A huge inequity within the United States Postal Service (USPS) is requiring a date on metered First Class mail (postage evidencing system) while not requiring the same for permit imprint First Class mail and paper stamps. According to the Domestic Mail Manual 604.4.4.5, a complete mail date must be included in the meter mark when First Class mail is metered. Conversely, if an indicia is used to indicate payment of First Class postage, no date is required (DMM 604.5.3.2).

Why the difference in regulations? Why doesn't the same standard apply when the same amount of postage is paid for a mailing? Why would a mailer want to use a meter, when an indicia or paper stamps could be used with no date?

The Credit Card Act of 2009 requires bills to be mailed at least 21 days before their due dates and provide at least 45 days notice before making a significant change to interest rates or fees. Currently, banks are required to mail billing statements at least 14 days in advance and provide a 15-day notice before a change in fees or rates. Many credit card companies opt to pay for postage using a "no date"❠indicia.

How is the consumer able to verify when a credit card bill was entered into the mail stream without a mail entry date in the indicia? If the credit card industry is smart, which they are, they will mail all bills and statements using a "no date"❠indicia. To be fair and equitable to the USPS, commercial mailers and, more importantly, the consumer, a mail entry date must be required on all First Class mail, regardless of payment method - unless the USPS does not want the responsibility of delivering mail in a timely manner. However, I foresee the "blame game"❠being played between credit card companies and the USPS as to when mail was entered and delivered. It would be in the best interest of the USPS to require a date, protecting them from the very real possibility of litigation.

Over the years, the mailing industry has had issues with USPS rules and regulations. Like any relationship, both parties may compromise. You change and adapt to become more efficient and more compatible. Sometimes you overlook certain things while adamantly defending others.

Our industry needs the Postal Service in order to survive. As we have recently learned during the latest Congressional sub-committee hearings, the USPS needs us more now than ever. Business mail contributes almost 80% of the total revenue generated by the Postal Service. Most within the mailing community attempt to honestly comply with all regulations. Let's correct this inequity for the benefit of all.