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Local direct mailers worried about Saturday cut

A U.S. Postal carrier makes his rounds Wednesday West Dundee. February 6 2013  | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media

A U.S. Postal carrier makes his rounds Wednesday in West Dundee. February 6, 2013 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: March 8, 2013 7:40AM

ELGIN — There is one day that most politicians want their political mailers in residential boxes — Saturday, particularly the Saturday before an election, said Kim Gilmore of Gilberts-based Gilmore Marketing.

That, she said, is the one day most Americans have the time to actually look at their mail, instead of tossing what many see as “junk mail” into the recycling bin.

She and Scott Hansen at Elgin’s Responsive Mailroom, another business that works in the direct-mail industry, said they are concerned about the U.S. Postal Service’s announcement Wednesday. As of the week of Aug. 5, there will no longer be home and business delivery of the mail. Packages, however, will continue a six-day-a-week delivery schedule, according to the Postal Service.

The loss of Saturday will have ramifications for them, Gilmore and Hansen said. What that will end up being, however, is unknown.

During an election cycle, Gilmore said, just one politician-client can send out 30 direct mail pieces. Unlike commercial direct mail, which has a 10-day delivery window, political mailers are “red card” items mandated to have a one-to-three-day turnaround.

In other words, Gilmore said, if she drops mail at the Elgin Post Office on Friday morning, she knows it will be in residents’ mailboxes on Saturday.

It is not known what the end of Saturday delivery will mean to the rest of her clients who use direct mail, she said.

Hansen, president of Responsive Mailroom, said he’s afraid that loss of a circulation day will have a major impact on his clients.

“I don’t think that will be a good thing,” he said. “There are many marketers that want their mail delivered on a certain day. It could affect how people do their direct mail.”

It has been a concern for his company — and the direct mail industry — for a while, Hansen said. Clients actually have asked him if they should be sending mailers through the post office — concerned that it will close and leave them with undelivered marketing items.

Retiree costs

Neither do most Americans realize the Postal Service’s financial crisis isn’t because fewer people are using the service but because of demands put on the post office by Congress, he said.

“Our federal government is requesting the Post Office to pay 75 years in advance on retiree benefits,” Hansen said.

According to the U.S. Postal Service, that additional requirement costs $11.1 billion each year. The Saturday service cut will reduce costs by about $2 billion.

“Our Congress is building a slush fund, like our teacher retirement fund in Illinois, and that I am concerned about,” Hansen said. “It is a way to build an additional source of revenue that taxpayers have to pay for again.”

For his business, nothing beats the price of a stamp, he added. “Where else can you send from Chicago to California for in 44 cents in five days … or standard mail delivered for 25 cents? You can’t beat the cost for that,” he said.

While many Americans lament “junk mail,” direct mailing has also seen a resurgence since the economy nosedived in 2007, Gilmore said.

Because banks are sending out fewer pre-approved credit card offers, fewer junk mail items are going out — meaning that what is sent might actually get a look, Gilmore said.

“Direct mail is working better than it has in a long time,” she said. “But I don’t know what the studies will say with no Saturday delivery. Will they have less time to look at their mail.”

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