USPS mandates new bulk mail classes for yellow pages



A serious investigative report with a little bit of satire by Ima Kidding


"Yeah, delivering the yellow pages to the front door is totally not worth the 50 something cents charged by private delivery firms," claimed the USPS Postmaster General. "Publishers should use the USPS to circulate the yellow pages using our new and improved junk...I mean bulk mail programs,” added the postal official.

“Local advertisers can afford to have their ads delivered on door hangers. Pennysavers are hand-delivered to households. Advertisers will then wonder why the publisher can’t afford to deliver an entire book of ads to the door. But, hey, that’s not our problem. Our direct-to-landfill program can save yellow page publishers two or three cents per advertiser. With the average yellow pages ad running thousands of dollars per edition, that adds up to a significant savings.”

"I assume the yellow pages sales rep is going to cut my display ad rate in half given the reduced effectiveness of bulk-mailed phone books," said the marketing director of a regional law firm. “I’m not saying that mailing yellow pages make little sense but mailing yellow pages make little sense. Amazon, DoorDash, Instacarts…everybody on the planet is emphasizing home delivery. Home delivery has always been an integral part of the yellow pages product.  It’s actually a selling point.”

"So my ad would be inside a phone book, inside a post office, inside a mailbox, miles from the consumer's home while your competitor's book will be left at the door? I know which book I'll advertise in," said a local business owner. “What’s next? Including the directory as a newspaper insert mailed to a post office mailbox already filled with competing direct mail pieces? That’s like a co-op inside a co-op inside a co-op. No thanks!”

"It's called 'publishing.' Advertisers are paying for circulation. It's the main thing and you're gonna turn that over to the post office, the very people that everybody complains about?" questioned a yellow pages sales manager. “Print is mature and direct mail is declining so we should double-down and combine the two!?! Good luck making quotas.”

"Some publishers have added digital products but the printed directory provides critical brand name recognition," explained a CMR. "More importantly, the annual print sales call provides the opportunity to sell digital products. The print directory is the only reason why many business owners will take a sales call from the publisher's sales rep," he added.

“San Francisco, Seattle, and other cities tried to ban the delivery of phone books. Yellow page publishers and trade associations spent a fortune fighting the bans. Directory industry supporters successfully argued that local businesses and their employees depend upon the door-to-door delivery of print yellow pages for their livelihoods. After all that, why would a yellow pages publisher essentially ban themselves?"

"Exclusive door to door delivery is critical to getting books into homes. During the recent California fires, lives were saved by the emergency information included in local phone directories," said a representative of the industry trade association YippiYiYay (formerly YPA, YPPA, YPIMA).

“It’s true that we’re having a really hard time convincing any directory publishers to switch to junk mail,” answered a postal official. “But one or two didn’t ridicule us for suggesting it. We’re flattered that a yellow page publisher might actually endorse their competitor, direct mail. Plus, when directory advertisers realize that the publisher is mailing they books, the advertisers will just cut out the middlemen, the publishers, and hire the USPS directly to junk mail their ads.”


The U.S. Postal Service recently announced two mandatory bulk mail programs specifically for directory publishers.

EDDM, or Every Directory Discarded Mailings, cuts USPS costs by skipping even more to-the-door deliveries. Instead, more deliveries are centralized at USPS-approved landfills as well as neighborhood cluster and post office mailboxes. "If it fits, it ships! And by 'fit' I mean the landfill," a U.S. Mail spokesperson explained.

BDSM, or Bulk Dumped Sales Material, replaces the standard mail category formerly called Bound Printed Matter. The new mail category is more environmentally sustainable. With BDSM, the USPS trucks pallets of brand new phone books from the printer's shipping docks directly to the same printer’s receiving docks for recycling into brand new phone books.”

“Sure, these bulk mail enhancements will bankrupt local businesses by not getting their ads in the homes of consumers but the USPS needs the mail volume. We have pensions to fund," the postal official added. “Mail received at cluster neighborhood mailboxes are nearly worthless so trucking directly to landfills is the obvious answer to cutting our costs.”

“With all the problems that digital advertising is having like massive fragmentation, decision fatigue, unnoticed ads, fake reviews, pay-per-click farms, click bait, ad blockers, endless scrolling, remote advertisers pretending to be local, and so on, we realized we could afford to stick it to directory mailers by slashing value as well,” a local postmaster revealed. “Yeah, there’s Google. But there was also Yahoo, MySpace, Sears, the US Postal Service, Kodak, and a ton of other companies that never thought they could be dethroned,” explained the postmaster.

“With some advertisers fleeing traditional advertiser mediums for shiny digital thingies, the remaining print advertisers are getting more calls. We want our cut. TV ads are especially hurt with cord-cutting because everyone is coming out with their own streaming service. There’s even an Emergency Broadcasting System streaming service for $9 a month. And who listens to radio now that you can pirate or stream every song ever recorded on your phone?”

“Sure, nowadays, print ads have to share advertising budgets with a zillion other print and digital marketing mediums. But a digital ad may only provide exposure for seconds or even milliseconds. Most TV commercials last just 15 seconds. Print yellow page ads are available to households for over 31 million seconds per year. Do the math. Yellow pages delivered to the door are available to consumers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” explained an ad exec.


Related story by Fresno California Channel 30 Action News:
Residents in northwest Fresno neighborhood irritated with mail service


Yellow pages circulation is divided into mail jobs and hand jobs. Mail jobs are typically reserved for very small markets. The vast majority of yellow page deliveries are hand-delivered, carried to the front door by private, non-postal delivery workers. "Nothing beats hand jobs," said one executive. 

Private delivery features greater flexibility than mail delivery. Options include excluding multi-unit housing, trailer parks, post office boxes, and neighborhoods with heavy concentrations of student housing and college dormitories or other demographics. Private delivery workers can also perform pick-up recovery sweeps to recover books from door steps of vacant or seasonal housing. That helps appease environmentalists, homeowner associations, and local authorities. Publisher can also prioritize neighborhoods. Excluding certain housing types reduces delivery and printing costs. The most critical feature of hand delivery, however, is considerably higher usage rates compared to mailed books.

"We'll put the private delivery companies out of business then jack up postal rates to cover our sweet pensions," said a postmaster. Others disagree, arguing that upcoming postal rate increases are designed to discourage volume and allow the USPS to drop rural deliveries, forcing residents to drive miles to distant post offices. "If you think you can count on the USPS being around, well, I've got some Blockbuster Video stock to sell ya," commented an industry analyst. Citing the privatization of space exploration and prisons, Trump said in his book, The Art of the Steal, that he wants to also privatize the mail system. The plan is to massively centralize residential deliveries, curtail rural services, re-focus on package delivery, and unload those postal pensions on Jeff Bezos.

Asked to expand further on the service cuts, a USPS spokesperson explained: “To save money, the postal service has been phasing out curbside and door-to-door mail delivery, a trend that has been accelerating. Instead of delivering to each home, the postal service is transitioning to centralized mail delivery. That includes neighborhood cluster and post office mailboxes. Article: Resident challenges Postal Service over mailboxes for third time in 30 years "But mailbox deliveries just end up in big waste bins. So we're just gonna skip that step and deliver straight to landfills."

"Even the Social Security Administration stopped mailing checks because senior citizens would rather eat cat food than risk falling on icy sidewalks," said one career postal worker.

The locks are so flimsy children can break into or vandalize them. So we force residents to rent a mailbox at the post office downtown. We make money by not delivering the mail and forcing people to rent post office boxes. The public loves to drive half an hour, spend 10 minutes finding a parking space, then stand in line another half hour to get their junk mail," explained a postal worker.

Cluster box break-ins were so frequent that some homeowner associations installed tougher, heavier duty mailboxes. But then thieves would steal the entire mailbox units just for the metal.

“With these cluster mailboxes, residents have their car keys in one hand, maybe a dog leash or Starbucks or mace in the other hand, all while trying to fumble with the key to the mailbox. The key will go in but not turn so they will attempt to re-insert it upside down two or three times. That’s just how mailbox keys work. Meanwhile, the postal customer is standing in often freezing or hot temperatures, probably late for work, so they stick the credit card bills into a pocket and instinctively toss everything else in the 55-gallon trash bins that are always just a few feet away. And if he just happens to grab all the mail, it will just clutter the car until the wife cleans it out at the car wash."

"And senior citizens? They use print a lot but good luck carrying a phone book back to your house while using a walker," laughed a mail carrier. "Suck on that, boomers!" With auto-pay and online bill paying becoming ubiquitous, many households no longer receive paper bills so folks may not even bother to check their mail. And when they do, the box is likely to be full, just begging to be dumped.

Phone books are often too big to fit into mailboxes. Mail carriers then place the books on top of the cluster units. Sooner or later, homeowners need the yellow pages, for example a leaking roof or medical emergency. They drive or crawl to the neighborhood cluster mailbox station only to find that the same storm that took out their roof also soaked the books.

“At one point, we considered replacing the neighborhood cluster mailboxes with dumpsters. We ultimately decided to re-route printer shipments directly to landfills,” explained a postal spokesperson. "We're like the soup Nazi in Seinfield, just without the soup. No mail for you!"

“Neighborhood cluster mailboxes are just the beginning,” said another postal service spokesperson. “Phase two is to phase out the neighborhood cluster mailboxes and require consumers to pick up their mail from mailboxes housed in their nearest post office. We force rural residents to drive to the downtown post office to pick up their mail. We tell people in town that, since they live so close to the post office, they must use PO boxes. We'll use alleged dog bites to centralize mail delivery. Phase three is to close post offices altogether and require consumers to pick up their mail directly from the person that mails them."


Wall Street Journal: Postal Service Eyes Closing Thousands of Post Offices


 The migration to neighborhood cluster mailboxes hasn’t been without additional problems. Neighborhoods consisting of cluster homes almost never have vacant lots for new cluster mailbox stations and associated parking. The USPS requires home builders and developers to foot the bill to install the mailbox facilities but many of the original home builders are out of business, retired, or passed away.


Usage drops off cliff without door delivery.

Above: USPS admits usage drops off cliff without delivery to the door.

The local postmaster explained "We mailed them notices that door-to-door delivery was discontinued for their neighborhood but I guess they somehow didn't get our letters. Home owners can look in the phone book that they didn’t get to find a mailbox installation company. They could try writing their congressman but, hey, good luck with that. Curb service means we, well, curb service," he added. "And we have not received a single letter of complaint - probably because we didn't pick up their mail, lol." The United States Postmaster General explained "Postal patrons are lazy. They need to get off their asses and get their own mail."

Not everyone is unhappy. Some slackers are looking forward to more yellow page publishers switching to direct mail. “The phones will finally stop ringing. The work day will go by so much easier without those damn customers,” said one millennial.

 /partial satire

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