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!

Mail Entry Road Map

The United States Postal Service® (USPS®) recently published a guide to help mailers plan for some of the upcoming changes and deadlines with regards to various USPS programs. Called the Mail Entry Road Map, this guide breaks down these various USPS programs and provides details on the USPS plans and important deadlines for each.

DMU closings after October 31, 2014

If your mailing facility has an active Detached Mail Unit (DMU), you should have received a letter from the USPS telling you that DMU’s at facilities with less than 75% Full-Service mail will be scheduled to be closed this fall. That October 31, 2014 deadline is rapidly approaching. If your mailing operation depends on the DMU for efficient verification and acceptance of your mail, you need to make sure that at least 75% of the mail you process is Full-Service. If not, you stand a good chance of losing your DMU. If you have an active DMU and have not received this letter from the USPS, you should check with your DISTRICT Business Mail Entry Office to see if your facility is one of those potentially impacted by this deadline.

What happens if your DMU gets closed? Unfortunately, you will no longer have the ability for USPS acceptance clerks to be on-site at your facility for verification and acceptance of your mail. Rather, you will be required to make arrangements to physically take the mail from your facility to your local Business Mail Entry Unit (BMEU) to have it verified and accepted there. Keep in mind that these facilities may have restricted hours and may not be able to efficiently handle your volume of mail. This could cause delays in getting your mail accepted, which may in turn impact Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) that you have in place with your clients.

Full-Service Non-compliance Assessments
In January 2015 the USPS plans to implement financial assessments for Full-Service mailings that do not meet the minimum compliance thresholds. These assessments will be charged based on your DECEMBER 2014 mailings, so you need to be working NOW to make sure your Full-Service mailings are meeting the compliance thresholds. Errors over the threshold will cause the removal of the Full-Service discount for the pieces in error above the threshold.

The USPS is right now (October 2014) beginning to issue “For Review Only” invoice reports, which are generated based on an evaluation all of the mailings submitted in the previous calendar month. These are not payable invoices, but rather they are “simulated” invoices, representing what you would be paying in postage penalties if these assessments were already in place. Keep in mind that the assessable errors will be those in excess of any threshold; errors within the allowed threshold will not be assessed. Mailers can also see their potential additional postage due on their Mailer Scorecard. Mailers should be closely reviewing these simulated reports in October, November and December 2014 to identify any errors and make corrections BEFORE the actual assessments are implemented in January 2015.

Move Update Validation
The USPS has for a number of years required that mailers utilize Postal approved methods to periodically update mailing addresses in their mailings. Traditionally, adherence to this requirement was in the form of Move Update Validation as a sample-based process, measured on mailpieces verified through the MERLIN process. The USPS is changing this validation process to one that utilizes Mail Processing Equipment scans and electronic documentation (eDoc) to measure Move Update quality on all Basic-Service and Full-Service mailpieces claiming automation rates. The USPS started showing these new validation process results to mailers back in August 2014 on the Electronic Verification tab of their Mailer Scorecard. In November, the USPS will start generating “simulated” invoice reports to calculate potential postage assessments for all mailers who submit more than 75% of their eligible mail volume as Full-Service.

Starting in April 2015, assessments will be implemented for Move Update errors over the permitted threshold. Mailers should be analyzing their simulated invoice reports generated for January, February, and March 2015 and take care of any errors above the threshold BEFORE the actual assessments kick in.

Non-profit Eligibility
The USPS plans to enhance the Non-profit authorization process for eDoc mailings in November 2014. Currently, mailers submitting eDoc must populate the eDoc with either a postage paying permit or Mail Owner permit that is linked to a Non-profit authorization in order for the mailing to be eligible for Non-profit prices. For mailings including multiple Mail Owners, the eDoc includes only one linked permit, and the balance of the Non-profit Mail Owner data is provided on a separate hard-copy list. Starting in November 2014, PostalOne! will support the identification of Non-profit Mail Owners using the Mail Owner MID or CRID. PostalOne! will temporarily continue to check all of the allowable fields (Mail Owner MID, Mail Owner CRID, Mail Owner permit, or postage paying permit) for the necessary Non-profit Authorization link. However, this will end in April 2015 when only the Mail Owner MID or CRID will be allowed for this purpose. It is recommended that Mail Service Providers (MSP’s) confirm the non-profit status for each of their clients prior to November 2014. The PostalOne! Help Desk can assist with this process. MSP’s should submit a completed MSP Customer Validation spreadsheet to the PostalOne! Help Desk, which will then look up each of the identification numbers provided and return the applicable CRID, permits and non-profit status for each mail owner.

Other Programs
The USPS is also measuring various criteria of mailings participating in the eInduction and Seamless Acceptance programs. For these two programs, the USPS is currently limiting postage assessments for errors to those mailings that exceed what they call the “Egregious Threshold.” However, at some point later in 2015, the USPS will be implementing similar postage assessment processes as those described above for errors exceeding the minimum thresholds.

Bottom line, mailers need to pay much stricter attention to their Mailer Scorecard so that any anomalies can be taken care of with PostalOne! and so that the errors exceeding thresholds can be corrected BEFORE the assessment implementation dates.

Resources
Window Book can assist you to increase your percentage of Full-Service mailings and to help improve your Full-Service compliance scores on your Mailer Scorecard. Our Full-Service On-Ramp Service (FSORS) has been successfully used by hundreds of mailers to implement Full-Service in their mailing operations. This same service may be used to help you increase the percentage of your Full-Service mailings or to help you resolve non-compliance issues that negatively impact your Mailer Scorecard results.
Window Book also provides a wealth of FREE educational resources to help you make sense of all the requirements. Webinars, white papers, and these weekly eTips help keep you educated and up-to-date.

Avoid Getting an Invoice for Full-Service Errors: Keep Track of Your Mailer Scorecard

Do you ever wonder how your mailings measure up to all the latest United States Postal Service® (USPS®) requirements?

How can you be sure if you are meeting all the requirements or barely meeting the thresholds set by the USPS?

Did you know that the USPS will implement financial penalties as early as July 2014 for Full-Service mailings not meeting the requirements?

Now the USPS has a new reporting system called the “Mailer Scorecard.” That’s right. You get scored on how well or badly you are performing when processing mailings using USPS programs. The Mailer Scorecard is a report that tracks your mailing performance trends across months and years for various USPS programs.

The Scorecard provides a complete summary of performance for Full-Service Electronic, eInduction, Seamless Acceptance, Mail Anywhere™ and SingleSource ACS™. You can easily view the metrics in numbers and percentages on a dashboard by logging in through the USPS Business Customer Gateway: https://gateway.usps.com/eAdmin/view/signin.   Once logged in, select Mailing Reports and then Mailer Scorecard.

Use it to your advantage

Each month your mailings will be aggregated to create your scores, and the areas which need attention will be highlighted in Green, Red, and Yellow….

Read more: http://www.windowbook.com/Learning/Mailing-and-Shipping-Articles-of-Interest

Full-Service Intelligent Mail Fact Sheet from USPS RIBBS

Now is the time to upgrade to Full-Service to achieve the best pricing on your First-Class Mail, Standard Mail, Periodicals, and Bound Printed Matter.  Read More.

Via RIBBS

Identifying Mail Owner and Mail Preparer in Full-Service Electronic Documentation

Full‐Service Requirement: Mailing Agent (By) and Mail Owner (For) information must be identified in the electronic documentation for all Full-Service mailings.  Mail Owner and Mailing Agent data may be provided through a Mailer ID (MID), Customer Registration ID (CRID), Permit Number, or Publication Number.  The USPS recommends providing only one of the fields for any Mail Owner in the mailing.  Read more.

Via USPS RIBBS

Migrating to Full-Service Webinar Series from USPS

The Postal Service encourages mailers to migrate to the use of Full-Service Intelligent Mail® when mailing First-Class Mail®postcards, letters, and flats, Standard Mail®letters and flats, Periodicalsletters and flats and Bound Printed Matter flats

Full-Service provides customers with:

– An additional per piece discount on every Full-Service mailpiece.

– Address correction information at no additional cost for Full-Service mailpieces, providing Change of Address (COA) information and Nixie (undeliverable-as-addressed) information.

–  The ability to track service performance through reports and scan information.

– Container, tray and mailpiece visibility.

– Annual permit fees waived when 90 percent or more of cumulative annual mailings consist of Full-Service mail.

– The opportunity to use the same permit at any location via our Mail Anywhere program.

We have scheduled a series of webinars to assist mailers in transitioning to Full-Service Intelligent Mail. The webinars are designed to walk you through the process and help you get the most out of using Full-Service. We encourage mailers to attend all four sessions in the series. Log on links for the following courses are available on RIBBS under Intelligent Mail Services/Education at https://ribbs.usps.gov/index.cfm?page=intellmailpresentations.

Full-Service Feedback – Thursday, March 27, 3:30 p.m. EDT

PostalOne! ® Help Desk
United States Postal Service
225 N Humphrey Blvd STE 501
Memphis, TN 38188-1001
tel: 800.522.9085800.522.9085

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Full-Service Certified MSPs / Mail Owner Information Sheet

Mail Service Provider (MSP) and Mail Owners – Full-Service Certified Mailers:

A Mail Service Provider (MSP) offers a variety of solutions to prepare and present Full-Service presort mailings.  The MSPs and Mail Owners listed on the back page of this document have met the U.S. Postal Service™ Full-Service certification standards.  The list of MSPs and Mail Owners is updated as new MSPs and Mail Owners are certified; please check: https://ribbs.usps.gov/index.cfm?page=intelligentmail to ensure that you have the most current list of MSPs and Mail Owners that have been certified for Full-Service mailings.

Depending on the service level, size, complexity, and desired mailing/presort discount MSPs offer a variety of different services (some MSPs offer multiple levels of service).  All of these providers can help you mail at Full-Service. The following section identifies the differences in MSPs and Mail Owners.  Read more.

Via USPS RIBBS

Migrating to Full-Service Webinar Series

Attention PostalOne!® Users  

Migrating to Full-Service Webinar Series

The Postal Service encourages mailers to migrate to the use of Full-Service Intelligent Mail® when mailing First-Class Mail®postcards, letters, and flats, Standard Mail®letters and flats, Periodicalsletters and flats and Bound Printed Matter flats.

Full-Service provides customers with:

–  An additional per piece discount on every Full-Service mailpiece.

– Address correction information at no additional cost for Full-Service mailpieces, providing Change of Address (COA) information and Nixie (undeliverable-as-addressed) information.

– The ability to track service performance through reports and scan information.

– Container, tray and mailpiece visibility.

– Annual permit fees waived when 90 percent or more of cumulative annual mailings consist of Full-Service mail.

-The opportunity to use the same permit at any location via our Mail Anywhere program.

We have scheduled a series of webinars to assist mailers in transitioning to Full-Service Intelligent Mail. The webinars are designed to walk you through the process and help you get the most out of using Full-Service. We encourage mailers to attend all four sessions in the series. Recording links for the two previous sessions and log on links for the upcoming courses are available on RIBBS under Intelligent Mail Services/Education at https://ribbs.usps.gov/index.cfm?page=intellmailpresentations.

The Business Customer Gateway – Thursday, March 20, 3:30 p.m. EDT

Full-Service Feedback – Thursday, March 27, 3:30 p.m. EDT

Via USPS RIBBS

Intelligent Mail® barcodes: eDoc adds value to your mail

eDoc and Intelligent Mail barcodes are powerful technologies that take your mailings to an entirely new world – an electronic world that promises automation, less manual labor, more efficiency, and even better service from the USPS®. For example, Intelligent Mail barcodes increase visibility for your mailings to the USPS and when necessary, the Postal Service can quickly find and fix a missing or stuck pallet after it enters the mail stream.

Non-IMb mail is much harder and takes more time for the USPS to find and fix.  The Full-Service IMb on containers and handling units are like “license plates” that tell the Postal Service where the mail is at any point in the process. This enables the USPS to be more efficient and serve the mailer better. By creating eDoc and using IMb’s, you will be able to save time by communicating with the Postal Service in almost real-time to speed acceptance and verification, eliminate the need to print and provide hard copy postage statements, reduce manual labor, reduce paper storage costs, and access mailing transactions online 24/7.

eDoc and IMb’s are requirements for Intelligent Mail Full-Service, Seamless Acceptance, and eInduction which will in turn utilize these techniques to help standardize verification, acceptance, and payment processes for all the parties in the postal world. All of these technologies add value to your mail, create operational efficiencies and competitive
advantages. Adopt Intelligent Mail Full-Service today if you don’t want to be left behind in the electronic world. Instead of thinking of Full-Service as a requirement, you should embrace it as an innovative technology that will help you run a more successful business.

Are you aware of the USPS 2014 Mailing Promotions and Incentives?

The United States Postal Service® (USPS®) has proposed eight promotion/incentive programs for 2014, with the intent of increasing the value of transactional and direct mail. Some of the promotions include features that encourage businesses to use USPS shipping products. As further indication that the USPS will still be moving forward with Full-Service, you will see many of these incentives require some measure of the Full-Service components… don’t delay adopting Full-Service.  Read more.