Postal Service Ramps Up Address Quality Monitoring

The U.S. Postal Service is introducing an address quality tool that uses new technology to analyze all pieces in a mailing instead of just a sample, as is currently performed in the Move Update system. Users of Intelligent Mail barcodes (IMb) and electronic documentation (eDoc) will be able to access the new Address Quality Measurement Tool to clean their lists. Failure to do so, however, could result in penalty fees for mailings in which returned pieces exceed a set threshold.

In a notice published in the Federal Register last week, USPS noted that the advent of IMb and eDoc has made it possible to analyze all pieces in a mailing and share complete list hygiene information with mailers. The new system and proposed fees are subject to approval by the Postal Regulatory Commission, though the Postal Service intends to implement it before the end of 2015. The document does not mention a fee amount, although the current assessment for bad addresses is 7.3 cents per piece.

“In terms of process change, this should be reasonable and appropriate,” says one mail services executive who asked not to be named. “The only real downside is for mailers who are not doing any address IT at all. The Postal Service will be able to see that they’re naked, but they won’t be able to see themselves naked.”

USPS proposes to extend free address change service to mailers that submit mailing information via eDoc and enter mailings that contain greater than 75% full-service eligible mail pieces for a calendar month. Just since August, USPS technology has evolved to the point that move-related data can be applied to all mail submitted using IMb and eDoc.

Results of mailing analyses performed by the new tool will be displayed in the “Mailer Scorecard” on the electronic verification tab on the USPS’s Business Customer Gateway site. During a testing period of the system, the threshold for the assessment of fees will be set at 0.8%. That is, if 100 pieces in a 10,000-piece mailing are found in error, then 0.2%, or 20 pieces, would be assessed the fee.

“Mailers and the Postal Service share the goal of having correct addresses, so this should be a good thing for them both” the mail services exec says. “But we’ll see what happens after comments are filed.”

Though USPS claims in the Federal Register notice to be exempt from comment requirements in this instance, it notes that it will welcome comments nonetheless.

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