News from MTAC

This information from PostCom,

Sharon Daniel, USPS mailing standards manager, provided further clarification for several Postal Service proposed R2006-1 mailing standards at this week’s MTAC meeting.

Periodicals Container Rate. The USPS said its rate case proposal includes an 85-cent Outside-County container charge for Periodicals. There has been confusion over how the Postal Service intends to apply the rate to various types of containers and mailings. The USPS at the MTAC meeting provided the following clarification. The Postal Service said that the proposed container rate would apply to all pallets, sacks, and trays that contain Outside-County Periodicals pieces. The container charge for bundles of flats and irregular parcels on pallets is based on the number of pallets prepared. The charge is based on the number of pallets prepared for letters or flats in trays on pallets. If not on a pallet, or if in sacks on a pallet, the container charge is based on the number of sacks or trays prepared. For Periodicals carrier route bundles entered at destination delivery units (DDUs), the container charge is based on the number of 5-digit ZIP Codes or 5-digit schemes serviced by the DDU. The USPS encourages mailers to use the fewest number of sacks to minimize the per container rate, if preparing mail on pallets is not an option. The Postal Service also presented a chart showing how the container rate would be applied. The chart was distributed recently via the DMM Advisory; you can obtain a copy from PostCom.

Flats Automation Criteria. To qualify for automation flats rates, the Postal Service said it is proposing that pieces comply with the existing AFSM-100 automation compatibility standards, with a new flexibility test which is included in the USPS’ proposed rules. The Postal Service noted that pieces too rigid to pass the flexibility test for Standard Mail flats would pay Not Flat-Machinable (NFM) or parcel rates, as appropriate.

Not Flat-Machinable (NFM). The Postal Service said characteristics that make Standard Mail piece an NFM are rigidity – the piece does not pass the above-mentioned flexibility test – or it does not fall into the physical mailpiece specifications for the AFSM 100. The latter includes pieces longer than 15 inches (up to 15-3/4 inches), thicker than 3/4 inch (up to 1-1/4 inches), smaller than five inches by six inches and thicker than 1/4 inch (up to 1-1/4 inches) regardless of rigidity. The USPS reviewed the proposed preparation standards for NFM pieces, which follow parcel preparation standards and have similar rate levels. Preparation standards for NFM pieces weighing fewer than six ounces are those for nonmachinable parcels. NFM pieces weighing six ounces or more are subject to the preparation standards for machinable parcels. Daniel explained that “Not Flat-Machinable” means the piece cannot be processed on flats sorting equipment. However, the USPS would processing some NFM pieces on parcel sorting equipment.

“Droopy” Flats. In response to questions, Daniel said the Postal Service has relaxed its “droopiness” test (a.k.a. “deflection test”) so the standard is not as strict on what is defined as too droopy for automation flats processing. She also said flats that not passing the deflection test can be mailed as nonautomation flats, and are not required to be mailed as NFMs.

Priority Mail Parcels. The USPS also clarified its proposed Priority Mail dimensional weight pricing methodology, which it noted applies to Priority Mail parcels destined to zones 5-8 and exceeding one-cubic-foot capacity. The Postal Service said the mailer would pay the dimensional weight or the scale weight, whichever is more, and noted the balloon rate would not apply.

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