USPS issued an industry notice that the Postal Service wants to discontinue Regional Rate Boxes (A/15 pounds and B/20 pounds) for Priority Mail and Priority Mail International in January.
The document titled “Proposed January 2023 Changes” does not mean the change will actually take effect. The bulletin warns that proposed changes in the document are still pre-decisional and subject to change based on Board of Governors and Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) decisions.
As of this writing, we couldn’t find a PRC request to make this change to the Priority Mail and Priority Mail International regional rate program.
If USPS files a PRC request, and it’s approved in time, the bulletin suggests this change could take effect in January 2023.
USPS Priority Mail Regional Rate Boxes
USPS Priority Mail Regional Rate Boxes were launched in 2011 and are only available to commercial shippers and online customers, which includes sellers and online merchants that use most online shipping platforms.
How popular these boxes are is a bit murky. Since the document issued by the Postal Service only discusses potential changes, there is no mention of the rationale for making this service adjustment. That would have to be included in the PRC filing.
The pricing scheme of Regional Rate Boxes often meant they had limited value for many commercial shippers, especially those with access to cubic foot pricing.
Additionally, since Regional Rate Boxes can only be ordered on the Postal Service’s website and are not available at local post offices, shippers needed to have a good supply on hand in case the Postal Service ran out.
Interestingly, this is the second time now that the Regional Rate program has come under the microscope.
Earlier this year, the US Postal Service amended the maximum weight allowed to be shipped with these boxes from 70 pounds to 15 pounds for “Box A” and 20 pounds for “Box B.”
What Are the Chances Priority Mail Regional Rate Boxes Will Go Away?
As already mentioned, USPS has not even filed a request with the PRC yet.
But if the program is not very popular, it’s likely the PRC would approve the elimination of regional rates to help USPS streamline its package services.
In July, the US Postal Service filed a proposal with the PRC to combine its current three package ground services into one. Later, USPS amended its filing to delay the implementation date to a still unknown date in 2023, not January as originally planned.
This was the second time in a year that USPS had to adjust the effective dates of significant service changes. Last year, it delayed the implementation of slowing First-Class Parcel service for over six months.
Of course, removing a couple of flat rate mailers is vastly different from making substantial changes to its service levels or ground services.
The possible elimination of the Regional Rate Boxes may be less impactful on shippers, especially if they are not that popular, and could result in a much faster implementation.
Other Proposed Changes
The bulletin by the Postal Service giving advance notice to commercial shippers about proposed changes in January includes a few other items of note to eCommerce shippers.
- Separate Nonstandard Fees for Expedited and Ground Products
- Collapse Commercial Base and Commercial Plus for Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail
- Zone Modernization Phase 2
- Deliver Return and Outbound Labels to Residential and Business Addresses for a Fee
- Eliminate Certificate of Mailing and Signature Confirmation Services for Returns
- Eliminate Multiple Canada Rate Zones for PMI in Notice 123
- Eliminate Balloon Pricing for Parcel Return Service
- Remove Parcel Return Service (PRS) rates from Notice 123
The full document is available here that explains a little more about some of these proposals.
But since this is just an overview of some of the changes the US Postal Service is considering and all are pre-decisional, much can still change. The notice has already gone through 10 changes since the first draft in July of 2022.
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