ACS OneCode for UAA and Automation

                            ACS OneCode for UAA and Automation

Jeffery Peoples, CEO & Founder, Window Book, Inc.

In 2004 the United States Postal Service® (USPS) commissioned an independent study to examine the volume and cost of “undeliverable-as-addressed” mail (UAA).  The result showed that 4.75% of all mail the USPS received for delivery could not be delivered as addressed.  This means almost 5 out of every 100 mailpieces are undeliverable-as-addressed.  Standard Mail® accounted for almost 63% of all UAA mail and 75% of UAA Mail was due to move-related reasons.  Each year, over 45 million people and over 2.3 million businesses move.  On the average, mailing lists deteriorate over 1% a month.

Using incorrect addresses is one of the major contributing factors for the rising costs of the Postal Service.  If mail cannot be delivered to the address on the mailpiece it will be forwarded, returned or treated as waste.  Each option impacts large volumes of mail and incurs high expenses to both the USPS and its customers.  Cost-effective and timely delivery of every mailpiece depends on having accurate addresses with complete and correct address elements.  According to the R-2006-1 Rate Case Study (Christiansen UAA Study), there were 9.724 billion UAA mailpieces annually which cost $1.8 billion for the USPS annually: $421.9 M for forwarded mail, $822.5 M for returned mail, and $269.8M for mail treated as waste.

Move Update

Move Update is one of the requirements the Postal Service has embarked on to deal with the rising costs of processing UAA mail.  Move Update requires First-Class and Standard Mail mailers to match their mailing addresses to the USPS Change-of-Address (COA) database periodically to get the most current addresses for their customers who have moved.  Move update will reduce the number mailpieces that are forwarded to the new address, returned to the mailer, or treated as waste.  

Effective November 23, 2008, the USPS revised the Move Update standard in order to increase the volume of deliverable mail.  They increased the minimum frequency of Move Update processing from 185 days to 95 days prior to the mailing date.  In addition, the USPS expanded Move Update to include automation-rate and presort-rate First-Class Mail as well as Standard Mail (letters and flats, parcels, and non-flat-machinables).

In order to meet the Move Update standard, you must use an authorized Move Update method. The USPS offers four primary methods and two alternative methods, one of which is for First-Class Mail only.  Of the primary methods, there are two “pre-mailing” methods and two “post-mailing” methods based on when you actually receive the updated address.  In this article, we will focus on ACSTM and OneCode ACS®.

 

Authorized Move Update Methods

Pre-mailing methods

NCOALink®

 

FASTforward® MLOCR

Post-mailing methods

ACSTM or OneCode ACS

 

Ancillary Service Endorsement

ACS (Address Change Service)

ACS is a post-mailing service that was developed in the mid-1980s to enhance the way mailers received change-of-address (COA) information from the USPS.  The new electronic environment was

designed to help reduce manual labor and costs involved in providing updated addresses to the mailers.

When a mailer uses ACS, they print a USPS assigned participant code in the address block which identifies the mailpiece as requesting ACS service.  For example, when a mailpiece for a customer’s old address is received by the postal carrier, it is sent to CFS (Computerized Forwarding System) for forwarding.  At CFS, the operator keys the ACS participant code and any optional keyline data that may be present.  This causes a transaction to be generated that sends the change-of-address update back to the mailer electronically so the address can be updated automatically.

Mailers may elect to add an optional line to their address block that contains a “keyline,” or a tie-back to the original record that was used to create the address block.  This keyline allows mailers to automatically update their address records without any manual intervention and helps them reduce the costs associated with manual keying of data.

To participate in ACS, mailers need to apply for a ‘Participant Code’ from the ACS Dept. at the National Customer Support Center (NCSC).  There is a Participant Code assigned for each class mail.  It is free to enroll in ACS, but there is a “per piece fee” for records supplied back to a customer. Currently ACS corrections for First-Class Mail are 10¢ each and 26¢ each for all other classes of mail.

OneCode ACS

OneCode ACS is a new and improved option of the traditional ACS service for First-Class, Standard Mail, and Periodical flats/letters that mailers can use to get automated or electronic address corrections.  The difference is in the triggering mechanism:  ACS uses the Participant Code whereas OneCode ACS requires the Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb).

OneCode ACS is a fully automated service and greatly reduces the amount of resources required to identify the mailer and the mailer’s choice of services, and provides feedback to the mailer regarding the disposition of the mailpiece.   OneCode ACS provides an efficient and accurate way of capturing all of this data from IMb.  In addition, combining the former POSTNET barcode and the ACS code into OneCode ACS frees up a great deal of “real estate” on a mailpiece, giving mailers the advantage of having more space to utilize for customer messaging or leaving the mailpiece cleaner.

ACS vs. OneCode ACS

Overall, OneCode ACS offers a simpler and more advanced system for processing address corrections.  It requires using IMb which incorporates both the former POSTNET barcode and the former PLANET barcode into one simple barcode.  This allows more ‘real estate’ space on the mailpiece and a lower service fee than the traditional ACS service.  In the example below you can see how much you will have to pay if you did not have any service, used the traditional ACS, or OneCode ACS.

                                     

 

 

Example: Standard Mail Undeliverable-As-Addressed (UAA) Mail Fee

Without ACS

With ACS

With OneCode ACS and IM Full Service

  • Ø 2.8 ounces

•Ø      Address Service Requested endorsement

  • Ø First-Class Mail full rate:
  • Ø $0.78
  • Ø Weighted factor: 2.472
  • Ø Actual return postage:

      $0.78 x 2.472 = $1.93

  • Ø 2.8 ounces
  • Ø Address Service Requested endorsement
  • Ø First-Class Mail full rate:
    $0.78
  • Ø No Weighted factor
  • Ø Return postage + ACS:
  • Ø $0.78 + $0.26 = $1.04
  • Ø 2.8 ounces
  • Ø Address Service Requested endorsement
  • Ø First-Class Mail full rate:
  • Ø $0.78
  • Ø No Weighted factor
  • Ø Return postage + ACS:
  • Ø $0.78 + $0.00 = $.78

 

ACS vs. OneCode ACS

 

Traditional ACS

OneCode ACS

Requires IMb

No

Yes

Need to print ACS Participant Code & Keyline in the address block of mailpiece

Yes

No

Need to print Ancillary Endorsement (tells USPS how the mailer wants undeliverable pieces to be handled) *

Yes

Yes for Standard Mail.
Optional for First-Class Mail

Need to print Electronic Service Request endorsement

No

Yes

Available for IM Full Service

Yes, but ACS fees apply.

Yes, ACS service is free.

Required for IM Full Service

No

  • § No. You can use either Traditional ACS or OneCode ACS.
  • § OneCode ACS requires use of IM Full Service
  • § OneCode ACS is free for IM Full Service users

 

Who benefits from free ACS?

One of the requirements for Intelligent Mail Full Service is to use IMb on mailpieces, tray/sack labels and pallet placards.  OneCode ACS requires using Intelligent Mail Full Service and IMb, and ACS is free to Intelligent Mail Full Service users if they use OneCode ACS. 

One may question why any mailer would not want to use the free ACS service within Intelligent Mail.  While most mailers may see some benefit from the free ACS service, some types of mailers will benefit more than others.

Periodicals mailers, for example, are probably the primary beneficiaries of this free service because address corrections are required of them by the USPS, this is not optional.  Thus, taking advantage of Intelligent Mail Full Service and the free ACS is a very beneficial service for them.  Similarly, any mailer who has consistently used ACS service in the past will benefit by the fact that they can now receive this service for free when in the past there was a cost involved.  In fact, any mailer who was previously using a post-mailing address correction method will probably find this new service attractive.  It may even provide a new revenue stream for mailers who mail for multiple clients and have the tools which allow them to manage these address changes for their clients. If they can charge for this management service while getting the corrections for free, this may prove to be lucrative.

On the other hand, mailers who use highly accurate mailing lists, prefer pre-mail address corrections or use primarily rental lists may not see as much benefit from this free ACS service.  For example, photo finishing companies usually receive their mailing addresses fresh each time from their customers whenever they submit an order for photo processing.  Since they do not maintain any address databases, and their addresses are unlikely to be old and outdated, ACS service would not be as attractive for them.

Many mailers prefer to obtain their address corrections pre-mailing, such as with NCOALink.  For these mailers, they may see some benefit from receiving post-mailing corrections that the NCOA processing may have missed due to the time gap between the processing and the actual mailing.  However, it might be tough to get a positive ROI on any systems implemented to incorporate these changes.  Other mailers may lack the tools to incorporate the returned data from the ACS process into their databases.

In conclusion, Move Update will certainly help the Postal Service better manage the volume of undeliverable-as-addressed mail.  The USPS offers various options for participating in the Move Update program, and OneCode ACS is the most advanced post-mailing system that offers fast, reliable and accurate services to mailers for updating addresses.  It lets you participate in the Intelligent Mail Full Service which will unquestionably help everyone in the Postal industry move ahead and automate their operations.  Intelligent Mail Full Service is the way the Postal Service will require mailers to process mailings in the future and OneCode ACS will help mailers get ready and be automated.