What’s In YOUR Barcode?

Barcodes, barcodes, barcodes – they are everywhere you look these days. Especially in the mailing industry. You really can’t even talk about mailing without the word “barcode” slipping into the conversation. In fact, we see and talk about all these barcodes so much, we sometimes forget exactly what data is in those barcodes and what the barcodes are used for.

IM Piece Barcode

The first requirement for Full-Service is to place a unique barcode on the individual mailpieces. Even if you don’t claim any Full-Service discounts, you still need to print the Intelligent Mail® barcode on your mailpieces in order to claim any automation discounts. Due to the various types of processing equipment used by the USPS® to sort different types of mail, the barcode for Letter and Flat-sized mail (IMb) is different than the barcode for parcel size mail (IMpb).

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

Better Manage Spoilage and Shortage in eDoc

We all know that “stuff happens” during the mailing process, and when it does, you may need to pull some pieces from your mailings. There are lots of words to describe these pieces…pulls, deletes, mutes, rejects, spoils, shorts…sound familiar? Whatever you call them, these are pieces that get pulled from your mailings for a variety of reasons. Perhaps some of the mailpieces get damaged during processing, or you may run out of some of the mailpiece components before the job is finished. So the question becomes, “How do I make the adjustments to report these types of spoilages or shortages in my eDoc?” And that’s a very good question because in the eDoc world, you not only need to submit accurate postage statements, but the Mail.dat® files that represent the mailing job also need to be adjusted.

PostalOne!® accepted reporting methods
Within the Mail.dat file set, there are three (3) different files that may be used to report Spoilage/Shortage: the Piece Detail Record (PDR), the Piece Barcode Record (PBC) or the Postage Adjustment Record (PAR). A Guide to Intelligent Mail for Letters and Flats from the USPS provides information on four (4) methods for reporting spoilages or shortages using PostalOne! The acceptable methods vary depending on the type of mailings you are processing – and only Method 4 (below) is allowed for postage-affixed mail. Here are the four current acceptable methods:

1. Available for situations where the postage for wasted and shorted pieces is paid as part of the total postage detailed on the postage statement. This method is used if the mailer wishes to re-use the unique Intelligent Mail® Barcode (IMB®) from the spoiled or shorted pieces and the postage has already been paid. In this case, the PDR or PBC files must be edited to identify the spoiled or shorted pieces, however, the only way to obtain a refund for the spoiled pieces is to submit a hard copy PS-3533 (yes, hard copy!) along with documentation of the spoiled pieces. Important note: refunds are not granted for shorted pieces.

2. Available for First-Class Mail® and Standard Mail® only: The postage is adjusted on the postage statement so postage is paid for only the pieces that actually get mailed. As in Method 1, the unique IMB from the spoiled or shorted pieces may be re-used, and the PDR or PBC files must be edited to identify the spoiled or shorted pieces. In this case, because postage has not yet been paid, the Mail.dat files may be edited and submitted to PostalOne! as an updated release, so the postage is not paid for the spoiled or shorted pieces.

3. Available for First-Class Mail and Standard Mail only: The postage adjustment is reported as a dollar amount and piece count for the entire mailing. For this method, the PAR file is used. In this method, the unique IMB’s may not be re-used, and the spoilage is reported as a percentage or number of pieces rather than reporting each individual spoiled or shorted mailpiece. Since this method does not tie back to the individual mailpiece ID, it CANNOT be used for manifest mailings.

4. The electronic documentation in either Mail.dat or Mail.XML™ states only the pieces mailed. This method is used when there is either no spoilage or shortage to report, these pieces have already been identified and removed from the Mail.dat files before they are submitted to PostalOne!, or the mailer plans to request a postage refund using PS-3533 and does not need to make any count adjustments in PostalOne! This method may be used for any class of mail. Currently this is the ONLY spoilage method available for postage affixed mailings, such as metered mail, stamped or precancelled stamp mailings.

Note: For Periodicals mailings, spoilage/shortage may be reported, but is ignored by PostalOne!

Reporting spoilage/shortage
If you are submitting your mailings electronically (eDoc), you can no longer just edit the postage statements for spoilage/shortage, rather you need to adjust the Mail.dat files themselves. The reason for this is that PostalOne!, not your mailing software, generates the electronic postage statements and qualification reports. PostalOne! generates these documents based on the information submitted within your Mail.dat files. The only way PostalOne! can generate accurate documents is for the Mail.dat files themselves to be accurate, which is why being able to edit these files is so critical.

So, how do you go about making these types of Mail.dat file edits? The easiest way to perform these edits is by using post-presort software, such as Window Book’s DAT-MAIL™ software. Using post-presort software, mailers are able to enter a percentage or number of spoiled pieces to update their files and documentation for Method 3 above. Mailers also have the opportunity to enter individual mailpiece ID numbers, or to import a file containing these ID numbers for the shorted/spoiled pieces so that the Mail.dat files can be accurately flagged with the appropriate spoiled/wasted indicators for the other methods. DAT-MAIL even allows users to scan the IMB’s from the spoiled pieces and import the scanned barcode file into the software to automate the process of making the necessary adjustments. Once these adjustments are made, the edited files can be submitted to PostalOne! and users may use DAT-MAIL to generate numerous reports to document the spoilage/shortage claimed.

Timing
Unless you rarely have any edits to make to your Mail.dat files, it is a good idea to submit your files first as an Original Release to PostalOne! This allows you to make any necessary edits or changes to the file prior to paying for postage. In the case of reporting spoilage/shortage, it is necessary to make the Mail.dat file edits and submit the edited files BEFORE the file has been submitted as Ready to Pay or been finalized by the USPS. Once the files have been submitted as Ready to Pay, the only way to alter them is to cancel the job on PostalOne! and start over. Once the USPS has finalized the statements the only way to make any changes is to request that PostalOne! cancel the job or reverse the postage payment and re-submit.

As always, we STRONGLY recommend that you practice submitting jobs with spoilage/shortage, including cancellation of jobs, using the TEM environment of PostalOne! prior to going into production. This practice allows you to become familiar with how this process works and iron out any bumps in your internal processes.

Postage Refund Requests
Mailers who are not able to make spoilage or shortage adjustments electronically must use hard copy form PS-3533 to request a postage refund from the USPS. These forms were revised a number of years ago to be uniquely barcoded, which is why these forms are no longer available online or through mailing software. Mailers may request these forms from their local post office and follow the instructions on the form for completion. Keep in mind that mailers may be required to provide specific documentation of the spoiled pieces in order to receive a postage refund. This documentation is outlined in the form instructions, or may also be included in any agreements mailers may have in place with the USPS, such as Optional Procedure agreements.

Resources
The PostalOne! Help Desk is available to provide assistance to mailers who need help in understanding the various methods of reporting spoilage/shortage or to help them trouble-shoot errors in submitted Mail.dat files.
Window Book has various spoilage/shortage methods available in our DAT-MAIL software. We also offer educational webinars on the spoilage reporting process, and even offer FREE Mail Optimization Analyses to help you get your mailing operation optimized to submit mailings, including those with spoilage or shortage, electronically.
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!)

Quick Guide to Mail Owners in eDoc

The Postal Service is continuously launching new programs which require using eDoc, IMb’s and other services offered by the PostalOne! system in order to get postage discounts.  A critical piece of data in eDoc is the identification of the owner of the mail. For mail service providers, getting all of this straight can be a challenge and it can be a struggle to collect all of these critical pieces of information for their clients too.

Click here for a Quick Guide to Mail Owners in eDoc

Via USPS RIBBS

International and Domestic Market Dominant Federal Register Notices

Today the proposed International and Domestic Market Dominant Federal Register Notices for the January 2014 price change were posted on pe.usps.com under the Federal Register Notices tab of the left-hand side. The official 30 day comment period will start once the Federal Register Office reopens and posts these notices on the federalregister.gov web site. We look forward to feedback from the mailing industry.

Via USPS RIBBS

New Intelligent Mail Package Barcode (IMpb) Requirement Effective January 26, 2014

The Postal Service is revising Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM®) to require the use of Intelligent Mail® package barcodes (IMpb) on all commercial parcels, and to require the transmission of supporting electronic documentation including piece-level address or ZIP+4® Code information. Included in these new requirements is a per-piece price adjustment for mailpieces not complying with the IMpb standards.

The Postal Service is also adding DMM reference to a future requirement to use a complete destination delivery address or an 11-digit delivery point validated ZIP CodeTM in the mailer’s electronic documentation.

Read more:  Federal Register (Vol. 78, No. 243).

Visit USPS RIBBS website for information on Shipping Services File (SSP Version 1.6).

January 2014 Price Change and PostalOne! Release Webinars

Webinars will be held on January 8, 10 and 15th which will cover Price Changes and changes to the PostalOne! system that will be implemented January 26, 2014. Topics will include the new requirements for Intelligent Mail parcel barcodes, the new Metered price and Flat Sequencing System mail preparation.

Read more

Via USPS RIBBS

Promotions & Incentive Programs for First-Class™ & Standard Mail®

Registration for promotions and incentives can be made through http://gateway.usps.com. Once logged into the Business Customer Gateway, select “Incentive Programs”. From this link, programs open to registration will display. Each incentive or promotion requires separate registration.

Via USPS

New Mailing Standards for Domestic Mailing Services Products

December 18, 2013

New Mailing Standards for Domestic Mailing Services Products

Today the final rule New Mailing Standards for Domestic Mailing Services Products Federal Register Notice for the January 2014 price change was published. It is on the Federal Register site and on Postal Explorer® pe.usps.com under the Federal Register Notices link on the left-hand side.

This final rule contains revisions to the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM®) to accompany the price adjustments filed with the PRC on September 26, including new pricing eligibility for retail and commercial nonpresorted First-Class Mail® letters, several mail classification changes, and some condensing of current standards for Periodicals publications.

The effective date is January 26, 2014.

The Domestic Mail Manual (DMM®) and DMM Advisories are available on Postal Explorer® (pe.usps.com)

Via USPS DMM Advisory

New Full Service Certification (FSC) Program

The U.S. Postal Service announces the new Full Service Certification (FSC) Program which recognizes those mailers who are able to implement the full service mailing process and consistently meet all full service mailing criteria.

At this time there are two levels of certification being offered:

  • Standard Certification – Awarded to those mailers who meet or exceed Full Service Verification thresholds.
  • Platinum Certification – In addition to meeting the Full Service Verification thresholds, those mailers wishing to receive the Platinum Certification must pass an additional external quality audit completed by a Certified Quality Auditor (CQA).

Click this link for more information about the Standard and Platinum Certification. Both certifications will be featured prominently on the USPS RIBBS website for all potential clients to see.

Will You be Ready for the January Postal Price Increases and Mail.dat 14-1?

In just barely more than a month, the USPS® will implement their annual price increases for mailing and shipping products. At that same time, a new Mail.dat® specification will be implemented: version 14-1. The current Mail.dat specification is version 13-1.

PostalOne!® will be updated in January 2014 to accommodate the new prices as well as the new 14-1 Mail.dat version. Mailers will need to be prepared to submit the new postage statements and the new Mail.dat file version.

The chart below shows the PostalOne! timelines for the various postage statement versions and Mail.dat file versions.

Read more.