[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 119 (Friday, June 20, 2014)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 35288-35289]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-14415]


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POSTAL SERVICE

39 CFR Part 111


Revised Postage and Fee Refund Criteria

AGENCY: Postal ServiceTM.

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The Postal ServiceTM will revise Mailing Standards 
of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM[supreg]) 
section 604.9 to update the hourly charges and related postage 
threshold used in assessing certain types of postage refunds and to 
provide the allowable time periods for requesting refunds for extra 
service fees.

DATES: Effective Date: July 28, 2014.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Douglas Germer, Revenue/Field 
Accounting, douglas.g.germer@usps.gov, 202-268-8522; Karen Key, 
Director, Shipping Products and Services, karen.f.key@usps.gov, 202-
268-7492; or Suzanne Newman, Product Classification, 
suzanne.j.newman@usps.gov, 202-268-5581.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Revised Proposal

    On January 3, 2014, the Postal Service published a revised notice 
of proposed rulemaking (79 FR 375-6) to align with current costs the 
assessments for processing postage refunds that have been in effect 
since 2003. The Postal Service proposed to update the hourly factor 
used in refund assessments from $35.00 an hour to $50.00 an hour. 
Additionally, the threshold for assessing postage refunds at the hourly 
factor would be updated from postage amounts exceeding $350.00 to 
postage amounts exceeding $500.00. The current 10% assessment used 
below the threshold would remain unchanged.
    The Postal Service also proposed to add language to the DMM to 
provide customers with information on refund time periods for extra 
service fees to align with the revised claims filing periods (made 
effective January 26, 2014) to promote timely adjudication. The Postal 
Service proposed including instructions in the DMM that refund requests 
for Registered Mail\TM\, Certified Mail[supreg], Signature 
Confirmation\TM\, USPS Tracking\TM\, Adult Signature services, and 
insurance fees must be made by the mailer no sooner than 10 days, or 
more than 60 days, from the date the service was purchased.
    Additionally, if these proposed changes were adopted, PS Form 3533, 
Application for Refund of Fees, Products and Withdrawal of Customer 
Accounts, would be revised to reflect the changes. The proposed rule 
included a 30-day comment period. After a review of the comments and 
further analysis, the Postal Service is adopting this final rule as 
originally proposed with the exception of the proposed change regarding 
the refund of insurance fees, which has been removed.

II. Comments and Responses

    The Postal Service received two formal responses to the revised 
proposed rule of January 3, 2014, one from a mailer and from a PC 
Postage provider.
    The mailer requested that the Postal Service not eliminate the 10% 
assessment for postage refunds. The 10% will not change, but the 
threshold at which the 10% assessment changes to an hourly rate, and 
the hourly rate itself, will both be increased.
    The comment from the PC Postage provider referenced certain refund 
and appeal assessments which were outside the scope of this rulemaking. 
The PC Postage provider expressed opposition to the current standards 
that provide for hourly charges when validating refunds to higher 
volume (postage refunds for) postage meter users. This commenter stated 
that these are not the same standards used for PC Postage appeals (when 
the end-users is denied a postage refund by the PC Postage provider). 
The commenter continued that processes used to validate refunds from PC 
Postage appeals should be equivalent to that used for postage meter 
refunds. This commenter also suggested that the Postal Service relax or 
eliminate assessments for processing postage refunds and appeals when 
customers make mistakes in printing postage indicia (and the Postal 
Service is not at fault). Although these comments fall outside of the 
scope of this rulemaking, the Postal Service provides the following 
clarifications:
     The refund assessment amounts in this proposed rule would 
not revise the current standards for providing PC postage refunds or 
appeals to adverse rulings by a PC Postage provider. The Postal Service 
does not make any assessment for postage refunds submitted 
electronically by PC Postage end-users to their provider within the 
established filing period(s). This includes postage refunds for unused, 
dated PC Postage indicia with a package identification code (PIC) made 
within 30-days from the date of printing and for unused, undated PC 
Postage without a PIC when made within 60 days from the date of 
printing.
     The Postal Service expanded the refund period (under DMM 
604.9) for items with a package identification code from 10 days to 30 
days in a final rule, published June 26, 2013, and effective July 28 
(78 FR 38203-19), This effort served to provide customers additional 
time to reconcile their shipping records and to help reduce the amount 
of requests for appeals being received beyond the current 10 day refund 
filing period.
     Based on current records, approximately 75% of PC Postage 
appeals are submitted to USPS[supreg] outside of the established 
criteria. As a reminder, only the PC Postage end-user should submit 
their appeal to an adverse provider ruling on their refund request, 
made within the 30-day period for items associated to a package 
identification code, and 60-day period for items not associated to a 
package identification code. Further, postage refund requests made by 
the end-user during the established periods are submitted to the 
provider and not

[[Page 35289]]

appeals subject to assessment by the Postal Service.
     Records also indicate that on average, only 25% of all 
appeals received can be granted as such and are assessed a charge. 
Further, less than 1% of those granted appeals would exceed the new 
threshold to be charged at the hourly assessment, as suggested by the 
provider.
     Finally, ordinary unused metered indicia postage refunds 
are not processed by the Postal Service in the same manner as PC 
Postage appeals. Year-to-date FY 2014 PC Postage refund appeal records 
indicate that, unlike most metered indicia refunds for envelopes not 
associated to a package identification code, more than 94% of the PC 
Postage refund appeals are for items bearing package identification 
codes. This requires that each label (sometimes numbering in the 
hundreds per refund request) to be manually researched using 
USPS[supreg] data archives to confirm that the postage was unused. In 
some cases, electronic scan data also exists for the associated package 
identification code, creating extenuating circumstances and making 
these refund determinations complex.
     The refund assessment process described in the proposed 
rule would not alter the current standards that provide for a 100% 
refund in instances where a service failure is evident or when 
USPS[supreg] is at fault.

III. Features of the Final Rule

    The Postal Service will align the current assessments for 
processing postage refunds, in effect since 2003, with current costs as 
follows:
     The hourly factor used in various refund assessments will 
increase from $35.00 an hour to $50.00 an hour.
     The threshold for assessing postage refunds at the hourly 
factor will be updated from postage amounts exceeding $350.00 to 
postage amounts exceeding $500.00. The current 10% assessment below the 
threshold would remain unchanged.
     The Postal Service is adding standards to the DMM to 
provide customers with information on allowable refund periods for 
extra service fees that align with the revised claims filing periods 
(made effective January 26, 2014) to promote timely adjudication. 
Therefore, full refund requests for extra service fees, provided under 
the allowable standards for Registered MailTM, Certified 
Mail[supreg], Signature ConfirmationTM, USPS 
TrackingTM, Adult Signature, must be made by the mailer no 
sooner than 10 days, or more than 60 days, from the date the service 
was purchased.
     Additionally, PS Form 3533, Application for Refund of 
Fees, Products and Withdrawal of Customer Accounts, will be revised to 
reflect the changes.

List of Subjects in 39 CFR Part 111

    Administrative practice and procedure, Postal Service.
    For the reasons stated in the preamble, 39 CFR part 111 is amended 
as follows:

PART 111--[AMENDED]

0
1. The authority citation for 39 CFR part 111 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority:  5 U.S.C. 552(a); 13 U.S.C. 301-307; 18 U.S.C. 1692-
1737; 39 U.S.C. 101, 401, 403, 404, 414, 416, 3001-3011, 3201-3219, 
3403-3406, 3621, 3622, 3626, 3632, 3633, and 5001.

0
2. Revise the following sections of Mailing Standards of the United 
States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM), as follows:

Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail 
Manual (DMM)

* * * * *

600 Basic Standards for All Mailing Services

* * * * *

604 Postage Payment Methods

* * * * *

9.0 Exchanges and Refunds

* * * * *

9.2 Postage and Fee Refunds

* * * * *

9.2.3 Full Refund

    A full refund (100%) may be made when:
* * * * *
    [Revise 9.2.3e to read as follows:]
    e. Fees are paid for special handling, Certified Mail, USPS 
Tracking, Adult Signature, or Signature Confirmation, and the article 
fails to receive the extra service for which the fee is paid.
* * * * *

9.2.4 Postage Refunds Not Available

    Refunds are not made for the following:
* * * * *
    [Revise the text of 9.2.4b to read as follows:]
    b. Collect on delivery (COD), Priority Mail Express insurance, 
insured mail, and Registered Mail fees, after the USPS accepts the 
article (even if the article is later withdrawn from the mail).
    [Add new item 9.2.4h to read as follows:]
    h. For fees paid for extra services, as allowed under 9.2.3, when 
refund request is made by the mailer less than 10 days, or more than 60 
days, from the date the service was purchased, unless otherwise 
authorized by the manager, Revenue Field Accounting (see 608.8 for 
address).
* * * * *

9.2.6 Postage Affixed to Business Reply Mail

    [Revise the seventh sentence of 9.2.6 to read as follows:]
    * * * A charge of $50.00 per hour, or fraction thereof, is assessed 
for the workhours used to process the credit or refund. * * *
* * * * *

9.3.2 General Standards for Metered Indicia Refunds

    * * * For both types of unused metered indicia, submit refund 
requests as follows:
* * * * *
    b. * * * Charges for processing a refund request for unused, dated 
meter indicia are as follows, depending on the total face value of the 
indicia:
    [Revise 9.3.2b1 and 9.3.2b2 to read as follows:]
    1. When the total face value of the indicia is $500.00 or less, the 
amount refunded is 90% of the face value. USPS may process the refund 
payment via a no-fee postal money order.
    2. When the total face value of the indicia is more than $500.00, 
the amount refunded is the total face value reduced by $50.00 per hour 
for the USPS time to process the refund, with a minimum charge of 
$50.00. The charge is $50.00 for each hour spent, with the last 
fraction of an hour treated as a full hour. Payment processing for 
refunds of $500.01 or more is through the Accounting Service Center.
* * * * *

9.3.4 Unused, Undated Meter Indicia

    [Revise the introductory sentence of 9.3.4 to read as follows:]
    Authorized users, or the commercial entity that prepared the 
mailing for the authorized user, must submit refund requests for 
undated, unused meter indicia under 9.3.1 and 9.3.2 as follows:
* * * * *

Stanley F. Mires,
Attorney, Legal Policy & Legislative Advice.
[FR Doc. 2014-14415 Filed 6-19-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE P