Archive of posts filed under the USPS Articles category.

USPS® Fascinating Facts

Here are some interesting and little-known information about the United States Postal Service® (USPS®).

Size and Scope

The USPS delivers more mail to more addresses in a larger geographical area than any other post in the world. The USPS handles forty percent (40%) of the world’s mail volume. The USPS is a huge business: if it were a privately held company, it would rank 43rd in the 2014 Fortune 500 list! And to de-bunk a common myth, the USPS receives NO tax dollars for operating its services!

To further testify to the huge scope of the USPS, check out these statistics:

Number of delivery points nationwide: 153.9 million
Annual mailpieces processed and delivered: 155.4 billion
Number of USPS-managed retail post offices: 31,662
2014 FY revenue: $67.8 billion
Number of career employees: 486,822
Number of non-career employees: 130,432
Number of vehicles: 211,264 (one of the largest civilian fleets in the world)

The USPS is the core of the mailing industry, which is a $1.3 trillion industry that employs more than 8 million people. AND, it’s growing: 971,543 new delivery points were added in 2014!

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

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.

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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

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!

 

Are you working harder or smarter?

If you’re submitting electronic files to PostalOne!® for just the Full-Service mailings you process, chances are you’re working a lot harder than you really need to be. Oh, you say, “but sending files to PostalOne! is a lot more work than submitting hard copies.” On the surface, that may appear to be the case, especially if you do not do electronic submissions very often. The fact is, though, if you have two different process flows, one for Full-Service mailings and one for everything else, you ARE working harder than necessary. And, who wants to work harder than they need to? Any workflow is easier if all the jobs are processed in the same manner, and submitting jobs to PostalOne! is no exception..  Read more: http://www.windowbook.com/Learning/Postal-Concierge-E-tips

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!)

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.

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