Do YOU Have A Contingency Plan?

Have all the recent PostalOne!® outages and issues caught you off-guard? Were you wondering how you were going to process your mailings and not lose Full-Service discounts? Did you struggle trying to figure out how to properly process your mailings with hard copies? If so, you are not alone. This type of situation can occur not just when there is a PostalOne! outage, but when your own systems may not be operating as expected. Whether it is a server crash, a software hiccup, loss of internet service, or even bad weather or natural disasters, the fact is that “stuff happens” – and when it does, you need to be prepared. The key to managing situations like this is to have a good contingency plan documented, communicated and practiced so that any time something prohibits you from uploading files to PostalOne!, you will know exactly how to process your mailings and, more importantly, not lose any discounts. AND – you need to put this contingency plan in place NOW. Do not wait until you are in the middle of the outage and then start scrambling.

 

Read more:  http://www.windowbook.com/Learning/Postal-Concierge-E-tips

Top Ten Reasons to Use eDoc

The value and benefits of using eDoc with the USPS® have been both documented and proven now for quite a while. Amazingly enough, however, there are still a lot of mailers who only use it for their Full-Service mailings. Even worse, there are just as many – or more – who don’t use it at all!

It is very clear that the USPS intends to eliminate hard copy postage statements and other documentation. In recent postal and industry meetings, the USPS already indicated that this will become a reality in the not-too-distant future. If you are delaying implementation of eDoc, or implemented it only for Full-Service mailings, you need to gear up and make the transition.

Read more:  http://www.windowbook.com/Learning/Postal-Concierge-E-tips

 

Ingrid Bergman honored with Forever stamp

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA — Today, the U.S. Postal Service and Posten AB of Sweden will jointly honor Swedish-born actress Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982), who lit up American and European films for decades.

Special Forever stamps announced for next year’s World Stamp Show in NYC

GRAND RAPIDS, MI — The U.S. Postal Service today gave New York City two stamps of approval by announcing the stamp show of the decade — as well as the world’s largest — in the Big Apple, May 28 through June 4 next year. The Postal Service celebrated this news by dedicating the World Stamp Show-NY 2016 Forever stamps today.

eInduction

In November 2013 the USPS® opened a new program to mailers called eInduction. eInduction is intended to replace the current hard copy PS Forms 8125 and 8017 clearance documents used for drop shipments of origin and destination mail. This is all part of a continuing effort by the USPS to convert hard copy postal documentation into eDoc. Since the program began, the USPS has equipped acceptance facilities with scanners, which scan the container barcodes to ascertain whether or not the containers have been properly verified and paid for at the origin post office. They continue their efforts to equip more and more facilities with these scanners.

How eInduction Works
With eInduction, the mailer tells the USPS that a pallet is “eInduction” by populating the “CSM eInduction Indicator” in the Mail.dat® pallet record with a “Y”. This can be done in the original PostalOne!® submission, the “ready to pay” submission or even in a “transportation update” after the postage is paid. When PostalOne! sees that a pallet is flagged for eInduction, the information about that pallet is pushed to the entry facility that is going to be inducting the mail, thereby making it available to the wireless “Surface Visibility” scanners at that facility. When a load arrives with eInduction pallets, the USPS personnel can scan the pallet and instantly know whether it is in the right place and that it has been paid for – no 8125 required at all. The date-and-time stamped scan – or “start-the-clock” event – is also provisioned back to the mailer as part of the Full-Service data they are entitled to receive (if the contents of the pallet are Full-Service qualified mail). This information is also available in the Facility Access and Shipment Tracking (FAST) as part of the close-out information for that appointment.

It’s important to note that it is also possible to do eInduction if the entry facility is not equipped with Surface Visibility scanners. The induction process uses updated Intelligent Mail® Data Acquisition System (IMDAS) software. At these sites, the USPS acceptance employees use IMDAS scanners to scan the IM container barcode and collect the appointment data. No validations take place at the entry point at Non-SV locations.

What’s In It For Me?
There are a number of reasons you will want to participate in eInduction:

  1. To reduce the number of PS8125 and PS8017 forms you need to print and have “round stamped”.
  2. To reduce or eliminate the rejection of shipments by an entry facility for problems with 8125 forms or other reasons. This is a benefit even if you ship mail to a consolidator under a Drop Shipment Manifest System (DSMS) agreement.
  3. To streamline your mail induction process. Using this process speeds up processing of this mail, as it eliminates the need for postal clerks to manually reconcile containers against paper documentation, and it enables quicker appointment processing in FAST.
  4. To obtain more reliable and timely information about the induction of your pallets through MicroStrategy Reports. Mailers have tools to actively manage their accounts and understand what is happening to their mail at the container level.

If you are shipping under a DSMS agreement, you currently don’t have to create 8125 forms. You would still enjoy the other three advantages listed above if you helped your consolidator take advantage of the eInduction program.

Participation
To participate in this program, you must notify the USPS that you wish to participate in eInduction. To do this, call the FAST Help Desk at 1-877-569-6614 and provide your name, company name, address, phone number and eDoc Submitter CRID. The USPS will make sure that your DMU clerks are properly trained for eInduction and will also help you set up a login to access special MicroStrategy reports for eInduction users. Following the training of your DMU or BMEU clerk, your CRID will be activated for eInduction and you will be notified that you are authorized to participate. You should also contact your postal logistics carrier and find out what documentation they would like you to provide for your eInduction pallets. DAT-MAIL users can simply provide them with an 8125 that says “eInduction” on it instead of being round-stamped (see example below), or you can still provide them with a round-stamped 8125 if they require it. If you provide a regular 8125, it will be very important to enable the option to print “eInduction” on your eInduction pallet placards.

Additional information
For more detailed information on the eInduction program, download the Postal Service eInduction Guide for Mailers. There is also a guide to the Microstrategy Reports for eInduction. Mailers may also check with their District Business Mail Entry office to obtain more information or to ask questions.

Getting Help From the Window Book Experts
Window Book can help you participate in eInduction using our DAT-MAIL solution. Window Book also offers our Mailing Optimization Analysis. Call us at 1-800-524-0380 for more details or to sign up for your FREE Mail Optimization Analysis!

 

New Elvis stamp dedicated at Graceland

MEMPHIS — Today thousands of fans witnessed Priscilla Presley and Postmaster General Megan Brennan dedicate the Music Icons Elvis Presley Forever stamp on the front lawn of his home in Memphis — Graceland — as part of this year’s Elvis Week celebration. Beginning today, the Elvis Presley stamp goes on sale at Post Offices nationwide.

Managing Barcode Uniqueness on Trays, Sacks, and Pallets

If you have received PostalOne!® validation errors for barcode uniqueness, or are seeing Mailer Scorecard results for this validation exceeding the allowed thresholds, you are not alone. This is actually a fairly frequent issue that many mailers encounter. Managing the uniqueness for these barcodes can be a challenge, particularly if you have a number of different mail processing workflows. The key is to remember that the barcodes must maintain uniqueness for a period of 45 days after the mailing date, and that each and every method you use for generating these barcodes needs to be included in your uniqueness management process.

What makes up the barcode?

The Intelligent Mail® barcodes on trays and sacks, also known as handling units, are comprised of a 24-digit data string broken down into 6 separate components. For these barcodes, all 24-digits are used to determine uniqueness (for Full-Service eligibility, uniqueness of the barcodes is required for a period of at least 45 days).

  • Destination ZIP Code™: the first 5 digits of the barcode with the routing information.
  • Content ID Number (CIN): This is 3 characters long and represents the presort qualification.
  • Processing Code: this is 1 byte and identifies whether it’s automation, machineable, etc.
  • Mailer ID (MID): this is a 6- or 9-digit code used to identify the mail owner, the mailing agent, or other service provider. For the handling unit tags, the MID used is usually that of the mail preparer, or may also be that of the mail owner.
  • Serial Number: this is a 5- or 8-digit number depending on the length of the Mailer ID. This is a different number than what is used on the piece barcode.
  • Label Type: this is just a one byte field describing the length of Mailer ID. That way other software knows where the mailer ID ends and when the serial number begins.

Most presort software packages have utilities that may be used to manage the uniqueness of these handling unit barcodes. However, post-presort software, such as Window Book’s DAT-MAIL solution, is generally considered a better way to manage this uniqueness because trays/sacks may change between the original presort job and the final submission to PostalOne!

Container barcodes for Letters and Flats

Container tags, which are used for containers such as pallets, Gaylord’s, APC’s, OTR’s, etc., also should have an Intelligent Mail barcode on them. For Full-Service eligibility, these barcodes must be unique for a period of at least 45 days. These barcodes are comprised of four components to make up a 21-digit data string. As with the handling unit barcodes, all 21 digits of this barcode are used to define uniqueness:

  • Application ID: this is 2-digits and is always “99”
  • Type Indicator: this 1-digit and is always “M”. So when you hear the reference “99M tag”, you can simply think of it as an Intelligent Mail container tag.
  • Mailer ID this is a 6- or 9-digit code used to identify the mail owner, the mailing agent, or other service provider. For the container tags, the MID used is usually that of the mail preparer, or may also be that of the mail owner.
  • Serial Number: 9- or 12-digits depending on the length of the Mailer ID.

As with handling units, the uniqueness of the container barcodes may be managed using either presort or post-presort software.

Location of the barcode data

So, where do I check to make sure this data is correct and unique? This barcode data is located in the Container Summary File or CSM in the Mail.dat file – specifically in field CSM-1150. This is not to be confused with the User Container ID field (CSM-1123), which may be used to populate the handling unit or container number (tray number, sack number, pallet number) used by the mail preparer for physical preparation of the mail.

As mentioned above, the uniqueness of this barcode data may be managed using either presort or post-presort software tools, or you may need a combination of both. If you are a Mail Service Provider, this can get a little tricky if you don’t receive all of your Mail.dat files from the same presort provider, or if you don’t process all of your Mail.dat files using the same post-presort software. In these cases, you really need to make use of different Mailer ID’s (MID) to help manage the uniqueness. For example, if you do not process all of your Mail.dat files through your post-presort software, or you don’t use the same configuration settings for all of your jobs, it is best to obtain a separate MID for each scenario you have.

Troubleshooting

If you run into issues with your barcodes, you will need to become a bit of a detective to try to get to the root cause. The place to start your investigation is field CSM-1150 in the Mail.dat file. Check to see that there is data in the field, that the data is the correct length, and that it appears to contain the correct string of data components. If something is missing or incorrect, it is likely a presort issue that can be quickly corrected with some parameter adjustments. You’ll also need to determine at what point in your mailing process these tags and placards are printed, and what software and hardware you are using to print them. If you are using your presort software to manage these barcodes, the first thing to do is to consider allowing your post-presort software to manage them. The second thing to do is check with your presort provider or data processing team to review the impacted files and the presort parameters used to generate them.

If you are printing these using a post-presort software solution, you will need to also verify that you have the correct configuration settings in the software to either pass through the barcode data from the presort process, or if you want to over-write that barcode data with new barcode data maintained by the post-presort software. If you use multiple processes for different jobs, verify that there is no overlap; i.e., are you using the same MID in the barcodes maintained by your presort process as the MID in the barcodes maintained by your post-presort process? If you are, this will definitely cause a problem. Now, this may be kind of obvious, but you’ll also need to check your printing hardware to make sure it is configured to print the barcode technology, and that the equipment is cleaned and maintained so that the printed barcodes are readable.

Resources

So, where do you go to get more information? The first resource is the Business Customer Gateway and PostalOne! They can assist you in explaining in more detail the MID’s and CRID’s, barcodes, and serial numbers and how they impact uniqueness. The USPS RIBBS® web site also has a wealth of information in the technical guides.

Window Book’s DAT-MAIL™ software allows you to easily manage the uniqueness of your handling unit and container barcodes.

Getting Help From the Window Book Experts

Window Book can help you determine the best method for producing accurate tags and placards, and also to help manage the barcode uniqueness. Window Book also offers our Mailing Optimization Analysis. Call us at 1-800-524-0380 for more details or to sign up for your FREE Intelligent Mail Readiness Analysis!

 

USPS reports $586 million net loss in Q3

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service reported a net loss of $586 million for the third quarter of fiscal 2015 (April 1, 2015 — June 30, 2015), a reduction of $1.4 billion from the net loss of $2 billion for same period last year.

New version of Elvis Presley’s ‘If I Can Dream’ to accompany stamp dedication Aug. 12

MEMPHIS — Music fans attending the official First-Day-of-Issue ceremony for the Music Icons: Elvis Presley Forever stamp will hear a new version of Elvis’ inspiring song “If I Can Dream” as they’ve never heard it before.

Local Postal Customer Councils recognized

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service recognized 24 Postal Customer Councils (PCCs) – in eight award categories – for their achievements and creativity in communication, leadership, membership growth, innovation and educational program offerings in 2015.