As complex as the mailing rates and regulations are, it is little wonder that at some point mailers will take issue with a ruling from their local Post Office™ or in-house Detached Mail Unit (DMU). Although it is always best to try to head off these situations before the mailing occurs, that is not always possible, particularly given the rapid pace of change in postal requirements.
Start at the local level
When a situation occurs where a mailer disagrees with a local Post Office ruling, it is always best to try to work it out at the local level. For this reason, we highly encourage mailers to develop and maintain good relationships with multiple postal staff members at the local level. Inviting these people to your mailing facility for meetings and tours is extremely beneficial in helping them to understand how your business works and what the impacts are when mail acceptance is delayed or additional postage assessed.
Mailers should also get to know their local Business Mail Entry (BME) office staff, as well as the clerks who are staffed at the BME and/or the in-house DMU. It is also helpful to develop and maintain a good working relationship with your local Mailpiece Design Analyst. These people can be a wealth of information and assistance during the design and production stages of your mailpieces.
Every once in a while it becomes necessary to stop, dig through emails and stacks of paper on your desk to find a phone number, email address or website to use to get help or research something. You may want to keep the following information easily within your reach:
- For all the latest Intelligent Mail information and guides, visit the USPS RIBBS™ website at: www.ribbs.usps.gov. Click the “Intelligent Mail Services” tab on the left side of the page.
- Find your local Business Mail Entry (BME) Manager:
- Find your local Mailpiece Design Analyst (MDA):
- Subscribe to the DMM Advisory: send an email, with “subscribe” in the subject line, to:
- On-line Intelligent Mailbarcode encoder and decoder:
- Information on OneCode ACS®: ACS Department, 877-640-0724, email@example.com
- Information on OneCode Confirm® and theConfirm service in general: Confirm Customer Help Desk,800-238-3150, option 1 or visit:https://mailtracking.usps.com
- PostalOne! Help Desk:1-800-522-9085
- Questions about addressing and/or move update requirements: National Customer Support Center, 1-800-238-3150
- Information on Mail.dat and Mail.XML™, including how to get a User License Code: www.idealliance.org
As mailers feverishly work on implementation of Intelligent Mail® Full-Service before the January 26, 2014 deadline to retain automation discounts, there are a lot of tasks on your “to-do” list. One task that may get overlooked is the ongoing communication with the local postal acceptance staff to review the changes in mail acceptance and verification.
The United States Postal Service® (USPS®) is also working hard to get prepared for the January 2014 deadline, and that includes training and documentation for postal acceptance units. That is a daunting task given the sheer size of the USPS, so there are definitely offices where this training has not yet taken place.
The issue this creates for mailers is that your local postal resources may not be able to provide much guidance for you during your Intelligent Mail implementation process. In some cases, the local postal acceptance staff may even be providing incorrect or misleading information due to this lag in training. Some examples that our clients have experienced include requests for hard copy documentation when electronic documentation is being used, conflicting information regarding when palletization is required for Full-Service mail, requests for qualification reports representing partial mailings rather than the full mailings, and others. In some cases, mailers are even being told that their post office does not (and will not, even in January 2014) support Intelligent Mail Full Service!
This situation can make an already challenging process even more frustrating. However, mailers do have resources you can use in cases such as these. The best advice is to work with the USPS Business Mail Entry (BME) office that services your local post office, along with the Business Service Network (BSN). These resources can not only provide the up-to-date information you need to complete your implementation project, but they can help to get training and other resources for your local postal acceptance unit.
We strongly encourage mailers to get Full-Service implemented in advance of the January 2014 deadline so that you don’t risk loss of lucrative automation discounts. Keep in mind that the Full-Service deadline occurs at the same time that the USPS postage rate changes for 2014 go into effect, which also includes new versions of Mail.Dat® and Mail.XML™. Add to the mix the busy mailing and holiday season, and you have even more reason not to procrastinate. As part of your implementation project, make sure you include your local postal acceptance unit early on, and reach out to the BME and BSN as needed to make sure you will have a smooth transition to Full-Service.