USPS Moves to Improve Merlin/CASS Ambiguities

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service said at yesterday's quarterly Mailers Technical Advisory Council meeting that it is aligning its Coding Accuracy Support System test with Merlin acceptance.

CASS is designed to improve the accuracy of carrier route, five-digit ZIP, ZIP+4 and delivery point codes that appear on mail pieces. Merlin, or Mail Evaluation Readability and Lookup Instrument, is used to validate address accuracy for mailers receiving automation rates.

Under rules implemented in January, Merlin will have no tolerance for the incorrect use of ZIP+4 codes “0000” or “9999.” As a result, the USPS — working with the MTAC Executive Committee — decided to align the CASS Cycle 1 software, which is to be implemented Sept. 17, with Merlin acceptance so both will have zero tolerance for invalid 9999s.

“The bottom line is that if you use CASS-certified software to process your mail, you don't have to worry about Merlin,” said Bob O'Brien, vice president of postal and distribution policy at Time Customer Service, Tampa, FL, and industry chair of MTAC.

O'Brien also said the existing Merlin 9999 appeals process will continue to be available for resolving disputes.

The USPS and the MTAC Executive Committee said the action will help resolve any ambiguities around the application of 9999 in the ZIP+4 code and provide assurance that CASS and Merlin are aligned and should produce similar results.

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