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March 15, 2005
I am writing to let you know that the new mailing standard clarifying the eligibility standards for Standard Mail takes effect June 1. This is more than a year after we first proposed it, and seven months after the new clarified standard was published in the Federal Register. So far, many customers have indicated that they have appreciated our efforts to clarify the line between what can be mailed as Standard Mail and what must go as First-Class Mail.
Knowing what constitutes personal information is an important initial step in determining whether a piece may be mailed as Standard Mail. As we explained in the Federal Register notice, we clarified without changing the standard for “personal information” and the process for making specific determinations. We provided the definition that personal information “includes any information specific to the addressee” along with an example, taken from a Customer Support Ruling (CSR), on how this principle is applied in practice.
During recent weeks, we have updated several CSRs, including ones that discuss, in typical situations, whether contents of mailpieces include “personal information.” We believe that these case studies, which are based on actual mailpieces that we have seen, provide useful guidance for customers. As time goes on, we expect to continue to add to the number of CSRs that will help you in making decisions in the development of interesting and effective mail pieces. I encourage you to go to our website at pe.usps.com and read the CSRs in the DMM Advisory and the “decision tree” we created for determining eligibility for Standard Mail. We also are happy to consider your suggestions for additional topics to address.
As you may be aware, we have also announced a new option for mailers who seek decisions on the rates that will be charged on planned mailings before deposit at the Business Mail Entry unit. The new Pricing and Classification Service Center (PCSC) in New York will provide customers with decisions on mail preparation, mail piece design, and rate eligibility prior to production of their mailings. Contact Ed Wronski or Greg Hall at (212) 613-8737 if you are interested in participating in the program.
I should point out that the PCSC is not the only option available to customers who seek guidance during the planning stages of their mailings. Customers may continue to work with their local postmasters or business mail entry offices in the same manner as they do today in obtaining rulings and other guidance. Indeed, the PCSC option probably is best suited for customers who deposit mail at a number of entry points since it reduces the need for multiple eligibility reviews of the pieces while ensuring consistent decisions. Whichever option you choose can provide increased confidence in planning and budgeting for future mailings.
I look forward to your continued support of and confidence in the Postal Service.
Stephen M. Kearney