Thursday, June 26, 2008

Secret postal code for Gateway is L4W 1S2

Today's announcement by Canada Post of its proposed rate increases for 2009 -- released, naturally, just before a long summer weekend -- says that for Publications Mail, local mailed copies will see no increase in 2009; for regional, rates go up 1 cent; for national, rates go up 3 cents. The problem is knowing what proportion of your mailed copies are in each category. As a friend writes:
In Canada Post's pursuit of more creative ways to raise rates, in 2007 it first proposed implementing distance-based pricing for magazines that use LCP sortation. After it was pointed out that publishers had no way of knowing how many copies are local, regional and national, CPC said that it would implement the new system in January 2008 but keep the rates the same for local, regional and national. Well, it's now half way through 2008, and some of the biggest publishers are still not sure how many copies are local, regional or national.

It turns out that there's a problem with the postal codes of the CPC facilities. If you use the published postal codes for the CPC facilities, then all copies are reported as national -- even the ones that should be local or regional. To fix this software bug, you need to use a different postal code, except that CPC hasn't finalized the list yet.

For Gateway in Mississauga, Ont., where many Ontario-based magazines mail, the secret is to use L4W 1S2. That's the postal code that needs to be plugged into both the LCP software for the reports, and the Statement of Mailing. From that, you get your quantities. CPC claims the overall weighted average increase of the Publications Mail hikes will be 3.1%, but then who really knows? CPC itself hasn't figured out yet how to make this work.

The import of the rate hikes may be lost in a flurry of media comment about costs for regular stamps going up from 52 to 54 cents, starting in January. (The spin being applied by the post office is that Canada will continue to enjoy the 3rd lowest rate of postage in the developed world. What it doesn't say is that, compared with those who are lower (Australia and the United States), the cost to mail a letter in Canada is already 15% higher.)

"We have done our best to shield our customers as much as possible from the full impact of rising fuel, energy and labour costs." said Canada Post president Moya Greene. "The overall pricing strategy has been designed to ensure no one segment of our customer base carries an unfair share of burden of these rising costs."
Magazines Canada president Mark Jamison issued a statement soon after the Canada Post announcement saying:

Distance-related pricing could be a potential disaster for the industry. Many titles, not based in large urban centres but who have mostly national reach could be at serious risk whether they have PAP (Publications Assistance Program) eligibility or not.

Make no mistake, large or small , many titles could be badly hurt or worse. On top of this impact, we are looking at a total rejection of the Government of Canada's own cultural policy concerning access to content. Does the Government of Canada have any say in the behaviours of its agencies in the context of the delivery of its own policies ?

MC and its members will continue press MPs across Canada to take action
[More detailed analysis of the postal increases to follow as it becomes available.]

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