UPU decision

Letter carrier walks near delivery vehicle

The Universal Postal Union’s member nations agreed Sept. 25 to improve its payment system for the international exchange of letter post packets.

The international organization, also known as the UPU, has established a system that determines the amount a country will be paid for delivering international letter post products that originate in another country. This system is known as “terminal dues.”

This week in Geneva, UPU members held a special meeting — known as an Extraordinary Congress — to discuss the current terminal dues system as it applies to letter post small packets that contain goods.

The meeting provided an opportunity for UPU members to collaborate and develop solutions to move away from terminal dues for small packets and to end the distortionary effects associated with excessively low rates established under the terminal dues system, as compared to domestic postage rates.

The Postal Service has been working with the Trump administration, the U.S. State Department, the Postal Regulatory Commission and others to instead allow countries to declare their own rates for delivering international small packets, in order to provide a more balanced and fair remuneration system for small packets containing goods.

A compromise agreement was reached at the Extraordinary Congress that will essentially eliminate the economic distortions that result from the current payment system for the international exchange of small packets.

The agreement will also enable the United States to remain in the UPU, with the Postal Service as its designated operator.

In response to this agreement, Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan issued the following statement:

The Postal Service would like to thank President Trump for his leadership in helping us to negotiate the resolution of an intractable problem with the payment system for the international exchange of small packets that has persisted over many years, and that has been extremely difficult to resolve. We are very pleased that the member countries of the Universal Postal Union have reached an agreement that accommodates the concerns of the United States and other countries with that payment system.

The United States and other countries’ concerns have been addressed by allowing the Postal Service to self-declare its rates beginning in July 2020, while operators from other countries will transition to self-declared rates at phased levels over the next six years. The proposal adopted by the Universal Postal Union is aimed at eliminating economic distortions for the distribution of goods, by establishing parity with comparable domestic services for inbound packet volumes.

The outcome of the UPU negotiations will also enable the Postal Service to support infrastructure development abroad that builds capacity for advance electronic customs data transmission and improvements in postal security.

The safety, sanctity and security of the mail are of paramount importance to the Postal Service, so we appreciate that the agreement reached today includes concrete steps to ensure that the world’s posts will be better positioned to provide data from their customers that will help to reduce the use of the international mail system to transport dangerous contraband and counterfeit goods into the United States.

We are also grateful for the laser focus and concerted efforts of the Trump administration team, led by Dr. Peter Navarro, on these important issues. Through our collective efforts, and the spirit of cooperation and compromise that was demonstrated by the International Bureau and the participating nations at the Extraordinary Congress, we believe that the global network for the international transportation and delivery of mail will work more effectively, and in a fashion which is fundamentally more fair to all participants in the system.

Trust, but verify

Stamped letters

The USPS Hold Mail online service will be improved in early October to strengthen security and help customers better protect their information.

Hold Mail allows customers to place their mail on hold for 3-30 days. To place mail on hold, customers can visit a Post Office and fill out PS Form 8076, Authorization to Hold Mail; call 800-ASK-USPS; or submit an online request.

Currently, online requests don’t require identity verification.

Starting in October, customers who go online to place their mail on hold will be required to create a usps.com account or sign in to their account and verify their identity.

A prompt will ask customers to verify their identity through a two-step verification process that requires a mobile device. Once verified, customers can make a Hold Mail request.

Customers also will be given the option to sign up for Informed Delivery.

Customers who fail the online verification process can get a verification code in the mail or visit a Post Office.

Customers who have questions can call a USPS Customer Care Center at 800-344-7779.

After the storms

High water warning sign

The Postal Employees’ Relief Fund and the USPS Employee Assistance Program are available to aid workers affected by Hurricane Dorian, Tropical Storm Imelda and other natural disasters.

Imelda recently caused significant flooding in parts of Texas, while Dorian devastated the Bahamas before it tore through parts of North Carolina, South Carolina and other areas in early September.

The relief fund, also known as PERF, isn’t an emergency services organization like the American Red Cross or insurance companies that are paid to replace property.

Instead, the fund provides relief grants to help qualifying individuals obtain basic necessities after a loss.

PERF also helps postal employees and retirees whose homes were significantly damaged by other disasters, such as tornadoes, earthquakes and house fires.

The assistance program, also known as EAP, helps employees and family members cope with a variety of situations, including life-altering disasters, changes at work and more routine matters.

The PERF and EAP sites have more information.

News Briefs

Scanning snapshot

Employee scanning a package.

Scanning snapshot. The Postal Service’s national scanning rating was 97.75 percent during the week ending Sept. 20, down from one week earlier.

Western (97.92 percent) led the areas, while Dakotas (99.08 percent) topped the districts.

Scanning allows customers to track their packages and mail, and it helps USPS improve efficiency and network management.

To see the latest results, go to the Informed Visibility site and select “Customer Experience,” followed by “DES 2 Scan Performance.” Employees must request access to Informed Visibility through eAccess.

Service update. Parts of southeast Texas remain flooded after Tropical Storm Imelda dropped massive amounts of rain in the region last week.

The usps.com Service Alerts section has the latest information on postal operations.

Into the sunset. The Postal Service has sent its RIBBS industry website into the sunset.

The tools previously accessed from RIBBS — including service standard maps and a lookup feature for business mail entry locations — are now available on the Postal Pro site.

The tools should no longer be accessed from RIBBS because they may not contain up-to-date information.

Got news? Email your submissions to uspslink@usps.gov.