Key Notes Vol. 02 No. 21

Exigent Surcharge’s Days Might be Numbered On January 26, 2014, postage rates increased by an average of 6 percent.  Part of that was the Consumer Price Index (CPI) cap increase of 1.696 percent, and the rest was a 4.3 percent exigent surcharge that was applied across the board.  We recently passed the 16 month anniversary of the imposition of the surcharge.  And the end could be in sight.  The Postal Service (USPS) is expected to reach the surcharge revenue cap set by the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) of $3.4 billion around the beginning of August which will be roughly 18 months since customers started paying it.  The D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals releases its decisions on Tuesdays and Fridays between 10 am and 11 am eastern time.  That leaves about five more opportunities for a court ruling before the USPS will be forced to announce a price rollback in mid-June.  Stay tuned.  Source: Alliance of Non-Profit Mailers

USPS Halts Plan to Consolidate Processing FacilitiesThe Postal Service has suspended its plans to consolidate or close processing facilities in 2015.  According to documents on the USPS website, the closures and consolidations dates of all plants were changed from 2015 to “to be determined,” with the exception of three plants in Asheville, N.C., Houston, Texas and Queens, N.Y.  The USPS planned to close up to 82 mail processing facilities this year and expected to save about $750 million a year by closing those facilities – money that it desperately needs after the agency recorded losses in 21 of the last 23 quarters.  In 2012 and 2013, the Postal Service consolidated 141 mail processing facilities, resulting in cost savings of about $865 million.  Source:  Fierce Government

Should the USPS Expand Postal Banking Services?While the USPS is best known for delivering the mail, it’s also the number one seller of the most widely used type of alternative financial service in the United States:  the Postal Service sold 97 million money orders with a face value of $21 billion in fiscal year 2014.  The Postal Service also offers international money transfers, prepaid gift cards, and limited check cashing.  The USPS Office of Inspector General (USPS OIG) published a report, “The Road Ahead for Postal Financial Services,” exploring how the Postal Service could “expand its financial offerings to benefit Americans and generate much needed new revenue.”  See the USPS OIG announcement that contains a link to the full report on the USPSOIG.gov website.  Source:  eCommerce Bytes

How to Get Augmented Reality off the GroundAugmented Reality is a relatively new marketing tool to give your customers an experience they will remember and associate with your brand.  It uniquely combines the digital and physical world and encourages customer participation in your marketing.  While it looks expensive, Augmented Reality is not just for the big boys.  So, if you’re a small business working with a tighter budget, you can try it too.  There are many AR technology providers out there to help you give your customers an enhanced experience.  Click here for some great examples of companies using Augmented Reality to push their marketing efforts to a whole new level.  Source:  AGBeat

MPA Launches Magazine Media Factbook The US association of magazine media, MPA, has launched a new factbook, which demonstrates that magazine media continues to be the most trusted, inspiring and influential media.  As magazine media continues to expand across platforms, the facts, figures and trends within the new Magazine Media Factbook demonstrate that magazine media continue to be the most trusted, inspiring and influential media, satisfying readers when, where and how they choose.  Download MPA’s Magazine Media Factbook.  Source:  FIPP

Contract Talks Hit Impasse Contract negotiations between the American Postal Workers Union (APWU) and the U.S. Postal Service ended without an agreement on May 27.  The union and management had agreed to extend the current labor contract, which expired on May 20, for a one-week period that ended at midnight.  With no new agreement in place, the APWU and USPS will begin a mediation process that is expected to last approximately 60 days.  In the meantime, the terms of the current contract will remain in place.  During this round of contract talks, the APWU made the unprecedented move of bringing consumer issues to the bargaining table, insisting that quality service is crucial to maintaining a strong, public Postal Service.  Source:  Sys-Con Media

Quirky SkyMall Catalogs Set to Return to Airplane SeatsAirline travelers get ready sky mall could soon return to a seat back near you on your next flight. The shopping catalog file for bankruptcy back in January, but now a New Jersey company known for keeping his now to companies like Polaroid alive announced the return of the catalog this spring through a series of teases on Twitter.  Source:  ABC News