Preparing for USPS 2017 Promotions

As we told you in earlier e-Tips, the United States Postal Service (USPS) is offering mailing promotions again in 2017. These incentive programs began back in 2011, and due to their success in raising mail volumes, new incentive programs have been added ever since. Virtually all of the USPS® Promotions and Incentives programs require that mailings be submitted electronically into PostalOne!®. We often get questions from mailers regarding what specific data needs to be in the Mail.dat® files to claim the incentives, or, how to troubleshoot issues when submitting these files to PostalOne!, so in preparation for the 2017 promotions, this e-Tip explains how it all works.

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

Accessing Your Mailer Scorecard

With all the talk about the upcoming assessments that the United States Postal Service® (USPS®) is planning to begin in November 2016 (based on October data), we are strongly encouraging mailers to review their Mailer Scorecard data frequently. So, what if you have never accessed your Mailer Scorecard data before? Don’t feel badly, you are not alone! Today’s e-Tip is a primer on how to access your Mailer Scorecard so that you can be analyzing your mailing performance and taking corrective action before those assessments kick in.

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

Common Mail.dat File Errors

If you submit Mail.dat® files to PostalOne!®, you already know how frustrating it can be when you get error messages, indicating that there is a problem with the data in your Mail.dat files. Identifying just what those errors are, and then pinpointing where in the Mail.dat file those errors are located, and knowing how to fix the errors can be complicated. This week, we share some of the more common errors we see when assisting clients.

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!)

Identifying Mail Owners in eDoc

One of the more challenging aspects of submitting mailing jobs electronically to PostalOne! is properly identifying the various entities involved in the mailing job – specifically, the Mail Owner, the Mail Preparer, and the eDoc Submitter.

For the most part, these entities may be identified 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 the USPS has recently modified the types of data that is used to validate this information. For Mail Service Providers (MSP’s), getting all of this straight can be a bit intimidating and it can be a real chore to collect or verify 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 (NPA) number, regardless of the number of pieces per owner in the mailing. For mailings consisting of multiple mail owners, all of the mail owners must be identified in the eDoc; it is no longer permitted to provide the mail owner information using a hard copy spreadsheet presented to the mail clerk at the time of mailing. Another recent change involves the data used to validate nonprofit eligibility. Previously, the only data used for this validation was Permit data; either that of the Mail Owner if using their own postal permit to pay the postage, or what is called a “Ghost Permit” (Local Permit) if the Mail Owner used a MSP’s postage permit for payment. In either case, those permits are required to be linked to a valid NPA number in PostalOne! 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. Effective with the November 30, 2014 PostalOne! release, the USPS added the options of the Mail Owner MID or the Mail Owner CRID in addition to the Permit data for this nonprofit validation. As with the permit data, the Mail Owner MID and CRID data must be linked to a valid NPA Number in PostalOne! In cases where some of these validation fields are blank in the Mail.dat files, or when there is data populated in multiple validation fields in the Mail.dat files, the chart below shows the order of precedence that PostalOne! uses to determine which data is used for the validation. What this means is that it is very critical to pay attention to this order of precedence to make sure that your Mail.dat files are populated with the correct data in the correct fields, and that you do not have any conflicting or invalid data in these fields.

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 Mailer Postage Accounting (MPA) file of the Mail.dat file. The third block is the name and address of the organization for which the mailing is prepared, i.e. Mail Owner. The USPS also changed the data used to populate this section effective with the November 30, 2014 PostalOne! release. This block is now populated using one of the following: the Mail Owner MID, Mail Owner CRID, or the data in the Local Permit field. 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 valid Mail Owner MID, CRID or 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. The charts below show the order of precedence that PostalOne! uses to determine which validation field to populate these blocks on the postage statement. Again, it is very critical to understand the order of precedence so that you are populating your Mail.dat files with the correct, non-conflicting data.

Mail Service Provider Challenges
If you are a Mail Service Provider, you may 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.

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. There is a new Bulk Search utility available to MSP’s on the BCG for this purpose. MSP’s may use this utility to upload text files containing client Permit, MID, CRID, or NPA data to PostalOne!, which then returns an Excel file with the validated or corrected data. Up to 250 records per file may be uploaded, so this is a great way for MSP’s to validate or request the various client identification data for numerous clients at one time. Even if you think your client data is up to date, we strongly encourage MSP’s to take advantage of this free utility to validate your data. The USPS RIBBS web site also has some helpful information to clarify MIDs and CRIDs, as well as an excellent Guide to Mail Owners in eDoc.

Getting Help From the Experts
Window Book’s DAT-MAIL™ software allows you to easily manage MID and CRID information as well as see all the By/For relationships in the Mail.dat files using the Navigator View. This also allows you to quickly edit this information if necessary. Mail Service Providers can maintain the MID, CRID and Local Permit data in master client and permit files within DAT-MAIL.

DAT-MAIL even has great new BCG Gateway Export and Import features, which allow MSP’s to take advantage of the new BCG’s Bulk Search option with just a few mouse clicks. And, if you are a Bell and Howell BCC Mail Manager user, there is an interface available that allows you to import your client data from BCC Mail Manager into DAT-MAIL.

Window Book offers a FREE educational webinar on the topic of Identifying Mail Owners in PostalOne!, as well as many products and services to help you easily manage electronic documentation submissions. Call us at 1-800-524-0380 for more details or to sign up for your FREE Mailing Optimization Analysis!

Obtaining or Validating By/For Identifiers

With the November 30, 2014 release of PostalOne!®, the United States Postal Service® (USPS®) added a new “Bulk Search” capability on the Business Customer Gateway (BCG). This new bulk search option is a great way for Mail Service Providers (MSP’s) to request By/For identifiers from the USPS for their clients. The ability to do individual look-ups for Mailer Identification numbers (MID’s) and Customer Registration numbers (CRID’s) has existed on the BCG for some time, but this new utility allows MSP’s to submit these requests in bulk quantities using text files. MSP’s can request additional information from the USPS, such as related postal permit numbers, Nonprofit Authorization numbers (NPA’s) and the company name and address information as it appears in the PostalOne! database. Be advised, your PostalOne! account must be designated as a Mail Service Provider in order to access this new utility.

File format requirements
The files that MSP’s upload to the BCG must be in pipe delimited ASCII text format. The files may contain the existing identifier information that MSP’s have in their databases for their clients. MSP’s then upload these files with the existing identifier data to the USPS, which then validates whether that existing data is correct, provides the correct data if it isn’t, or provides a message indicating that the data could not be found. The resulting data from the USPS is provided in the form of an Excel format file, which may be downloaded from the BCG. MSP’s must submit each type of identifier data in its own file; MID’s, CRID’s, Permits, and NPA’s must be uploaded using separate files. MSP’s may request to receive back from the USPS the MID, the CRID, the permits, or the NPA’s associated with the identifiers uploaded, or they can request that all available information be returned by the USPS. File size for the uploads is limited to 250 records; if MSP’s have more client records than this, multiple files may be uploaded.

Benefits
This is a great time-saver for Mail Service Providers who may be struggling with By/For errors on their Mailer Scorecards. Obtaining or validating these identifiers using file uploads and downloads for their entire client database is much faster and more efficient than trying to do individual look-ups. The validation process is very quick, and return files for downloading may be ready in just a few minutes, or up to an hour in cases where there are larger file sizes or the site is experiencing heavy traffic. The validated or corrected data can be used to update client databases and other applications that are used to populate these identifiers in the electronic documentation (eDoc) submitted to PostalOne! Using the same data that is in the PostalOne! database means that the chances of validation errors or Mailer Scorecard errors for these elements is greatly reduced!

Managing the data

The returned files from the USPS should be analyzed very carefully before making any updates to your client databases or other applications. Keep in mind that while the USPS has been very diligent in cleaning up and maintaining their database, there is still the possibility that the data returned in the files is not completely accurate. For example, there are reported instances of multiple CRID’s being issued to the same company at the same location, so it is important in these cases to validate which CRID is actually correct. Likewise, companies are permitted to have multiple MID’s, so it is also important to validate which MID is the correct one for the MSP to be using. Similarly, old legacy NPA’s may have been replaced with new, national NPA’s, so this information may also need to be validated. As with any database maintenance, it is important to review and analyze any new data to look for discrepancies and get validation for any changes that may look suspect.

Resources
Window Book makes taking advantage of this new utility easy for our clients by providing an automated method to generate these upload files from your client files in the DAT-MAIL software. Users may select which type of identifier data you wish to upload, and DAT-MAIL will automatically generate the file in the proper format for uploading to the BCG. DAT-MAIL will even automatically create separate files if you have more than 250 records in your client list, and will also remove any duplicates or any house accounts. This is a free utility available in DAT-MAIL version 11.14.02.01 or higher. We will be adding an additional import utility in future DAT-MAIL versions, to allow users to automatically import the downloaded, updated files from the BCG into their client files in the DAT-MAIL software, so stay tuned!

Are you having problems with your “By/For” score on your Mailer Scorecard?

Are you having problems with your “By/For” score on your Mailer Scorecard? Are you experiencing PostalOne! validation failures on your non-profit jobs because they don’t have the right Non-Profit Authorization number? A brand “bulk search” feature on the Business Customer Gateway can help mail service providers resolve these problems much easier than before.

Come and learn how you can do bulk search to get the latest information and identifiers on your clients. There are some important business rules you need to know and you will also need to understand how this feature works.

Join us for an informative webinar and discover how DAT-MAIL can help you avoid validation failures which can be costly for your operation.

Webinar: New USPS Business Customer Gateway Capability Helps Mail Service Providers Improve Mailer Scorecard
Wednesday, December 17, 2014 3:00 PM EST
https://www.windowbook.com/Lp/webinarreg?key=5040007733121385474

Color Print in First-Class Mail Transactions Promotion

Yet another USPS® incentive promotion is rapidly approaching – Color Print in First-Class Mail Transactions. This promotion starts running at the same time as the Emerging Technology Promotion that we told you about last month – August 1, 2014. However, unlike the Emerging Technology Promotion, which ends on September 30, 2014, the Color Print promotion runs all the way to December 31, 2014.

Color Print in First-Class Mail Transactions Promotion
The goal of this promotion is to encourage producers of bills and statements to produce and mail statements that create a greater connection and response from customers by using color messaging, to increase the value of First-Class Mail®, and to encourage mailers to invest in color print technology. This promotion is offered to First-Class™ mailers who use dynamic/variable color print for marketing and consumer messages on their bills and statements.

The incentive is a 2% up front postage discount, which is calculated in PostalOne!® and applied to the postage statement at the time of mailing.

The registration period for this promotion started June 15, 2014 and runs through December 31, 2014. As a reminder, the promotion period runs from August 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014.

Eligibility
Eligible mail pieces must include a full color consumer or marketing message such as on “onsert” or “onstatement” to qualify, which is printed in-stream on a physical piece of paper within the content of the letter or statements. The onsert or onstatetement must include a graphic to text in full color using a dynamic variable print process and must be on a transactional mail piece which is required to be mailed as First-Class Mail.

  • Mailpieces must be part of a Intelligent Mail® Full-Service mailing.
  • Mailings must be submitted via eDoc using Mail.dat®, Mail.XML™ or the Postal Wizard. The eDoc must identify the mail owner and mail preparer in the By/For fields using the CRID.
  • All pieces covered by a postage statement claiming the discount must meet all eligibility requirements.
  • Mail must be tendered for acceptance during the promotion period of August 1, 2014 through December 31, 2014.
  • Postage payment for the eligible mailings must be paid using Permit Imprint or Pre-canceled Stamp permit. Some Meter Permit mailings may qualify.

More detailed program requirements are available online, as well as a Mail Owner enrollment guide and a Mail Service Provider enrollment guide.

Additional information
More detailed information regarding these upcoming promotions can be obtained at the USPS RIBBS® web site, or questions may be directed via email to FCMColorPromotion@usps.gov.

Window Book is here to help
Window Book’s industry-leading post-presort solution, DAT-MAIL™ can help you take advantage of these USPS incentive promotions. To schedule a free Mail Optimization Analysis, visit www.windowbook.com/MOA.

Correcting By/For Errors in eDoc

As more mailers are now starting to pay closer attention to their Mailer Scorecard on PostalOne!®, a common issue that shows up on their scorecards is By/For errors. So, you ask, what the heck is “By/For” and how do mailers get these errors to go away?

By/For
For Full-Service mailings, the United States Postal Service® (USPS®) requires that electronic documentation (eDoc) includes identification of the Mail Owner, the Mail Preparer, and the eDoc Submitter. This is often referred to as the “By/For” data: the Mail Preparer is the company who is preparing the mail (the “By” part) and the Mail Owner is the company responsible for the content of the mailpiece and receives the benefit of the mailing (the “For” part). Likewise, the eDoc Submitter is the company submitting the electronic documentation (“By”) for the Mail Owner (“For”). All of these entities are identified in the eDoc using their Mailer ID numbers (MIDs) or Customer Registration ID Numbers (CRIDs). For companies preparing and submitting their own mailings, all of these entities may be the same company. For companies that use Mail Service Providers, these three entities may be three different companies.

Where is the data?
The MID and CRID data used to identify the Mail Owner and Mail Preparer in the mailing is located in the Mailer Postage Account (MPA) file of the Mail.dat® file. The CRID data to identify the eDoc Submitter is located in the Header (HDR) file of the Mail.dat file. The eDoc Submitter data is also located in the Segment (SEG) file, but that is for mailing industry use; PostalOne! uses the data in the Header file.

Read more.