USPS Introduces New Addressing Tools

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The U.S. Postal Service has introduced several products and processes designed to reduce undeliverable-as-addressed mail costs by one-third over the next two years.

According to the USPS, handling UAA costs the USPS $1.5 billion per year. In addition, studies show that one out of every 30 mail pieces is UAA, and of that mail, only 60 percent ends up being returned to its origin.

Move Update, which was implemented in July 1997, was designed to reduce the volume and cost of UAA mail and encourage mailers to use the USPS' address correction and quality programs -- such as FastForward, Address Change Service and the National Change of Address service -- by offering presort and automation discounts.

The USPS has said there has been a percentage decrease in UAA volume since 1995 -- from 2.84 percent in 1995 to 2.72 percent in 1998 -- representing more than 237 million pieces of mail. As a result, the agency said the address quality programs are working. However, even though Move Update is working and addresses are being corrected, the problem persists.

As a result, mailers in September will have access to a new suite of products designed to reduce UAA mail. The products will fall under the umbrella of USPS SnappCheck Addressing Tools. The first product will be called the Delivery Point Validation product.

Mailers can run their mailing lists through the DPV product to get confirmation that an address is a USPS delivery-point. There are more than 145 million USPS-delivered addresses.

Jim Wilson, program manger at the USPS, said, "Because of the fact that mailing lists are sold and traded and exchanged, some addresses appear to be legitimate but are not. If a mail piece was attempted to be delivered to this type of address, it would either result in a mail piece being returned undeliverable-as-addressed or being discarded."

Wilson said that by incorporating DPV into the matching process, mailers could determine whether the address exists, all the way down to apartment or suite information.

Wilson said that mailers can process their address records using commercial address-matching software products that standardize the address record and assign postal codes, including ZIP codes, ZIP+4 codes and carrier route codes using data provided by the postal service.

The USPS also recently said that it has cut the annual licensing fee for its FastForward system -- the technology used for updating addresses as mail runs through a black box containing address change data - in half.

Users of the system will pay a $5,000 annual fee, starting with the July 1 cycle, which is half of the current $10,000 fee.

Wilson said the agency was able to offer a reduced licensing fee because it has streamlined the administrative costs associated with FastForward.

Wilson also said the USPS is nearing completion on a system -- called the Move Update Notification System -- that would allow presort bureaus that commingle mail from various mailers to enter customer identification numbers so the USPS can electronically return address change information directly to the mailer.


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