shutterstock_377221258In January each year, Canada Post announces changes to specifications and prices. This year, there was a small increase to the most commonly used rate — Personalized Mail

Here’s where you can find an Overview of all the Postal Price and Specification Changes.

Considering the confidence-crushing brush with a postal disruption that drove many direct mail advertisers to explore alternatives to the nation’s postal service last year, it’s in our court now, as direct mail service providers, to persuade the “former” users of mail to come back.

That’s why I’m revisiting an important lesson from the past…

The oversize personalized mail trap

One thing that hasn’t gone away is what I call the Canada Post Personalized Mail Trap. It’s laying in wait and can bite you when you least expect it. And it can be a very costly surprise at that.

It all started in 2015 when Canada Post renamed the Admail category “Personalized Mail.” Other than the name change, the biggest difference was a simplified pricing model. However, along with the new pricing came a substantial price increase if a mail piece crept beyond the Machineable Rate (50 g) spec.  

Two suggestions

  1. Keep your weight below 50g and thickness below 5mm (0.2 in) to take advantage of the best rates and machine sorting benefits.   
  2. If you’re planning a job that is close to 50 g or close to the thickness maximum of 5 mm, then you might consider preparing it for Special Handling (manual sorting) just in case it does slip over the maximums. We all know that sometimes the best-laid plans and weight estimates can be wrong once you have the final pieces in hand.

If you don’t think this is something you need to worry about, think again. In my earlier blog I told the story of a competitor that made that mistake and it resulted in a whopping $10,000 in unnecessary postage charges to one of Canada Post’s experienced clients.

It was a mistake anyone who wasn’t aware of the rule change could have made — and even experienced mailers can still get caught. The key point is understanding the giant step in rates that occurs between Special Handling Rate vs Machinable Rate at the 50g threshold. There’s a jump from $0.485 to $0.73 per piece and that is not what we might expect if our background is in LCP sorted rate schedules that increased. This jump is 23 cents per gram over 50 g!

Here’s a quick illustration of the Special Handling Rate in action.

Consider the same piece of promotional mail sent using the Machineable rate and the Special Handling rate.

Size: 5/7/8” x 9.5”

Thickness: 2.3mm

Weight: 78g

Quantity: 57,000

Machineable Rate: $47,036.3 ($0.825)

Special Handling Rate: $33,630($0.59) ($13, 406.40 SAVING!)

Why does it cost more to use Canada Post’s Machinable Rate above 50 grams?

A few years back Canada Post upgraded its sorting equipment to newer machines that read addresses and sorted admail a lot faster and with more accuracy than the previous “LCP pre-sorted” handwork. Thanks to this upgrade we all get the benefit of faster mail delivery.

Today I look back on this giant step forward as a classic lesson in unintended consequences. That’s because the new price system didn’t (and still doesn’t) take into account instances when a carefully designed mail piece unexpectedly does not qualify for Machineable Personalized. I say unexpectedly because this can happen if you plan close to the 50 g threshold and accidentally end up slightly over, or your piece becomes a bit too thick for machineable to work.

The magic numbers to remember are 50g and 5mm

Build in a margin of error and a safety “hatch”

I wish you all the best with your promotional direct mail. May the Personalized Mail trap be one less thing you have to worry about when planning your projects.