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May 17, 2007

Mailing Services web site outlines postal changes

Dieters have long been told that one’s shape matters more than one’s weight. Now it’s true for mailers as well.

The May 14 U.S. Postal Service pricing changes that raised the cost of a first-class letter from 39 cents to 41 cents also have altered pricing for other mailings.

The USPS’s new “shape-based pricing” moves from the old weight-based system of determining postage costs to one that takes into account size, thickness and weight. Now, because of differences in the costs of processing different shapes of mail, letters, flats (large envelopes) and parcels will be priced accordingly.

While rate increases are getting the attention, some rates actually are going down. The simple act of folding pages into a different envelope can cut the cost of mailing. For instance, reconfiguring the contents of a 2-ounce flat into a letter-sized envelope would save a mailer 39 cents.

Under the old system, a 2-ounce piece of mail cost 63 cents, regardless of whether it was a letter, flat or parcel. Under the new plan, a 2-ounce letter will cost 5 cents less to mail — 58 cents, while flats and parcels that are more expensive to process will rise to 97 cents and $1.30.

To help University mailers navigate the changes, Mailing Services has added a web page, available through its site at The site includes a tutorial outlining the changes and offering tips on how to cut mailing costs. Additional tips will be added to the Mailing Services web site in the near future, according to a memo from Gus Tytke, assistant director for mail services.

Mailing Services’ customer service line at 412/244-7050 can help answer questions about bulk mail or other concerns.

A complete list of mailing cost changes is available on the USPS web site at

—Kimberly K. Barlow

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