More on the New Postal Shape-Based Pricing

How flattering to find out how widely read my blog is. Compliments and queries have come in from across the nation regarding my recent post on the new postal regulations and the potential for a whopping increase in your postage costs if you are unaware of the coming changes, along with instructions on how to mitigate the high hidden increases. A particularly astute response was made by Martha J. Ackerman, CLM, the administrator of R. L. Steenrod, Jr. & Associates, P.C., in Denver, CO. It was shared with me by my good friend and colleague Reba Nance, who is my counterpart at the Colorado State Bar Association. I should not be surprised that a fellow CLM-er like Martha put so much thought into this upcoming increase, and did some great additional research. She has been gracious enough to provide me with permission to share portions of her response with my readers.

What the blog fails to discuss is the service of process requirements under Statutes, Court Rules, Code, etc. I can say that for this office, we must comply with the Probate Code. The Probate Code indicates all service via mailing must go out by Registered, Certified or First-class mailing. The blog post gives the impression that if you can’t comply with the new shape-based pricing, then the mailing is going out Parcel Post – well, Parcel Post mailing fails under the Code. Further, if you thought to do Registered or Certified to get around this, Parcel Post doesn’t allow Registered and Certified Mailings.

Priority Mail is a vehicle for those items up to 70 lbs and not over 108″ in length and girth. Priority Mail is a first-class vehicle offered by the Post Office. For example, if a pleading with exhibits is 1″ thick and is placed in a 10 x 13 envelope, it will fail the new shape-based pricing requirements and will go out Parcel Post – unless something is done. However, under the Probate Code it can NOT go Parcel Post. What’s the solution? Priority Mail. Priority Mail = first-class thus the Code is complied with and the mailing via Priority Mail is under 70 lbs. and is 35″, thus complying with Priority Mail requirements (35″ being calculated as 13″ in length plus 22″ in girth or thickness around the parcel [imagine a flexible tape measure going around the width of the envelope front and back – 1″ + 10″ + 1″ + 10″]).

Also of importance, again, is the fact that certified and registered mail cannot be used with Parcel Post mailings. You have a mailing similar to the example above – a document with exhibits that is 1″ thick that needs to go Certified Mail. Again, it can’t go “regular” first-class regular mail because it doesn’t comply with the shape-based pricing requirements AND you cannot do a Certified or Registered mailing if it goes Parcel Post. Return Receipts (the green cards) can be used to verify receipt of mailings in Parcel Post mode, but another vehicle will probably need to be used to verify actual mailing TO the recipient, if needed, and that requires personal appearance at the PO for a Certificate of Mailing. Just whether the PO’s Certificate of Mailing will be recognized in a court of law is something I don’t know. So, to
get around this dilemma, use Priority Mail where Certified and Registered can be used.

Lastly, from the USPS website’s FAQ: “Does dimensional-weight pricing apply to Express Mail shipments? NO,” thus Express Mail seems to be another last ditch and costly effort to avoid the shape-based pricing under the new regulations for bulkier mailings.

Since I was more concerned about complying with Statutes, Court Rules, and Codes as to the new mail regulations and the blog did not address some of these important points, I thought I’d pass my thoughts on to you.

Thank you so much for all your research, Martha, and for sharing it so freely. When you get a chance, please send me the rigidity information you obtained so I can share that with readers, too. Folks, Martha and I shared a few laughs of irony about the more expensive options law firms will now have to use to comply with the additional requirements of Statutes, Court Rules and Codes. Make sure you pass this additional information along to those hapless souls at your firm who actually have to deal with the nuts and bolts of getting your mail out in the most cost-effective manner. Failing to do so could easily result in an increase of your postage costs by more than 50%.

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