The U.S. Postal Service is currently exploring ways to alleviate costs for the Periodicals class, according to the blog Dead Tree Edition.
The blog states that the USPS will be revamping the pricing and
regulations for “ride-alongs,” which are items such products samples
and catalogs that are not eligible for Periodicals treatment but are
mailed along with a Periodicals publication.
The ride-along option was originally a big success for the
Periodicals class, but has become too expensive for most, according
to postal consultant Ed Mayhew. “It was created in 2000 as a test to
encourage more revenue and volume for the Periodicals class,” Mayhew said. “Once they decided to make it a permanent thing, the price was set
at 10 cents per piece. But over the last few rate increases, it’s risen
exponentially to 16.5 cents. That’s still cheap, but not cheap enough.”
The ride-along charge, according to Mayhew, is based on a formula
that sets the maximum weight of the product sample or catalog at 3.3
ounces. But because the majority of the ride-alongs were far below that
weight, publishers couldn’t justify paying 16.5 cents per piece.
Now, Mayhew said, the USPS is looking into two options to reduce the
price: setting the ride-along charge at two tier levels, with one level
being for items that weigh below one ounce, and allowing publishers to
have multiple ride-alongs attached to a publication.
“The idea of having multiple ride-alongs was introduced three or
four years ago and the publishers didn’t want it,” Mayhew said. “They
didn’t want their publications to start looking like Standard mail and
then get charged a higher rate. But now that advertising is down,
they’re all for it now. So it’s looking positive on both fronts.”
Mayhew added that he hopes to see these changes are implemented by the end of the fiscal year.
Dead Tree also reported
that the USPS is looking into offering “special rates to help
Periodicals publishers attract new subscribers,” but there are concerns
that it might not be beneficial for a class that has been losing money.
would be good," Mayhew said, "because solicitations or complimentary publication copies
may be able to be sent at a reduced rate, and it would be easier to
implement more subscriber efforts.”