American subscribers to The Western Producer will not be receiving the March 19 edition of the newspaper.
One of the largest copies ever for the 75-year-old paper exceeded the maximum weight for Standard A mail under United States Postal service guidelines and ended up at an American recycler instead of readers’ mailboxes.
“Under U.S. Postal Service guidelines Standard A bulk mail cannot exceed 15.99 ounces. The paper was nearly 20 ounces. That is a very big newspaper. It meant we couldn’t deliver it at that rate,” said Louise Potocki, of the postal service in Bismarck, North Dakota.
The 430 subscription newspapers along with 70 other copies are delivered by truck each week to the Minot, N.D., post office where they are mailed to readers.
“Normally we wouldn’t have exceeded the 453 gram weight limit. We had a large auction supplement in this week’s paper and it pushed us over the top,” said Glenn Caleval, manager of subscriptions and data marketing at The Producer.
Unlike other weekly or daily newspapers delivered in the United States, Canadian and other foreign publications cannot qualify for preferred delivery status granted to periodicals unless they have a U.S. office. Rates for periodicals that qualify under U.S. postal guidelines are much lower than the Class B mail rates charged for mail over the 453 gram limit.
“Currently at maximum rates for bulk mail you would pay between 85 to 95 cents (U.S.) to mail something like The Western Producer. If we went to the alternative of parcel post, priority mail, it would be more like $2.63 to $3 per piece,” said Potocki.
She said if a Canadian publisher wishes to be charged the U.S. periodical rate and receive preferred service at lower rates, it must have an office that postal inspectors can visit and audit.
“We need to be sure that the periodical meets our guidelines,” she said.
In the future the Canadian newspaper will look at other alternatives for delivery, said Caleval. Those may include relying on Canada Post to make the deliveries or separating the inserts from the newspaper before mailing, creating two separate mailings at U.S. bulk rates.
The newspaper without inserted supplements could be as large as 160 pages before exceeding the U.S. limit. Canada Post has no such policy for periodical rates.
Larger papers are planned until mid April.
Spring is traditionally the busiest time of year for the newspaper, and spring 1998 has brought more advertising and news to the pages than in any year previous.
“We are a victim of our own success. But we have experienced problems with U.S. delivery before so we will need to look at our options,” said Allan Laughland, publisher of The Western Producer.
Subscribers who didn’t receive their newspaper will have their subscription extended by one edition, said Caleval.
The newspapers stranded in Minot were forwarded to a recycling depot at the newspaper’s request.