More Intelligent Mail® "Myths" in the Mailing Industry
Last week's e-tip covered some of the prevalent myths in the mailing industry surrounding Intelligent Mail. Turns out there are even more myths out there surrounding this topic. Read on...
Not technically a myth, but more like a little known secret is how Intelligent Mail (IM) impacts reply mail. This is a big deal because many mailers print reply mail pieces far in advance of using them. Effective May 2011, ALL reply mail, whether business reply or courtesy reply, MUST be printed with a valid IM barcode in order to obtain automation discounts. This is the same requirement as for all mail pieces, but for some reason many mailers often forget about their reply mail pieces when faced with postal regulation changes. As with all mail pieces, the USPS will still accept reply mail printed with POSTNET barcodes come May 2011, but these reply pieces will not be eligible for automation discounts, NOR WILL THE HOST PIECE CONTAINING POSTNET BARCODED REPLY PIECES. This means that if you produce magazines, newsletters, catalogs, flyers, direct mail pieces, or anything else that contains reply mail pieces, make sure that these reply mail pieces get converted to Intelligent Mail barcodes BEFORE May 2011 so that you are not caught by surprise.
Intelligent Mail Tray Tags and Container Labels
Another prevailing myth in the industry is that sack, tray, tags or container labels can only be barcoded with Intelligent Mail barcodes if the mailing is claimed at Intelligent Mail Full-Service prices. Not true! In fact, the USPS prefers that as much mail as possible is tagged with Intelligent Mail coded tags; as it makes these handling units and containers much more "visible" and reduces the number of internal processes they need to maintain to process mail. Mailers are encouraged to use Intelligent coded sack, tray, and container labels, even if you are not claiming Full-Service discounts or submitting electronic documentation (eDoc). Also, mailers are encouraged to use the full, 24-character Intelligent Mail barcodes on all of these tags, even if not claiming the Intelligent Mail Full-Service prices. Mailers submitting Intelligent Mail Basic Service, or non-Intelligent Mail are encouraged to use the full 24-character Intelligent Mail barcodes on all mail tags.
Another ongoing misconception is that mailers may only submit electronic documentation for Intelligent Mail Full-Service. This is also not true. ELECTRONIC DOCUMENTATION MAY BE SUBMITTED FOR ALL MAIL: Intelligent Mail Full-Service or Basic – AND – mail not qualified under either of the Intelligent Mail barcode services. Don't forget, eDoc existed long before Intelligent Mail was introduced. Mailers are encouraged to submit their documents electronically whenever possible. Not only is this a major step toward integration to Intelligent Mail, but it is often much more efficient and accurate than submission of hard copy documents.
Mail Tracking is Free
One Intelligent Mail myth that has proved very difficult to bust is the misconception that the mail tracking abilities provided by Intelligent Mail are free of charge to mailers. As in the past, mail tracking from the USPS is available, but there are charges associated with this service. This tracking service still goes under the name of Confirm®, the only difference is the barcodes used to provide the tracking scans and the associated technology to provide the tracking data. As mentioned in last week's e-tip, the PLANET® code previously used for this mail tracking service will be replaced with the Intelligent Mail barcode effective in May 2011.
Free ACS: sort of
One of the big benefits of Intelligent touted by the USPS is the ability to obtain address corrections through Address Change Service (ACS) free of charge. This is NOT a myth, this service truly is available free of charge to eligible mailers using Intelligent Mail. However, there may be some hidden costs associated with the use of ACS services. For example, mailers who use Standard Mail may use other methods of updating their addresses, or may use "Or Current Resident" type addressing, and may not need or want to receive ACS corrections, so the value of this benefit to these mailers is minimal. The USPS has different systems for providing the ACS data depending upon what type of ACS service was used (e.g. Traditional ACS, OneCode ACS, etc.) so buying or developing different systems to retrieve and process the corrections can be costly. Also, not all ACS transactions are free. For example, if there is an issue with the Intelligent Mail barcode readability, or the mailer has not updated recent ACS corrections before mailing again to the corrected address, there could be a charge for the ACS correction. If the ACS correction provided is hard copy, the charges could be substantial. Mailers should examine their options very closely with regard to ACS to make sure any hidden costs are minimized.
Send Yours In!
If you know of any other myths or rumors or misinformation floating around out there, please send that information to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll include it in a future myth-busting e-Tip!