Click here to read ACMA President/Executive Director Hamilton Davison's letter to the editor rebutting recent WSJ editorials.
Click here to learn about our new environmental partner association.
ACMA has spent the past few months redesigning our website to make it easier to use while being more pleasing to the eye. Today, I'm happy to announce that we've officially gone live with our new look. A lot has been cleaned up from the old site. You should now find it much easier to navigate. So please click around and check back regularly.
USPS in Two Feb. 24 Filings With PRC
As part of its continuing efforts to enhance its parcel offerings in the highly competitive shipping marketplace, the USPS filed for two classification changes on February 24 with the Postal Regulatory Commission. One filing moves Commercial First-Class Mail Parcels — which are largely used for lightweight merchandise fulfillment — from the market-dominant product list, and adds “Lightweight Commercial Parcels” to the competitive product list. This move does not affect retail single-piece First-Class Mail Parcels. The USPS also filed to introduce Adult Signature service, allowing Express Mail®, Priority Mail, and Parcel Select commercial and online shippers to request the verified signature of an adult upon delivery.
PRC Approves Postal Rate Case; Reluctantly Favors Below-Average Increase for Catalog Classes
The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) yesterday approved the modest postage increase reflecting the current 1.741% CPI cap. This includes the 0.8% increase for Standard Flats and 1.4% increase for Carrier Route Flats. While no rate increase is anything to get excited about, the Commission’s approval of the below-average increases for Standard Flats and Carrier Route Flats is encouraging news. ACMA filed comments in support of the USPS rate case and once again the PRC listened. The PRC cited testimony from ACMA, PostCom, and other organizations that filed responses to the case, which the USPS filed on Jan. 13. The new rates are scheduled to take effect on April 17. Click here to read the full PRC ruling.
The PRC’s approval did come with some trepidation, however. In its ruling, the PRC says, “ACMA questions the accuracy of the Postal Service’s costs, given the difference between the costs for casing saturation versus regular letters and the cost to process a five digit automation flat versus a carrier route flat.” Members can log in to the ACMA website to read our full analysis. Click here to read details from the original USPS proposal.
On January 26, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado granted a motion for preliminary injunction against the Colorado Department of Revenue. As a result, Colorado is prohibited from enforcing the notice and reporting provisions of Colorado law, H.B. 10-1193. Click here to read our full report.
ACMA, Brann & Isaacson Launch New Column For Members
ACMA is excited to announce our new partnership with the law firm Brann & Isaacson in which the firm's attorneys will write periodic columns specifically about catalog-related legal matters. The first column debuted on Jan. 21; future columns will appear about twice a month. Members are urged to log in, then click on "ACMA's Legal Corner" on the menu of the Members-Only page on the upper left side.
Association Chiefs Speak Out on the Future of the USPS, Catalog Choice
ACMA president & executive director Hamilton Davison lays out the pros and cons of dealing with consumer opt-out group Catalog Choice, while Association of Postal Commerce president Gene Del Polito shares his views on why Congress and the White House are dropping the ball in their approach to saving the USPS.
Click here to read Davison's "Catalogers on Catalog Choice: Love It? Hate It? Leave It? or Embrace It?"
Click here to read Del Polito's "The President, Politics, and Doing the Right Thing: A Postal Perspective."
Now that the New Year is in full swing...onto the opportunities and challenges of 2011. As you may have seen in our previous communiques this month, ACMA president Hamilton Davison and I believe that perhaps the biggest challenge for catalog mailers in 2011 may be related to consumer privacy. Don't get me wrong — we'll continue to focus heavily on ACMA's primary raison d'etre — postal issues for catalogers. Click here for Paul Miller's ACMA Journal of Jan. 19, 2011.
There was some confusion from our announcement sent by email on Jan. 13th. We apologize for the confusion. We were only given a portion of the information from our contacts at the USPS, leading to an incomplete communication on our part. As sometimes happens when dealing with something new, the issues were not completely vetted through all USPS departments. Click here for the full details, including the original announcement.
In its order approving market-dominant classification and price changes, the Postal Regulatory Commission cited ACMA's comments on the original filing several times. Also, the USPS extended the deadline for mailers who want to take part in two new Mailing Services incentive programs — the Reply Rides Free First-Class Mail Incentive Program and the 2011 Saturation/High Density Standard Mail Incentive Program — from Jan. 2 to Jan. 31. Click here to read the complete ruling. Members are encouraged to log-in for further exclusive information on this development.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) on Dec. 2 introduced legislation designed to help the U.S. Postal Service regain its financial footing. Among its many elements, the bill seeks to fix the overpayment by the Postal Service to the Civil Service Retirement System, estimated to be $50 billion, as well as the $3 billion it has overpaid into the Federal Employees Retirement System. This legislation would direct the Office of Personnel Management to correct the methodology for calculating USPS obligations to these pension funds, effectively improving the USPS’s financial condition.
Click here to read Sen. Collins' press release.
Click here to read the complete bill.
Click here to read ACMA's letter to Sen. Collins.
Click here to read Paul Miller's ACMA Journal of Nov. 29, 2010. Inside you'll find information about ACMA's comments filed before the Postal Regulatory Commission in response to the USPS's Classification and Price Adjustments for First-Class Mail and Standard Mail Initiatives, as well as an update on plans for ACMA's 4th Annual National Catalog Forum next year in Washington.
Complete Recap of Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) Meetings,
Nov. 17-18, 2010
The quarterly Postmaster General’s Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) meetings held Nov. 17-18 in Washington unearthed a few noteworthy revelations. Co-led by ACMA member and industry chair Anita Pursley, vice president, postal affairs for printer RR Donnelley, the program unearthed the following highlights: 1. Unlike previous reports from USPS executives indicating that the “Summer Sales” would be discontinued, a “Summer Sale” is still on the table for 2011, though its fate won’t be decided until December 2010 or January 2011. 2. The USPS has a well of some 300 ideas from which outgoing Postmaster General Jack Potter has requested three usable and implementable ones. Members can log in to read the complete recap on the Members Only page. Non-members are encouraged to click on "Join Now" to join ACMA, then gain access to this report and other member exclusives.
As we anticipated, on Nov. 3, the USPS asked the US Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia Circuit to expedite its consideration of the USPS appeal of the decision in the exigency postal rate case. This is the latest development of what initially started as an expected 12%+ increase in catalog postage rates. Click here to read the full story.
PMG Potter to Retire; DPMG Donahoe to Succeed
Postmaster General John E. “Jack” Potter has announced his plans to retire, effective Dec. 3. He will be succeeded by Deputy PMG Pat Donahoe, who addressed ACMA’s National Catalog Forum this past April. Click here for our full report. See other reports in our News section to the right on this page.
With A Little Assist from ACMA, 7th Graders Draw Accolades for School Project on the History of Catalogs
Note: As you’ve probably read their quotes from time to time, ACMA’s Hamilton Davison and Paul Miller give periodic interviews to the press on the state the catalog business. But earlier this year, Miller assisted on a bit of an unusual request. We’ll let the two young ladies explain from here:
Earlier this year as 7th graders at Holy Name of Jesus School in Harrisburg, PA, we were challenged to complete a school History Day project using the national theme of the year: "Innovation in History; Impact and Change.” We chose to do a group performance on the history of catalog shopping. We were fortunate enough to be selected from our school to enter a regional competition that was held at Messiah College in Grantham, PA, in April 2010. At this competition we placed third in our group performance category and were then selected to go onto the Pennsylvania State Competition at Millersville University in Millersville, PA, in May. At the state competition, we placed 2nd in our category. All first and second place winners in all categories went on to compete in the National History Day Competition, which was held June 13-17 at The University of Maryland in College Park, MD. Here we competed with groups from all over the U.S. as well as groups from some other countries. Although we did not move onto the final round, we received outstanding score sheets and had a wonderful experience representing the state of Pennsylvania at a national competition. Click here to see the video of our presentation. We are grateful to ACMA for helping us with our information gathering process. –Makenna Brezitski and Analaura Cataldi
USPS Appeals Exigency Rate Case
While mailers were still rejoicing over the victory on the exigency rate case, the USPS filed a lawsuit on Oct. 22 in the U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse the widely heralded Postal Regulatory Commission decision. The Postal Regulatory Commission on Sept. 30 denied the USPS's extraordinary request for a well-above-inflation-rate postage price increase that would have effectively nullified the Congressionally-imposed rate cap. Click here to read our report.
Why Catalog Mailers Must Face Privacy Issues With Vigor
Paul Miller's ACMA Journal for Oct. 22 brings to light the need for catalog mailers to step up in the battle to fend off privacy legislation. In particular, pay close attention to online- and social media-related cases that keep arising, most notably, the Oct. 18 Wall Street Journal report on a privacy breach involving Facebook. Think your privacy practices have nothing to do with Facebook's? Think again, and click here for the full Journal.
Now That the Rate Case Has Been Rejected, What's Ahead? (LOTS)
Paul Miller's ACMA Journal details why the rate case was denied and what catalog mailers should expect coming down the pike. Members are encouraged to log in and find this complete report, which includes insight on how to plan ahead for another possible postage increase. Non-members can click here for an abridged version of this report, or here's a much better idea: Now's the time to click on "Join Now" atop our home page and become an ACMA member today to reap this and many other benefits members gain. The exigency rate case was a great battle well won, but there are far greater battles ahead, and ACMA needs greater financial footing with with more members to take on the many more imminent challenges for catalog mailers and their suppliers.
We are pleased to report to you that the Postal Regulatory Commission on Sept. 30 rejected the exigency postal rate case proposed on July 6 by the US Postal Service. After months of battling over exigency and the size of the proposed increase, the PRC concluded that the USPS request did not fall within the definition of exigency. Bottom line: There will be no postal rate increase for now. For our full report, click here.
See Other News Reports on PRC Rejection of Postal Rate Case
Click on the publication titles to read their respective reports.
And for all the statements from the PRC commissioners, click here and see the "What's New" section on the right side.
September Postal Rate Case Update
The exigency case has reached its crescendo. A final decision is just around the corner. The date circled on our calendars is Oct. 4, when the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) is scheduled to render its verdict, although it could come sooner. Another crucial deadline was Sept. 2 when ACMA and others filed reply briefs (more on that later). For a complete review, including links to all the relevant comments before the PRC, see Paul Miller's latest ACMA Journal.
Postal Rate Case is Heating Up: Get Involved Now to Save Your Business
Aug. 2, the USPS responded to the Affordable Mail Alliance’s Motion to Dismiss the postal exigency rate case with a rather strong and acerbic reply to the Postal Regulatory Commission, accompanied by a direct attack on the AMA. If you’re not familiar with it yet, the AMA is a group of mailers who have unified to say with one strong voice to the USPS and PRC that now is not the time to increase rates. ACMA is a cofounding and very active member of AMA, and in addition to filing documents with the PRC, AMA is lobbying Congress and engaging the press to help influence policy makers. Click here to read the rest of this urgent report.
Your Action Plan to Help Avoid Large Postage Increase in 2011
Our battle plan is coming together, but we need help from all catalog interests. Click here to review your six-step action plan checklist to help us fight this illegal postage increase. We strongly urge you to click on the plan below and act on all of these steps. For starters, write and/or call both the Postal Regulatory Commission and the USPS Board of Governors and tell them to reject this case outright.
To contact the Postal Regulatory Commission, send your email to this address: firstname.lastname@example.org, and/or call 202-789-6800.
To contact the USPS Board of Governors, send your email to this address: email@example.com and/or call 202-268-4800. And so we can keep track of all of you who write these letters, please cc firstname.lastname@example.org with each letter you send - thank you for your cooperation.
Click here to read the complete action plan.
Click here to view the USPS highlights of the rate case.
Click here to view all the proposed rates.
Paul Miller's ACMA Journal, Aug. 18, 2010 - Don't Get Robbed Again
You think the currently proposed and past postal rate hikes for catalogs were all unfair? You’re right, they were. All of ’em. You wuz robbed. Depending on how long you’ve been in business, you’ve been getting robbed rate case after rate case for years. But with accurate information, everybody can win here. Click here to read the full report on ACMA's forthcoming catalog elasticity survey. You can also click here to read Hamilton Davison's recent report on the survey in Multichannel Merchant magazine.
Exclusive Members-Only Access: Highlights from June 23 Subcommittee Hearing on the Future of the USPS
On June 23, a joint subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, Government Information, Federal Services, and International Security held a day-long hearing titled "Having Their Say: Customer and Employee Views on the Future of the U.S. Postal Service." ACMA chairman Allen Abbott, who is executive vice president and COO of Paul Fredrick MenStyle, represented both his company and the ACMA. Members should log in to read the key points made by Abbott and other private-sector executives who testified, as well as their responses to questions posed by the joint subcommittee panel of senators and congressmen.
ACMA Challenges Privacy Draft Legislation (Boucher Bill)
On June 4, ACMA filed comments challenging the viability of draft privacy legislation recently proposed by Reps. Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Cliff Stearns (R-FL), which would force online and offline marketers to disclose when they collect data on customers or prospects. Click here to view ACMA's complete comments.
Paul Miller's ACMA Journal, June 10 - Batten Down the Hatches for a Perfect Storm
ACMA's mission can be summed up as advocating for catalog interests where others cannot and where our participation can make a difference for the industry. Given the importance of catalog postal rates, this has obviously been our primary focus. ACMA has, and continues to, educate extensively and lobby the key decision-makers in Washington who control catalog mailers' postal rates so you can mail at affordable rates in the future with workable mail regulations. Given the current trifecta of challenges before the industry in postal, use-tax and privacy, this edition of my journal should serve as a serious wake-up call. Click here to read the full Journal.
Special Member Recap of May MTAC Meeting
Members can log on and go straight to the Members side of the ACMA website for all the details relevant to catalogers and their suppliers at the May 18-20 Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) meetings held in Washington. In addition to an easy-to-follow rundown of all the key matters discussed, you can also access all the Power Point presentations. But you have to get in it to access it, so if you're not an ACMA member, here's another reason to join. Do so today to insure you and your company's future. Click here for details.
ACMA's Davison Testifies Before House Subcommittee; Pleads Catalogers' Case
American Catalog Mailers Association president & executive director Hamilton Davison testified on Wednesday, May 12, before the House Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service and the District of Columbia of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Davison's testimony, which focused on the social good created by catalogs, industry use of a variety of mail products, and the generally outdated and flawed system of calculating cost coverage by mail class, was very well received by members of the House subcommittee.
The hearing was arranged with relatively short notice and is a part of the continuing series of hearings in the House and Senate on the USPS and its late financial losses. The rumor in the postal community was that this hearing was instigated by the unions to blame the USPS losses on two things: worksharing that takes revenue out of the system when it needs it most and mailers that are losing money (magazines and catalogs). Refuting this simplistic but politically expedient position was one of ACMA's goals in agreeing to testify.
"Catalogs provide significant social and practical benefits," Davison said. "Since 1997, inflation has risen 34% but, catalog postage has gone up 58%." Davison also made the point that only the Standard Mail flats category is considered "underwater" but that catalogs mail in "profitable" product categories and the net contribution from the catalog segment is clearly positive while providing a variety of other benefits to the system.
For Davison's written testimony, click here.
For Davison's oral testimony, click here.
For recorded video webcast and written testimony from other witnesses, click here.
Summer Sale '10 Update: Application Deadline is May 28
ACMA is strongly urging all cataloger members to make sure you get your application in for this year's postal Summer Sale, as the May 28 deadline is just around the corner. Click here for the Summer Sale fact sheet, which provides all the information you need to know; however, if you're an ACMA member and are unsure of anything, please feel free to contact ACMA for assistance. Just send an email to VP & deputy director Paul Miller (email@example.com) and we'll be sure your questions are answered.
The ACMA Turns 3; Elects New Board Members
Founded shortly after the punishing 2007 postal rate increase when a group of catalog marketers and their suppliers stepped up to put together an advocacy group just for catalogers, the ACMA recently celebrated its third anniversary. The group also elected new Board members. Click here for the details.
ACMA Call to Action: Challenge Colorado Tax Encroachment
What's worse than having to pay sales taxes in every state? Having to report to every state every purchase your customers your customers have made so the taxing authorities can start chasing your customers down and ordering them to pay back taxes. Click here to find out what you should do right now.
Catalogs and the Environment
Are catalogs bad for the environment? Should responsible Americans cancel their catalogs and stop shopping from catalog companies? The results might surprise you. Check out this scholarly researched and fully cited document recently released by the Print Council on Why Catalogs are Green!
2010 ACMA National Catalog Forum Highlights Section
The 3rd Annual American Catalog Mailers Association National Catalog Forum was held April 13-15 in Nashville, and it was our most successful event yet. Postal Regulatory Commissioner Mark Acton led off Tuesday's sessions, and Deputy Postmaster General Pat Donahoe spoke later that day. Donahoe's session morphed from an impromptu presentation into a group strategic planning session on ways catalogers and the USPS can take costs out of the FSS, as well as what catalogers can expect in future discounts for carrier route mail vs. Standard Flats.
Other sessions focused on ways to approach key postal executives, the state of print catalog prospecting, co-mailing, do-not-mail legislation activity and ways to obtain lower and more predictable catalog postal rates.
Click here to view the ACMA National Catalog Forum photo gallery.
Click here for MeritDirect VP and ACMA member Dan Harding's thorough analysis of Donahoe's promise to ACMA Forum attendees about FSS rates getting close to Carrier Route rates.
Click here for ACMA member Ken Lane of J. Schmid & Assoc.'s highlights of the conference.
Click here for ACMA member Don Landis of Arandell Corp.'s take on the conference.
Click here for the complete 2010 National Catalog Forum agenda.
Members-Only Highlights, Slide Presentations and Exclusive Insight from 2010 ACMA National Catalog Forum
Log in and go to the Members Only landing page. There, ACMA members will have exclusive access to the key points from most of the Forum sessions. We'll be updating this section with additional write-ups, so keep checking back for more. And for briefs on other sessions available to both members and non-members, see our next item.
More Forum Coverage
ACMA exclusive media partner Multichannel Merchant offers up news briefs of several sessions during both our event and the National Postal Forum.
Click here for a brief on PostCom president Gene Del Polito's session on the inner workings of postal rate-making, operations and the need to communicate directly with Congress.
Click here for a brief on our session on catalog prospecting.
Click here for a brief from the Postal Forum showcasing USPS FSS executive director Rosa Fulton and her take on the value to catalogers of the FSS.
Click here for Multichannel Merchant's take on the state of the ACMA.
Click here to view slides from Multichannel Merchant's recent cataloger survey.
Highlights from 2010 National Postal Forum
PostCom board member and MTAC member David Robinson recently delivered an hour-long webinar recapping the key events from this year's National Postal Forum. Click here to replay his presentation.