Archive for December 11th, 2009

USPS “Spin” on Full Service Intelligent Mail

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Postal Service Processes Billionth Intelligent Mail Piece |

This USPS press release is in need of some clarification, and a major reality check.

This quote from the press release:
“Intelligent Mail Full Service provides commercial mailers with visibility into the status of their mail so that they can provide better service to their customers,” said Tom Day, senior vice president, Intelligent Mail and Address Quality. “When their customers call, they will have the information to respond more quickly and accurately. Intelligent Mail tracking also will help finance departments monitor and predict payments more easily. And, in this economy, this is more crucial than ever.”

Is easily misunderstood, at best.
The Facts – Full Service Intelligent Mail returns a piece of information called “Start-the-Clock”.  This information indicates the time and date when the USPS takes possession of a mailing in order to process and deliver it.  This information is useless for accurately predicting mail in-home dates, forecasting staffing levels, proactively moving mail once it has entered the mail stream – all of the benefits Mr. Day is referring to describe the USPS OneCode Confirm Service, an add-on service that can be facilitated by the use of the Intelligent Mail barcode – a service that is NOT INCLUDED with Full Service Intelligent Mail, is not replaceable by Full Service Intelligent Mail, and IS available with BASIC Intelligent Mail.  I totally agree with Mr. Day’s assertations of the benefits, but what he is describing is a benefit of OneCode Confirm, NOT Full Service Intelligent Mail.

“Commercial customers also are experiencing the speed with which their postage statements are now being processed in the PostalOne! business mail management system. According to Day, the PostalOne! system is processing more than 90 percent of Full Service mailings in less than 10 minutes.”

Speaking from personal experience, and relaying the experiences I have been hearing from many, many mailers and mail owners – speedy postage statements in PostalOne! is BEST CASE SCENARIO.  Mailers are reporting HOURS of processing time, multiple glitches, errors, etc, all jeopardizing getting mail out in a timely manner.  Patches and workarounds and future fixes are the norm.  First off – go to the USPS RIBBS page, Intelligent Mail, Latest News, and in the links box look for a document entitled “PostalOne! Critical Issues List”. There are currently 22 pages of critical issues, many with fixes unavialble until late next year, many with no fix dates determined at all.  And this is the Public list.  There is also an internal USPS list.

“Customers also are seeing the benefit of free Address Correction Service (ACS). More than 12 million Full Service ACS notices were provided to mailers since July.  Day credited the success of the Intelligent Mail program to the relationships the Postal Service has with its customers.”

Facts – there are still major issues to be worked out with Full Service ACS, including data problems, field training problems, and billing errors.

“…the Postal Service recently implemented the use of hand-held scanning for initial verifications of Full-Service mailings. The process is simple. When mailers bring in their Full Service mailings into a processing plant, postal personnel use the scanners to collect data about the quality and content of the barcodes on the mailpieces as well as on the trays, sacks, and containers. If the data collected by the scanners shows problems with the mailings, the mailer has the option of taking the mail back to rework it.”

Again, from personal experience, and the experiences related to me by many of my mailing colleagues, does not support the glowing review of the hand held scanners.  Out in the field, acceptance clerks are not trained, unfamiliar with the verification process, and running scared of possibly making a mistake.  The process is NOT simple.  And yes, the mailer has the option of reworking the mail or taking it back.  However, with the mail is being held hostage at the mailing dock, and considering the time sensitive nature of most mailings, “guilty until proven innocent” is a huge business risk and burden now forced upon commercial mailers.

Full Service Intelligent Mail?  Be intelligent, proceed with caution.

What has your experience been?  Comment this blog, or contact me directly.

Written by Lisa.Bowes

December 11th, 2009 at 11:23 am

Posted in USPS

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