Back-to-Back PostalOne!® Mandatory Software Updates

The United States Postal Service® (USPS®) will be issuing back-to-back software updates for the PostalOne! production system this fall. The first update, which was postponed from the planned July 13, 2014 date, will now be implemented on August 24, 2014. The second update is for the regularly scheduled October update, and that implementation date is October 26, 2014. In both cases, the Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) update will take place the following day.

Why the update?
The USPS periodically makes updates in the PostalOne! system to incorporate enhancements and bug fixes to the software. Major changes are performed when there are significant changes to postal rates 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 is a major change to support new USPS products and services, postage statement changes, and other updates. The postage statement changes take effect on September 7, 2014.

There is a Mail.dat® specification version change 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 version numbers and the dates on which they are supported by PostalOne!

Submit Date Postage Statement Mailing Date Postage Statement Version 13-1 14-1 14-2
Before 8/24/14 Up to and including 9/6/14 January 2014 Supported Supported Not Supported
8/24/14 and after Up to and including 9/6/14 January 2014 Supported Supported Not Supported
8/24/14 and after 9/7/14 and after January 2014 or September 2014 Updates Only Supported Supported

Summary of some of the changes for the August release:

  • Periodicals Statement of Ownership: The Requester Publications Only (PS Form 3526) and Requester and General Category Periodicals Publications Only (PS Form 3526-X) will be combined into a single automated online form.
  • Manifested Parcels for Domestic & International Mailings: Customers who currently ship single piece mailings and who use the manifest mailing system with the permit imprint payment method can now meet volume minimums of 50 pieces or 50 pounds by combining parcels volumes of various classes of mail.
  • Shipping Services File conversion: Additional classes of mail will be converted from Mail.dat to the Shipping Services File format for Standard Mail, Parcel Select Light Weight, and the remaining portions of Priority Mail.
  • HUB Facilities FAST Appointment Scheduling: The FAST system will be updated to allow customers to schedule appointments for drop ship to HUB facilities.
  • Full-Service eDoc verification & Invoicing: Reports which provide metrics for Full-Service errors will be launched and known issues will also be fixed. Reporting metrics will be made available for mailer-review on August 24. Whereas actual charges for assessments of postage will be visible on the reporting, assessments of postage will not be activated.
  • Seamless Acceptance will add reports and enhancements to correctly assess Seamless errors.
  • eInduction will enhance numerous electronic processes to increase visibility.

The following items will be available September 7, 2014:

  • Call Return Tag: This new service allows Merchandise Returns Labels to be generated and delivered by the Postal Service to a customer on behalf of a merchant.
  • Premium Forwarding Services Commercial: This new service will allow commercial mailers to consolidate mail received from multiple Post Office boxes and street addresses, or both, into a single package for delivery to a single address. The Mailer can sign-up through the Business Customer Gateway (BCG).
  • Political and Election Mail: New indicators for Mail.dat and Mail.XML™ can be used in the eDoc. This will help USPS better tabulate election mail volume by entry point to help with current and future planning.
  • Intelligent Mail® for Package barcode (IMpb) Non-compliance: The Non-compliance threshold will increase slightly.

The October update does not have any postage statement changes associated with it, but here is a sample of some of the other changes:

  • For postage statement Mail Owner display, the company name and address of the Mail Owner that is displayed on the postage statement will be based on the eDoc submitted when the Mail Owner is identified by a Mailer ID (MID), Customer Registration ID (CRID), or Permit.
  • The nonprofit authorization numbers must be attached to the CRID, i.e. company location, instead of attached to a permit as is the case currently. The eDoc Submitter may identify each nonprofit organization by a MID, CRID or Permit when using Mail.dat files.
  • Postage assessment of Seamless Acceptance error for certain error types will be automated.
  • Move Update will no longer be measured in MERLIN, but assessed as a census verification for all eDoc Submitters over 75% Full-Service and residual Address Change Services (ACS) will be provided for pieces received from these eDoc Submitters at no charge.
  • The Incentive Programs and Online Enrollment services area of the Business Customer Gateway (BCG) will have a new look and feel.
  • New functionality will be added to the BCG and Mailer ID in order to facilitate accurate designation of a CRID when a customer attempts to add or modify a company name/business location.

Details of the changes for these updates may be found on the USPS RIBBS® web site for both the August 2014 changes and for the October 2014 changes.

Handling Change
When these types of changes are announced, it is important for mailers to pay attention to the 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. For example, if you use DAT-MAIL’s eDocs Manager Plus, you will need to edit the configuration for this in the Window Book Automation Scheduler.

Resources
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. Also available on the RIBBS site are the planned release schedules for these updates.

Window Book offers our Professional Services to users who may need assistance to download and install the Mail.dat Client software from the USPS, or to make any necessary updates or configuration edits to your Window Book software when these PostalOne! updates occur.