BOG Expected to Approve Confirm Tracking System

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The Board of Governors of the U.S. Postal Service is expected to vote at its closed-door meeting Aug. 5 in Washington on the Postal Rate Commission's approval of fees for Confirm, the USPS's flat-mail and letter-mail tracking system.

The PRC recommended the adoption of the three-tier mail-tracking subscription service as soon as possible.

Confirm, which uses a barcode called Planet Code, lets mailers track the processing and delivery of outgoing and incoming Standard Mail, Periodicals, First-Class Mail, Priority Mail and Package Services.

Confirm has two services: Destination Confirm and Origin Confirm. Destination Confirm tells mailers when outbound pieces such as bills, statements or advertising solicitations will be delivered. Origin Confirm provides information for inbound pieces such as business reply or courtesy reply mail.

Mail pieces with Planet Codes run through existing mail-processing equipment. The machines generate a record of the mail's movement so subscribers can learn when a customer is about to receive a bill, notice, offer or publication.

That record, the USPS said, will give direct marketers accurate data that will let them fine-tune drop-shipping plans, staffing and cash flow while increasing response rates.

Postal officials also said the information would help them evaluate and improve mail-processing operations.

According to the postal service's PRC filing, revenues and expenses for Confirm in fiscal year 2003 are $9.2 million and $5 million, respectively. More than 600 companies tested Confirm over the past several years.

If approved by the governors, Confirm will be offered on a subscription basis with three pricing options based on use:

· Silver. The subscription price would be $2,000 for three months. It would include one marker within the barcode that isolates data for that particular mailer and 15 million scans, which occur each time one of the mail pieces passes through the automated sorting equipment.

· Gold. This price is $4,500 for one year, with one marker and 50 million scans.

· Platinum. The subscription is $10,000 for one year and includes an unlimited number of scans and three ID codes.

· Each subscription could be enhanced for additional costs ranging from $500 to $750.

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