Author Archives: bebtexas

Letter from the President – Oct 2017

Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey.  The devastation in Houston and surrounding areas was truly alarming.       However, our fellow Houstonians shined with acts of incredible selflessness and kindness. I am proud of our city.

BEB was very fortunate as our compound remained dry, sustained no damage from the storm and remained open for business without interruption.  Also, 100% of our staff emerged from the storm safe and sound.

The Houston USPS was closed for only a few days and is now 100% operational.  Mail is flowing without delay and we’re in full swing with open enrollment, giving, and holiday season preparations. 

Our social media and digital division was extremely busy during the storm.  Many of our clients used those platforms to communicate with their customers regarding closings, temporary relocations, and notification of available services.  We hope you, your loved ones and your businesses fared well and know that we are here to assist in any way we can. 

In this issue of The Bureau, we review the latest happenings in Washington DC pertaining to the upcoming postal rate increase expected in January.  We also outline the controversy surrounding the proposed methodology change to the way nonprofit rates are determined. 

This summer, our Social Media seminar series completely sold out.  With demand so high, we decided to schedule another series for the Fall, starting October 24th.  These sessions will sell out again quickly, so if you are interested and haven’t already registered, do so fast. 

Our Marketing for Small Business classes are divided into three programs.  The Basics Series include Blogging, Social Media Platforms Overview,  Organic Search Engine Optimization, Direct Marketing, and Email blasts.  The Social    Media Series covers Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for Business, and a new session dedicated to content.  The Digital Program offers LinkedIN, how to create an email blast and another session on event marketing within Constant Contact.  The final class covers how to understand Google Analytics.

Though our prescheduled series are conducted at our facility, many of our  clients have asked us to teach classes at their location.  We can modify an individual presentation or an entire series to address your needs.  One of our more popular traveling seminars is called Direct Mail Made Easy.  Several clients invite us to teach this class once or twice a year.  We have presented to sales and client service reps, graphic artists, and marketing coordinators.  Some highlights from the class include, what to look for when designing materials to mail, understanding different classes of mail, and a review of postage rates.  If you have an interest, call your representative and we will make it happen.   

We hope that you enjoy this edition of The Bureau, and if you have questions or need more information about anything herein, please don’t hesitate to contact us.  Thank your for your business and partnership.

Ron Royall, President

Business Extension Bureau







Informed delivery is a free and optional notification service that gives residential consumers the ability to see a preview of their letter mail, wherever they are,  BEFORE IT ARRIVES.

Participating customers (6 million strong so far), receive an email containing an image of the outside of their  letter-sized mailpieces that will be arriving soon.  Packages will be presented starting in 2018, and instead of the current grayscale images of today, full color  images will start early next year as well.

Notifications can also be viewed on the dashboard at  Notifications are not sent on days when there is no mail to be delivered, or on  Sundays and federal holidays.

There is a lot of potential for marketers as this program takes root.  You have the option to make the images  interactive by connecting to your website or landing  pages.  We’ll review this new service in more detail  within our next newsletter.



  • Visit
  • Click View My Mail
  • Go to My Preferences. Under Account Management, you will see a box for Informed Delivery.  Click Manage Your Mail
  • Opt IN to Informed Delivery by selecting the check box and confirm your address.  Complete ID verification process.
  • Start receiving notifications within the next few days!


Estimate 2% for Jan Rate Increase

The USPS said it will propose higher postal rates (for   market dominant products) based on the August 2018  Consumer Price Index (CPI).  The proposed filing will be submitted sometime in October and the rate hike will take effect on January 21, 2018.

The actual proposed changes are unknown at this time, and we are uncertain how much the USPS will draw on “Banked Pricing Authority” (see below right for more information).

However, based on statistics released by the Bureau of Labor, the Consumer Price Index Figures for August (including those used to construct the USPS pricing   authority), reflect the calculated “cap” at 1.987%.  Therefore, our advice to mailers is to estimate around a 2% increase for your 2018 postal budgetOf course specific prices can change plus or minus.

What is the USPS Banked Pricing Authority

 An amount not used in a previous filing or developed through discounts tied to incentives & promotions.  This can be added  to what is available under the CPI cap to increase the net percentage applicable to each class of mail.



Postal Rate Case Update

Today the USPS filed it’s rate case with the PRC (Postal Regulatory Commission), for a rate hike to take effect January 21, 2018.

As expected, the overall postal rate increase falls just short of 2%, excluding Nonprofit (NP), Marketing rates.
As noted within our newsletter, the Bureau, the USPS is trying to change the way nonprofit rates are calculated. Click here to read more.
If the PRC accepts the request (which is uncertain as a legal challenge will most likely follow), nonprofit prices could increase anywhere from 3.3% – 6.9% over and above other increases. As the rate case stands now, Marketing Mail Nonprofit Auto Letters are proposed to increase by 2.9%. All news isn’t bad in the NP realm, USPS marketing Mail 5-Digit Auto Flats entered at Origin are proposed to drop by 6.97%.
First Class stamps are slated to rise to 50¢ and international first class letters, cards, and flats won’t increase at all.
The PRC has up to 45-days to respond and suggest changes. We’ll keep you posted as the rate case moves through its channels.

October Classes Start Oct 24, 2017


  • Classes are conducted at our facility in the heart of the Museum district of Houston, Texas at 4802 Travis St
  • Desktops, notebooks, and smart phones are welcome as classes are conducted while using live platforms


Individual Classes $30/per person

2 Classes $57/per person

3 Classes $81/per person

4 Classes $105.00/per person


Welcome Kerry Dicapua

Join us as we welcome Kerry Dicapua!  Kerry is a native of Boston,  and has lived in Houston for the past 20-years.

Kerry is studying accounting at Lone Star College and has a daughter named Brooklyn (13).  The pair enjoy baking and have recently started cooking together, too.  She also       enjoys collecting vintage handbags and is passionate about family.

Kerry handles A/R and other accounting functions as well as  managing the day-to-day office happenings.

We are excited to welcome Kerry to our BEB family.




The Magic of (USPS) MERLIN is Gone

For over 10-years, the USPS Mail Evaluation Readability Lookup INstrument, also known as MERLIN, has been used by acceptance clerks to test and verify mailings.  When first rolled out, it created quite a stir within industry surrounding measuring mail quality at the point of mail acceptance.

Full-Service mailers have moved to Seamless Acceptance and   enjoy the benefit of standardized acceptance and verification         processes thereby eliminating the need to have mailings tested on MERLIN.

MERLIN is also used to ensure that addresses were updated within 95-days of the mailing date with customer filed COA (Change of Address) orders.  The USPS announced that on January 21, 2018, the method for ensuring compliance with Move Update              requirements will change from the MERLIN Method to a new Census Method.    The new method checks compliance on all mail pieces (unlike MERLIN that verified samplings), and reduces the current 30% threshold to .5%.

This marks the end of the MERLIN era, and the start of greater efficiency in measuring postal compliant mail.


The Nonprofit Postal Rate Controversy

The PRC (Postal Regulatory Commission) has been petitioned for approval to amend its method of calculating Standard and Nonprofit (NP) prices.

Since 2000, the 60% rule applies to NP rates.  That means that the average NP revenue per piece should be 60% of the estimated average revenue per piece rate, class-wide.  The USPS wants to revert to using a methodology that was used prior to the passage of postal reform legislation where  regular and ECR (enhanced carrier route) rates are considered subclasses of mail.  The Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers alerted members that by reverting to the prior methodology, prices could increase 3.3% to 6.9% over and above other increases that are proposed for implementation in January of 2018.

The PRC Public Representative recognized the potential “rate shock” facing nonprofit mailers, and urged the USPS to apply any corrective price adjustments (over the annual CPI cap increase) over more than two       price-adjustment cycles.

There isn’t a time constraint applicable for the PRC to issue a decision on the matter, and the comment period on the USPS proposal ended on September 18th.  Knowing the possibility of a legal challenge, the PRC may be more deliberate in issuing its ruling than usual.  We’ll keep you posted as this issue unfolds.

*from The Bureau-October 2017 issue