Intelligent Mail® Dates
There are a number of key dates that mailers need to be aware of as they begin or continue implementing Intelligent Mail Barcode services into their operations. These dates, established by the Postal Service, are major milestones in the Intelligent Mail integration process, so mailers need to prepare for them.
Intelligent Mail Discounts Implemented
The United States Postal Service® (USPS®) implemented discounts for Intelligent Mail Full-Service (IMFS) mail on November 29, 2009. It was on this date that mailers were first able to take advantage of the $.003 per piece discounts for First-Class Mail® and the $.001 per piece discounts for Periodical and Standard Mail®. Since that date, the USPS has processed over 15 billion pieces of Intelligent Mail Full-Service mail from 384 approved mailer facilities, with new mailers qualifying for this service each day.
Intelligent Mail Non-compliance assessments
Effective November 7, 2010, the USPS will begin applying negative postage assessments on Intelligent Mail Full-Service mailings that do not meet certain eDocs criteria or include drop ship containers not associated with FAST appointments. As noted in a recent e-Tip, this essentially provided mailers a year-long "grace period" to work through integration issues with the Intelligent Mail Full-Service option.
New PostalOne!® release
Also on November 7, 2010, The PostalOne! system will be updated with a new version. This will require mailers using PostalOne! to download the updated version of the Mail.dat Client software from the PostalOne! site. This will be the first update to the site since mid-May, due to the Sarbanes-Oxley lock-down on USPS changes during the audit period.
May 2011 is a subject of confusion in the mailing industry. The USPS announced that as of May 2011, mailers will no longer be eligible for automation presort discounts when using the POSTNET barcode. At the same time, the PLANET barcode will be retired as a means to track mail. As of this date, mailers will be required to use the Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb) in order to be eligible for automation discounts. Mailers who desire mail tracking services will also need to use the Intelligent Mail barcode. This does NOT mean that mailings produced with POSTNET and/or PLANET barcodes will be rejected by the USPS. It simply means - as stated above - that those mailings will no longer be eligible for the automation discounts or for provision of mail tracking services.
Another misconception about the May 2011 date is that mailers will be required to submit eDocs for all mailings. This is not the case. eDocs are only required for Intelligent Mail Full-Service qualified mailings. This may change sometime in the future, after May 2011, so we strongly recommend you explore eDocs solutions as soon as possible.
What We Know For Sure
Regardless of the implementation dates discussed above, we highly recommend that mailers begin the Intelligent Mail integration process as soon as possible. It is inevitable that Intelligent Mail will be the method of choice to achieve the greatest level of discounts and services from the USPS. It is a complex process to convert from existing mailing processes to new ones, and the sooner you begin, the sooner you will be ready for the additional benefits offered by Intelligent Mail barcode services.