Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Why is Postage such a Puzzle?

We’ve got a problem. You say you want to mail using Standard postage because it is the lowest rate. And you want to know what your postage will be.

A simple question, yes? Not hardly. Here is what I know that you probably don’t:

While it's true that Standard is usually (but not always!) the lowest postage rate, you need to know that there are 27 different basic rates for your mailing. And that’s if you’re a for-profit company!

If you're mailing non-profit, there are another 27 basic rates for the same piece.

If you’re mailing at carrier route prices (a subdivision of standard mail) you’ve got another 12 rate categories. So that’s a potential 39 rates for your one mailing. Was yours a simple question? No, indeed!

When you ask me what your postage will be, I’m weighing options. I know your postage could range from as little as .137 cents to as much as .343 cents each for for-profits and from .066 to .245 for non-profits.

But what do I tell you? You want a single, concise answer.

Even more confusing, I also know that on any given mailing, there can be up to 16 different postage rates, depending on the distribution of your mailing list. Some of the pieces will mail at this rate; some of the pieces will mail at that rate. It depends on your data.
But what do I tell you? You want a “bottom line” number. Skip the explanation.

Here’s more of what you don’t want to hear: Your postage depends on the distribution of your mailing list, as well as the size/weight/thickness of the mailing piece, how it is folded, how it is designed, where you are mailing to and where you are mailing from. There are rules about aspect ratio, flexibility, contrast and "graphic noise" that also affect your postage.

So you see, there is no simple, straightforward answer.

When you ask me to quote postage, I really can’t be specific. That’s why our quotes say ESTIMATED postage when they mention postage at all. Because it is truly that: our best guess estimate. Until we get your materials and your data in our hands to do the analysis the post office requires, we can’t be sure.

If you’re giving me the list you want to use, I am at an even greater disadvantage. You know your data; I don’t. Yet you are asking me to tell you what your postage will be.

All that information is running through my mind when you ask me what your postage will cost. And that’s just if you want to mail Standard or Non-Profit. Depending on your mailing, we may suggest that you mail First Class. It’s counterintuitive, but sometimes using First Class actually saves money!
It all depends.
With the USPS there really is no simple, straightforward answer. It takes a lot of questions—and just as many answers—to analyze your specific situation and develop a mailing strategy for you that will minimize your postage investment while still getting you the delivery date you need.

We may not be able to quote you a firm number for your spreadsheet, but we can help you negotiate the postal labyrinth to ensure you've got the best possible postage rates for your mailing.
Please let us know when we can help.
43670 Trade Center Place, Suite 150, Dulles, VA 20166
Phone: 703.996.0800 Fax: 703.996.0888

1 comment:

JC said...

Re:"A simple question, yes? Not hardly." should read simply,'hardly' not, "not hardly." due to double negative.