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Postal Service Mulls Discounts to Bulk Mailers

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Taking a cue from the Obama administration, the U.S. Postal Service is considering a stimulus package of its own.

For the first time, the USPS is proposing a summer sale that will give discounts to as many as 5,000 of the country's largest bulk mailers. The idea still has to make it through the Postal Regulatory Commission, and any decision could still be more than a month away.

The Postal Service is trying to stimulate more mailings during a traditionally slow time, the summer months, and boost its sagging bottom line. The Direct Marketing Association, long a proponent of incentives and sales promotions, is asking that the discount be approved for summer 2010 also because customers won't have much time to prepare and take advantage of this year's deal.

"The current economic climate demands this new pricing strategy to grow mail volume during the slow summer season," said DMA president and CEO John Greco.  "It has taken two years for this to come to fruition, and we welcome its continued progress."

Trying to hold onto its most prolific clients, the Postal Service is considering discounts of 20 percent to 30 percent, based on the volume the customer mailed during the June 15 to Sept. 15 period last year. (There's a formula, which will be individually calculated, that will take into account the drop in mailings in the past few quarters. Discounts will be applied to the mail that's over and above previous volume, not the total volume.)

The Postal Service's internal blog, yourpostalblog, already had a number of commenters on the issue, most saying that any effort to pump up volume is worthwhile. "If it helps stimulate business and increase revenue, it's a no-brainer," one wrote. Though another wondered if the emphasis on big mailers is exclusionary. "What about small business? That's not a friendly atmosphere at all."

Also on the table is an incentive program for saturation mailers. They'd be able to earn credits from 2.2 cents to 4 cents per piece for new mailings.