Charges Begin June 1 for Merlin Noncompliance

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The U.S. Postal Service will assess additional postage June 1 for flats that have Merlin barcode readability errors, though it will offer a 60-day extension for sites where Merlin has been fully activated.


Merlin, or Mail Evaluation Readability and Lookup Instrument, verifies barcode readability and other mail requirements. Mailings that fall short of a 90 percent readability rate can be assessed extra postage.


The postal service had planned to begin charging added fees last month for flats that did not comply with Merlin, but delayed the additional charges after mailers complained of quality issues with the Merlin machines.


For example, Mail Unlimited Inc., Orlando, FL, sends 2 million to 5 million pieces of automated mail per month, reported different readings from two machines used in a 1,100-piece mailing.


"The whole selling point from the postal service on the Merlin project is that it offers a consistent, reliable, accurate approval process, and to me, this is not consistent," said Mail Unlimited vice president Ernie Broennle. "In this case, the machines are just not accurate, and the machines have to be accurate on every level, or every machine."


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