Full Service Requirements and Risks

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Recently, I was asked if the requirements for Full Service expensive or hard to handle.  Here is my response, with some updates.

Full Service requirements are both expensive and hard to handle. Managing the sequence numbers on the mailpieces is not all that difficult. However, Full Service also requires unique sequence numbers on the trays, sacks and pallets. Pallet placards must be affixed to the outside of pallet wrapping, which doesn’t sound like much, but adds an adhesive expense and handling for the mail service preparer. And – if one of those placards falls off in transit and handling – poof, goodbye discount, downstream.  This loss of discount would take place well after the mail has already been accepted.

Take a look at the list of Guides you need to reference in order to familiarize yourself with is needed to do a  Full Service mailing: http://ribbs.usps.gov/index.cfm?page=intellmailguides There is a Beginner’s Guide, and eDocs Guide, a Customer Supplier Agreement Guide, Mail.dat Guide, Mail.XML Guide, the Main Intelligent Mail Guide (190 pages-including 48 pages of different Service Type IDs) – there are so many guides and specifications that the USPS has a guide to all the guides!

By far the biggest issue when dealing with Full Service is the USPS current push to look at using requirements and subsequent penalties as a revenue stream, instead of as a corrective action. Specifications are numerous, complex, and the tolerances are nil or next to nil. When you are doing a manufacturing process such as producing mail, reasonable tolerances should be accepted. That is not the case with Full Service. The USPS looks for any way possible to yank that discount, AFTER you’ve done all the work. You risk losing your ACS data as punishment for errors as well. Mail service providers end up having to add personnel to review errors and the USPS error reporting, which is in itself problematic. Adding people adds cost.  If you don’t double check everything,  you run the risk of being charged for errors based on bad USPS data.  All of the bugs have not been worked out of the systems, but come January the USPS will start charging you for errors, and the burden of proof is all on the mailers, not the USPS.

And the rub with Full Service “Free” ACS is – the non-automated portion of your mailing, the pieces that could use ACS the most – those pieces DO NOT QUALIFY for Full Service ACS, even if they are part of a Full Service mailing. If the USPS was serious about reducing undeliverable mail, they would share the results of how the current efforts are faring in that reduction.  Several industry groups have requested that information be shared, and are still waiting.

Full Service has a ways to go before the benefits outweigh the risks.  That being said, there is no reason to delay in implementing the Intelligent Mail barcode now, using Basic IMb.  Don’t wait until the mandatory date creeps up on you.

Written by Lisa.Bowes

October 25th, 2010 at 7:01 am

Posted in USPS

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