To the editor:

Mr. Bernie Knapp asked some questions in your Reader's forum about advertising mail. Many other people probably have similar questions, so I hope these facts are helpful:Advertising mail took the brunt of the April 3 increase. First-class rates went up 13 percent, while bulk business mail (advertising mail) went up 25 percent. Mr. Knapp calls this mail "junk mail," but it's actually another form of advertising. It's not junk any more than are television commercials, radio commercials, and ads in printed publications.

Rates for advertising mail and other business mail are often lower than regular first class. The reason is that the businesses themselves pre-sort the mail before they are put in the mail stream, so it skips several of our sorting processes. Because we do less work, we charge them less. Advertising mail also does not get all the services First-Class Mail does. For example, if the address if wrong, the letter is not returned to sender unless the mailer pays an additional fee. Less expensive rates are available to anyone who mails in large quantities, but are usually only cost-effective for businesses that make large and frequent mailings, since they first have to pay a permit fee.

No one likes the cost of anything to go up, so we realize people aren't happy with the recent rate change. But it's been three years since the last rate increase, and the cost of a stamp has been increasing at about the rate of inflation. Another important point is that we no longer get tax subsidies that for years kept the cost of a postage stamp artificially low. Therefore, when you account for inflation and the elimination of subsidies, the real cost of mailing a letter has actually decreased.

Dennis J. Yuhl

General Manager/Postmaster

Salt Lake Division

U.S. Postal Service