One determined person can make an impact. Douglas Carlson, a self-professed postal watchdog, challenged the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC)'s approval of a 10% increase in the cost of a Forever postage stamp that took effect in January. On Friday, he found vindication.
The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled that the five-cent price increase to 55 cents did not
meet the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) requirements for reasoned decision-making.
Carlson had filed a petition in December for review of the PRC's order approving the USPS plans to raise the cost of a one-ounce, stamped, First-Class letter from 50 cents to 55 cents.
"The Postal Service's assertions defy logic and common sense and insult the intelligence of the American public. The Consumer Price Index rose 2.4 percent. Rounding up, a two-cent rate hike might have been in order. However, apparently a two-cent increase would have been too complex for average customers to understand. Not only will customers more easily grasp the concept of a five-cent increase, so the argument goes, but they also supposedly will prefer to pay 55 cents instead of 52 cents."
The Court wrote in Friday's ruling, "We agree with Carlson that the stamp price hike did not meet the APA's requirements for reasoned decision-making. The Commission failed to provide an adequate explanation of the increase and, relatedly, failed to respond to public comments challenging the increase under relevant statutory factors and objectives included in the Commission's organic statute, the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA)."
said of Friday's ruling, "The immediate fallout of the decision was not immediately clear, as the Postal Service said it is "considering our legal options.""
According to Postcom
, the decision will have no immediate impact. "The Department of Justice has 45 days to request reconsideration and we fully expect them to do so," it wrote.
It's unclear how the ruling might impact 2020 rates. The USPS had already begun preparing next year's postage rate increase, according to the Official Mail Guide
(OMG), which had said it expected the agency to file its request with the PRC in October.