The Postal Service has stated that they have a goal of moving all Intelligent Mail Barcode Full-Service mailers to Seamless Acceptance by 2021. Is your company ready to make that move? Seamless Acceptance is a Postal Service program that has been available to mailers for several years now. The Seamless Acceptance Fact Sheet and Guide to Postage Assessments have been largely unchanged in the past two years which is an indication that the program has been successfully deployed and is working for the early adopters.
The Seamless Acceptance program focuses on answering three questions:
- Have all mail pieces been paid for?
- Was the correct postage paid for the mail piece?
- Was the mailing correctly prepared?
The first step in the process is turning on Seamless Parallel. Nothing changes with your current mail acceptance and verification process. It does activate Seamless monitoring and reporting, and the Seamless Acceptance page on your Mailers Scorecard. Based on the errors being reported, additional quality checks may need to be added or business processes changed to ensure mail quality thresholds are being met. Mailings can incur additional expenses as verification errors are reported on the Mailers Scorecard. Tracking down the source of these errors can consume a lot of time. Resources must be assigned to review, investigate, and respond to the errors being reported. If these errors are not properly addressed, it can result in assessments (penalty fees).
A common challenge for mailers moving to Seamless Acceptance is undocumented errors. Undocumented error occurs when the barcode that is attached to a mail piece (letters, cards, flats) is processed through the United States Postal Service (USPS) mail processing equipment (MPE) and there is no electronic payment record available for the IMb® mail pieces. These Undocumented errors can result in assessments for the mailer by the USPS and many mailers have paid the penalties and incurred additional investigation costs.
Mailers can quickly upload the electronic documentation (eDoc) and payment information required to resolve Undocumented errors with little time or money lost. The USPS reports on Undocumented errors on the eleventh day of the calendar month for errors that occurred during the previous calendar month. The trouble arises when the proof of payment is difficult to find. Mailers who use de-centralized presort and post presort data management systems have a higher risk of assessments. Mailers can spend a lot of unnecessary time, money, and other resources trying to find the electronic data needed to satisfy the Seamless program’s requirements and prove that payment for the shipment has been made. If the source of the undocumented pieces can be identified (such as single piece rate mail) you can work with the Postal Service to create a process for documenting your undocumented mail. If the data simply can’t be found within a mailer’s system—a rare but not unheard-of occurrence—then the mailer is responsible for paying the USPS’s Undocumented invoice in full. In an upcoming article we will provide some strategies for avoiding Undocumented errors.