The Postal Regulatory Commission marked receipt of the filing as 4:07 p.m., less than an hour before closing. If USPS had waited until Friday morning, the December 2014 Consumer Price Index would have been factored into the calculation of the inflation-based cap on postage increases -- perhaps lowering the cap because of plummeting gasoline prices that are leading to deflation.
|No change for the Caped Crusader|
The rate increases on the "market-dominant" mail classes, slated to take effect April 26, range from 1.886% for Standard to 1.965% for the Postal Service's favorite whipping boy, Periodicals. Take those numbers with a grain of salt.
Those are average increases, but I've never met an average mailer. Different types of mail in the same class may experience rate hikes that deviate significantly from the average -- especially for First-Class Mail.
Mailers of catalogs, magazines and other flat mail in the Standard and Periodicals classes will also face new rules and incentives for preparing Flats Sequencing System (FSS) mail. The impact is likely to vary significantly from customer to customer.
Flats mailers will face "required FSS preparation for all flat-shaped mail pieces destinating in FSS zones" but also "pricing incentives to reward mailers that prepare and enter flats that are most advantageous to the Postal Service."
Generally speaking, CPI-based rate increases take effect as long as the PRC determines that the Postal Service stayed within the rate cap and followed certain other rules. But there could be a different twist this time around.
|A Flats Sequencing System machine|
A legal challenge to the emergency committee's authority to raise rates might delay implementation, if not block them altogether.
It would be a sweet irony if the inaction of Congress -- where a majority of members seem OK with jacking up the postage paid by business mailers -- blocked USPS from rate increases that would fall disproportionately on business and institutional mailers.
Market-dominant rates are slated to decline by 4.3% this summer when the exigent surcharge expires, but that could be altered by an appeals court or an act of Congress. Postal officials seem especially concerned with the consumer confusion that would result if the price of Forever Stamps were increased and then decreased during the same year, which is probably why they left the price alone.
When (or, rather, if) the surcharge expires, it's not clear whether other First-Class rates could again be rejiggered in a way that again enabled the price of Forever Stamps to remain at 49 cents.
For further reading: