Angelo Anagnostopoulos

The USPS® has provided notice of its plan to implement a new Move Update verification method on January 21, 2018, applicable to commercial First-Class™ Letters and Flats, and USPS Marketing Mail® Letters and Flats claiming presort and automation postage rates.

The new Move Update verification method replaces the current MERLIN® PBV sampling method assessment with a new census sampling method – (“the Census method”) to more accurately measure the proportion of pieces mailed that have not been properly updated to reflect a Change of Address (COA) order. The Census method improves upon the MERLIN method by checking all eligible pieces, rather than relying on sampling.

The proposed tolerance is .5% with an assessment rate raised from the current $.07 per piece, for pieces above the threshold to $.08 per piece. The tighter threshold can affect certain mailers, primarily those that mail First-Class letters as well as trigger additional US Postal Inspection Service audits where negligence is determined.

The additional twist to this change is that the assessments will no longer be performed on a job-by-job basis and attributed to the Mail Owner. Assessments are determined on a calendar month basis at an eDoc Submitter (mail service provider) level. This could have positive as well as negative consequences to mailers and potentially generate additional work for mail service providers to manage this new process.

Additionally, COA errors will now be determined in the course of the USPS’s handling of mailpieces – resulting in the identification of errors not previously detectable with the MERLIN PBV process. While this will provide more insight into issues that mailers may not have been previously aware of, it also means that certain mail (class, shape, endorsements) will go through additional evaluations.

The USPS has determined that a Move Update assessment charge of $.08, and a threshold of .5% are appropriate to encourage mailers to improve their address quality by reducing Undeliverable as Addressed (UAA) mail. This was one of the last filings approved by the USPS Board of Governors prior to the last member’s appointment expiration.

The Implications on Mailing Costs

In the filing, the USPS claims that there is no impact to CPI  (Consumer Price Index) for First-Class or Marketing Mail and a modest negative impact on Special Services since they will be giving free ACS™ (Address Correction Service) for Basic automation and non-automation mailpieces if you are considered a Full-Service mailer. The PRC will validate this math as part of the approval process.

To qualify for the free ACS on Basic automation and non-automation mailpieces, you need to meet the following requirements:

  • Meet or exceed a Full-Service threshold of 95% per month
  • The Basic mailpieces must be prepared as follows:
    • Bear a unique IMb™ (Intelligent Mail® barcode) printed on the mailpiece.
    • Include a Full-Service ACS or OneCode ACS® STID in the IMb.
    • Include the unique IMb in eDoc.
    • Provide accurate mail owner identification in eDoc By/For.

The cost of inaccurate and/or incomplete addresses has never been higher and extends well beyond postage and related costs. It includes everything from the cost of delayed remittances to follow up customer contacts and lost sales to marketing opportunities to reduced cash flow and customer dissatisfaction. There could also be federal and state regulatory issues.

Therefore, using industry best practices to maintain the accuracy of your databases and marketing lists is a critical effort moving forward, and it isn’t a one-step process. It will require applying a range of addressing tools and using a disciplined management plan that is adjusted over time to respond to new needs that reflect the evolving techniques for improving the quality of the data.

In an ongoing series of blogs, e-newsletters and white papers, we’ll provide updates on Move Update requirements as they move through the regulatory process and talk about the best practice approaches to ensuring higher quality addresses and better ROI on mailing campaigns.

Angelo Anagnostopoulos is GrayHair’s VP of Postal Affairs. His extensive expertise in postal affairs and software development for the mailing, parcel and transportation industries enables GrayHair to maximize clients’ postal operations, develop compliance best practices and provide guidance on a wide variety of postal issues and regulations.

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