Year: 2007

USPS seeks comment on proposed uses of Intelligent Mail barcodes

The US Postal Service is seeking feedback on proposed rules related to the use of Intelligent Mail barcodes.

The notice is expected to be published in the Federal Register sometime in January. Once published, a 45-day comment period will begin.

The Intelligent Mail barcode was developed by the USPS to encode routing and tracking information on mail. While the PostNet barcode only contains the routing code, the Intelligent Mail barcode includes fields that identify the mailer and class of mail, encode special services, and uniquely number each mailpiece.

According to the notice, mailers will have to use one of two proposed options in order to qualify for automation prices for letters and flats as of January 2009. As of this date, automation prices will no longer be available for PostNet barcode users.

The first option, which the USPS is calling “Full Service,” will require that unique Intelligent Mail barcodes be applied to the following three categories: letter and flat mailpieces, handling units such as trays and sacks, and containers. Postage statements and mailing documentation will also need to be submitted electronically. The second option, referred to as “Basic,” will require mailers to use Intelligent Mail barcodes on mailpieces, but not on trays and containers.

In the future, the USPS plans to issue a separate notice addressing mail characteristics impacting machineability and delivery efficiency for letters and flats.

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Online shopping complaints rise (UK)

Complaints about the late arrival of online deliveries have risen by a third in the run-up to Christmas, according to a government advice service.

Consumer Direct says it has received 3,000 complaints in six weeks.

Royal Mail says the “vast bulk” of Christmas post will arrive on time and online retailer Amazon says its delivery success rate is above 99 pct.

Meanwhile, retailers reported Saturday was their busiest day of the year with sales exceeding expectations for many.

The UK’s 27 million online shoppers are expected to have spent GBP 15bn online in the run-up to Christmas Day – up 60 pct on last year, according to Interactive Media and Retail Group (IMRG), the industry body for the electronic retail community.

Online retailers use a variety of courier companies to make deliveries to customers, as well as Royal Mail.

Amazon says it has been dispatching 750,000 parcels a day in the run-up to Christmas.

Royal Mail has predicted that it will deliver a record 120 million items ordered over the internet this festive season – double the number handled three years ago.

In total, it expects to deliver some two billion items of Christmas post.

Royal Mail’s workforce has been boosted by an extra 20,000 members of staff in the four week run-up to Christmas, with more than 2,000 staff taken off non-operational duties to help with deliveries.

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Cash counts at Christmas – 50 per cent of people give money as a Christmas gift

Anyone still looking for a last minute Christmas gift may be set to join half of people (50 per cent)* across Britain in giving cash as a Christmas gift this year.

For the over 55s it’s a particularly popular choice with almost two thirds (64 per cent)* of the over 55’s opting to send cash gifts to people, including their children and grandchildren at Christmas.

For 35 to 44 year olds there’s a role reversal with one in ten (11 per cent) giving cash to their parents during the festive season.

For people who have left it until the last minute to send their cash in time for Christmas Day, MoneyGram® from the Post Office® offers a quick and easy solution to their cash gifting dilemmas.

In just ten minutes**, cash can travel from any Post Office® branch to and from outlets nationwide. And with 125,000 locations in approximately 170 countries and territories worldwide, whether your money is travelling to Southampton or South Africa, it’s never been easier to use the Post Office® and MoneyGram® service.

The Post Office® and MoneyGram now offer by far the largest international money transfer network in the UK and have a fully computerised service making it even faster to send and receive cash too.

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Royal Mail loses 2 million presents

Royal Mail faces an angry consumer backlash this weekend over more than 2 million parcels and letters lost or delayed in the Christmas post.

Customers across the country are in danger of being left without their presents as postal workers are overwhelmed by the GBP 10 billion boom in online shopping. The backlog has allegedly been compounded by postal workers deliberately failing to deliver presents to save time on their rounds.

About 1.2m letters and parcels are already estimated to have been lost in the Christmas post. Hundreds of thousands of other items are delayed or awaiting collection at depots where queues of up to two hours have formed.

Postwatch, the independent watchdog, last week wrote to Adam Crozier, chief executive of Royal Mail, to demand that the recorded mail service be improved or scrapped, because so many customers who had paid extra for recorded mail complained that postal workers were routinely failing to get a signature on delivery.

The chaos managed to disrupt the last weekend before Christmas for thousands as they were forced to queue up to collect undelivered packages.

Royal Mail will handle about 120m parcels this Christmas, more than a 20 pct increase on last year. It says the vast majority will be delivered, but admits that it is recorded as a successful delivery even if a “you were out” card is dropped through the door.

Postwatch said Royal Mail’s most recently available figures indicated that it lost about 1m items of mail a month. Royal Mail said it was no longer publishing figures on the amount of mail it lost because the information was commercially confidential.

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Japan Post Reports 442 B. Yen in Net Loss in April-September

Japan Post Holdings Co. said Wednesday its predecessor Japan Post incurred a net loss of 442 billion yen in April-September, compared with a net profit of 237.7 billion yen a year before.

A special loss of 1,419.5 billion yen, stemming from a change in accounting methods to report pension costs, weighed down on the bottom line.

But the net loss was far smaller than the company’s estimate of 852.7 billion yen thanks to robust earnings at “Yucho” postal savings and “Kampo” postal insurance operations.

Thanks to increases in investment returns, net profit at the Yucho division grew 20.5 pct to 372.6 billion yen, and that at the Kampo division increased 35.6 pct to 661.8 billion yen.

The mail service division suffered a net loss of 814.6 billion yen, against a year-before loss of 71.4 billion yen.

Recurring profit tripled to 1,207.8 billion yen.

Japan Post Holdings, which is wholly owned by the government, started operating on Oct. 1, the launch of the 10-year privatization process of Japan’s 136-year-old state-controlled postal service system.

The holding company controls four units–Japan Post Bank, Japan Post Insurance Co., Japan Post Service Co., which took over postal services, and Japan Post Network Co., which is in charge of operating Japan Post’s office network

1 USD = 112.059 JPY

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EU raises doubt over US trade deal

The high hopes that greeted a transatlantic trade deal ostensibly ending a dispute over online gambling have been almost immediately dashed by a look at the small print.

The European Union last week hailed an agreement with Washington to open up its warehousing, courier and testing service sector as compensation for closing the online gaming market to foreign companies last year.

The Office of the US Trade Representative (USTR) said the US Postal Service had allowed foreign competitors to handle overseas mail for 20 years. All it was doing was making the decision legally binding so it could not be reversed. Sensitive sectors such as domestic delivery and storage at ports and airports would remain closed.

An official added that this had “real value” and the EU agreed. “It gives the sector legal certainty. There is real value in binding the commitments,” said a spokesman for Peter Mandelson, the EU trade commissioner.

However, company officials and their lobbyists on both sides of the Atlantic are not so sure. “To us, this market was already liberalised and we have been operating in it for many years. It is too early to evaluate what long-term benefits this decision would have,” said a spokesman for the German courier.

World Trade Organisation officials said that it was up to the US and trading partners to agree adequate compensation between them. Washington would then notify the WTO of changes to US services commitments.

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24-hour general strike cripples Belgium

Most of Belgium was bought to a virtual standstill on Friday as a 24 hour general strike affected transport, schools and government services.

The BBC reports the industrial action, the first general strike in Belgium since 1993, forced the cancellation of trains, including international services such as Eurostar.
The protest was called by Belgium’s Socialist FGTB/ABVV union in protest at government plans to stop workers retiring early with full benefits.

Postal workers at sorting offices walked out on Thursday evening and airport authorities warned of possible disruption to flights.

There were also pickets and blockades at factories and ports. Antwerp, one of Europe’s largest ports, was shut for business as dockers refused to work.

Talks between the government and the unions are expected to continue over the weekend.

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MRW, Bartolini extend networks

Spanish express operator MRW and Italian parcels carrier Bartolini have announced expansion of their networks this month.

In Spain, MRW said it has opened new logistics platforms at Salamanca and Santiago de Compostela to improve its operations in those regions. The company now has 43 logistics bases across Spain.

It also added new franchise outlets in Seville, Ciudad Real and the provinces of Madrid, Vizcaya, Granada and Pontevedra. It now has nearly 800 outlets across Spain and Portugal.

In Italy, Bartolini opened a 25,000 sqm logistics hub in Turin under the name Turin Interporto Logistics Services facility on December 14. The building is fitted with advanced equipment for distribution logistics activities such as inbound, stock management and outbound.

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