Seamless Acceptance

The United States Postal Service® (USPS®) recently re-opened the Seamless Acceptance program to new participants. Seamless Acceptance is designed to streamline the verification, acceptance, payment and induction of mail. This program has benefits for both mailers and the USPS. To participate in this program, mailers must have 90% or more of their mail volume submitted as Full-Service® mail. The mailpieces must be uniquely barcoded and submitted electronically (eDoc). If the mailer is preparing Detached Mail Unit (DMU) verified origin entry or destination entry drop shipments, participation in eInduction is also required. Prior to participating in Seamless Acceptance, mailers must participate in an intermediate step called Seamless Parallel. This is essentially a testing period, during which time the mailer works with the USPS to insure the volume and mail preparation and submission requirements are being met.

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

Improving Your Mailer Scorecard Results

By now you are probably tired of hearing about the assessments the USPS® plans to implement starting in July 2016 for Full-Service® mailings exceeding the published error thresholds. Tired of hearing about it, and probably more than a little bit nervous. How can you tell what the impact of these assessments will be for your company? Where do you get the information about how well your mailings are complying with the rules and thresholds? And, how do you go about improving areas where your mailings are exceeding the thresholds? Even if your files are successfully transmitted to PostalOne!®, that does not necessarily mean there aren’t 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.

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

Undocumented Mailpieces

As you are already well aware, the United States Postal Service® (USPS®) is planning to implement assessments starting in July 2016 for Full-Service errors over the published thresholds. As the USPS moves to reopen the Seamless Acceptance program this summer, more and more mailers will voluntarily (and eventually involuntarily) be mailing under that program. The Full-Service Assessment process will serve as the template for future Seamless Acceptance Assessment billing in the future. For many mailers the assessment for undocumented pieces could actually be the most expensive one they face because unlike some of the other assessments that are passed onto the respective mail owners, assessments for undocumented pieces will usually come right out the mail preparer’s pockets.
Read more: http://www.windowbook.com/Learning/Postal-Concierge-E-tips

Mail Anywhere FAQ’s

Since the United States Postal Service® (USPS®) began offering the Mail Anywhere program, which allows customers to use the same postage payment permit regardless of what mailing location they use to enter the mail, many mailers have taken advantage of its benefits. The Mail Anywhere program is an added benefit offered to Full-Service customers, allowing them to use a single permit to present Full-Service or mixed Full-Service mailings at any Business Mail Acceptance site. Not only does this greatly simplify permit management, but it also saves permit application and renewal fees for customers who mail at numerous locations.

As with any new program, mailers may have a lot of questions regarding participation and mail preparation under this program. This week’s e-Tip deals with some of the more Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s).

Q: What are the eligibility requirements to participate in Mail Anywhere?

The eligibility requirements for Mail Anywhere are:
• The Mail Anywhere service is available to customers who mail at 90% or higher Full-Service levels for the customer’s given business location and meet the electronic Full-Service verification criteria during the month prior to their request to participate in Mail Anywhere.
• Mail Anywhere is available for Full-Service First-Class Mail® (Cards, Letters and Flats only); Standard Mail® (Letters and Flats only, including Nonprofit); Bound Printed Matter (Flats only); and Periodicals (Letters and Flats only).
• Permit types that are eligible include Permit Imprint; Pre-canceled Stamps and Metered. A variety of postage statement types are also supported in Mail Anywhere, including Single Permit; Combined Mail; Comail; Mixed-Class Comail, and Copal.
• Mailers may submit their electronic data via Mail.dat®, Mail.XML™, Postal Wizard (First-Class and Standard Mail only, Full-Service only); or IMsb (First-Class and Standard Mail Only).

Q: Do I have to make an application to the USPS to use Mail Anywhere?

A: Yes, participation in this program does require an application process. This process applies to the individual that is preparing the mail. For example, if a Mail Owner wishes to participate, but employs a Mail Service Provider (MSP) to prepare their mailings, the Mail Owner needs to request their MSP contact the PostalOne!® Help Desk to go through the authorization process.

The first step is to verify that the participants meet all of the eligibility requirements. The best way to do that is to access the Mailer Scorecard data to review both the Full-Service mail volumes for the previous month, as well as to verify that none of the error thresholds for the electronic verification have been exceeded during that time.

Once eligibility is verified, the application email should be sent to the PostalOne! Help Desk at postalone@usps.gov. Included in the email should be:
• Request for Mail Anywhere participation
• Preparer’s Customer Registration ID (CRID) for the location where the mail is prepared (if multiple preparation locations will be used, the CRID for each location must be provided)
• Preparer’s Contact Name, Company Name, Business Address, City, State and ZIP code
• Mail Owner’s permit numbers and BMEU’s City, State and ZIP code where the permit was opened
• Postal Facilities where you plan on dropping your mail
• Permit numbers that you wish to be consolidated

Q: Do I get a new permit number once approved for Mail Anywhere?

A: No, participation in this program does not require that mailers establish a new permit. Mailers may use already existing permits. Most participants in this program eventually consolidate the multiple permits at multiple locations that they currently have and are able to use just a few permits for all of their mailings. Keep in mind, mailers must still maintain the different permit types for the different postage payment methods, such as permit imprint, meter, stamp, or reply mail. For example, let’s say that Mailer A, headquartered in Chicago IL, has permit imprint permits in Chicago, Boston, Tampa, and Los Angeles. Under this program, Mailer A can consolidate all of these permit imprint permits into a single permit at their Chicago headquarters location, closing the other permits in Boston, Tampa and Los Angeles. Using Mail Anywhere, Mailer A is able to use that single permit to mail at all of those locations, and more.

Q: Do I need to change the way my mail or Mail.dat® files are prepared?

A: Participation in this program means that Mail Owners or Mail Service Providers may need to adjust some of the data that is submitted electronically to PostalOne! via the Mail.dat files.

The PostalOne! Help Desk can provide more detailed instructions on how to correctly populate the Mail.dat files for mailings that participate in Mail Anywhere. We strongly encourage people to test submitting these types of mailings using the Test Environment for Mailers (TEM) prior to submitting them for live production.

Two very critical pieces of information for these jobs are:

1) The Payment Account Number in the Mailer Postage Accounting (MPA) file, field MPA-1127. This number is different than the postage permit number, and is assigned by the USPS when the application for Mail Anywhere is submitted. Typically, there is a Payment Account Number assigned for each postage permit that is participating in the Mail Anywhere program.

Note: The Payment Account Number is different than the CAPS account number and the USPS Finance Number. USPS Finance Numbers are not supported in the Mail.dat file specification: these numbers are looked up by PostalOne! in the USPS database, based upon the permit numbers and payment account numbers provided in the Mail.dat file.

2) The Verification Post Office. Since the postage payment permit in this program may be located anywhere, the post office where the mail is verified and accepted may be different than the post office where the postage payment permit is held. The verification post office data is populated in the Segment (SEG) file of the Mail.dat file (fields SEG-1118 and SEG 1119).

If you encounter issues uploading Mail.dat files to PostalOne! for Mail Anywhere jobs, we suggest you open a help desk ticket with PostalOne! by sending an email to postalone@usps.gov. Include a description of the issue, and attach the Mail.dat file that you are working with, along with screen shots of the errors you are getting.

Mailers should not need to change anything with regard to the indicias (permit imprints) printed on their mailpieces or their metering information – unless some permits have been closed out or consolidated as part of this application process. Mailers should work with the PostalOne! Help Desk or their local District Business Mail Entry office for guidance on any changes in these areas.

Q: What happens if a Mail Owner switches to a different Mail Service Provider?
A: It is important to note that the application for participation in Mail Anywhere is done by the entity preparing the mail, which in most cases is the Mail Service Provider. The application includes a listing of the clients and permits that the MSP wants to get approved for Mail Anywhere. The approval is based at the MSP level, so if the Mail Owner switches to a new MSP, the new MSP will need to apply for Mail Anywhere approval if they have not already done so, including the new Mail Owner’s name and permit information. If the new MSP has already been approved for Mail Anywhere, they would need to notify PostalOne! of any new Mail Owner clients (and their permit information) in order for those Mail Owners to continue to participate in Mail Anywhere at the new MSP.

Resources
The USPS offers a Fact Sheet and a Customer Participation Guide for Mail Anywhere, both of which are available on the USPS RIBBS web site. Window Book’s DAT-MAIL software fully supports Mail Anywhere mailings. Window Book also offers a free educational webinar on Mail Anywhere.

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Window Book can help you implement Mail Anywhere 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!

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

Are you working harder or smarter?

If you’re submitting electronic files to PostalOne!® for just the Full-Service mailings you process, chances are you’re working a lot harder than you really need to be. Oh, you say, “but sending files to PostalOne! is a lot more work than submitting hard copies.” On the surface, that may appear to be the case, especially if you do not do electronic submissions very often. The fact is, though, if you have two different process flows, one for Full-Service mailings and one for everything else, you ARE working harder than necessary. And, who wants to work harder than they need to? Any workflow is easier if all the jobs are processed in the same manner, and submitting jobs to PostalOne! is no exception.

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

Preparing Pallets for Full-Service®

We frequently receive questions on this topic because mailers are often confused about when (or if), trays and sacks need to be placed onto pallets or other containers such as APC’s or Gaylords for Full-Service mail. Luckily, the United States Postal Service® (USPS®) has recently updated a fact sheet intended to offer guidance to mailers on Full-Service palletization.

Is palletization required for Full-Service?
The short answer is NO. Mailings of loose sacks and trays may be submitted at Full-Service prices as long as all the requirements for Full-Service participation are met. However, if these loose handling units are placed on or into any type of container, that container does need to have pallet placards affixed to the outside of the container, and that placard must be printed with a unique Intelligent Mail® Container barcode. The updated fact sheet from the USPS provides more detail regarding when these loose handling units MUST be placed on or in a container and placarded. These requirements vary by class and processing category of mail.

First-Class Mail®
Pallet preparation and placarding is required for First-Class mail in these scenarios:
• There is 72 feet of tray mail or 24 flat tubs of mail or more
• The mail within the container is prepared according to a labeling list destination and there is at least 48 feet of letter trays or 16 flat tubs or more
• The mailer has an active Customer Supplier Agreement (CSA) in place
• The pallet is flagged in your eDoc as participating in the eInduction program

Pallet preparation and placarding is NOT required – although it is preferred – in these scenarios:
• There is less than 72 feet of trays or 24 flat tubs of mail
• The mail within the container is NOT prepared according to a labeling list destination and there is at least 48 feet of letter trays or 16 flat tubs or more
• The pallet is NOT flagged in your eDoc as participating in the eInduction program

Periodicals, Standard Mail® and Bound Printed Matter

Pallet preparation and placarding is required in these scenarios:
• The mail is equal to or greater than 500 pounds of bundles/sacks or 72 feet of tray mail or 24 flat tubs of mail
• The pallet is flagged in your eDoc as participating in the eInduction program

OR

• The pallet is prepared according to a labeling list destination and is:
-Under 500 pounds of flats entered directly at a DDU
-Between 100 and 249 pounds of bundles/sacks or 12 feet of trays entered at a destination NDC, ASF, ADC or SCF
-Between 250 and 499 pounds of bundles/sacks or 36 feet of trays
-Flagged in eDoc as participating in the eInduction program

Pallet preparation and placarding is NOT required – although it is preferred – in these scenarios:
• The mail is less than 500 pounds of bundles/sacks or 72 feet of trays or 24 flat tubs AND mail within the pallet is not prepared according to a labeling list destination
• The pallet is NOT flagged in your eDoc as participating in the eInduction program

Resources
The updated fact sheet from the USPS is available on the RIBBS web site. Window Book has many utilities available to assist mailers with palletization, including barcoded placards, such as our DAT-MAIL™ software.

Window Book’s newest smart postal solution, PostalWeb™ helps you increase your mailing and PostalOne! productivity. Automate workflow processes for production floor personnel, IT staff, Customer Service Representatives (CSR), distribution manager and accounting department. Systematize the downloading and distribution of critical postal data including; barcoded PostalOne! Confirmation Pages, Unpaid (UPD) and Finalized Postage Statements, financial data from these documents accurately into XML format for integrating into your enterprise reporting systems.

Guide to Postage Assessments

If you’ve been paying attention to previous e-Tips, our newsletters and webinars, you are likely well aware that the United States Postal Service® (USPS®) plans to implement assessments for non-compliance with the requirements for a number of USPS initiatives such as Intelligent Mail® Full-Service, eInduction, Seamless Acceptance and more. Luckily, the USPS has postponed implementation of these assessments until later this year, but many mailers still have questions on just exactly how this assessment process is going to work. Well, you are in luck, because the USPS has just issued a new Guide to Postage Assessment on the RIBBS web site.

What mailings will be impacted?

There are four areas of USPS validation that will be impacted by the implementation of these postage assessments:
• Intelligent Mail Full-Service
• Move Update
• eInduction
• Seamless Acceptance

Any mailings that are evaluated by the USPS in these areas have the potential to be subject to additional postage assessments if mailings exceed the designated error thresholds. These thresholds vary for the individual validations performed by PostalOne!®, the results of which are available to mailers on the Mailer Scorecard. The evaluation results data are collected on a calendar-month basis, and it is the error threshold data for each calendar month that is subject to assessments. For example, the full-service program uses the submitted eDoc to verify the Mailer ID (MID) in a piece’s barcode. A MID error is logged for each piece in the mailing that fails this verification. When the number of MID errors exceeds the established threshold, the eDoc submitter will be assessed on those errors over the threshold for the calendar month. If the percentage of error is below the established threshold or if the additional postage due is less than $50, then no additional postage is assessed. If the percentage of error is above the established threshold, the additional postage due (the assessment) is calculated using the number of mailing pieces represented by the error percentage over the threshold for the calendar month. For example, if the error threshold is 2% and your error percentage is 3%, the assessment would apply to 1% of the mailpieces submitted during the calendar month of the evaluation. The amount of the assessment is based on the type of error, e.g., for Full-Service errors, it is loss of the Full-Service discounts. Using the same example as above, there would be a loss of the Full-Service discounts on 1% of the mailpieces for the calendar month.

Assessment Process
When there are errors above the established thresholds for a calendar month, the USPS will issue an Invoice Report via email notification for the assessment. This invoice report will be sent to the Verification Assessment Evaluator (VAE) designated for the PostalOne! account. That VAE is then responsible to review the invoice report and either make arrangements for payment of the assessment, or request a review by the USPS if the assessment is in dispute. The payment or the request for review must be made within 10 days of receipt of the email notification.

Preparing for Assessment
Mailers should be monitoring their Mailer Scorecard data NOW so that any problem areas can be addressed prior to the implementation date of the assessments. Also, mailers should be working on developing their procedures for handling the invoice reports, assessment payment and USPS review requests so that when this is all implemented, mailers will be able to handle these in a timely manner.

Resources

Window Book has many utilities available to assist mailers with Mailer Scorecard errors, such as our DAT-MAIL™ software, which allows users to make edits to the Mail.dat files to either prevent or correct errors. Also, our automated PostalOne! transmission utility, EDM10X™, which not only automates the transmissions, but its QuickFix capability allows for quick, easy correction of errors. And, we offer tailored consulting services, including on-site services, to help mailers better understand their Mailer Scorecard data and how to improve their scores.

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! And now available: automatically download your barcoded confirmation pages!

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!)

Mail Drives Mobile Commerce Promotion

Yet another USPS® incentive promotion is rapidly approaching – Mail Drives Mobile Commerce Promotion. This promotion starts running on November 1, 2014 through the end of the year (December 31, 2014), but the registration for this promotion started on September 15, 2014.

Mail Drives Mobile Commerce Promotion
The goal of this promotion is to promote use of mobile technology in direct mail to create a convenient method for consumers to do their shopping. This promotion is offered to Standard Mail™ (including non-profit) Letters and Flats mailings that use mobile barcode technology on the mailpieces which, when scanned by a mobile device, leads to a mobile optimized web site.

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. Mailers may also be eligible for an additional one percent rebate on the postage of their qualifying mailings if a portion of their orders are fulfilled via Priority Mail® between November 3, 2104 and January 15, 2015. Mailers who wish to participate in the Priority Mail rebate must complete a separate claim form that is due no later than February 15, 2015.

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

Eligibility
Eligible mail pieces must include a mobile barcode or other equivalent print/mobile technology that when scanned by a mobile device, leads to a mobile optimized web site. The destination web pages must reside on a web site platform that contains or is deeply integrated with a checkout functionality that allows the customer to complete the purchase of the product referenced in the mailpiece through a complete mobile optimized experience.

• Mailpieces must contain an Intelligent Mail® Full-Service barcode.
• Directional copy must be included near the mobile barcode on the mailpiece providing guidance to the consumer to scan the barcode or image and information about the landing page.
• For purposes of this promotion, a product is defined as a tangible and physical item that needs to be distributed or manufactured and can be shipped via a mailing or shipping product offered by the USPS (delivery by the USPS is not required).
• 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, MID, or Permit number.
• 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 November 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 MailDrivesMobile@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.