USPS: 95% of Merlin-Tested Mail Passing Barcode Readability

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WASHINGTON -- Ninety-five percent of letter and flat mailings tested for barcode readability on Merlins have passed this year, Michele Denny, manager of marketing technology and channel management at the U.S. Postal Service, said yesterday.

"This number has been pretty stable for the last year," said Denny, who spoke at the quarterly Mailers Technical Advisory Committee meeting at postal headquarters. She also said Merlin is testing 30,000 mailings a week.

Merlin, or Mail Evaluation Readability and Lookup Instrument, checks address accuracy for mailers receiving automation rates.

Denny also said the barcode readability rate for flat mail pieces evaluated by the USPS' Merlin machines will rise from 80 percent to 90 percent starting July 31.

The USPS began its next round of Merlin implementation in January with a change in rules to allow zero tolerance for the incorrect use of ZIP+4 codes 0000 or 9999. Currently, Denny said, 99.9 percent of the more than 314,000 automated mailings tested for barcode accuracy have passed.

However, Denny said that 100 mailings had problems with 0s and 84 mailings had problems with 9s. The additional postage assessed ranged from $12 to $17,777.

All 1,203 Merlins have been deployed and are in operation nationwide.

The USPS is working with mailers to test Merlin and determine whether the standard for barcode readability should be adjusted based on the equipment. Mailers say Merlin still has reliability problems because machines often give different readings.

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