Friday, October 16, 2009

Mailers Struggling to Meet New Rules

Bulk mailings prepared in Plainfield – anything from a couple hundred church newsletters to thousands of commercial brochures – can no longer be taken to the main post office on Watchung Avenue.

Instead, mailers must make their way to Rahway, Union or Edison, adding hours and miles to the process.

Under new U.S. Postal Service rules, even the Plainfield Senior Center newsletter, sent only to resident elders, must leave town to come back into their mailboxes.

“It has incurred a great expense to our company,” A&E Mailers plant operations manager Dave O’Chat said.

The company has a track record of more than 30 years serving the bulk mail needs of diverse clients including financial and educational institutions, businesses, hospitals and municipalities, but the new situation is unprecedented. Instead of a two-block trip to the post office and a quick turnaround, the company is facing delays and expenses it has never before seen.

O’Chat said one day’s trial at the Rahway post office tied up drivers for hours and forced a shift to the Union post office, no treat when factoring in possible delays and hazards of traveling Route 22.

When customers complain mailings have not arrived as timely as before, O’Chat can only say, “There’s nothing we can do.”

The company used to pay millions in postage to Plainfield’s main post office, but he said, “Everything’s going to Union or Kilmer.”

At First Unitarian Society of Plainfield, the problem is on a much smaller scale, but with finances tight, having the church secretary travel to Rahway instead of a block or so away to Watchung Avenue takes its toll. The church secretary must drive 20 minutes one-way out of her already reduced schedule to get the newsletter out, and preparers must spend more time affixing sticky “wafer seal” discs to the edges instead of stapling the pages and inserts together.

An option for the church may be to publish the newsletter online and charge first-class postage to those who still want to get a print copy.

But for O’Chat, a switch to electronic communications means the bulk mail industry might suffer great harm. The bulk mail location change is impacting a business that he says has already suffered from anthrax scares and the collapse of a prime customer base in financial institutions.

Worst of all, the company will find out the hard way of the impact.

“Customers are just not going to call,” he said.

But USPS spokesman George B. Flood called the new centralization plan a "win-win situation" that will increase and expand the following:
- The level of training and expertise of USPS Business Mail Entry employees
- Consumer education efforts in the highly technical areas of business mail preparation and mailpiece design
- Mailer access to upgraded acceptance equipment
- The hours of business mail acceptance in many locations
- The opportunities for mailers to take advantage of the new electronic mailing acceptance options and initiatives which saves mailers time and money.

"Postal Business Mail Entry experts are making every effort to make the transition as smooth as possible for mailers. Northern New Jersey District Business Mail Specialists are available to assist business mailers Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. by calling 973-468-7095 or 973-468-7076," Flood said in an e-mail response to Plaintalker.

Disclaimer: I attend First Unitarian Society and usually help prepare the monthly newsletter. I am also a member of the Plainfield Senior Center.
--Bernice Paglia


Blogger olddoc said...

Just another example of how important Plainfield has become in the scheme of things.

8:11 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

I'm sorry Mr. Flood but making Mailers buy new equipment costing tens of thousands of dollars for intelligent barcode and forcing them to buy new software for postal one and new paperwork requirements is a joke. The USPS is a monopoly that knows nothing about efficency and customer service and seems to give little regard to how its decisions impact its customer base. My largest clients are treated with the utmost respect and valued for not only there business but there input. The post office has made its largest customers there adversaries with Merlin and constant changes to software,barcode technology and acceptance locations. Raising costs and passing it on to your customers in a recession is just an example of the poor decisions you can expect from the United States Postal Service.

9:11 PM  

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