If it wasn’t for that myopic mailing industry (CUSTOMERS OF THE USPS), life would be a bed of roses at the Postal Service. Such is life in the mind of the outgoing Postmaster General.
Oh ya, he also took swipes at postal unions and Congress on the way out.
According to the PMG, mailers are myopic because they want lower prices, which to him means that we don’t want the USPS to have the flexibility to develop new products and pricing. I’m not quite sure how you make that connection.
Selective memory seems to be a characteristic of this PMG. Lest we forget, in 2006 the mailing industry agreed to annual price increases at the average rate of CPI applied to each class in the Market Dominant category. Mailers have said for as long as I can remember that predictability and stability in prices were key to future success. And lest we forget Part II, prior to postal reform (Postal Accountability & Enhancement Act – PAEA) we endlessly heard from the USPS how they had not raised prices for years by more than CPI and were able to manage within it.
And then there is the fact that as the USPS continues to raise prices (6% in 2014 as a result of exigency), the rest of the industry involved in the business of mail has had to adjust to a new paradigm in pricing and operational efficiency. That’s called market and demand-based pricing. I think it safe to say that the majority of the companies involved would have been very happy with the ability to increase their prices annually over the last 6 years at the rate of CPI, and that if we could all have added an additional 4.3% increase into that mix, everyone’s bottom line would look much better.
He essentially said that if mailers would have bowed down to the destructive proposals in the Senate bill last year (S.1486 – which was essentially THE USPS/PMG wish list) and supported all aspects of it, exigency would have been avoided. In recent statements, he has gone as far as saying that he got no support legislatively to help get the Postal Service back on solid footing. Again, selective memory on his part. Apparently, he forgot that sitting next to him at Senate and House hearings was Joel Quadracci, supporting everything the USPS wanted except the ability to set their own rates without PRC oversight. It should be noted that mailers allowing the USPS (an unregulated MONOPOLY) to set their own prices without oversight, given the track record of the Postal Service, would call into question the sanity of all of us.
Pat Donahoe did a lot of good things for the USPS and mailers during his career. That is a fact, and I congratulate him on a long and successful career. Unfortunately, as he became totally consumed the last couple years in getting his version of postal legislation passed, his comments and statements in opposition of mailers (his customers) got in the way of anything constructive happening. Let’s hope that the incoming PMG learns from this and takes a much different approach to developing legislation that will stabilize the Postal Service and the mailing industry. Knowing her, I trust that she will. Disparaging public remarks about your customers and business partners is not the best path forward, even if you aren’t going to be around to answer for them.
Read the Postmaster General's address at the National Press Club here.
Joe Schick, Quad/Graphics’ Vice President of Postal Affairs is an advocate for mailers and the print industry and works closely with the USPS and Congress to achieve effective postal reform.