There is a lot of upset in the U.S. mailing community over the proposed USPS rate increases.  Especially high volume mailers are trying to fight this and have now declared war on USPS under the umbrella of the newly founded Affordable Mail Alliance. There are calls for USPS to become more efficient and to address various labor issues. But how do you define or measure efficiency?

Could the price of postal products turn out to be a key indicator for a postal operator’s efficiency?  That question we cannot answer. But we went ahead anyways, and compared the USPS letter postage to the rates of European postal operators. We found, that in comparison to most European operators, the USPS  letter rates are amongst the cheapest to be found. Additionally, USPS is covering a much vaster geographical area than the European postal operators. In an international context the U.S. Postal Service is offering a very fair deal on their products.

Comparing letter rates of U. S. Postal Service with European Postal Operators

Deutsche Post has published a chart showing “domestic standard” letter rates in Europe. (A  domestic standard letter in Europe is comparable with a first class letter in the U.S.). USPS has proposed a price of 46 cents for a first class letter, which is currently 33.6 Euro cents. This places USPS right between Hungary and Estonia.

To have a more realistic comparison of letter prices we also like to consider cost of living and purchasing power. Purchasing power in Germany is said to be 8% higher than in the U.S. , or equal. It is a pretty good guess to say, that one Dollar in the U.S. equals one Euro in Germany.

In the following chart Deutsche Post has adjusted the letter prices according to each country’s purchasing power. We inserted the USPS letter rate into this chart with 46 Euro cents ($0.58)

Geographical areas covered by postal operators

Click here to open up a new window with an interactive map, overlaying Europe with the USA. (You need to scroll down a tad to see the map, then click and drag the Red Dot to move the U.S. over Europe).

The bottom line is, that USPS is not only offering cheap rates in comparison with most European postal operators, but it simultaneously fulfills the universal service obligation for a much vaster geographical area, than any of the European postal operators. U.S. mailers are truly getting a bargain. Most just don’t know it.

Prices for other postal products of Deutsche Post

  • Postcard:             EUR 0.45   ($0.57)
  • Letter (<20g):      EUR 0.55   ($0.69)
  • Letter (<50g):      EUR 0.90   ($1.13)
  • Flats (<500g):      EUR 1.45   ($1.83)
  • Parcels starting at EUR 3.90   ($4.91)

PostCom has posted an XL-sheet with the proposed USPS rate increases