Pitney Bowes, Acxiom get USPS CASS certification

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In preparation for tougher restrictions on Standard Mail beginning Aug. 1, Acxiom Corp. and Pitney Bowes said yesterday that they have received US Postal Service's CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System) certification for their postal software products under Cycle L requirements.

The USPS's CASS system improves the accuracy of carrier route, five-digit ZIP, ZIP+4 and delivery point codes that appear on mail pieces. Under CASS Cycle L requirements, scheduled for release Aug. 1, all mailers must use DPV and LACSLink to be eligible for postal-automation discounts.

The DPV verifies that an address is recognized as a valid delivery point by the USPS and helps identify inaccurate, incomplete or erroneous addresses. LACSLink processing provides mailers with a converted physical address when a 911 emergency system has changed a rural-style address to a city-style address.

In previous CASS releases, ZIP+4 coding was based upon matching to ranges of addresses, such as a city block. CASS Cycle L will only assign ZIP+4 codes to addresses that match at the individual street number. The USPS estimates that this will reduce the ability to match a ZIP+4 code to an address by 2 percent to 6 percent.

"This change will result in a loss of discounting for those pieces without ZIP+4, averaging around 6 cents per piece. For a small mailer - mailing around 100,000 pieces a month - this could mean an additional $3,000 in postal costs per year," said Jim Plas, CDI products and services group leader at Acxiom. "For large mailers - businesses that send 10 to 50 million pieces a month - this could mean an additional $1.5 million in postal costs per year.

The Postal Service estimates it spends nearly $2 billion each year handling mail that cannot be delivered as addressed. To cut this cost in half by 2010, the USPS is becoming much more stringent on discounts offered to mailers designed to encourage greater accuracy of their address lists.

Acxiom's address standardization and correction software product, AddressAbility, recently received USPS CASS certification for the upcoming Cycle L requirements the upgraded version will be available July 29.

AddressAbility verifies, corrects and applies five-digit ZIP codes; applies the correct ZIP+4 delivery point and carrier route codes; standardizes addresses to USPS specifications; and standardizes city names and state abbreviations.

Pitney Bowes Inc. said its SmartMailer7 and AddressRight Pro mail management software services have also received USPS CASS certification. Both products will enable mailers to receive discounts if their mail pieces have a confirmed primary address through the DPV and LACSLink products.

Stamford CT-based Pitney Bowes also said that is conducting extensive customer outreach and education activities to help mailers prepare for the address standards.

The efforts Pitney Bowes is making to educate mailers include a conference for enterprise customers to learn more about the latest release in the company's line of address quality products, Address Quality Hub software, customer seminars around the country on techniques for "Mailing Smarter," and sponsorship of a recent Webcast with DM News attended by more than 700 mailers nationwide.

In addition, Pitney Bowes is also using direct mail to remind customers of other ways to save money under newly adopted postal rates.

One key savings opportunity is to take flats mail, sent in larger envelopes, and fold the contents to fit into a standard business envelope to qualify for the lowest possible rates. Per-piece savings can reach 37 cents for a typical two-ounce mailing.

Pitney Bowes has consolidated volumes of information about the new postal environment on a special postal rates and rules Web site that is a click away from the company's home page.

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