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Fri Sept 13 2019 19:50:35

Postage Stamp Rate Hike to 55 Cents Ruled Unlawful

By: Ina Steiner

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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. 

In a January post on the SaveThePostOffice.com website, Carlson explained:

"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)."

Government Executive 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.



Comments (22) | Permalink

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This user has validated their user name. by: Bill

Fri Sep 13 23:29:48 2019

This should be interesting. It will probably be a long time until something comes out of it though since in Washington things get done at a crawl.

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This user has validated their user name. by: Lightning

Sat Sep 14 02:51:44 2019

It will probably cost more to reverse the rate than paying the extra 3 cents.  Rebating customers, changing all the documentation, both printed and virtual, admin costs, required notifications, legal advice and services, new rate charts, etc.  All of that will come out of our pockets eventually.  

It would have been better to get them to admit to a ''my bad'' and just go a couple of years without further increases to counter it.  It would be nice to take a break from increases.  Just take the nickel and leave us alone for a while.  How can we possibly be still dealing with pennies in this day and age, when a cup of coffee can set you back $5.  If you dropped half a pocket of pennies on the ground by accident, no one would even stop to pick them up.  I think the penny would be obsolete if not for all the Abraham Lincoln aficionados.  Melt them down into something useful.

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by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.

Sat Sep 14 11:06:13 2019

My thing is, if we've pulled out of the UPU beginning in 2020 and the PO is no longer being robbed blind by countries like China, then why are our rates increasing and so significantly in 2020? Maybe I should contact this guy and see what he says. LOL

The only rates that should be raised in 2020 are international rates for those shipping to the US. Specifically those countries that have been robbing us blind. Let them pay what we've been paying to ship to them.

I would consider it unconstitutional for them to raise rates in 2020 when they finally have the opportunity to raise them for who they should be. Our rates have been going up every year because of countries like China. Let them pay the higher rates.

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by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.

Sat Sep 14 11:08:45 2019

P.S. -- For those who get their supplies from places like China, maybe you should consider more patriotic options. I don't mean any offense. It's just that we can't keep feeding the dragon -- even if it means we have to pay more elsewhere. It really is a matter of national security and I don't think people realize that.

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by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Sat Sep 14 11:46:26 2019

All those that really think the post office is worried about this raise your hands.

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by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Sat Sep 14 17:55:32 2019

@purpleiris

LOL There's Only one slight issue with boycotting stuff from China,,,,,,,, You simply cannot get it anywhere else, and that's the sad truth.

The time to boycott China was 20 years ago it's far too late for that now,

Teach your children how to speak Chinese they will need it

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by: UB This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 15 07:40:29 2019

@purpleiris  Just like UPS and Fedex the USPS has an increase in costs each year thus why postage goes up just like the rates for UPS and Fedex. Just be happy USPS doesnt charge for pickups, bad addresses and so on like UPS. The new USPS rate system when it is done will take care of this issue as USPS should be able to raise its rates to cover its projected costs not just by what the CPI goes up.

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by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 15 09:31:22 2019

The thing is, we're already paying far too much for shipping.

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by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 15 11:13:24 2019

How much should it cost then, to send and continuously track status and location of a 5lb shoebox 3000 miles across the country in any weather (or combination thereof) to a specific apartment located on the third floor of a 300 unit apartment complex in two days?

What insight to the logistics required for that feat (on a daily basis with tens of thousands of other boxes) can you share that defines your answer?

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by: quirkyantiques This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 15 12:20:10 2019

@snapped "Domestic Flights Under - $29.00 · Cheap Flights Under - $49.00" The answer is when you can fly yourself there WITH that box cheaper than shipping it-then the cost of postage is TOO HIGH. I agree with purpleiris-USPS is pricing themselves and us out of the market when it costs $50 to send a box to FL. And it's not "10's of thousands" of boxes-its literally millions which means the USPS is taking in billions of $$$ to get parcels from here to there.

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by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 16 00:06:23 2019

@Snapped...$40-50 to ship a 5-pound box to any domestic zone? I've paid less than that to ship a cuckoo clock to Australia. Logistics has absolutely nothing to do with it, so I don't know what more clarification you need. I also just paid that to ship a 20-pound box to Florida.

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by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 16 00:08:37 2019

@quirkyantiques...love your example. I never even thought of that. LOL

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by: Moonwishes This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Sep 16 03:15:35 2019

I have been selling online for almost 18 years now and I have seen a lot of postal hikes in that time period, but what gets me is the PO complaining of lack of FCM, etc. and so they are losing money. Almost all of my outgoing orders are FCM (without my tax forms in front of me) I am spending over $2000+ each year to ship them. Because I use endicia or Amazon shipping, my packages generally go to the PO already stamped and labeled. My carrier scans them and they get tossed in the appropriate bin and off they go. My PO gets credit for all my outgoing postage and barely has to do anything for it. Multiply that by how many online sellers are in my town alone! Even my mail carrier's husband sells online and I shared some of my bounty of extra boxes, air pillows, bubble wrap, etc. with her. If not for online sales and paying my bills electronically, I would at most be using about 144 FC stamps a year at around $80 for the year compared to over $2K that I am spending now. So each year as the PO tries to justify FC rate hikes, I have a hard time figuring out where the lack of outgoing mail is coming from. I'm paying postage on the equivalent of 24 families with normal outgoing mail costs. And since they don't actually have me paying their postage, they are still having to pay for some of it.

Years ago when I was a kid, it seemed the postal rates rarely changed as I sent letters to my cousin. No one expected a rate increase every year. This year was the first that I actually bought Forever stamps ahead of the rate hike. It seemed like every year I used my last stamp right after the hike then had to by more at the new price. I probably still have at least 5 years worth of stamps for those things that don't get a printed postage label like birthday cards, etc.

It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

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by: marty This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 16 07:37:31 2019

"@snapped "Domestic Flights Under - $29.00 · Cheap Flights Under - $49.00" "

Sounds like a clever argument. Suppose, you would be doing this for living. How much would you want to be paid for the time spent delivering? $0? Would you take a taxi to the airport? Or drive there yourself, how much would you pay for the parking? etc etc

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by: maxmad This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 16 13:03:58 2019

@marty

he actually might be correct, it sounds quite profitable, business I'm sure you could fit at least a few dozen small packages in your suitcases, + carry on ,

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by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 16 14:31:12 2019

You're missing the point, Marty. If an airline ticket alone can cover a body and a box at a rate similar to what the USPS for a lightweight box, then something is definitely wrong with this picture.

As for the USPS losing outgoing mail, they are simply referring to the fact that most people don't mail their bills anymore. Plus, they don't mail letters or cards nearly as much as they used to with the advent of electronic systems to cover it all.

However, online sales have increased a great deal and I would think the influx of packages (that cost more than mere letters and cards) would more than offset that loss. I haven't heard the USPS complain about a lack of FCM in a long while. Is there some more recent complaint that I'm unaware of?

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by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 16 14:33:04 2019

Sorry, that should read "similar to what the USPS charges for a lightweight box."

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by: purpleiris This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 16 18:27:28 2019

@maxmad...I didn't say anything about boycotting stuff from China. If it's going to be more expensive for them to ship to the US, that cost is going to get passed onto their US customers. So, if it's cheaper to get domestically...?

If there are things you can ONLY get in China, then limit your purchases to those items -- or consider other options. Sorry, but I can't think of any single thing that cannot be found in multiple places -- except maybe an extremely rare collectible, or something of the sort.

When it comes to supplies, though? What happens when you can't get certain supplies? Do you keep considering it a necessary item? Is there some change you can make so that it's not a "necessary" item?

I know it's frustrating when you find something you like, but it's no longer available. For example, a particular Christmas-themed paper you use to print newsletters every year for customers suddenly is no longer in print. What do you do if you can't find that theme? Do you just not send out Christmas newsletters this year? No, you find a new theme you like and get those newsletters out just like you do every year. (Obviously, "you" is used generally. LOL)

Some might say that's comparing apples to oranges, but it really is that simple.

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by: Fahrenheit451 This user has validated their user name.
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Mon Sep 16 20:40:33 2019

it seems to me that USPS raised the price of a Forever stamp from 49 cents to 50 cents just 6 months ago. Why are they asking for another rate hike?

The fact is that people are mailing less and less letters and more and more packages. It seems to me that USPS could do better to simply average out the rates and settle on a single rate for letters, as well as a single rate for packages going across the country. It is unreasonable to expect their customers to pay the difference, when their rates are already too high per pound weight. PM and PM Express are so expensive that many simply choose to go FCM. USPS is not going to make more money offering those services.

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by: SANT1N1 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 17 20:41:14 2019

Citing disapproval of shipping rates it says unfairly favor China, the White House is weighing a potential withdrawal next month from the Universal Postal Union (UPU), a United Nations agency which allows for global postal service.

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