Words of Advice:

"Never Feel Sorry For Anyone Who Owns an Airplane."-- Tina Marie

If Something Seems To Be Too Good To Be True, It's Best To Shoot It, Just In Case." -- Fiona Glenanne

Flying the Airplane is More Important than Radioing Your Plight to a Person on the Ground
Who is Incapable of Understanding or Doing Anything About It.
" -- Unknown

"There seems to be almost no problem that Congress cannot, by diligent efforts and careful legislative drafting, make ten times worse." -- Me

"What the hell is an `Aluminum Falcon'?" -- Emperor Palpatine

"Eck!" -- George the Cat

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Starting a Dead-Tree Newsletter? The Post Office Hates You and is Betting You'll Fail

Let's say that you get the bright idea to begin publishing some sort of newsletter or other periodical. If you plan to mail them out, bring plenty of money to your startup.

Oh, sure, the Postal Service has a thing called a periodical rate. They offer it because, ages ago, Congress thought it was a good idea to encourage the cheap dissemination of news and information (and advertising). Doesn't mean the USPS likes it and they'll make it hard for you to do.

First, you have to start publishing and yes, that means you're mailing out your first few issues at first-class mail rates. Then you can take your circulation figures and proof to the Bulk Mail Unit servicing your area and apply for a periodical permit. Where you pretty much will have to engage in a sit-in if you want the application processed.

But first, the USPS will issue you a bulk-mail permit, not a periodical permit. Which costs more to mail. And which you have to establish an account and pay into, in advance, to mail your stuff. This is all while the USPS processes your periodical permit. Which takes six months, at a minimum. Usually longer.

The silver lining is that if you hang on long enough to get the periodical permit issued, then the USPS applies that retroactively, back to when you first started mailing out at the bulk rate.

But if your publication fails before then, you've paid to mail them at the bulk rate and it sucks to be you.

The six+ month delay to get a periodical permit, as you might have surmised, has nothing to do with bureaucracy. The Post Office has figured out that most new periodicals don't succeed and that they fail within (no prizes for guessing) six months.

The USPS hates the periodical rates. They make money on bulk mail, but little, if any, on periodicals. So they game the system to take the maximum profit from struggling startups and, I'll wager, they've sunk more than their share in doing that.

One might presume that the Post Office is run by people who once worked for Goldman Sachs. Or Donald Trump.


dinthebeast said...

Or that they have been squeezed almost out of existence by laws that make them pre-fund their retirement fund for a decade in advance, by lawmakers dying to privatize them despite their constitutional mandate and the fact that hard to serve areas will be royally screwed by privatization. Oh yeah, and they're a public sector union, and those must be squashed, and who cares whether they have living wage jobs obtainable by people of color. Or that you can have a letter delivered thousands of miles for fifty cents...

-Doug in Oakland

AC2usn said...

The post office does a great job. Like all government departments it has its issues. Our communication shift from first class to email mail is cutting revenue to the bone. The front loading of pension expenses is also causing a real problem.


CenterPuke88 said...

Like all government departments, a huge amount of the issues are caused by Congress. The privatization of the CONUS flight service stations should have been enough to convince everyone that privatized ATC was a bad idea...but the only thing that got Lockheed-Martin and Boeing out of the push to privatize was Congress agreeing that any ATC Corp would be not-for-profit. They are still pushing for privatization, and heaven help the non-airline air traffic if they get it!