More than 40 million Americans change their address each year, which means the U.S. Postal Service forwards an awful lot of mail. In fiscal year 2010, it forwarded 1.2 billion pieces. Under the Postal Service’s regulations, customers who fill out a change of address form have their mail forwarded to their new address for 12 months after the move. Mail forwarding costs the Postal Service almost $300 million a year. The cost to return mail to sender is another $800 million.
The cost of mail forwarding – and returning to sender and treating as waste — is baked into the overall First Class Mail rates, so all customers effectively pay for this service whether they use it or not. Canada Post has taken a different approach to mail forwarding, charging recipients either an annual or semi-annual fee when they move. Residential customers pay $75 for 12 months of forwarding and business customers pay $235. These prices increase slightly if the person or business moves to another province.Read More
The Postal Service has built a strong brand name around service, trust, and security. Few other organizations can lay claim to such a strong brand, one with more than 200 years of history and cultivated by the Postal Service’s consistent fulfillment of its mission to securely deliver mail to every American, regardless of location, at a reasonable price. For 6 straight years, the Ponemon Institute has named the Postal Service the most trusted government agency and one of the top 10 most trusted businesses in the nation. Many postal observers have encouraged the Postal Service to leverage this “trusted brand” to expand its offerings in the digital market.
But a steady drumbeat of bad news over the past few years around its financial situation, potential cuts in service, and uncertainty over its retail and network downsizing plans has unsettled stakeholders. The question many of them ask is whether the ongoing negative news coverage could be hurting the overall brand. Even the PMG noted earlier this year that the mailing industry is experiencing a “crisis in confidence.” Lingering uncertainty about the Postal Service’s future could further erode confidence. Further, competitors can use the turmoil to their advantage, touting their own services as easy and reliable in the face of uncertainty.Read More
Some Americans may be aware that Benjamin Franklin was the first postmaster general of the United States, appointed by the Continental Congress during the American Revolution. But, unfortunately, our history lessons have otherwise overlooked the Post Office’s contribution to the development of the nation.
A new paper entitled Postal Service Contributions to National Infrastructure describes some of the ways the Postal Service was used to support national infrastructure growth. For example, did you know?
- In the early years of the nation, highly subsidized newspaper rates led to the growth of a national media culture.
- Funding to transport mail supported a stagecoach industry that carried passengers across the nation. This model was later repeated in the early airline industry when mail contracts supported passenger air transportation.
- The start of rural free delivery at the turn of the 20th century forced farmers and communities to improve the condition of rural roads as a condition of service.
In these ways, the Post Office Department helped conquer the great distances of the country, fill infrastructure gaps, buoy burgeoning technologies and industries, and bind the nation together.Read More
When online, how do you know who you’re really communicating with? Does that affect your shopping or banking habits? Do you know people who don’t use the Internet much because they are afraid of identity theft?
The latest statistics from a Pew Research Center study demonstrate the pull of the Internet:
• 80 percent of Americans are users, whether through personal computer, tablet, or smartphone;
• many of those users do not conduct any kind of commerce;
• 30 percent have not made a purchase online;
• and 40 percent do not bank online.
Would a more secure approach to online identity raise those figures?
The Office of Inspector General’s new paper Digital Identity: Opportunities for the Postal Service examines the world of digital identity as well as many existing digital authentication solutions, including pilot projects, and potential roles for the Postal Service in the digital identity ecosystem.Read More
As the Postal Service struggles to survive, it needs to take a good look at the financial health of its products. However, ascertaining the financial health of a product line requires an accurate estimate of the cost of providing that product. The Postal Service is moving into an increasingly data-driven future; thus, the timeliness and accuracy of cost measurement will continue to grow in importance. The Postal Service has not changed its cost system fundamentally in many years, though it updates significant inputs annually. There have been calls for an examination of the accuracy and relevance of the system and implementation of specific changes. In order to inform the dialogue and debate, the OIG published A Primer on Postal Costing Issues, a discussion of postal costing, including the most salient of the concerns the Postal Service and its customers have raised.Read More