Archive of posts tagged USPS

USPS Publishes New Prices and Statements for April 2016

The USPS recently published new prices and postage statements for the market dominant product lines, including First-Class Mail®, Standard Mail®, Periodicals, Library Mail, Media Mail, Bound Printed Matter, Other and Extra Services and Qualified Business Reply Mail.

Before you get into a panic about postal prices going up again – relax! – this is actually a price DECREASE!

Read more:

Is Your Mail Headed in the Wrong Direction?

What kind of question is this? Of course your mail is headed in the right direction! Isn’t it? It was addressed properly, presorted properly, your mailing facility bundled it, trayed or sacked it according to postal regulations, palletized it properly, all the tray/sack/pallet tags are correct, and it was shipped to the correct entry points. Or was it????

When was the last time you updated your mailing and shipping software to the most recent destination data files from the USPS? Just where does all the ZIP code and postal facility data come from? You know… that first line of information that prints out on your tray tags, sack tags and pallet placards? And what about the facility information that prints out on your 8125 clearance documents for drop shipping? Where does all that data come from, and how is it kept up to date? What happens if you use outdated data?

You’ve most likely heard terminology such as Labeling Lists, Drop Ship Destination Data, City-State Files, Zone Chart Data, and so forth, but sometimes it’s hard to figure out what all these terms really mean, and why they are important to your mailing operations. The short answer – the USPS provides mailers “Destination Data Files” which may be downloaded from the USPS web site. There are a number of different files included in this group, all of which are critical to insure that your mail is prepared properly and is labeled and routed to the correct postal facilities for processing and delivery. This data can – and does – change frequently, so it is critical that mailers pay attention to these changes and update their presort and post-presort software with the new data as soon as it becomes available.

Why is this important? Using out-of-date data can result in your mail getting held up at acceptance because it has not been sorted or labeled correctly according to the most current data. Even if it does get past USPS acceptance, if the destination data is old, all that mail that you so carefully prepared is going to end up headed in the wrong direction to incorrect postal facilities. This will cause delivery delays because the mail will need to be reworked and redirected to the correct locations. And this can all wind up as a bad mark on your Mailer Scorecard. Keep in mind, the USPS plans to start implementing postage assessments starting in July. Bad marks on your Mailer Scorecard will start costing you money later this year!

Labeling List Files
These files contain the Labeling List information, which is used to properly label bundles, sacks, trays, and pallets of mail. This information is used by presort software to correctly sort the mailing list and to correctly populate the destination data line on sack tags, tray tags and pallet placards. This information dictates which ZIP codes may be combined together into the handling units, such as trays and sacks, as well as which ZIP codes may be combined together on containers, such as pallets. These files are updated monthly, and are announced in the Postal Bulletin. Mailers often confuse the Labeling List data with the Drop Ship data (see below), but the two are used for completely different purposes. To avoid confusion, it is helpful to think about the titles of the data files: Labeling List data is used to sort and label the mail, while Drop Ship data is used to direct the shipment of the mail.

Drop Ship Product Files
These files are used to properly identify postal facilities which may be used by mailers to transport (drop ship) mail to facilities closer to the final destination of the mail. This is a group of files that include the postal facility listings along with detailed data such as the operating hours, classes and processing categories of mail handled by the respective facility, contact information, driving directions, ZIP codes serviced, and so on. Included in this group of files is the Mail Direction File, which is used to identify when postal facilities “re-direct” mail to other postal facilities. For example, if a postal facility is undergoing renovation, some of the mail classes or processing categories it would normally process are re-directed to a nearby facility during the renovation period. This is a temporary condition, so this information is communicated using the Mail Direction File rather than making short term changes to the actual facility listings. The drop ship data is used in both presort and post-presort software to identify drop ship entry points and to correctly populate the drop ship clearance documents – PS Form 8125’s. These files are provided from the Facility Access and Shipment Tracking System (FAST) and the Mail Direction Files are updated monthly. This update frequency is the required frequency for mailers to perform updates, but in actuality this data is being updated on a daily basis. For mailers who do frequent drop shipping, it is recommended to get this data updated daily rather than just the minimum required frequency.

Other Files
There are other files, such as the Zone Chart files and City State Files, which are also important as they are used to assign postal zones within mailings that are subject to zone-rated postage and used in combination with other destination data files to insure accurate assignment of city and state names. Zone charts are updated quarterly, while the City State Files are updated six times per year.

Timing of updates
The USPS establishes mandatory use dates for all of this data to help make sure that mail is prepared and routed correctly. Mailers should update this data in both their presort and post-presort software as often as possible, but certainly no less frequent than the minimum requirements. Failure to do these updates on a timely basis may result in your mailings getting delayed or even worse, stopped at the point of verification. It is recommended that mailers work with their software vendors and service providers to coordinate the timing of these updates so that any potential conflicts are minimized. Window Book recommends updating this data on a weekly basis, or if you do frequent drop shipping, on a daily basis.

The major release schedules for this data may be found on the USPS RIBBS web site. Information regarding the drop ship data may be found on the FAST web site. Window Book posts updated destination data files to our software downloads web page each Friday. These updates may be manually downloaded and installed to your Window Book software, but you can do these updates automatically at a frequency you can dictate by using the Automated PostError! Hyperlink reference not Data Updater plug-in of the Window Book Scheduler. There is no additional charge for this utility, so users should definitely take advantage of this convenient means to automatically update this critical data.

Window Book can help you implement the destination data changes 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 Optimizati

Don’t Forget: USPS® Price Changes Take Effect This Weekend!

The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) approved all of the United States Postal Service® (USPS®) proposed price increases. The implementation date for these approved prices is January 17, 2016.

Again – the final implementation date for these price changes is January 17, 2016. That’s this Sunday! 3 days from today!

Overall Changes
The new prices are available in Excel and .csv format on the Postal Explorer web site. The draft postage statements are also available on the same web site. Please note that this price change does not impact all mailing classes, so for some mailings the new January 2016 postage statements will be required, whereas for other mailings, the current May 2015 postage statements may still be used.

Software Updates
If you have not already done so, mailers will need to update their mailing and shipping software to accommodate these new prices. There is no new Mail.dat® file format specification version associated with this price change. Here is what will be supported as of January 17th:

January 17, 2016

  • USPS will support Mail.dat 14-2 Errata versions and 15-1 Errata
  • USPS will continue to support all Mail.dat 14-2, errata versions including
  • USPS will continue to support all Mail.dat 15-1, errata versions including

As a reminder – there was a mandatory PostalOne! update on January 3, 2016, which means that if you are a mailer who submits eDoc, you should have downloaded and installed the new USPS MD Client software on the 3rd.

IMPORTANT NOTE: PostalOne! will be releasing a patch to the MD Client software on Sunday, January 17, 2016. This patch is to correct issues with Mail Anywhere submissions, so if you submit Mail Anywhere mailings, you will need to download and install this patch. This is not a mandatory update, so non-impacted mailers are not required to download and install this patch, but are encouraged to do so.


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:

Don’t Forget! PostalOne!® Mandatory Software Update This Weekend

The USPS is issuing a mandatory software update for the PostalOne!® production system this weekend. This update will be implemented on Sunday, January 3, 2016. The PostalOne! Production (PROD) system will not be available on Sunday morning January 3, 2016, between 12 midnight and 10 a.m. CT. PostalOne! will also be updating the Test Environment for Mailers (TEM); that update will occur on Monday, January 4, 2016. The PostalOne! TEM environment will not be available between 6 a.m. and 4 p.m. CT on January 4. The new Mail.dat® client download for the Production Environment will be version; all previous versions of the Mail.dat client will be expired.

Read more:

PRC Approves Promotion Programs for 2016

The Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) has approved the United States Postal Service® (USPS®) proposal for five promotional programs aimed at increasing mail volumes by offering incentives to mailers. These promotions will be available during the calendar year 2016. Way back in 2011, the first Mobile Barcode incentive was introduced by the USPS, and these successful promotions have been offered every year since then. The five promotions proposed for the calendar year 2016 are:

  1. Earned Value Promotion
  2. Personalized Color Transpromo Promotion
  3. Emerging and Advanced Technology/Video In Print Promotion
  4. Tactile, Sensory and Interactive Mailpiece Engagement Promotion
  5. Mobile Shopping Promotion

The Promotions

The Earned Value Promotion: This program will run from April through June 2016. This promotion is available for First-Class Mail® only, and builds on the success of previous years promotions. The promotion is in the form of a credit on qualifying BRM/CRM reply pieces, which can then be applied to postage for future mailings. Details on the eligibility and enrollment for this promotion can be found in the guide posted on the USPS RIBBS web site.

The Personalized Color Transpromo Promotion: This promotion will run from July through December 2016. Similar to the program in 2015, this promotion is only available for First-Class Mail. Added this year is the requirement that the color message must either address the recipient by name or contain information relevant and specific to the recipient. The USPS posted a guide on the RIBBS web site with further details on the eligibility and enrollment for this promotion.

The Emerging and Advanced Technology/Video in Print Promotion: Set to run from March through August 2016, this promotion is available for both First-Class Mail and Standard Mail®. Added this year is an A/B testing option, which allows mailers to test customer response rates to mailpieces featuring the qualifying technology compared to customer response rates to mailpieces without the qualifying technology. For more detailed information on the eligibility and enrollment requirements, mailers can visit the USPS RIBBS web site.

The Tactile, Sensory and Interactive Mailpiece Engagement Promotion: This program will run from March through August 2016. The USPS recognizes that advanced print innovations are distinct from the more digitally focused technologies addressed by the Emerging and Advanced Technology/Video in Print Promotion, so this is offered as its own promotion for 2016 and is available only for Standard Mail. As with the other promotions, a detailed guide is posted on the USPS RIBBS web site.

The Mobile Shopping Promotion: This promotion will run from July through December 2016. As in prior years, this promotion encourages mailers to integrate mobile technology into their direct mail during the 2016 holiday season. This promotion is available only for Standard Mail. Visit the RIBBS web site for a detailed guide on this promotion.

The incentives
The Earned Value Promotion incentive is in the form of volume-based credits: $0.02 per BRM or CRM pieces for first-time participants or those who did not exceed their threshold; $0.03 per BRM or CRM pieces if the total number of BRM and CRM pieces exceed the total number of the mailer’s BRM and CRM pieces counted as part of the 2015 Earned Value Promotion. These credits may then be applied to future mailings of First-Class Mail presort and automation cards, letters and flats and Standard mail letters and flats.

The other promotions each have an incentive of a 2% postage discount, taken at the time of mailing. The only exception is for the A/B testing option: the 2% postage discount will be taken at the time of mailing only for the pieces that meet the eligibility criteria. Up to 10% of the pieces may have non-eligible characteristics for the A/B testing purposes; the discount for these pieces will be applied as a credit to be used for future mailings.

There is a RIBBS web page dedicated to USPS mailing promotions; this has been updated with additional details on the 2016 promotions, including the calendar shown above and guides for each individual program. This page also has a more generic guide for enrollment in promotion programs, for both mail owners and mail preparers.

Your Solution
Window Book’s software allows you to easily edit your Mail.dat® files for the applicable promotion code (2-digit Characteristic Type in the CCR file of the Mail.dat file) so that you can accurately submit eDoc for these promotional mailings to take advantage of all the benefits being offered by them.

Window Book can help you manage the promotion codes for these incentives 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!

USPS to Implement Postage Assessments

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


Read more:

Top Ten Reasons to Use eDoc

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

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

Read more:


Labeling List Changes effective August 1, 2015

The United States Postal Service® (USPS®) announced changes to the Labeling List data, effective August 1, 2015, with an expiration date of September 30, 2015. The Labeling Lists affected are L006, L007, L012, and L606. The Labeling Lists are located on the Postal Explorer web site under the Additional Links tab. This will direct you to the Facility Access and Shipment Tracking System (FAST) web site; from there you can choose Resources, then Label Lists File Download, then Label List Files.

Use of Labeling List Data
The Labeling List data is used to define the specific destination information to be printed on sack labels, tray labels, and pallet labels. This destination information is used to route the mail inside the sacks, trays and pallets to the correct postal facility for processing. The destination information is based primarily on 3-digit ZIP Code prefix, and varies based on the class of mail, processing category, and other criteria. Virtually all container labels are generated using computer software, which accesses this Labeling List data in a file format, operating much like a look-up table.

Why the changes?
There are many reasons why the USPS makes changes to the Labeling List data. Recently, many of the changes are being made as a result of their efforts to consolidate processing facilities to improve efficiencies and reduce costs. Changes also take place when the USPS makes alterations to the service areas for certain processing facilities, which can be the result of shifts in population, mail volumes, staffing and many other reasons. Keep in mind that approximately 12% of the US population moves each year and there are about 1,800 new delivery addresses added each day. So, there are lots of ZIP Code changes happening all the time!

Time for change
The USPS modified the frequency of these updates last fall from quarterly to monthly. What this means for mailers is that Labeling Lists are now effective for a period of only two months. While these updates have always been important to insure proper direction of the mail, keeping up to date is now more critical than ever. Gone are the days when mailers could perform their postal presort process months in advance. Due to this change, the maximum advance time for the presort process is 60 days, and in reality probably less than that to accommodate production schedule fluctuations. The scheduled and actual induction dates (mailing dates) also become much more critical as a result of this change. These dates are what is used by the USPS to determine if valid Labeling Lists have been used to process the mailing.

Handling Change
When these types of changes are announced, it is important for mailers to work with their software vendors and mail service providers to make sure that the changes are implemented on a timely basis. This is critical so that the correct destination information is populated into the Mail.dat® files, or any other files or printed documents that are used to process or submit postage statements (and other postal documentation) and to create sack, tray, and pallet labels. Keep in mind that the Labeling List changes involve not just the facility names, but the ZIP codes associated with those facilities. This affects the destination line on the tags and the mailpieces that are placed into the sacks, trays, and pallets. As such, these changes MUST be incorporated into the presort software first; if the data is incorrect during this process (and thus incorrect in the Mail.dat files), it cannot be corrected in Post-Presort software, such as DAT-MAIL™.

Automatic Postal Data Updates System
Window Book makes these updates easy for our clients by providing an automated method to update the Labeling List information into your Post-presort software. Once you have this FREE add-on tool installed with your DAT-MAIL software, you no longer have to remember to check for Labeling List updates, nor do you have to perform manual downloads because it will automatically be taken care of for you! You can just set it and forget it!