Archive for December, 2010

Official “Word” on Postage Statement Updates

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From the DMM Advisory late today:

New Postage Statements Effective January 2, 2011

As the January 2, 2011 is approaching, USPS® systems are in a ready mode and we are ready to work with you to accept mail using the new postage statements. We appreciate the efforts of the software vendor community to ensure their clients also are ready for implementation.

We are especially excited about the new products we are launching, along with various other expansions/enhancements of existing product lines.

Just in case some of you encounter difficulty getting your customized software ready, please contact your local acceptance office or Manager of Business Mail Entry to determine the best solution. Mailers using the Electronic Verification System (eVS) for manifesting who are having difficulty should contact their Strategic Account or Business Alliance Manager for assistance.

We’ll use DMM Advisory to keep you updated about any developments related to the new postage statements.

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This notice is short on details, and long on happy faces and sunny skies.  🙂

As far as the USPS being “in ready mode”, the DMM Advisory yesterday detailed that the updates to the USPS systems are scheduled for this coming Sunday.  The USPS is ready to update, and we know how that goes sometimes.  And as far as going to the BMEU Manager or Acceptance Office “to determine the best solution”, industry message boards already have stories of BMEU responses such as “Show me an official communication from the USPS or I’ve been advised to reject the mail”, and other mailers having mail rejected this week for updating to the new statements too soon.

So unnecessary.

Written by Lisa.Bowes

December 30th, 2010 at 7:20 pm

Posted in USPS

Postage Statement Transition Issues

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On January 2, the USPS will require new postage statements.  The official USPS position has been that you cannot use the statements prior to the implementation date, but you must do so on the implementation date – even if you are not claiming any rates that are changing.

PROBLEM:  For many companies, these days are holidays and require overtime staffing to update postage statement generation software.
SOLUTION:  USPS, don’t schedule hard-date updates for a holiday!  It puts an undue and unnecessary burden on your customers.

PROBLEM:  By the time the USPS puts out final statements for programming purposes, the window is far too small for mailing software vendors to program, test, educate, and distribue to their customers in any sort of timely fashion.
SOLUTION:  Give vendors 90-180 days from FINAL changes publication to implementation date.

PROBLEM:We brought issues with statement transition up at MTAC in November, and any extension or grace period was flatly refused by the USPS.  Several times.
SOLUTION:  USPS, listen with open ears, establish workable policies, and communicate them to both the field and to the industry well in advance

So now we are days away, with no official communication from the USPS on what options mailers have if they do not have access to the new statements in time.  However, there is a grace period, and a procedure established for those mailers that can’t comply by January 2. Several large mail owners and mailers are aware of it.  Here is unofficially what is being circulated:

– The field BMEUs will be notified to continue accepting the old postage statement from customers that cannot make the change by Jan 2nd, and continue to do so until Jan 28, 2011 if necessary. No exception request will be needed for customers who expect to be capable of producing the new postage statements by Jan 28th.

– The old postage statement covers existing products only and does not include new package products such as Critical Mail and Regional Rate Boxes. Any customer using products that are not included on the old postage statement must complete a hardcopy postage statement for those products until they are capable of producing the new mailing statement.

– The BMEU staff will maintain a questionnaire for each of the customers that continue to use the old statement with the primary purpose of ascertaining when the customer will be able to comply and produce the new postage statements.

– Customers that do not anticipate meeting the Jan 28th cutoff date for accepting the old postage statements will need to request an exception through the normal exception process and the local BMEU will assist with that process.

– No postage statement is created for eVS manifest mailers consequently no process change will be required unless an existing eVS customer is using a new product. Any eVS customer mailing one of the new products available after Jan 2 that cannot complete the new postage statement should work one on one with their Strategic Account Manager or Business Alliance Manager to ensure a seamless acceptance process.

SOLUTION:  A contingency plan for statement changes should have been decided upon in November, and made the standard operating procedure, for now AND for future changes.  Since that wasn’t done, it should be done as soon as possible for future reference.  This way both customers and the USPS field will know what to expect, and what to do.  The current “process” is downright silly – nothing but bad customer service, and bad internal communication to the entry units. It would be so easy to NOT repeat this same mistake over and over, that is the most frustrating part about it.  USPS, recognize the need for planning and communication,  and work with your customers so this doesn’t happen again in the future. And for the immediate need – for Pete’s sake, put out an official communication all parties can reference.

In 2011, if the USPS could replace “mandate” with common sense and cooperation even half the time, everyone would be so much better off.

Written by Lisa.Bowes

December 30th, 2010 at 12:07 pm

Posted in USPS

USPS announces changes to Mystery Shop program

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USPS announces changes to Mystery Shop program – postalnews blog.

Great, common sense changes initiated.  I hope this is the start of a new way of thinking, and that the Postmaster General’s committment to the customer experience continues to pick up steam in all areas of the USPS in 2011.

Written by Lisa.Bowes

December 29th, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Posted in USPS

PostalOne and FAST Scheduled Downtime, Releases

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What will mailers be doing on Monday after the holiday? Not that I am pessimistic or anything, but…

From the DMM Advisory:
Release 26.0 will be deployed to production environment on Sunday, January 2, 2011. The PostalOne! Production environment (including FAST OPS web services) will not be available from 9:00 pm CT on Saturday, January 1, 2011 through Sunday, January 2, 2011, at 8:00 am CT.

PostalOne! Release 26.0 will be deployed to the PostalOne! Test Environments for Mailers (TEM) on Monday, January 3, 2011. The PostalOne! TEM environment (including FAST OPS web services) not be available on Monday, January 3, 2011 from 4:00 am CT through 3:00 pm CT.

Details on all Postalone! Release 26.0 features can be located at RIBBs using the following link: http://ribbs.usps.gov/intelligentmail_guides/documents/tech_guides/postalone_releasenotes/postalone_releasenotes.htm

FAST® Release 15.2 will be deployed to the Production environment on Sunday, January 2, 2011. The FAST® Production environment will not be available on Sunday, January 2, 2011 from 4:00 am CT through 8:00 am CT.
FAST® Release 15.2 will be deployed to the FAST® Test Environments for Mailers (TEM) on Sunday, January 2, 2011. The FAST® TEM environment will not be available on Monday, January 3, 2011 from 8:00 am CT through 12:00 am CT.

Details on FAST Release 15.2 can be located on the FAST website using the following link:

http://fast.usps.com/fast/fastApp/resources/referencedocuments/releasenotes

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Also, I fail to see the wisdom of releasing to the Test Environment – and LIVE – on the same day. Makes it kind of difficult to test anything in advance, doesn’t it?

Good luck, keep your fingers crossed…

Written by Lisa.Bowes

December 29th, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Posted in USPS

New first-class stamps are ‘forever’

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Written by Lisa.Bowes

December 29th, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Posted in USPS

Intelligent Mail – Full Service ACS Fulfillment Issues

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From the DMM Advisory:

As a result of Full Service ACS Fulfillment software changes made on Nov. 7, 2010, two potential issues were identified that affect Full Service jobs finalized in PostalOne!® since November 7.

The first issue impacts mailers who receive their Full Service ACS data via downloadable reports. A problem occurred in the association of Mail Owner information in which prevented Full Service ACS records from being accessible via the downloadable reports channel.

With the software update on Jan. 2, 2011, the Full Service ACS information will be recovered and made available for retrieval via the downloadable channel.

The second issue impacts Periodicals mailers. A problem occurred in a logic module that finalizes containers prior to transmission for processing. This caused the containers to appear as not having been finalized, which prevented the association of Full Service ACS records.
With the software update on Jan. 2, the Full Service ACS information will be recovered for the period Nov. 7 through Jan. 2 and provided via the normal fulfillment channel.

For other questions about this software update, please contact Michael Ohora at Michael.D.Ohora@usps.gov or (202) 268-8083

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Relying on Full Service ACS for Move Update compliance?  To save $$ on mailing to bad addresses?  Better proceed with caution.

Written by Lisa.Bowes

December 28th, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Posted in USPS

USPS makes a half billion dollar profit- until Congress takes its cut

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Written by Lisa.Bowes

December 28th, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Posted in USPS

Move Update Penalty Threshold Change Request Withdrawn

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From this document filed with the PRC by the USPS:

“On December 10, 2010, the Commission issued an Order approving of the market dominant classification and price changes that the Postal Service filed notice of on November 2, 2010 in this docket. Order No. 606. The Commission indicated, however, that implementing the Move Update change that was included in the
November 2 Notice would reduce the maximum allowable size of the next price increase by more than 0.6 percentage points. Id. at 3. The Postal Service therefore is withdrawing its notice of the Move Update change, and will not implement that change absent a subsequent filing with the Commission.”

What this boils down to, is that the PRC recognized the Move Update change as a revenue generator, which should and is regulated by the PRC.  The USPS chose to withdraw the request rather than count the revenue against their next CPI request.

Written by Lisa.Bowes

December 28th, 2010 at 12:05 pm

Posted in USPS

Customers have until Dec 31 to sign up for Saturation Incentive and Reply Rides Free

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Written by Lisa.Bowes

December 28th, 2010 at 11:28 am

Posted in USPS

Mail delivery suspended Jersey / Delaware

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Mail delivery suspended | thedailyjournal.com | The Daily Journal.

I suspect there will be delays for a few days all over the Northeast.

Written by Lisa.Bowes

December 27th, 2010 at 4:32 pm

Posted in USPS