USPS Shares New UAA Data on Mail
The United States Postal Service® (USPS®) shared updated data from a 2010 Undeliverable As Addressed (UAA) study at the recent Mailer’s Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) meeting. Prior to this 2010 study, the most recent data available was from a study conducted in 2004. Both of these studies were conducted by Christensen & Associates.
UAA Volume Declines
Total UAA volume
dropped from 9.3 billion pieces (4.71% of total mail volume
) in FY 1998 to 6.9 billion pieces (4.11% of total mail volume
) in FY 2010. (This reduction, while significant, falls far short of previous Post Master General Jack Potter’s goal of reducing UAA mail
by 50% by 2010.) Historically, UAA mail
runs in the range of 4% to 5% of total mail volume
, and the percentages of total volume
vary by class of mail
. Periodicals mail
, for example, has a UAA
percentage of about 1.5%, while Standard Mail
usually runs about 6.75%. Interestingly, the volumes of UAA mail that the USPS
forwards or treats as waste both experienced declines, but the volume of UAA mail
that the USPS
returns to sender actually increased.
How is UAA mail treated?
The treatment of UAA mail
by the USPS
varies by class of mail
and the service requested by the mailer. There are three different treatments by the USPS
for UAA mail
: it is forwarded to the new address, it is disposed of as waste, or it is returned to the sender. According to the 2010 study:
- UAA pieces forwarded declined from 22.49% of total UAA mail volume in FY 1998 to 20.41% in FY 2004 and to 17.77% in FY 2010 – a decline of 37.78% between 2004 and 2010.
- UAA pieces returned to sender grew from 14.08% in FY 1998 to 16.49% in FY 2004 and to 22.93% in FY 2010 – a decline of only 0.62% between 2004 and 2010.
- UAA pieces treated as waste went from 63.43% of total UAA volume in FY 1998 to 63.10% in FY 2004 and 59.30% in FY 2010 – a decline of 32.86% between 2004 and 2010.
Cost of UAA Mail
to the USPS
of handling UAA mail
is substantial. In fact, Charles Hunt, who is the USPS
program manager for licensing and move update support, told MTAC attendees that all postage rates could be dropped by one cent each if the UAA
problem were taken out of the economic equation. The good news is that the study shows a decline in the total cost of handling UAA mail
, along with the decline in volume
. However, the UAA
cost per piece did stay the same or increase slightly during this time period. The chart below shows a comparison of UAA
volumes and costs across the 1998, 2004 and 2010 study data.
It is important to note the most significant volume decline, between 2008 and 2010, can be directly attributed to the implementation of the Move Update requirements for Standard Mail. The USPS is still researching the puzzling increase in the volume of mail returned to sender, as this is the most costly UAA mail for them to process, at an average cost of 51.3 cents per piece.
UAA Future Challenges
is working collaboratively with the mailing industry on a variety of initiatives designed to further reduce the volume
of UAA mail
. Some of these initiatives include such things as mailing list certification, more secure and documented UAA mail
destruction processes, real-time UAA
tracking using Intelligent Mail® barcodes, and reducing the amount of "return to sender" UAA mail
We're In This Together
The most important take-away from all this data
is for mailers to be very cognizant of the huge costs of UAA mail
, and that we all need to be very vigilant about mailing address hygiene and frequent updating of mailing addresses. That is the only way that we can keep reducing the volume
of UAA mail
, which in turn keeps USPS
costs down and helps minimize postage increases. There are a wide variety of resources available for address cleansing and updating; please make sure you are doing your part. It will not only reduce waste, but your chances of reaching your target market with your valuable messages is much improved by using clean, updated addresses.
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