuing consumers more aggressively than ever before.
December 11, 2000 -- Hot stuff!! Bill McAllister of the Denver Post has reported that "PMG Bill Henderson plans to step down in May when his three-year agreement with the Board of Governors ends." McAllister reported that the decision to leave was a "mutual" one. Reportedly, a search for a new PMG is underway. Ostensibly, the news of Henderson's leaving was supposed to be a closely held secret. The source of the "leak," as it turned out, was no one other than the postal board's own chairman, Einar Dyhrkopp.
December 11, 2000 -- An advance copy of the Postal Service's final rules regarding implementation of the R2000 rates and classification changes is posted on this web site.
December 11, 2000 -- As The Wall Street Journal has noted, "In its 225-year history, the U.S. Postal Service has successfully fended off rain, snow, heat and even gloom of night to complete its rounds. But the Internet could be a different story.
December 11, 2000 -- Handelsblatt.com has reported that Dutch postal service and logistics group TNT Post Groep is getting ready to challenge Deutsche Post AG on its home market. 'We intend to enter the postal-delivery market and build up our own network in Germany,' said Eckard Gatzke, chairman of TPG's German subsidiary TNT Holdings (Deutschland) GmbH.
December 11, 2000 -- According to Die Welt, Eurpopean Union economy ministers want to extend state monopolies on letter postage until 2009. It said that a decision on the matter will be taken by the council of ministers on Dec 22.
December 11, 2000 -- Agence France Presse has reported that India's hundreds of thousands of postal workers refused to end an almost week-long strike on Sunday over better wages as the stoppage led to a mammoth pile-up of mail. Union leaders spearheading the strike by around 600,000 workers said it would not be called off until New Delhi accepted their demands -- which include higher wages, pensions and new employment benefits. When American postal workers get the right to strike, the same could happen in the U.S.
December 10, 2000 -- Here's more on the Postal Service's deteriorating financial picture as reported by the Federal Times.
December 10, 2000 -- The Wall Street Journal has reported that "with the holiday shipping season in full swing, it's probably no surprise that shares of United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) and FedEx Corp. (FDX) are both hovering not far from their 12-month highs."
December 9, 2000 -- The U.S. Postal Service has published in the Federal Register a notice that "it is implementing the proposed postal rates, fees, and mail classifications, except the Global Priority Mail variable-weight rates, recorded delivery fee, and insurance fees for Canada which have been modified as explained below. The elimination of Global Package Link is delayed until April 1, 2001. The new rates will be effective January 7, 2001.
December 9, 2000 -- The British newspaper, The Independent, has reported that the British Post Office has warned that "Christmas deliveries would be severely disrupted because of the chaos on Britain's rail network, and even letters and packages sent before the 'last posting' date could no longer be guaranteed to arrive on time."
December 9, 2000 -- As the St. Petersburg Times has noted, "as postal rates keep inching up, many companies that mail huge amounts of bills each month are being prodded to look for ways to get more of their bill paying done cheaper over the Internet."
December 9, 2000 -- DM News has reported that "ppposition to liberalizing government monopolies on mail is likely to prevail in the European Parliament, where five committees are heatedly debating the issue before the Christmas break. A final vote on proposals to make mail as light as 50 grams eligible for handling by private carriers is due in January or February."
December 9, 2000 -- Traffic to delivery companies soared this past week ending December 3, as people at work used the Web to track their package shipments. According to Internet audience measurement service Nielsen//NetRatings, the sites for the United States Postal Service (http://www.usps.gov and http://www.usps.com) jumped 102 percent to more than one million unique visitors. UPS (http://www.ups.com) rose a comparable 92 percent to one million unique visitors and FedEx (http://www.fedex.com) saw a 72 percent growth to 493,000 unique visitors.
December 7, 2000 -- USPS COO Jack Potter told a gathering of mailers at the Graphic Communications Association’s 2000 Rate Case Conference that the Postal Service and the Postal Rate Commission do not see eye-to-eye on key elements of the PRC's recommended decision. Potter also discussed USPS plans to make 2001 "the year of the flat."
December 7, 2000 -- DM News has reported that "Ed Gleiman, chairman of the Postal Rate Commission, made it clear to a packed crowd here at the Graphic Communications Association’s 2000 Rate Case Conference that he would probably leave intact the rate recommendation that he and his colleagues made."
December 7, 2000 -- Manhattan Associates, Inc., a provider of supply chain execution and collaborative commerce, has announced that it now offers Airborne@Home and USPS delivery confirmation capabilities in Logistics PRO, its integrated transportation management system recently acquired through an acquisition of Intrepa. With the holiday season approaching, Logistics PRO users will be able to further expedite their shipping processes and improve customer service with the addition of these two services.
December 7, 2000 -- DMA Interactive has reported that "the Universal Postal Union, working with the USPS and several other major Posts around the world, is in the process of developing a global postal product that could solve for direct marketers the problem of the lack of credit cards in many countries of the world - an electronic money order system, providing full currency conversion, and tied to a track-and-trace system and delivery guarantees. Possibly also a return mechanism."
December 7, 2000 -- The North Carolina Technician has noted that the "Postal Service's infrastructure is vast -- thanks to the pre-e-mail days of communication. Is it perhaps too vast? Or at least outdatedly expensive? The service needs to send a message to its own offices: return to sender. The Postal Service isn't suffering from bad business as much as it's suffering from bad technology....The service may claim to "fly like an eagle," but their decision-making policies are making that metaphor a little too similar; after all, the only envelope the Postal Service seems to be pushing is that of extinction."
December 6, 2000 -- According to the MRU Consultancy's newsletter, CEP News (Courier, Express, Parcel), "the conservative British opposition has made public a new proposal regarding the privatisation of The Post Office. Tory spokesman Mr David Heatchcoat-Amory said the chief premise was a faster and better postal service. Although the Royal Mail as such was profitable, many of its services were of inadequate standards. The Tories therefore set up a commission to work on a proposal for the sale of either the entire Post Office or parts of it, such as Parcelforce. Mr Heathcoat-Amory believes that a large number of international firms would have a vital interest in acquiring (parts of) The Post Office. In a first comment the minister in charge of The Post Office, Mr Alan Johnson, threw out the Tory proposal. In Mr Johnson’s opinion the government is under the obligation to keep The Post Office under public control. A majority of the British electorate would endorse this principle."
December 6, 2000 -- CEP News also has reported that TNT is currently rationalizing its French business activities. As part of this process, TNT Express France was founded with the intention of concentrating the domestic efforts of Jet Services and the international operations of TNT International Express in one company. In France TNT said that ‘the new organization will reinforce the position of the two companies on the French express market considerably’. Ms Marie-Christine Lombard, who has been responsible for Jet Services ever since the takeover two years ago, will be in charge of the new TNT Express France. The merger means that TNT Express France will have 3,450 employees in around 230 branches. The turnover for 1999 was 488m euros."
December 6, 2000 -- Postal Rate Commission general counsel Stephen Sharfman told The Washington Post "that the commission would consider the governors' request but would not change its recommendations unless the Postal Service can demonstrate that its financial picture has changed significantly over the last several weeks."
December 6, 2000 -- The Postal Service has published in the Federal Register a final rule that amends Part C030 of the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) to provide for changes to the standards concerning written, printed, and graphic matter as a result of a recent Department of Justice opinion concerning lottery material.
December 6, 2000 -- In reaction to the action by the USPS Governors rejecting the shell classification for Information Based Indicia postage, Stamps.Com said "`The decision by the USPS Governors was expected. The creation of a new mail class is always a complicated and lengthy process -- even when the cost savings for the USPS are clear, as they are in the case of Internet Postage. "`We achieved a significant victory earlier this month when the U.S. Postal Rate Commission endorsed the principle of a reduced rate for Internet Postage. The Rate Commission plays a key role in this process. Having their support after just their first consideration of the issue is a positive step towards eventually achieving the discount."
December 6, 2000 -- According to InternetNews.Com,
"Pitney Bowes Inc.
December 5, 2000 -- The word on the street is that Rep. Benjamin Gilman (R-NY) will take over as chairman of the House postal subcommittee when the 107th Congress convenes in January.
December 5, 2000 -- The Postal Rate Commission has posted the decision of the USPS Governors in the matter of R2000-1 on the PRC web site. In addition to the decision, the PRC also has posted the schedule of postal rates to be implemented on January 7, 2000, the decision transmitted by the Governors to the Commission on those elements of mail classification that have been rejected.
December 5, 2000 The U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors has announced its decision on the rate case (R2000-1). The USPS Governors are sending the case back to the Postal Rate Commission (PRC) for reconsideration of the decreases in the USPS' revenue request recommended by the PRC on November 13, 2000. In the meantime, the USPS is accepting the rates recommended by the PRC under protest, to take effect on January 7, 2000 at 12:01 a.m. PostCom's charts showing the new rates for First-Class Mail, Standard Mail and Nonprofit Mail are available. Other rate charts will be available from the USPS' web site shortly. You can use the rates recommended by the PRC as the rates that will be implemented 1/7/2001. The press release from the USPS Governors and the statement of the Board's chairman is posted on this site. See also the Postal Service's public information on this matter on the USPS web site.
As part of its action, the Governors have rejected the "shell" classifications that were recommended by the Commission; the Governors also rejected the DMCS language the Commission recommended in response to mailers' request for a 3.5 ounce break-point for Regular automation-rated Standard Mail. (The Governors have not decided to establish the 3.5 ounce breakpoint, but have decided to retain the present 3.3 ounce limit.) The Governors rejected as well the Commission's recommendation that the flat-rate envelope be based on the rate of a new one-pound Priority Mail rate instead of the present two-pound rate. The Governors are protesting the Commission's handling of the revenue requirement and they are asking the Commission to look again at its recommendations concerning nonprofit rates and the second and subsequent ounce of First-Class Mail.
December 5, 2000 -- The Chief Financial Officer of the U.S. Postal Service, Richard Strasser, has told the Postal Service's Board of Governors that the USPS' audited returns show that the Postal Service completed FY 2000 with a $199 million loss.
December 5, 2000 -- A backgrounder on the Postal Service's automated equipment procurement is posted on this web site.
December 5, 2000 -- The Wall Street Journal has reported that "Germany's federal cabinet has approved Matthias Kurth as a successor to Germany's departing postal and telecommunications regulator, Klaus-Dieter Scheurle."
December 5, 2000 -- According to the European Intelligence Wire, German publishers are aiming to enter the logistics market. Deutsche Post, the German post office operator, will hold a monopoly on the delivery of letters until the end of 2002 at least, but the German post and telecommunications regulator has already allocated 900 postal licenses allowing companies to deliver mail
In addition, TNT Post Groep (TPG), the Dutch post office operator, has said it has plans to enter the German letter delivery market. The exact date when TPG will enter the German market depends on when and to what extent the German postal sector is liberalized. TPG has not ruled out making further acquisitions in the German logistics industry..
December 5, 2000 -- The Kyodo news service has reported that a Japanese Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications panel has recommended authorizing private concerns to compete with the postal service by providing limited delivery services for letters and postcards. However, the panel also recommended fairly strong curbs on the scope of such access, saying that ''a certain level of monopoly'' on postal services is needed to maintain equal services for remote or sparsely populated areas.
December 4, 2000 -- According to RockyMounainTimes.Com, "tiny, overloaded post offices must wait their turn as facilities are built for larger, booming areas."
December 4, 2000 -- Fedex touts its "new ground option."
December 4, 2000 -- According to BizJournals.Com/De nver, more than 10,000 customers have signed up for the Postal Service's free six-month trial of eBillPay, an Internet service that allows people to pay all of their bills online.
December 4, 2000 -- With www.Yellowworld.ch, the Swiss Post has taken a significant step toward becoming Switzerland's biggest virtual shopping mall and expanding its traditional business to embrace the new Internet economy. Yellowworld, the new online shopping portal, is composed of 300 different Web shops called the "yellowmall.''
December 4, 2000 -- PostNet (www.postnet.net ) has announced the release to its franchisees of a customized version of the online Prospecting Portal(TM) application developed by USADATA, Inc (www.usadata.com). The PostNet Prospecting Portal, available through the PostNet corporate extranet, provides over 700 franchisees with on-line access to targeted B2B mailing and telemarketing lists in minutes.
December 4, 2000 -- According to Traffic World, "internet postage - the ability to print stamps from your personal computer - may be a concept that came before its time."
December 4, 2000 -- Federal Times notes that there are two ways of looking at the postal world--depending on which set of postmaster organizational eyes you do the viewing.
December 3, 2000 -- The New York Times has reported that "the enthusiasm of American consumers for spending and borrowing, which has sustained the economy whenever it seemed to falter over the last decade, now appears to be at its lowest point in perhaps five years." This can't be good news for the U.S. Postal Service for the year that lies ahead.
December 3, 2000 -- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution claims that "life at UPS is more secure than being with a dot-com"
December 3, 2000 -- According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, UPS, FedEx are likely to gain from electronic boxes that can be used for drop-off of online packages.
December 2, 2000 -- According to the Miami Herald, federal prosecutors won a confession from the final player in the case of a husband-and-wife team of postal managers who embezzled millions: their accountant.
December 2, 2000 -- The Financial Times has reported that "the (U.K.) postal service disappointed almost one in four of its customers last year, according to a survey published yesterday by the Post Office Users' National Council. The council, which is to be renamed the Consumer Council for Postal services next year, said lost or damaged mail was the biggest complaint, followed by the length of queues and information available at post offices. It said 22 per cent of 2,000 people questioned said they were dissatisfied with some aspect of the service during the past 12 months.
December 2, 2000 -- The U.K. Post Office has mounted a huge operation to deliver Christmas mail by air in an effort to avoid severe delays on the railways.
December 2, 2000 -- As PCWorld.Com has noted, "your bank probably lets you pay your personal bills online. Soon, it may extend the same convenience to your small business. CheckFree, the back-end provider of most such services, expects to release a small business version of its WebPay service early next year. So who needs the Postal Service?
December 2, 2000 -- The U.S. Postal Service has published in the Federal Register a final rule that "sets forth changes to the DMM, allowing the Postal Service to reject mail bearing invalid endorsements and treat such items as unendorsed mail."
December 2, 2000 -- The U.S. Postal Service has published in the Federal Register a proposed rule which noted that "in an effort to make package shipping easier for mailers, it was developing standard guidelines for creating package shipping labels."
December 2, 2000 -- According to a recent communique to postal employees, the USPS is closing down its Shipping Online evaluation test and has decided not to pursue offering the product on a permanent basis. "Shipping Online," the Postal Service said, "was designed to offer a way for customer’s to prepare Express Mail and Priority Mail shipments from their desktop computers. Program has been in limited market test since December 1999." The USPS said although product has appeal, it felt opportunities were not broad enough for it to enter this market. The Shipping Online test will close Dec. 29 at 5 p.m. All transactions must be completed by that time. As of Dec. 30, Express Mail or Priority Mail pieces with a Shipping Online label will no longer be accepted and will be returned to sender.
December 2, 2000 -- The Postal Service has announced that it will pay out a tidy sum to postal employees eligible for the EVA bonus program "despite $200 million loss."
December 2, 2000 -- Be sure to check out the latest issue of PostInsight, which is posted on the PostInsight web site.
December 1, 2000 -- First it was the rural letter carriers, then it was the clerks, and now it's the mailhandlers that have said "enough" of the contract negotiations process and has moved on the the dispute resolution phase with the U.S. Postal Service. The Postal Service is about to get its fiscal clock cleaned...and mailers will be stuck with the tab.
December 1, 2000 -- FedEx said it has integrated an enterprise data warehouse solution based on NCR's Teradata database, which is designed to give FedEx an enterprise-wide view of each customer, allowing the company to make faster business decisions.
December 1, 2000 -- FedEx Corp.'s recently redesigned company Web site, www.fedex.com, has won the Best Transportation Web Site WebAward in the 2000 WebAward Web Site Competition.
December 1, 2000 -- According to the British newspaper, The Independent, "thousands of rural post offices were thrown a lifeline yesterday when the Government launched a scheme to transform them into 'one stop shops'....Customers will be able to get information on a range of services, including NHS Direct, benefits advice and citizen's advice through the internet and from trained post office staff. If the experiment proves successful, it will be adopted across the post office network."
Editor's Note: For those who don't appreciate the relevance of this issue to postal users in the States, keep in the mind that the disposition of postal retail outlets, post offices, and the personnel who staff them will be a key issue in the upcoming debate on the reform of the American postal system.
December 1, 2000 -- Agence Europe has reported that a report by German Christian-Democrat Markus Ferber on the liberalization of the postal services within the European Parliament's Committee on Regional policy, Transport and Tourism has made clear that it is essential to take sufficient account of the social and structuring role universal service plays within the States of the European Union. In other words, don't be so fast to liberalize that, as a consequence, universal mail service is lost in the shuffle.
December 1, 2000 -- Pitney Bowes has received a patent for a method that enables the post to deliver letters, flats, post cards and packages (mail) addressed to a recipient's virtual post office box to be delivery directly to the recipient. The process enables individuals or entities to rent a virtual post office (VPO) box i.e., a box that does not physically exist, from the post. Mail addressed to the virtual post office box would be captured by the post during the posts sortation process and rerouted to the specified address of the renter of the virtual post office box.
December 1, 2000 -- The Washington Post has reported that "online shopping appears to be running about 40 percent ahead of what it was last year and gaining momentum, but the nature of online shopping is changing, with more shoppers turning to traditional retailers."
December 1, 2000 -- According to Dow Jones, "the Swiss Post will open its retail bank Postbank in 2002, it said. It will be a 100% subsidiary of the Post, with a Swiss banking license, but won't have a state guarantee, the Post said. Postbank will share the post offices with the postal services." Company Web Site: http://www.post.ch
December 1, 2000 -- MasterCard International has teamed up with Trintech, the secure payment services firm, to develop a chip-activated digital wallet system. The idea of the linkup is to allow MasterCard's member financial institutions to offer cardholders a method of using a smart card digital ID and PIN number - using their MasterCard-branded credit or debit card - while online. The chip, which will be embedded within the card, contains a digital ID number that authenticates the cardholder and then launches the digital form-filling wallet. Online shopping and buying is about to get easier.
December 1, 2000 -- Following on the heels of American Express, which released a similar product last month, Di scover Card now offers customers single-use credit card numbers for online purchases. Discover's product differs from that offered by American Express in that it bundles disposable numbers with a digital wallet that shows a running balance and available credit for the card, and it automatically fills in the user's address and other information.
December 1, 2000 -- According to HometownAnnapolis.Com, "you better not pout, you better not cry -- because it won't keep local post offices open any longer this holiday season. Extended hours at all Anne Arundel County (MD) post office branches have been axed, postal officials said. Gee....You mean there's a real cost to retail postal services? Most Americans look on postal retail access as a Constitutional right.
December 1, 2000 -- According to the Budapest Sun, Hungarian postal workers staged a demonstration near the Hungarian Post Office headquarters in Budapest, demanding a higher pay increase next year. It was the first such protest in the history of the country's postal services, originally founded under King Matyas in 1485.
December 1, 2000 -- The United States Postal Service (USPS) recently ordered Tray Management Systems (TMS) worth more than $2 million from Siemens ElectroCom for their Seattle Processing and Distribution Centers (P&DC). Tray Management Systems are highly automated transport and sort systems that handle letters and flats trays within a P&DC. Siemens designed and installed the original Seattle TMS. The new order is for systems to feed and take away mail from four new Automated Flats Sorting Machines (AFSM-100). With a December 2000 planned completion, the systems help the USPS meet flats mail operations schedules.