March 6, 2015
Citing numerous errors, incomplete information, and failures to comply with the law, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) today remanded the current CPI-cap rate case back to the Postal Service for Periodicals, Standard Mail and Package Services. The full order can be read here. The PRC gave the USPS until March 12 to file an amended rate case so that the April 26 implementation date can be retained. The USPS might, however, request additional time and delay the April 26 implementation.
Here is an excerpt from the order:
In recognition of the Postal Service’s pricing authority, the Commission remands all Standard Mail, Periodicals, and Package Services rates to allow the Postal Service to modify its planned rates to comply with the applicable legal standards. Pursuant to 39 C.F.R. § 3010.11(f), the Postal Service shall file its amended notice of rate adjustment and describe how the modifications to the planned Standard Mail, Periodicals, and Package Services rates comply with applicable legal requirements. An opportunity for comments from interested parties will be provided. See 39 C.F.R. 3010.11(g). The amended notice is due no later than March 12, 2015, so that new rates that comply with applicable legal requirements can be reviewed and implemented, as planned, on April 26, 2015. See 39 C.F.R. § 3010.11(i).
The PRC order also made specific reference to discrimination against nonprofits:
In section II of this Order, the Commission determines that the unequal commercial and nonprofit discounts in the Standard Mail class violate the requirement that disparities between commercial and nonprofit discounts must be justified. The Postal Service did not provide a justification for the proposed unequal nonprofit and commercial dropship discounts. The Commission also finds that the Postal Service failed to adequately justify the proposed disparity for nonprofit and commercial presort discounts.
And the PRC referred to comments that the Alliance (ANM) recently filed about discrimination:
Comments. ANM asserts that the Postal Service has violated 39 U.S.C. 403(c)’s prohibition against “any undue or unreasonable discrimination among users of the mails” by providing nonprofit mailers with smaller discounts than their commercial mail counterparts. ANM Comments at 5. It maintains that nearly 35 years of precedent, beginning with the Court of Appeals ruling in National Easter Seal Society, prohibit the Postal Service from proposing disparate discounts without a showing of good cause. Id. at 7. It discusses the development of Commission precedent regarding unequal nonprofit and commercial discounts in the wake of National Easter Seal Society to support its recommendation that the Commission reject the proposed Standard Mail prices and direct the Postal Service to equalize nonprofit and commercial discounts.
The PRC ordered that the discriminatory discounts be corrected or fully justified:
The Commission directs the Postal Service to either revise the unequal dropship discounts or provide a rational justification as to why setting these discounts at different amounts comports with the PAEA and is not contrary to National Easter Seal Society for each such unequal discount. If the Postal Service elects not to revise the unequal discounts, the Commission will closely scrutinize the Postal Service’s justification for consistency with title 39, National Easter Seal Society, and Commission precedent given the admission that other such unequal discounts were set inadvertently.
Finally, the remand of Periodicals pricing gives the USPS a tailor-made opportunity to rethink and correct the extreme outlier price increases for light weight, low advertising nonprofit periodicals that we wrote about in our Special Alliance Report on March 4.
(c) 2015 Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers