Friday, January 16, 2009

It's Curtains for Window Envelopes. Maybe.

January 22nd the USPS announced a tiny but dramatic change in the size and positioning of windows in letter-sized window envelopes. It could cost you big bucks.

Then on January 28th, the USPS slightly reversed itself to say that because of the maelstrom of unhappy comments in the initial days of its comment period, it would delay absolute implementation of the rule until later. In the meantime, the USPS will phase in gradual design changes.

Currently, standard left and standard right window envelopes (SLWs and SRWs) allow 1/2 inch between the bottom of the window and the bottom of the envelope. It's been this way forever. That's why we call 'em "Standard" left and "Standard" right.

The new proposed regs would not permit the window to be closer than 3/4 inch from the bottom...and not closer than 1" from an edge. The window size would also change to accommodate the new intelligent barcodes.

No big deal, you might say.

Not so! This is truly a big, whopping deal.

First consider that envelope manufacturers would need to retool for the new standards. This change won't come cheap or easy, and you can be sure they are leading the charge against this new regulation.

Since many of these manufacturers are using reliable but decades-old equipment to create their products, they would be forced to go to the banks that are famously not lending money right now and plead for financing help.

And when those envelopes become available, they would no doubt be more expensive. Not only would manufacturers have to recoup their investment costs, but at least initially the envelopes would be in more limited supply. That's
Econ 101-Supply and Demand theory.

Then consider all those organizations--am I talking to you?--with forms designed to fit the current SLW or SRW format. They/you would have to redesign materials and get the new materials into production.

But what about existing inventory? Remember--buy in bulk and get a lower unit price. It's good practice. Usually.

We're storing materials for organizations that bought product months ahead, knowing that they would use it up in a predictable fashion over time. (Think bank statements, hospital and doctor bills, insurance statements and magazine renewals.) It could be that their inventory would suddenly become obsolete, and their best financial planning just went out the window. (Got that pun, folks?)

So what about YOU?

If Paul&Partners is holding #10, #9, Monarch, 6x9 or similar SLW or SRW inventory for you, it may be a good time to divest yourself of it with mailings.

Use it or loose it. If we still have your SLWs and SRWs on the floor when the new regulations take force, we will have to recycle them as they won't be mailable anymore. Tens of thousands of SLWs and SRWs may die needlessly unless you use them up now!

Similarly, if you need help redesigning or reprinting your envelopes and forms, let us know. It's better to get a running start on this problem now rather than running into a brick wall later this spring. We'll help you navigate the changes so you'll be ready when the time comes.

So when will this regulation take effect? TBD.

Once the comment period is over then the USPS will proceed to do what it will do. It could happen as early as March or may coincide with the May postal increase and intelligent barcode implementation.

We'll let you know when we know.


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