Archive of posts filed under the Industry Articles category.

Window Book Releases New PostalOne! Automation Solution: PostalWeb™

June 18, 2015, Cambridge, MA

Window Book, Inc. is pleased to announce the release of their latest breakthrough technology, PostalWeb, which improves the efficiency of mailing operations by automating the transfer of PostalOne!® documents and data back to the mailer.

Mailers can now use PostalWeb to automate retrieval of unpaid and finalized postage statements from PostalOne!. In addition, mailers can also automatically receive Barcoded Confirmation Pages, which can be scanned by USPS acceptance personnel, and important postage statement data in an XML format. This data can be used by both mailers and mail owners to automate entry of postage data into internal systems. In addition to automated document and data distribution, PostalWeb has an innovative eDoc dashboard which is mobile friendly and provides a unique view of e-doc submissions that has been designed for mailers.

PostalWeb, when used in conjunction with Window Book’s eDM10X software for automatically uploading Mail.dat® files into PostalOne!, provides an end-to-end fully automated PostalOne! solution.

“Window Book is all for increasing productivity by automating systems. Our first test site reports saving over 14 man-hours per week just by not having to go to PostalOne! to retrieve the finalized statements they need. According to their accounting department this adds up to over $700 in savings per week! That’s a savings of over $36,000 per year just using the first version of PostalWeb!,” said Jeffery Peoples, Window Book’s CEO.

“The really amazing thing about PostalWeb is that it automates the retrieval of our finalized postage statements from PostalOne! saving our CSR’s a ton of time” said Robert Dorre, Mailing & Logistics Support for World Marketing, Inc.

“We are continually looking for better ways for mailers to automate systems and create more freedom and effeciencies in the process. I am certain many mailers will realize tremendous time and labor savings from using PostalWeb and increase their profitability in the process” added Peoples.

Mailers who wish to see and learn more about PostalWeb are encouraged to call 800-524-0380 or email PostalSpecialist@windowbook.com to learn how they can benefit from using PostalWeb in their workflow process.

About Window Book:

Window Book is currently celebrating its 27th year helping clients manage their operations more profitably. We help you to:  Streamline mail processes to reduce operational costs and increase productivity!  Implement Full-Service and Seamless Acceptance to minimize the risk of downstream quality issues and be in a better position to defend your preparation processes. Grow with Emerging Technologies. Automate Your PostalOne! Submissions. Move to the Cloud to Optimize Your Operations. Use Your Data to keep up with competition.

Contact information:

Window Book, Inc.

300 Franklin Street

Cambridge, MA 02139-3781

Ph: 800-524-0380

Fax: 617-395-5900

PostalSpecialist@WindowBook.com

www.WindowBook.com

 

Preparing Pallets for Full-Service®

We frequently receive questions on this topic because mailers are often confused about when (or if), trays and sacks need to be placed onto pallets or other containers such as APC’s or Gaylords for Full-Service mail. Luckily, the United States Postal Service® (USPS®) has recently updated a fact sheet intended to offer guidance to mailers on Full-Service palletization.

Is palletization required for Full-Service?

The short answer is NO. Mailings of loose sacks and trays may be submitted at Full-Service prices as long as all the requirements for Full-Service participation are met. However, if these loose handling units are placed on or into any type of container, that container does need to have pallet placards affixed to the outside of the container, and that placard must be printed with a unique Intelligent Mail® Container barcode. The updated fact sheet from the USPS provides more detail regarding when these loose handling units MUST be placed on or in a container and placarded. These requirements vary by class and processing category of mail.

First-Class Mail®

Pallet preparation and placarding is required for First-Class mail in these scenarios:

  • There is 72 feet of tray mail or 24 flat tubs of mail or more
  • The mail within the container is prepared according to a labeling list destination and there is at least 48 feet of letter trays or 16 flat tubs or more
  • The mailer has an active Customer Supplier Agreement (CSA) in place
  • The pallet is flagged in your eDoc as participating in the eInduction program

Pallet preparation and placarding is NOT required – although it is preferred – in these scenarios:

  • There is less than 72 feet of trays or 24 flat tubs of mail
  • The mail within the container is NOT prepared according to a labeling list destination and there is at least 48 feet of letter trays or 16 flat tubs or more
  • The pallet is NOT flagged in your eDoc as participating in the eInduction program

 

Periodicals, Standard Mail® and Bound Printed Matter

Pallet preparation and placarding is required in these scenarios:

  • The mail is equal to or greater than 500 pounds of bundles/sacks or 72 feet of tray mail or 24 flat tubs of mail
  • The pallet is flagged in your eDoc as participating in the eInduction program

OR

  • The pallet is prepared according to a labeling list destination and is:
    • Under 500 pounds of flats entered directly at a DDU
    • Between 100 and 249 pounds of bundles/sacks or 12 feet of trays entered at a destination NDC, ASF, ADC or SCF
    • Between 250 and 499 pounds of bundles/sacks or 36 feet of trays
    • Flagged in eDoc as participating in the eInduction program

Pallet preparation and placarding is NOT required – although it is preferred – in these scenarios:

  • The mail is less than 500 pounds of bundles/sacks or 72 feet of trays or 24 flat tubs AND mail within the pallet is not prepared according to a labeling list destination
  • The pallet is NOT flagged in your eDoc as participating in the eInduction program

Resources

The updated fact sheet from the USPS is available on the RIBBS web site. Window Book has many utilities available to assist mailers with palletization, including barcoded placards, such as our DAT-MAIL™ software.

 

Window Book’s newest smart postal solution, PostalWeb™ helps you increase your mailing and PostalOne! productivity. Automate workflow processes for production floor personnel, IT staff, Customer Service Representatives (CSR), distribution manager and accounting department. Systematize the downloading and distribution of critical postal data including; barcoded PostalOne! Confirmation Pages, Unpaid (UPD) and Finalized Postage Statements, financial data from these documents accurately into XML format for integrating into your enterprise reporting systems.

Improving Your Mailer Scorecard Results

Alright, alright, alright. So you’ve ramped up all your processes and systems for participation in Intelligent Mail Full-Service®, or at least for participation in eDoc. You’ve successfully submitted Mail.dat® files to PostalOne!® and have worked through the various validation errors or file rejections that you received when you first started this process.  So, you’re golden, right???  Well, not so fast….even if your files are successfully transmitted to PostalOne!, that does not necessarily mean there are not still errors in your files.  That’s right…errors can still exist, even if you don’t receive any error messages from PostalOne! How the heck are you supposed to find out what these errors are? That is where the Mailer Scorecard comes in.

Mailer Scorecard
Just like a report card back from your school days, the Mailer Scorecard tells you how you are doing as a mailer.  The Mailer Scorecard, available on the USPS® Business Customer Gateway, provides a wealth of information and reports on your electronically submitted mailings.  The Mailer Scorecard includes a Mailer Information tab, which includes all the data regarding your mail volumes, breaking it down by class of mail, processing category and so forth.  In addition, there are tabs for Full-Service validation, eInduction validation, and Seamless Acceptance validation.

On each of those tabs is detailed information on the items that PostalOne! is validating, including the validation results on your mailings.  The information on the Mailer Scorecard is tallied on a calendar month basis.  The data is even color coded to help you hone in on any problem areas.  For example, anything in green text means that your validation results have improved by 5% or more over the previous calendar month.  Text in red indicates that your validation results have declined by 5% or more over the previous calendar month.  And any items highlighted in yellow are areas where your mailings have exceeded the allowed error threshold.

For now, all of this data is informational only, intended to help mailers pinpoint areas where their mailings have quality issues so that mailers can take corrective action.  However, some time later this year, likely in July, the USPS plans to start implementing postage assessments for mail that exceeds the allowed error thresholds.  Bottom line, mailers need to be paying attention to their Mailer Scorecard results NOW so that any necessary process improvements may be made BEFORE those assessments kick in.

Common Mailer Scorecard Errors
One of the most common Mailer Scorecard errors for Full-Service validation is with the By/For information, which is the identification of the various entities involved in the mailing.  The “For” part of this equation is the Mail Owner, or the entity responsible for the content of the mailpiece and who ultimately benefits from the mailing.  The “By” part of the equation is the Mail Preparer (the entity physically preparing the mailing) and the eDoc Submitter (the entity submitting the Mail.dat files to PostalOne!).

All of these entities must be correctly identified in the Mail.dat files submitted to PostalOne! Typically, this identification is done using the Customer Registration ID (CRID) or Mailer Identification (MID).  There is a variety of fields in the Mail.dat file where this data may be populated, so it is very critical that mailers understand where these fields are located, how to get them correctly populated, and to make sure there are no conflicts with this data.  This, of course, assumes that you even have the correct CRID and MID data to begin with.  Luckily, the USPS offers search capability on the Business Customer Gateway, so that mailers may validate the CRID/MID information.  This search capability is provided for both individual searches and bulk searches, where files containing CRID or MID information for multiple clients may be submitted at one time for validation.

Correcting Mailer Scorecard Errors
Once you have analyzed the data available on your Mailer Scorecard, it is important to use this data to review your mailing process to determine where in your process these errors are occurring and make any necessary changes.  The Mailer Scorecard includes a “drill down” function that allows users to drill down to the specific mailing jobs with errors and then to the specific errors.  The Mailer Scorecard will provide error codes and a recommended solution. The error codes can also be looked up in the PostalOne! technical guides.

Some of the error messages, however, might be a little cryptic, so you may need to submit a ticket to the PostalOne! Help desk to ask for help in deciphering the error message and, more importantly, how to correct the error. Your presort and post-presort software vendors can also be helpful in this area.

Resources
The PostalOne! Help Desk is available to provide assistance to mailers who need help in understanding the Mailer Scorecard data and the various error messages.  They can also help you trouble-shoot errors in submitted Mail.dat files.  There is a guide available for making a request for more detailed Mailer Scorecard error data.

Window Book has many utilities available to assist mailers with improving their Mailer Scorecard results.  Our DAT-MAIL™ software provides easy access to make edits and corrections in Mail.dat files, particularly with regard to the often troublesome By/For data.  DAT-MAIL also includes a BCG Export and Import utility, both of which may be used to easily take advantage of the bulk search capability on the BCG for your clients MID, CRID, permit and Nonprofit Authorization data.  We also offer educational webinars on the Mailer Scorecard, and even offer FREE Mail Optimization Analyses to help you get your mailing operation optimized to submit mailings electronically.  We even provide on-site or remote consulting services to help you review your Mailer Scorecard results and help you pinpoint areas in your process where the corrections may be made.

Don’t miss out on our educational mailing webinars! Log on to our webinar registration site to sign up.

Window Book’s newest smart postal solution, PostalWeb™, completes the PostalOne! automation circle by providing easy downloading of finalized PostalOne! postage statements directly to your servers, and includes options for email notifications and even emailing of these finalized postage statements! (Coming soon: automatically download your confirmation pages!)

Managing Spoilage and Shortage in eDoc

We all know that “stuff happens” during the mailing process, and when it does, you may need to pull some pieces from your mailings. There are lots of words to describe these pieces…pulls, deletes, mutes, rejects, spoils, shorts…sound familiar? Whatever you call them, these are pieces that get pulled from your mailings for a variety of reasons. Perhaps some of the mailpieces get damaged during processing, or you may run out of some of the mailpiece components before the job is finished. So the question becomes, “How do I make the adjustments to report these types of spoilages or shortages in my eDoc?” And that’s a very good question because in the eDoc world, you not only need to submit accurate postage statements, but the Mail.dat® files that represent the mailing job also need to be adjusted.

PostalOne!® accepted reporting methods
Within the Mail.dat file set, there are three (3) different files that may be used to report Spoilage/Shortage: the Piece Detail Record (PDR), the Piece Barcode Record (PBC) or the Postage Adjustment Record (PAR). A Guide to Intelligent Mail for Letters and Flats from the USPS provides information on four (4) methods for reporting spoilages or shortages using PostalOne! The acceptable methods vary depending on the type of mailings you are processing – and only Method 4 (below) is allowed for postage-affixed mail.  Here are the four current acceptable methods:

  1. Available for situations where the postage for wasted and shorted pieces is paid as part of the total postage detailed on the postage statement. This method is used if the mailer wishes to re-use the unique Intelligent Mail® Barcode (IMB®) from the spoiled or shorted pieces and the postage has already been paid. In this case, the PDR or PBC files must be edited to identify the spoiled or shorted pieces, however, the only way to obtain a refund for the spoiled pieces is to submit a hard copy PS-3533 (yes, hard copy!) along with documentation of the spoiled pieces. Important note: refunds are not granted for shorted pieces.
  1. Available for First-Class Mail® and Standard Mail® only: The postage is adjusted on the postage statement so postage is paid for only the pieces that actually get mailed. As in Method 1, the unique IMB from the spoiled or shorted pieces may be re-used, and the PDR or PBC files must be edited to identify the spoiled or shorted pieces. In this case, because postage has not yet been paid, the Mail.dat files may be edited and submitted to PostalOne! as an updated release, so the postage is not paid for the spoiled or shorted pieces.
  1. Available for First-Class Mail and Standard Mail only: The postage adjustment is reported as a dollar amount and piece count for the entire mailing. For this method, the PAR file is used. In this method, the unique IMB’s may not be re-used, and the spoilage is reported as a percentage or number of pieces rather than reporting each individual spoiled or shorted mailpiece. Since this method does not tie back to the individual mailpiece ID, it CANNOT be used for manifest mailings.
  1. The electronic documentation in either Mail.dat or Mail.XML™ states only the pieces mailed. This method is used when there is either no spoilage or shortage to report, these pieces have already been identified and removed from the Mail.dat files before they are submitted to PostalOne!, or the mailer plans to request a postage refund using PS-3533 and does not need to make any count adjustments in PostalOne! This method may be used for any class of mail. Currently this is the ONLY spoilage method available for postage affixed mailings, such as metered mail, stamped or precancelled stamp mailings.

Note: For Periodicals mailings, spoilage/shortage may be reported, but is ignored by PostalOne!

Reporting spoilage/shortage
If you are submitting your mailings electronically (eDoc), you can no longer just edit the postage statements for spoilage/shortage, rather you need to adjust the Mail.dat files themselves. The reason for this is that PostalOne!, not your mailing software, generates the electronic postage statements and qualification reports. PostalOne! generates these documents based on the information submitted within your Mail.dat files. The only way PostalOne! can generate accurate documents is for the Mail.dat files themselves to be accurate, which is why being able to edit these files is so critical.

So, how do you go about making these types of Mail.dat file edits? The easiest way to perform these edits is by using post-presort software, such as Window Book’s DAT-MAIL™ software. Using post-presort software, mailers are able to enter a percentage or number of spoiled pieces to update their files and documentation for Method 3 above. Mailers also have the opportunity to enter individual mailpiece ID numbers, or to import a file containing these ID numbers for the shorted/spoiled pieces so that the Mail.dat files can be accurately flagged with the appropriate spoiled/wasted indicators for the other methods. DAT-MAIL even allows users to scan the IMB’s from the spoiled pieces and import the scanned barcode file into the software to automate the process of making the necessary adjustments. Once these adjustments are made, the edited files can be submitted to PostalOne! and users may use DAT-MAIL to generate numerous reports to document the spoilage/shortage claimed.

Timing
Unless you rarely have any edits to make to your Mail.dat files, it is a good idea to submit your files first as an Original Release to PostalOne! This allows you to make any necessary edits or changes to the file prior to paying for postage. In the case of reporting spoilage/shortage, it is necessary to make the Mail.dat file edits and submit the edited files BEFORE the file has been submitted as Ready to Pay or been finalized by the USPS. Once the files have been submitted as Ready to Pay, the only way to alter them is to cancel the job on PostalOne! and start over. Once the USPS has finalized the statements the only way to make any changes is to request that PostalOne! cancel the job or reverse the postage payment and re-submit.

As always, we STRONGLY recommend that you practice submitting jobs with spoilage/shortage, including cancellation of jobs, using the TEM environment of PostalOne! prior to going into production. This practice allows you to become familiar with how this process works and iron out any bumps in your internal processes.

Postage Refund Requests
Mailers who are not able to make spoilage or shortage adjustments electronically must use hard copy form PS-3533 to request a postage refund from the USPS. These forms were revised a number of years ago to be uniquely barcoded, which is why these forms are no longer available online or through mailing software. Mailers may request these forms from their local post office and follow the instructions on the form for completion. Keep in mind that mailers may be required to provide specific documentation of the spoiled pieces in order to receive a postage refund. This documentation is outlined in the form instructions, or may also be included in any agreements mailers may have in place with the USPS, such as Optional Procedure agreements.

Resources
The PostalOne! Help Desk is available to provide assistance to mailers who need help in understanding the various methods of reporting spoilage/shortage or to help them trouble-shoot errors in submitted Mail.dat files.

Window Book has various spoilage/shortage methods available in our DAT-MAIL software. We also offer educational webinars on the spoilage reporting process, and even offer FREE Mail Optimization Analyses to help you get your mailing operation optimized to submit mailings, including those with spoilage or shortage, electronically.

Don’t miss out on our educational mailing webinars! Log on to our webinar registration site to sign up.

P.S. Window Book’s newest smart postal solution, PostalWeb™, completes the PostalOne! automation circle by providing easy downloading of finalized PostalOne! postage statements directly to your servers, and includes options for email notifications and even emailing of these finalized postage statements! (Coming soon: automatically download your confirmation pages!)

Mail Entry Road Map

The United States Postal Service® (USPS®) recently published a guide to help mailers plan for some of the upcoming changes and deadlines with regards to various USPS programs. Called the Mail Entry Road Map, this guide breaks down these various USPS programs and provides details on the USPS plans and important deadlines for each.

DMU closings after October 31, 2014
If your mailing facility has an active Detached Mail Unit (DMU), you should have received a letter from the USPS telling you that DMU’s at facilities with less than 75% Full-Service mail will be scheduled to be closed this fall. That October 31, 2014 deadline is rapidly approaching. If your mailing operation depends on the DMU for efficient verification and acceptance of your mail, you need to make sure that at least 75% of the mail you process is Full-Service. If not, you stand a good chance of losing your DMU. If you have an active DMU and have not received this letter from the USPS, you should check with your DISTRICT Business Mail Entry Office to see if your facility is one of those potentially impacted by this deadline.

What happens if your DMU gets closed? Unfortunately, you will no longer have the ability for USPS acceptance clerks to be on-site at your facility for verification and acceptance of your mail. Rather, you will be required to make arrangements to physically take the mail from your facility to your local Business Mail Entry Unit (BMEU) to have it verified and accepted there. Keep in mind that these facilities may have restricted hours and may not be able to efficiently handle your volume of mail. This could cause delays in getting your mail accepted, which may in turn impact Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) that you have in place with your clients.

Full-Service Non-compliance Assessments
In January 2015 the USPS plans to implement financial assessments for Full-Service mailings that do not meet the minimum compliance thresholds. These assessments will be charged based on your DECEMBER 2014 mailings, so you need to be working NOW to make sure your Full-Service mailings are meeting the compliance thresholds. Errors over the threshold will cause the removal of the Full-Service discount for the pieces in error above the threshold.

The USPS is right now (October 2014) beginning to issue “For Review Only” invoice reports, which are generated based on an evaluation all of the mailings submitted in the previous calendar month. These are not payable invoices, but rather they are “simulated” invoices, representing what you would be paying in postage penalties if these assessments were already in place. Keep in mind that the assessable errors will be those in excess of any threshold; errors within the allowed threshold will not be assessed. Mailers can also see their potential additional postage due on their Mailer Scorecard. Mailers should be closely reviewing these simulated reports in October, November and December 2014 to identify any errors and make corrections BEFORE the actual assessments are implemented in January 2015.

Move Update Validation
The USPS has for a number of years required that mailers utilize Postal approved methods to periodically update mailing addresses in their mailings. Traditionally, adherence to this requirement was in the form of Move Update Validation as a sample-based process, measured on mailpieces verified through the MERLIN process. The USPS is changing this validation process to one that utilizes Mail Processing Equipment scans and electronic documentation (eDoc) to measure Move Update quality on all Basic-Service and Full-Service mailpieces claiming automation rates. The USPS started showing these new validation process results to mailers back in August 2014 on the Electronic Verification tab of their Mailer Scorecard. In November, the USPS will start generating “simulated” invoice reports to calculate potential postage assessments for all mailers who submit more than 75% of their eligible mail volume as Full-Service.

Starting in April 2015, assessments will be implemented for Move Update errors over the permitted threshold. Mailers should be analyzing their simulated invoice reports generated for January, February, and March 2015 and take care of any errors above the threshold BEFORE the actual assessments kick in.

Non-profit Eligibility
The USPS plans to enhance the Non-profit authorization process for eDoc mailings in November 2014. Currently, mailers submitting eDoc must populate the eDoc with either a postage paying permit or Mail Owner permit that is linked to a Non-profit authorization in order for the mailing to be eligible for Non-profit prices. For mailings including multiple Mail Owners, the eDoc includes only one linked permit, and the balance of the Non-profit Mail Owner data is provided on a separate hard-copy list. Starting in November 2014, PostalOne! will support the identification of Non-profit Mail Owners using the Mail Owner MID or CRID. PostalOne! will temporarily continue to check all of the allowable fields (Mail Owner MID, Mail Owner CRID, Mail Owner permit, or postage paying permit) for the necessary Non-profit Authorization link. However, this will end in April 2015 when only the Mail Owner MID or CRID will be allowed for this purpose. It is recommended that Mail Service Providers (MSP’s) confirm the non-profit status for each of their clients prior to November 2014. The PostalOne! Help Desk can assist with this process. MSP’s should submit a completed MSP Customer Validation spreadsheet to the PostalOne! Help Desk, which will then look up each of the identification numbers provided and return the applicable CRID, permits and non-profit status for each mail owner.

Other Programs
The USPS is also measuring various criteria of mailings participating in the eInduction and Seamless Acceptance programs. For these two programs, the USPS is currently limiting postage assessments for errors to those mailings that exceed what they call the “Egregious Threshold.” However, at some point later in 2015, the USPS will be implementing similar postage assessment processes as those described above for errors exceeding the minimum thresholds.

Bottom line, mailers need to pay much stricter attention to their Mailer Scorecard so that any anomalies can be taken care of with PostalOne! and so that the errors exceeding thresholds can be corrected BEFORE the assessment implementation dates.

Resources
Window Book can assist you to increase your percentage of Full-Service mailings and to help improve your Full-Service compliance scores on your Mailer Scorecard. Our Full-Service On-Ramp Service (FSORS) has been successfully used by hundreds of mailers to implement Full-Service in their mailing operations. This same service may be used to help you increase the percentage of your Full-Service mailings or to help you resolve non-compliance issues that negatively impact your Mailer Scorecard results.

Window Book also provides a wealth of FREE educational resources to help you make sense of all the requirements. Webinars, white papers, and these weekly eTips help keep you educated and up-to-date.

By/For Errors in eDoc

Mailers submitting mailing jobs electronically to PostalOne!® need to identify the various entities involved in the mailing job – specifically, the Mail Owner, the Mail Preparer, and the eDoc Submitter. This information is sometimes referred to as the “By/For” relationship for mailings. In other words, the United States Postal Service® (USPS®) is asking that electronic documentation identify who is preparing the mail and who is submitting the eDoc (the “By” portion) and who is responsible for the content of the mailpiece and ultimately pays the postage for the mailings (the “For) portion.

For the most part, these entities may be identified in the eDoc using their Mailing Identification number (MID) or their Customer Registration Identification number (CRID). However, in the case of the Mail Owner identification, there are a number of places in the eDoc where this needs to be identified, and in some cases a Local Permit number is also needed for identification purposes. For mail service providers, getting all of this straight can be a challenge and it can be challenging to collect all of these critical pieces of information for their clients too.

Uses of Mail Owner information
The USPS uses the Mail Owner data in eDoc for three main purposes:

  1. To identify the Mail Owner for Full-Service compliance (this is the “For” part of the “By/For” relationship identification).
  2. To validate nonprofit price eligibility when nonprofit prices are claimed.
  3. To display the Mail Owners on postage statements.

Means of Identification
By/For Relationship: Currently, the Mail Owner MID, CRID or Mail Owner permit data may be used to identify the Mail Owner for this purpose. The Mail Owner is required to be identified when the owner represents 5,000 or more pieces in a mailing.

Nonprofit Price validation: For each nonprofit mailing, all mail owners must be identified and must have a valid nonprofit authorization number, regardless of the number of pieces per owner in the mailing. For mailings consisting of multiple mail owners, at least one mail owner must be identified in the eDoc; the remaining mail owners may be identified in a hard copy spreadsheet presented to the mail clerk at the time of mailing. Currently, the Mail Owner Permit may be used to identify the Mail Owner if the mail owner is paying their own postage using their own permit. For Mail Owners using a Mail Service Provider permit to pay postage, what is called a “Ghost Permit” is required. These ghost permits are established by request at the post office where the mailing is verified and paid for. These are non-paying postal permits, used for identification purposes only. This will be changing in November of this year, when the Mail Owner MID or CRID may be used for identification rather than the ghost permit.

Display Owner on Postage Statements: On the first page of postage statements, there are three blocks for Mailer information. The first block is the Permit Holder, and the data displayed in this block is that of the owner of the permit used to pay for the mailing, identified using that permit number. The second block is the Mailing Agent or Mail Preparer. This is identified by the CRID or MID of the Mail Preparer in the eDoc. The third block is the name and address of the organization for which the mailing is prepared, i.e. Mail Owner. This block is populated using the data in the Local Permit. If the Mail Owner uses their own permit to pay the postage, this data should be identical to the data in the first block. However, if the Mail Owner uses the postal permit of the Mail Preparer, a Ghost Permit is needed to correctly display the Mail Owner in this block. That ghost permit number should be populated in the Local Permit field of the Mailer Postage Account file (MPA) in the Mail.dat file. Ghost permits should be identified as “V” for Virtual in the Permit Type field. This is also scheduled to change in November 2014, when it will be populated using the Mail Owner MID or CRID if the Local Permit is not available.

Mail Service Provider Challenges
If you are a Mail Service Provider, you need to obtain not only the CRID’s and MID’s of your clients, but also the Local Permit Numbers, which may actually be a ghost permit number if the mail owner is not paying postage through their own permit account.

This can become a bit of a challenge for mail preparers, who may have hundreds of clients using hundreds of postal permits to pay for their postage. Associating each of the clients and permits with the appropriate MID’s can be a daunting task to say the least.

Mail Service Providers often ask, which piece of information should I get from my clients, their MID or their CRID? Currently, either piece of data may be used in eDoc, but that may change in the future. For that reason, we encourage Mail Service Providers to obtain both pieces of data for all their clients so that they are prepared should the USPS change the identification requirements in the future.

Add to that the fact that PostalOne! has to be aware of all of this MID, CRID, and permit information and also have them all appropriately linked! If the appropriate linkage has not been made, this can result in errors when uploading files to PostalOne!. These types of errors can only be rectified by contacting the PostalOne! Help Desk to request that the appropriate MIDs, CRIDs and permits be linked. Another error that can occur is when the same MID/CRID information is populated in the eDoc for both the Mail Owner and the Mail Preparer. If your company is indeed both the owner of the mail and the preparer of the mail, PostalOne! needs to know that and verify that this is indeed the case. If you receive this type of error, again you need to contact the PostalOne! Help Desk for resolution.

If you receive validation errors when submitting files to PostalOne! that refer to permits, postage payment methods, MIDs or CRIDs, or if you are seeing excessive By/For errors on your Mailer Scorecard, you should use this check list:

  1. Verify that the postage payment permit information you entered in your eDoc is correct for the client, the location, and the postage payment method.
  2. Verify that the MID/CRID information you entered in your eDocs is correct for the Mail Owner, Mail Preparer, and the eDoc Submitter. The MID/CRID information for the Mail Owner should not be the same as for the Mail Preparer, unless your company actually does own the mail and also physically prepares the mail. If you are a Mail Service Provider, this means that you need to obtain the MID/CRID data for all of your clients, either directly from your clients or by submitting a request through the Business Customer Gateway.
  3. Understand the difference between the Permit information and the Local Permit information in the Mailer Postage Account (MPA) file and verify that the correct permit information is being populated in each. The Permit information should be populated with the permit information that is being used to pay the postage for the mailing. The Local Permit information should be populated with the identical information as the Permit fields ONLY if the mail owner’s postal permit is being used to pay the postage. If the postage is paid from a Mail Service Provider’s permit, then the Local Permit information must be populated with Ghost Permit information as discussed above.
  4. Verify with PostalOne! the MID/CRID information for your company and for the clients for which you prepare mail, and also verify that the postal permits have been properly linked.

Resources
So, how do you try to make sense of all of this? The best resources are the Business Customer Gateway and PostalOne! A Mail Service Provider (MSP) may also verify or gather the MID and CRID data for their clients using the Business Customer Gateway. These requests may be submitted in bulk by submitting an Excel spreadsheet with the client company name and location information. Likewise, MSP’s may actually apply for MID’s on behalf of their clients, again through the use of an Excel spreadsheet submission. In this case, MSP’s must also provide documentation that the mail owners have given their permission for the MSP to apply for the MIDs on their behalf. The USPS RIBBS web site also has some helpful information to clarify MIDs and CRIDs. The USPS recently published an excellent Guide to Mail Owners in eDoc.

Mail Drives Mobile Commerce Promotion

Yet another USPS® incentive promotion is rapidly approaching – Mail Drives Mobile Commerce Promotion. This promotion starts running on November 1, 2014 through the end of the year (December 31, 2014), but the registration for this promotion started on September 15, 2014.

Mail Drives Mobile Commerce Promotion
The goal of this promotion is to promote use of mobile technology in direct mail to create a convenient method for consumers to do their shopping. This promotion is offered to Standard Mail(including non-profit) Letters and Flats mailings that use mobile barcode technology on the mailpieces which, when scanned by a mobile device, leads to a mobile optimized web site.

The incentive is a 2% up front postage discount, which is calculated in PostalOne!® and applied to the postage statement at the time of mailing. Mailers may also be eligible for an additional one percent rebate on the postage of their qualifying mailings if a portion of their orders are fulfilled via Priority Mail® between November 3, 2104 and January 15, 2015. Mailers who wish to participate in the Priority Mail rebate must complete a separate claim form that is due no later than February 15, 2015.

The registration period for this promotion started September 15, 2014 and runs through December 31, 2014. As a reminder, the promotion period runs from November 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014.

Eligibility
Eligible mail pieces must include a mobile barcode or other equivalent print/mobile technology that when scanned by a mobile device, leads to a mobile optimized web site. The destination web pages must reside on a web site platform that contains or is deeply integrated with a checkout functionality that allows the customer to complete the purchase of the product referenced in the mailpiece through a complete mobile optimized experience.

  • Mailpieces must contain an Intelligent Mail® Full-Service barcode.
  • Directional copy must be included near the mobile barcode on the mailpiece providing guidance to the consumer to scan the barcode or image and information about the landing page.
  • For purposes of this promotion, a product is defined as a tangible and physical item that needs to be distributed or manufactured and can be shipped via a mailing or shipping product offered by the USPS (delivery by the USPS is not required).
  • Mailings must be submitted via eDoc using Mail.dat®, Mail.XMLor the Postal Wizard. The eDoc must identify the mail owner and mail preparer in the By/For fields using the CRID, MID, or Permit number.
  • All pieces covered by a postage statement claiming the discount must meet all eligibility requirements.
  • Mail must be tendered for acceptance during the promotion period of November 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014.
  • Postage payment for the eligible mailings must be paid using Permit Imprint or Pre-canceled Stamp permit. Some Meter Permit mailings may qualify.

More detailed program requirements are available online, as well as a Mail Owner enrollment guide and a Mail Service Provider enrollment guide.

Additional information
More detailed information regarding these upcoming promotions can be obtained at the USPS RIBBS® web site, or questions may be directed via email to MailDrivesMobile@usps.gov.

Keeping Up to Date

Did the recent Mail.dat version change, PostalOne! software update, or Priority Mail price change catch you by surprise? On September 7, 2014, the United States Postal Service® (USPS®) implemented a price adjustment for Priority Mail and also implemented new postage statements for Priority Mail and other classes of mail as well. This change required mailers to update their USPS MDR Client software from the Business Customer Gateway on August 24, 2014. Along with these changes, PostalOne! support for the old 13-1 Mail.dat version ended and the currently supported versions are the new 14-2 version and the prior version of 14-1. Window Book sends out numerous notifications of these changes in advance through these eTips, but there are other resources available as well to help insure these kinds of changes don’t catch you by surprise in the future.

Why the update?
The USPS periodically makes updates to the PostalOne! system to incorporate enhancements and bug fixes. Major updates are performed when there are significant changes to postal rates and/or regulations, such as when the USPS increases their prices in January each year. There are usually at least four PostalOne! software updates during the year: January, April, July, and October. There may also be interim updates to PostalOne! for immediate fixes or other system issues.

The August update was a major change to support new USPS products and services, postage statement changes, and other updates. The postage statement changes took effect on September 7, 2014.

At the same time, the Mail.dat® specification changed from 14-1 to 14-2. For purposes of submitting Mail.dat files to PostalOne!, the table below shows the various Mail.dat version numbers and the dates on which they are supported by PostalOne!

Keeping updated
The USPS sends out notifications of all PostalOne! outages and software updates using the DMM Advisory. You can subscribe to the DMM Advisory by sending an email to dmmadvisory@usps.com. In addition, detailed information regarding the changes in the PostalOne! software are available on the USPS RIBBS web site. The DMM Advisory also provides notifications on pricing and postage statement changes, as well as Mail.dat and Mail.xml version changes. This information is also available on the RIBBS web site Release Schedule.

Handling Change
When these types of changes are announced, it is important for mailers to pay attention to the PostalOne! outage periods so that you can make adjustments in your mailing operations to accommodate the downtime. It is also extremely important for mailers to download and install the USPS Mail.dat Client software (also sometimes referred to as MD Client or MDR Client) as soon as it is available. This software can be downloaded from the Business Customer Gateway web site. Mailers also need to make any associated updates or configuration changes to software that interfaces with PostalOne! once their Mail.dat Client software is updated.

Likewise, mailers need to pay attention to Mail.dat and Mail.xml version changes and USPS data file updates (Labeling Lists, Zone Charts, Drop Ship files, etc.) and coordinate with their presort and post-presort software so that the correct versions are used.

More Changes This Fall 2014: Understanding How They Affect You

The August 24, 2014 PostalOne!® update, which coincided with the new Mail.dat® 14-2 release, included many changes and updates to Postal services and postage statements among other things. In addition, the United States Postal Service® (USPS®) will be issuing another PostalOne! software update on November 9, 2014. The November update does not have any postage statement or Mail.dat modifications, but there are changes that may have an impact on your operations. Make note of the recently enacted and upcoming changes.

Highlights from the recent August Update

Changes to Mailing Services

Postage Statement Changes
There are changes in postage statements for Periodicals, First-Class Mail®, and Standard Mail®. With the exception of the Priority Mail statements, which will be mandatory due to the price changes, mailers may continue to use the January 2014 postage statements. However, if you wish to use any of the new products and/or services, you must switch to the September 2014 statements.

New Mail.dat version 14.2
There is a new Mail.dat specification version associated with this update; the current version is 14-1; while the new Mail.dat version is 14-2. For purposes of submitting Mail.dat files to PostalOne!, the table below shows the various Mail.dat versions and the dates on which they are supported by PostalOne!

Between August 24 and September 7 mailers can submit new mailings using Mail.dat version 14-2 or 14-1. During this period, mailings can also be submitted using 13-1, but ONLY for mail with mailing dates processed before Sept. 7. Between Aug. 24 and Sept. 7, mailers can also submit 13-1 files to update previously submitted mailings.

Political and Election Mail
The new 14-2 Mail.dat version now has fields in the Content Characteristics Record (CCR files) to identify political and election mail. These identifiers should be used only if 100% of the mailing contains these types of mail. This will then allow the appropriate postage statement check box to be marked, and will also indicate to mailers and the USPS that special tags are to be applied to this mail. Use Tag 57 for Political Mail and Tag 191 for Election Mail.

Is 14-2 mandatory?
The use of Mail.dat 14-2 is not mandatory. Mailers can continue to submit 14-1 files to PostalOne! DAT-MAIL’s new August update supports submission of either file format. Mailers can import 14-1 and 14-2 files and submit 14-2 to PostalOne!, but can not import 14-2 and submit 14-1.

DFSS:
Effective August 1st a new PS-8125 form became available that supports Flat Sequencing System (FSS) entry points. In the new PS-8125 Form, under the Mailer Information section, DBMC has been removed and DNDC and DFSS have been added for “Entry Discounts Claimed” options. Note: the old 8125 form can still be used for 6 months until further notice.

Air Boxes:
Although not mandatory, mailers who use Air boxes are being strongly encouraged by the USPS to update to DAT-MAIL’s new August update so they can generate new PS-8125 forms. Air boxes are an alternate container from trays/sacks/pallets that Periodicals mailers use to get mail drop shipped in an expedited manner for time-sensitive materials.

Priority Mail:
Priority mailers using Mail.dat must update to DAT-MAIL’s new August update in order to be able to use new rates and generate Postage Statements, which are effective September 7, 2014.

New 8125
The August release of DAT-MAIL includes the new 8125 which should be used by mailers that do the following:

  • Drop ship to DFSS facilities
  • Use air boxes (Periodicals mail)
  • Use DAT-MAIL to mail Priority Mail eDoc

Full-Service eDoc Verification & Invoicing
PostalOne! reports for Intelligent Mail® Full-Service verification will have postage charges for non-compliance visible on the reports, but the USPS will NOT actually be assessing these charges. Not yet, anyway! But, mailers need to pay very close attention to these reports because it is only a matter of time before the USPS does implement these charges.

 

Changes to Shipping Services

Priority Mail® Price Changes
Great news for shippers who are eligible for Commercial Base and Commercial Plus rates. Effective September 7, 2014 those rates are decreasing! The new Postage Statements reflecting these price changes are available at pe.usps.gov.

  • Commercial Base: 0.9% average decrease
  • Commercial Plus: 2.3% average decrease
  • Retail prices: 1.7% average increase

IMpb Compliance Threshold Increases
The USPS is already charging a non-compliance fee for Intelligent Mail Package Barcode (IMpb) mailings. This fee is $.20 per piece, and can add up in a real hurry if you mail any sort of volume at all. The compliance threshold to avoid those fees is increasing as well.

Single piece parcel shipments
Good news! Mailers will now be able to use their volumes from multiple classes of mail to meet the volume minimums for parcel shipments mailed using Manifesting with a Permit Imprint payment method. The minimum volume is 50 pieces or 50 pounds, which used to apply to each class of mail separately. Now, volumes from various classes of mail can be combined to meet this minimum.

IMpb requirement changes:
Mailers will now need to use Intelligent Mail Package Barcodes (IMpb) on more categories of mail. This requirement includes Standard Mail parcels, Parcel Select Lightweight, and the remaining portions of Priority Mail previously exempted from IMpb.

 

Changes to USPS Data

 Labeling List Update Frequency Changes to Monthly
Previously, these files were updated on a quarterly basis, but this is changing to a MONTHLY cycle starting in August. The USPS announced changes to the Labeling List data, effective September 1, 2014, with a mandatory use date of September 30, 2014.

Mailers need to be much more vigilant about using these updated files since they will no longer be able to presort their mailing list files months in advance. There will only be two months of Labeling List data permitted at any given time, which means presorts cannot be performed more than 60 days in advance of the estimated date of mailing.

This means that the estimated and actual ship dates in the Mail.dat files become MUCH more critical. These are the dates that will be used to validate that the correct Labeling List files have been used, so it’s essential for mailers to accurately populate those data fields.

HUB list: There is a new Labeling List going into effect called the HUB list. This is a list of postal facilities that just cross-dock or transfer mail, and do not do any actual mail processing. These facilities are intended to be used by mailers to improve mail delivery by drop shipping to these hubs, which will then cross-dock the mail to outbound transportation bound for the final destination facility.

Upcoming Changes

PostalOne!® November 9 Update
The second PostalOne! update, originally scheduled for October 26, 2014, is now November 9. The November 9 update does not have any postage statement changes, but there are other changes associated with postage statement mail owner CRID display, Nonprofit authorization numbers, Postage assessment of Seamless Acceptance errors, Move Update, new functionality for the Business Customer Gateway (BCG) and Mailer ID. Visit November 2014 changes for more details.

Mail Entry Road Map
The USPS has published its “Mail Entry Road Map” showing mailers what is in store for them with changes to acceptance, verification and payment between now and mid-2015.

September 2014 – eInduction pilot of a scan process for non-SV sites starts. If successful, this will be rolled out in early 2015 and allow all entry points to participate in eInduction without having to link pallet barcodes to FAST appointments.

October 2014 – Full-Service Verification Error Postage Assessments will be visible to mailers; however, they will not actually be billed until January 2015 (based on December 2014 data). Pay attention to these assessments and correct what is causing them before December!

October 2014 – Mailers will need be processing and submitting 75% of their eligible mail as Full-Service if they want to retain their DMUs.

November 2014PostalOne! Release 39 – many changes here. This is the first release that will use actual induction date as the basis of verifying the validity of the labeling list used to do the presort. There are also expected to be a number of changes that will impact all mailers doing eDoc. Watch for Window Book webinars and subsequent communications about the changes coming in PostalOne! Release 39.

Stay Informed
Learn more about Postal Changes for Fall 2014 from Free Educational Resources:

Webinar Recording:
USPS Changes for Fall 2014: Do you know what they are?
http://www.windowbook.com/recordedwebinars

White Paper:
Changes are Coming in 2014: Do You Know What They Are?
https://www.windowbook.com/Lp/USPS-2014-Changes

USPS Resumes Facility Closures in 2015

The United States Postal Service® (USPS®) announced that Phase 2 of the planned network consolidation and corresponding adjustment of delivery service standards will be resumed beginning in January 2015. As we reported in earlier e-Tips, the USPS originally laid out their Network Rationalization plan in 2011 with a phased approach to closing and consolidating various postal facilities and making the necessary service standard adjustments to correspond with the new service network. Phase 2 of that plan was scheduled to be implemented on February 1, 2014, but the USPS postponed those plans. The USPS goal in closing a large number of processing facilities is to cut costs and optimize their processing network to more closely align with the decreased volumes of mail.

Network facility changes

The first phase of the network optimization plan began in July 2012 and involved 48 facilities. The USPS halted closures during the busy mailing season of September through December 2012, but resumed the first phase closure plans in January 2013. The USPS again halted the closures after July 2013 for the busy mailing season through the end of the year (consolidating a total of 141 facilities), and then planned to resume Phase 2 in early 2014. The Phase 2 plan will begin in January 2015 with consolidation of up to 82 facilities. The network consolidation so far has realized an annual cost savings to the USPS of $865 million and required no employee layoffs. This next phase is expected to realize an additional $750 million in annual savings.

The Plan

The USPS provides detailed information regarding the planned facility consolidations and closures on a special Our Future Network web page. Included on that page is a link to the Phase 2 FAQ’s. Their Mail Move Plan is available in Excel spreadsheet format, and will be updated on a weekly basis. The USPS also provides information on these planned consolidations on its main web site.

What it means for mailers

So, what does all this mean for mailers? As the consolidations and closures take place, mailers will need to make sure their mailing software solutions – both presort and post-presort – are updated with the most recent postal destination data updates. This includes Labeling Lists, destination drop ship data files (including re-directions), etc. Mailers will also need to pay close attention to the proposed changes in the USPS service standards and monitor mail delivery so that any necessary adjustments can be made to mailing schedules. Stay tuned for further updates as this initiative progresses.

Your Solution

Window Book’s software allows you to easily keep your USPS destination data files, including Labeling Lists and drop ship data, up to date automatically. Our Automatic Postal Data Updater is a complimentary feature in our software, which requires a one-time configuration in the Window Book Automation Scheduler. Contact our technical support team for more details on how to configure your Window Book software for these automatic updates.

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Window Book is here to help
Window Book’s industry-leading post-presort solution, DAT-MAIL™ can help you take advantage of these USPS incentive promotions. To schedule a free Mail Optimization Analysis, visit www.windowbook.com/MOA.