Mailers face a March 1 deadline for meeting the U.S. Postal Service's new data requirements for its Confirm service, though the postal service has said it is willing to work with mailers who are not in full compliance.
“Those who're making some good faith efforts, we will, on a case-by-case basis, review their cases and work with them and give them an extension,” said Paul Bakshi, USPS Confirm program manager.
Confirm lets USPS customers check the status of letter-size mail and flats regardless of mail class electronically through Planet Code barcodes that track mailings as they move through the mail flow. The postal service introduced an upgraded version of Confirm in October that required mailers and mail shops to electronically file advanced shipping notices, which include detailed information about each shipment.
The deadline for providing the information had been December, but it was extended to March 1 after “some mailers said they were still working with their vendors,” Bakshi said.
Currently, 86 Confirm mailers are capable of providing advanced shipping notice data with their mailings, and 122 customers have registered with the USPS and are at various stages of being certified.
Bakshi said the USPS is testing with one mailer to “expand the Planet Code to 12 to 14 digits,” which would let mailers build more intelligence into the mail pieces. Planet Codes are 11 to 13 digits. If the tests go well, he said, this expansion could be implemented in a month or two.
Confirm has two services: Destination Confirm and Origin Confirm. Destination Confirm tells mailers when outbound mail pieces such as bills, statements or advertising solicitations will be delivered. Origin Confirm provides information for inbound mail pieces such as business reply or courtesy reply mail.
While the service was originally free, Bakshi said there is now a $1,000 set-up fee but that the subscription is free. The USPS is also developing a pricing strategy and options, including per piece, subscription or a flat rate. He said the USPS plans to file a special rate classification case about this with the Postal Rate Commission this spring.