Archive of posts filed under the Industry Articles category.

Mail Anywhere FAQ’s

Since the USPS began offering the Mail Anywhere program, which allows customers to use the same postage payment permit regardless of what mailing location they use to enter the mail, many mailers have taken advantage of its benefits. The Mail Anywhere program is an added benefit offered to Full-Service customers, allowing them to use a single permit to present Full-Service or mixed Full-Service mailings at any Business Mail Acceptance site. Not only does this greatly simplify permit management, but it also saves permit application and renewal fees for customers who mail at numerous locations.

As with any new program, mailers may have a lot of questions regarding participation and mail preparation under this program. This week’s e-Tip deals with some of the more Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s).

Q: What are the eligibility requirements to participate in Mail Anywhere?

The eligibility requirements for Mail Anywhere are:

  • The Mail Anywhere service is available to customers who mail at 90% or higher Full-Service levels for the customer’s given business location and meet the electronic Full-Service verification criteria during the month prior to their request to participate in Mail Anywhere.
  • Mail Anywhere is available for Full-Service First-Class Mail® (Cards, Letters and Flats only); Standard Mail® (Letters and Flats only, including Nonprofit); Bound Printed Matter (Flats only); and Periodicals (Letters and Flats only).
  • Permit types that are eligible include Permit Imprint; Pre-canceled Stamps and Metered. A variety of postage statement types are also supported in Mail Anywhere, including Single Permit; Combined Mail; Comail; Mixed-Class Comail, and Copal.
  • Mailers may submit their electronic data via Mail.dat®, Mail.XML™, Postal Wizard (First-Class and Standard Mail only, Full-Service only); or IMsb (First-Class and Standard Mail Only).

Q: Do I have to make an application to the USPS to use Mail Anywhere?

A: Yes, participation in this program does require an application process. This process applies to the individual that is preparing the mail. For example, if a Mail Owner wishes to participate, but employs a Mail Service Provider (MSP) to prepare their mailings, the Mail Owner needs to request their MSP contact the PostalOne!® Help Desk to go through the authorization process.

The first step is to verify that the participants meet all of the eligibility requirements. The best way to do that is to access the Mailer Scorecard data to review both the Full-Service mail volumes for the previous month, as well as to verify that none of the error thresholds for the electronic verification have been exceeded during that time.

Once eligibility is verified, the application email should be sent to the PostalOne! Help Desk at postalone@usps.gov. Included in the email should be:

  • Request for Mail Anywhere participation
  • Preparer’s Customer Registration ID (CRID) for the location where the mail is prepared (if multiple preparation locations will be used, the CRID for each location must be provided)
  • Preparer’s Contact Name, Company Name, Business Address, City, State and ZIP code
  • Mail Owner’s permit numbers and BMEU’s City, State and ZIP code where the permit was opened
  • Postal Facilities where you plan on dropping your mail
  • Permit numbers that you wish to be consolidated

Q: Do I get a new permit number once approved for Mail Anywhere?

A: No, participation in this program does not require that mailers establish a new permit. Mailers may use already existing permits. Most participants in this program eventually consolidate the multiple permits at multiple locations that they currently have and are able to use just a few permits for all of their mailings. Keep in mind, mailers must still maintain the different permit types for the different postage payment methods, such as permit imprint, meter, stamp, or reply mail. For example, let’s say that Mailer A, headquartered in Chicago IL, has permit imprint permits in Chicago, Boston, Tampa, and Los Angeles. Under this program, Mailer A can consolidate all of these permit imprint permits into a single permit at their Chicago headquarters location, closing the other permits in Boston, Tampa and Los Angeles. Using Mail Anywhere, Mailer A is able to use that single permit to mail at all of those locations, and more.

Q: Do I need to change the way my mail or Mail.dat® files are prepared?

A: Participation in this program means that Mail Owners or Mail Service Providers may need to adjust some of the data that is submitted electronically to PostalOne! via the Mail.dat files.

The PostalOne! Help Desk can provide more detailed instructions on how to correctly populate the Mail.dat files for mailings that participate in Mail Anywhere. We strongly encourage people to test submitting these types of mailings using the Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) prior to submitting them for live production.

Two very critical pieces of information for these jobs are:

1) The Payment Account Number in the Mailer Postage Accounting (MPA) file, field MPA-1127. This number is different than the postage permit number, and is assigned by the USPS when the application for Mail Anywhere is submitted. Typically, there is a Payment Account Number assigned for each postage permit that is participating in the Mail Anywhere program.

Note: The Payment Account Number is different than the CAPS account number and the USPS Finance Number. USPS Finance Numbers are not supported in the Mail.dat file specification: these numbers are looked up by PostalOne! in the USPS database, based upon the permit numbers and payment account numbers provided in the Mail.dat file.

2) The Verification Post Office. Since the postage payment permit in this program may be located anywhere, the post office where the mail is verified and accepted may be different than the post office where the postage payment permit is held. The verification post office data is populated in the Segment (SEG) file of the Mail.dat file (fields SEG-1118 and SEG 1119).

If you encounter issues uploading Mail.dat files to PostalOne! for Mail Anywhere jobs, we suggest you open a help desk ticket with PostalOne! by sending an email to postalone@usps.gov. Include a description of the issue, and attach the Mail.dat file that you are working with, along with screen shots of the errors you are getting.

Mailers should not need to change anything with regard to the indicias (permit imprints) printed on their mailpieces or their metering information – unless some permits have been closed out or consolidated as part of this application process. Mailers should work with the PostalOne! Help Desk or their local District Business Mail Entry office for guidance on any changes in these areas.

Q: What happens if a Mail Owner switches to a different Mail Service Provider?

A: It is important to note that the application for participation in Mail Anywhere is done by the entity preparing the mail, which in most cases is the Mail Service Provider. The application includes a listing of the clients and permits that the MSP wants to get approved for Mail Anywhere. The approval is based at the MSP level, so if the Mail Owner switches to a new MSP, the new MSP will need to apply for Mail Anywhere approval if they have not already done so, including the new Mail Owner’s name and permit information. If the new MSP has already been approved for Mail Anywhere, they would need to notify PostalOne! of any new Mail Owner clients (and their permit information) in order for those Mail Owners to continue to participate in Mail Anywhere at the new MSP.

Resources
The USPS offers a Fact Sheet and a Customer Participation Guide for Mail Anywhere, both of which are available on the USPS RIBBS web site. Window Book’s DAT-MAIL software fully supports Mail Anywhere mailings. Window Book also offers a free educational webinar on Mail Anywhere.

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Window Book can help you implement Mail Anywhere in your mailing operation and automate your processes using our software and service solutions.

Window Book offers a free Mailing Optimization Analysis.

Call us at 1-800-524-0380 for more details or to sign up for your FREE Mailing Optimization Analysis!

New Year’s Resolution: Make A Contingency Plan!

As the year 2015 draws to a close and our thoughts turn to the new year, we can’t help but consider what our New Year’s Resolutions might be. With all the recent PostalOne!® outages and issues, a great resolution to add to your list is to make a contingency plan!   No doubt the recent PostalOne! outages caught you off-guard. You were probably scrambling trying to figure out 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, don’t let this happen again! 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

USPS to Implement Postage Assessments

At November’s Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) meeting, the United States Postal Service® (USPS®) announced plans to implement assessments for non-compliance with the requirements for Intelligent Mail® Full-Service, effective July 2016. To prepare for this implementation the USPS is working on improvements in the accuracy and ease of access to performance measurements available on the Mailer Scorecard area of PostalOne!® In addition, the USPS plans an extensive industry outreach program in the coming months to educate mailers on this requirement, how to access and interpret the performance data, and how to improve mailers scores.

 

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

MIDs and CRIDs

As more mailers submit their mailings electronically to PostalOne!® and access their Mailer Scorecard feedback from the Business Customer Gateway, the importance of using the correct Mailer ID’s (MIDs) and Customer Registration ID’s (CRIDs) becomes paramount. Let’s explore just what these ID numbers are and how they are used.

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

Mail Anywhere

The United States Postal Service® (USPS®) offers a Mail Anywhere program, which allows customers to use the same postage payment permit regardless of what mailing location they use to enter the mail. Mailer participation in this program is limited to those with a high percentage of Full-Service® mail at the business location and who meet various other criteria. The Mail Anywhere program is an added benefit offered to Full-Service customers, allowing them to use a single permit to present Full-Service or mixed Full-Service mailings at any Business Mail Acceptance site. Not only does this greatly simplify permit management, but it also saves permit application and renewal fees for customers who mail at numerous locations.

Eligibility Requirements

  • The Mail Anywhere service is available to customers who mail at 90% or higher Full-Service levels for the customer’s given business location and meet the electronic Full-Service verification criteria during the month prior to their request to participate in Mail Anywhere.
  • Mail Anywhere is available for Full-Service First-Class Mail® (Cards, Letters and Flats only); Standard Mail® (Letters and Flats only, including Nonprofit); Bound Printed Matter (Flats only); and Periodicals (Letters and Flats only).
  • Permit types that are eligible include Permit Imprint; Pre-canceled Stamps and Metered. A variety of postage statement types are also supported in Mail Anywhere, including Single Permit; Combined Mail; Comail; Mixed-Class Comail, and Copal.
  • Mailers may submit their electronic data via Mail.dat®, Mail.XML, Postal Wizard (First-Class and Standard Mail only, Full-Service only); or IMsb (First-Class and Standard Mail Only).

Application
The application process for using Mail Anywhere is fairly simple. The process applies to the individual that is preparing the mail. For example, if a Mail Owner wishes to participate, but employs a Mail Service Provider (MSP) to prepare their mailings, the Mail Owner needs to request their MSP contact the PostalOne!® Help Desk to go through the authorization process.

The first step is to verify that the Mail Owner meets all of the eligibility requirements. The best way to do that is to access the Mailer Scorecard data to review both the Full-Service mail volumes for the previous month, as well as to verify that none of the error thresholds for the electronic verification have been exceeded during that time.

Once eligibility is verified, the application email should be sent to the PostalOne! Help Desk at postalone@usps.gov. Included in the email should be:

  • Request for Mail Anywhere participation
  • Preparer’s Customer Registration ID (CRID) for the location where the mail is prepared (if multiple preparation locations will be used, the CRID for each location must be provided)
  • Preparer’s Contact Name, Company Name, Business Address, City, State and ZIP code
  • Mail Owner’s permit numbers and BMEU’s City, State and ZIP code where the permit was opened
  • Postal Facilities where you plan on dropping your mail
  • Permit numbers that you wish to be consolidated

Preparation of Mail
Participation in this program means that Mail Owners or Mail Service Providers may need to adjust some of the data that is submitted electronically to PostalOne! via the Mail.dat files.

The PostalOne! Help Desk can provide more detailed instructions on how to correctly populate the Mail.dat files for mailings that participate in Mail Anywhere. We highly encourage people to test submitting these types of mailings using the Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) prior to submitting them for live production.

Two very critical pieces of information for these jobs are:

  1. The Payment Account Number in the Mailer Postage Accounting (MPA) file, field MPA-1127. This number is different than the postage permit number, and is assigned by the USPS when the application for Mail Anywhere is submitted. Typically, there is a Payment Account Number assigned for each postage permit that is participating in the Mail Anywhere program.

    Note: The Payment Account Number is different than the CAPS account number and the USPS Finance Number. USPS Finance Numbers are not supported in the Mail.dat file specification: these numbers are looked up by PostalOne! in the USPS database, based upon the permit numbers and payment account numbers provided in the Mail.dat file.
  2. The Verification Post Office. Since the postage payment permit in this program may be located anywhere, the post office where the mail is verified and accepted may be different than the post office where the postage payment permit is held. The verification post office data is populated in the Segment (SEG) file of the Mail.dat file (fields SEG-1118 and SEG 1119).

If you encounter issues uploading Mail.dat files to PostalOne! for Mail Anywhere jobs, we suggest you open a help desk ticket with PostalOne! by sending an email to postalone@usps.gov. Include a description of the issue, and attach the Mail.dat file that you are working with, along with screen shots of the errors you are getting.

Mailers should not need to change anything with regard to the indicias (permit imprints) printed on their mailpieces or their metering information – unless some permits have been closed out or consolidated as part of this application process. Mailers should work with the PostalOne! Help Desk or their local District Business Mail Entry office for guidance on any changes in these areas.

Resources
The USPS offers both a Fact Sheet and a Customer Participation Guide for Mail Anywhere, both of which are available on the USPS RIBBS web site. Window Book’s DAT-MAIL software fully supports Mail Anywhere mailings.

Window Book can help you implement Mail Anywhere in your mailing operation and automate your processes using our software and service solutions.

Window Book offers a free Mailing Optimization Analysis.

Call us at 1-800-524-0380 for more details or to sign up for your FREE Mailing Optimization Analysis!

 

 

Logical vs. Physical Entry Points

If you drop ship mail to additional entry points, something that often causes confusion for mailers is the potential discrepancy between the ZIP code for the “logical entry point” vs. the ZIP code of the “physical entry point.” For example, the ZIP code on the destination line of pallet placards may not match the ZIP code of the postal facility where the mail is being entered. So, how exactly is a postal entry point identified, and how do mailers prepare their mail and postal documents for these entry points?

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

Why You Need to Use the Test Environment for Mailers

A common misconception in the mailing industry is that the Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) section of PostalOne! was designed only for the process of getting certified for Intelligent Mail® Full-Service. Since this certification process is no longer required for mailers using pre-certified software such as Window Book’s DAT-MAIL™ solution, many mailers ignore the TEM portion of PostalOne! We are here now to set those people back on the straight path!

It is important to remember that TEM is a fantastic learning tool because it is – as it’s name clearly states – a test environment for mailers, and allows everyone to try out various file formats and mailing scenarios before submitting these mailings on the Production side of PostalOne! It is critical that mailers take advantage of the TEM environment to fully prepare themselves for how their mailing submissions will work in Production. Even if you are proficient in submitting files to PostalOne!, TEM is a great option for testing new processes, new file formats, new file sources, new data from new clients, and so forth.

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

ZIP codes and permits in Mail.dat Files

It certainly seems like there are an overabundance of fields for ZIP™ codes and postal permits in a Mail.dat® file. What exactly are all these ZIP codes and permits, and what are they used for? If this is confusing to you, you are definitely not alone. This week we’ve put together a Mail.dat file ZIP code and permit FAQ list:

First, why is the word “ZIP” always capitalized?
A little postal trivia here – the word “ZIP” isn’t really a word. ZIP is actually an acronym that stands for Zone Improvement Plan.

What is the verification postal facility ZIP Code™? How and why is it used?
This is the ZIP+4® of the post office where the mailer is having their mail verified, and this data is populated in the Segment record (SEG) of the Mail.dat file. It might be a Detached Mail Unit (DMU) or it might be a Bulk Mail Entry Unit (BMEU). PostalOne!® will look up the “Finance Number” associated with this ZIP Code and make sure that the Finance number associated with the mailer’s permit matches. Finance numbers have various important roles but one role is to restrict access to a mailer’s eDoc submission only to mail clerks that are linked to that same finance number.

What is a local permit and local permit ZIP code? How (or is) this different from the permit info used to pay for the mailing? And what the heck is a ghost permit?
The local permit (full name: Local Mail Owner’s Permit) is typically not used for postage payment. Instead it is one way of identifying a mail owner when a mailing is presented by a mail service provider, and this data is populated in the Mailers Postage Accounting file (MPA) of the Mail.dat file. The local post office used to set up what is termed a “ghost permit” to identify each client of a mail service provider. This used to be the primary means of identifying mail owners in Mail.dat files, but was changed by PostalOne! a while back so that now this information is looked up by the mail owner Mailer ID (MID) or Customer Registration ID (CRID) specified in the Mailers Postage Accounting file (MPA) or in the Component file (CPT) of the Mail.dat file. Today, Mail Owner MID’s and CRID’s take precedence and one of these is required for Full Service qualification, so the local permit (ghost permit) fields are not very much any more. The key is to make sure that if you do populate these fields the information matches what is populated in the Mail Owner MID/CRID field in the MPA and CPT files.

Mail Owner MID/CRID information… when does this need to be populated and why?
As mentioned above, the Mail Owner MID/CRID must be populated in either the Mail.dat CPT and/or MPA files when the number of mail pieces for any mail owner exceeds 5000 pieces in order to qualify for Full-Service. Either can be used, and it is advisable not to use BOTH in case they are not linked with each other. This condition is known as a “by/for conflict” and can negate a mailer’s Full-Service qualification – and discount. Again, the key here is consistency: make sure that you do not have any conflicting data populated in the CPT and the MPA files.

What is the Post Office of Mailing? How (or is) it different than the verification postal facility info, or the local permit info?
Typically, the Post Office of Mailing is the post office location where the permit used to pay postage is held. In Mail.dat, this is identified by the fields Permit City, Permit State, Permit ZIP + 4 code, and the Permit Number in the MPA record. Permits are usually issued by local post offices, and the numbering sequence for postal permits is only unique at each local post office. (More Interesting postal trivia: there are close to 33,000 Permit Number 1’s in the US since there are approximately that many local post offices across the country.) It is the combination of the permit number and Post Office of Mailing ZIP+4 that makes a permit unique. In past years the postage funds were held and managed by each individual post office. The permit could only be used within the finance area of that post office. For mailers that mail at different BMEU’s, this required them to have permits (and their clients to have permits) at each of these post offices.

A new wrinkle has been introduced here in that PostalOne! now has a centralized permit payment and funds management process. Under the new Mail Anywhere program, Full-Service mailers are allowed to mail anywhere in the US on the same permit number. As a result, the Post Office of Mailing may NOT be the office where the postage payment permit is held. In these cases, the Mail.dat file must be populated with a Payment Account Number in the MPA file. This is the postage payment account number associated with the permit, it is NOT the permit number itself.

How do mailers manage all this data in their Mail.dat files?
One way to manage this data is to populate it during the presort process. In many cases, however, that is just not practical because that data may not be available to the entity performing the presort. This data is more effectively managed using post-presort software, such as Window Book’s DAT-MAIL solution. In DAT-MAIL, there is a Client File, which represents a mail service provider’s mail owner list. It can also be linked to a file containing the mail owner MID’s and CRID’s. It is common for a mail owner to have multiple MID’s though not common to have multiple CRID’s. When a Mail.dat file has a Mail Owner MID or CRID populated in the MPA file, DAT-MAIL can determine which client it is for. When statements are generated, the company name and address of that client record will be used on the postage statement. In a commingled mailing, where many different companies are identified, DAT-MAIL can create separate postage statements for each client identified by MPA MID, MPA CRID or MPA Local Permit. If the mail owner MID or CRID is not populated, the DAT-MAIL user can look it up from the MPA View and populate it easily. The DAT-MAIL Permit File allows you to maintain a list of permits and select the one that is being used. If the Mail.dat files already have this populated, DAT-MAIL uses the link between the MPA Permit and PO of Mailing ZIP to lookup the permit holder’s name and address to correctly populate that data on the postage statements.

Resources
Window Book offers our DAT-MAIL™ post-presort software solution, with its Client, MID/CRID, and Permit files to help you manage all of this data. The USPS provides many resources for permit and MID/CRID information, including a batch upload process on the Business Customer Gateway (BCG) that Mail Service Providers can use to obtain updates to this data directly from PostalOne!

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Window Book can help you automate your processes using our software and service solutions.

Window Book offers a free Mailing Optimization Analysis.

Call us at 1-800-524-0380 for more details or to sign up for your FREE Mailing Optimization Analysis!

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Creative Drop Shipping

Mailers have to be creative these days to stay competitive. Drop shipping mail to additional entry points is one way of staying competitive because you save money on postage and have better control over in-home delivery. But, there may be situations where drop shipping is beneficial, and you just have not thought of using it. For example, if you think you don’t have enough volume to fill a truck or even enough to send to a consolidator, there may be another option to try. What about those last few residual sacks or trays from a larger mailing that you are drop shipping using your normal methods? Do you have pesky mail delivery complaints in certain areas of the country? How about wanting to improve the delivery time for your Standard Mail®, but not being able to afford bumping it up to First-Class Mail®? If you have ever run into these situations, the answer just might be Priority Mail® Open and Distribute (PMOD).

What is PMOD?
Priority Mail Open and Distribute is a USPS® service offering that provides an alternate method of transporting drop-shipped mail. Rather than using traditional transport methods (truck, rail, airfreight, etc.) for drop shipping, this service allows mailers to use the expedited delivery service offered by Priority Express or Priority Mail to transport the smaller volume mail to additional postal entry points. Mailers can place their prepared mail sacks or trays into special PMOD sacks or tray boxes, and tag these handling units with special PMOD tags. These tags indicate to the USPS that the mail inside the sacks or tray boxes is drop ship mail, and that it needs to be opened and then distributed as it would normally be processed, hence the name “open and distribute.”

Why use PMOD?
Drop shipping mail can result in some nice postage discounts, or it can be an effective way to better control the in-home delivery date of mail. But some mailings just don’t lend themselves to the more traditional methods of transporting drop-shipped mail from the original entry point to the destination entry post offices. Drop shipping traditionally involves the use of over-the-road or rail transportation to get the mail closer to the destination point. It works very well for many types of mailings, but smaller mailings make it tougher to take advantage of drop shipping benefits without paying high minimum charges to logistics providers. Since Priority Express has next day delivery service and Priority Mail has 2- to 3-day delivery service, PMOD can be a very quick way to transport the mail to the additional entry points. This is ideal for time-sensitive mail or for delivery trouble spots.

Uses for PMOD
Some typical users of PMOD are small volume mailers, who just do not consistently have enough mail volume to meet the minimum shipment requirements of most logistics providers. Another common use is a mailer sending time-sensitive mailings that just doesn’t have the budget for First-Class Mail prices. This type of mail can be prepared and paid for at Standard Mail prices, but using PMOD drop shipping can closely approximate the delivery service of First-Class Mail at a much lower price. Mailers who experience repetitive delivery delays to more remote areas, such as Alaska or Hawaii, often use PMOD for this mail to help improve delivery times. The same is true for Periodicals mail that encounters subscriber delivery complaints to certain geographic areas. Using PMOD for these cities can help eliminate those subscriber complaints. Even large mailings that use traditional drop ship methods use PMOD to handle those remaining few sacks or trays that would normally get entered at the origin.

Taking Advantage of PMOD
Window Book offers our DAT-MAIL™ post-presort software solution, with its PMOD export option, along with our Postal Package Partner™ solution to generate the special PMOD labels and tags. These solutions can make using this USPS service very quick and easy. We can even analyze your mailing files to determine how PMOD can benefit your mailing operation.

The USPS provides many resources for PMOD information, including both Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail options.

***
Window Book can help you implement PMOD in your mailing operation and automate your processes using our software and service solutions.

Window Book offers a free Mailing Optimization Analysis.
Call us at 1-800-524-0380 for more details or to sign up for your FREE Mailing Optimization Analysis!

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