On August 23, 2018, the Postal Service™ issued an advanced notice of proposed rule-making in the Federal Register that stated that the USPS® was considering revising content standards for all Marketing Mail. The proposed change would limit all USPS Marketing Mail, regular and nonprofit, letter-size and flat-size, to content that is only paper-based/printed matter; no merchandise or goods will be allowed of any type regardless of “value.” All items not eligible to be sent as USPS Marketing Mail letter-size or flat-size pieces would need to shift to another product (e.g., Priority Mail®, Parcel Select®) to be mailed.
Understandably, the industry was very disturbed by this far-reaching proposal that seemed to come out of nowhere and caught nearly everyone by surprise. Despite requests from industry leadership of the Mailer’s Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) and various mailing associations, the Postal Service refused to withdraw the proposal. Instead, they opted to issue the following clarification.
The United States Postal Service released the following Industry Alert on September 20, 2018:
Clarification of the Federal Register Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Concerning USPS Marketing Mail Content Standards
The Postal Service is clarifying its intention behind the Federal Register advance notice of proposed rulemaking dated 8/23/18 (83 FR 42624). We issued the advance notice to receive comments from as many stakeholders as possible on a potential change to the content eligibility standards of USPS Marketing Mail letters and flats. The goal of the notice is to inform our decision-making by seeking broad feedback from all interested stakeholders with regard to potential changes we are contemplating to our content eligibility requirements. An advance notice is the approved mechanism for the Postal Service to reach out to the American public to collect input on potential rules changes and to provide an opportunity for every interested person or organization to participate and to provide feedback. To be clear, we are seeking stakeholder feedback to assist us in making an informed decision on whether to propose changes, but at this stage no decision has been made, and no alternative rule or rule changes have been proposed.
We strongly encourage everyone with an interest in this matter to provide comments to firstname.lastname@example.org by October 22, 2018. Upon conclusion of the comment period, we will be working with the Mailing Industry to evaluate, define, and determine whether to propose any changes to USPS Marketing Mail content eligibility standards, and if changes are warranted to design the proposed rule. This is part of an in-depth evaluation of USPS Marketing Mail. We will seek necessary approvals from the Postal Service Governors and the Postal Regulatory Commission as warranted should any content changes be recommended at the conclusion of the evaluation process. If the Postal Service decides to make content changes, and they are approved, the earliest they would be implemented is calendar year 2020.