The US Postal Service's most recent requested increase in postal rates could result in a 25 percent increase in MIT's bulk-letter mailing costs.
First Class postage would increase by a penny to 33 cents for a one-ounce letter. Rates for additional weight would remain the same -- 23 cents for each additional ounce or fraction thereof. The "non-standard surcharge" would rise from 11 cents per piece to 16 cents. This is the charge for letters weighing one ounce or less, but are oversized, square, irregularly shaped or too thick for automated handling.
The biggest increase would be seen in bulk-mailing nonprofit rates -- the rates MIT uses for most of its bulk mail. The basic rate for letters would jump from its present 13.2 cents to 16 cents. Then another increase in October (previously scheduled by Congress) would bring the basic bulk-letter nonprofit rate to 16.5 cents each. This amounts to a 25 percent increase.
Because MIT Mail Services bar-codes and presorts mail, most of MIT departments' bulk mailings are charged less than the basic rate, with savings passed back to departments. However, the discounted rates will increase proportionately under this proposal.
Various trade organizations, including the National Association of College and University Mail Services, have filed objections to the increase. They are citing Postmaster General Marvin Runyon, who has stated publicly that the Postal Service is en route to its fourth straight year of $1 billion-plus profits. Much of this was a windfall from the UPS strike, but it appears they would have achieved a substantial profit even without that boost.
The proposal is under review by the Postal Rate Commission, which is due to issue a decision in early May. For more information, contact Mail Services at x3-6000 or
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 1, 1998.