The United States Postal Service (USPS) has announced it intends to offer a program to financially incentivize Commercial Mailers (Mailers) to enroll in its Seamless Acceptance Program. An incentive of $.001 per mail piece would be granted to the party submitting the electronic documentation (eDoc). That $1,000.00 per million pieces mailed is intended to help defray any additional costs the Mailers might incur in transitioning into the Seamless program. The incentive would begin on January 24, 2021, and would continue indefinitely, until the USPS decides otherwise.
It is important to note that this seamless acceptance incentive program would not impact the USPS’s intention to require that:
- Mailers with authorized DMUs, as a condition of their DMU authorization, must participate in Seamless Acceptance by May 1, 2021;
- Full-Service mailings entered at BMEUs will begin to be verified using only automated sampling and verification processes on July 1, 2021.
What are the Costs to Migrate to Seamless Acceptance?
Once enrolled in Seamless Acceptance, the party that submits the eDoc (usually the Commercial Mailer) is susceptible to being assessed additional fees if errors reported on their Mailer’s Scorecard exceed allowable thresholds. Therefore, the potential future direct costs to the Mailers for assessments are unknown. Indirect costs could be incurred as well. Since the Mailers’ customers, the mail owners, have access to the Mailers’ Scorecard information, reported errors could cause negative perceptions and lead to the loss of business.
In order to avoid these potential direct and indirect costs, Mailers must implement new operating procedures in three vital stages of their mailing operations;
These new procedures may incur additional staffing or software expenses.
Mailers need to take additional steps to more carefully prepare their eDocs after the presort is completed and before submission to PostalOne!. Several common Scorecard errors can be avoided by double-checking certain data fields at this stage, such as the:
- Permit information
- Postage Payment Method
- Postage-Affixed amount
- Mailer ID’s (MIDs)
- Customer Registration ID’s (CRIDs)Piece Weights
- Delivery Point information
- Postage Statement Mailing Date
Commercial mailing software solutions, such as Assurety’s AIMSplus™MailAssurety™ to help with Seamless Acceptance preparation, can allow Mailers to review and correct this information as well as automatically submit the eDocs to PostalOne!® when ready.
Before submitting their eDocs, Mailers can also use software tools to pre-validate the files to avoid validation errors that will affect their Scorecard. These software tools can perform essentially the same validation tests that PostalOne! and Seamless Acceptance are going to complete after eDoc submission.
The Intelligent Mail Barcodes (IMb’s) can also be checked to ensure uniqueness across MIDs and CRIDs for the past 45 days, as required. Assurety’s MailAssurety™ and SeamlessAssurety™ software solutions can be used in these ways to notify the Commercial Mailers of any validation or uniqueness errors and guide the user to a quick resolution.
After the eDocs are submitted and as the mail is physically processed through the postal system, errors can be reported to the Mailers Scorecard at any point until the pieces are actually delivered. Mailers then need to track down each reported error so they can either prove to the USPS that the errors were falsely reported or to correct their internal processes to avoid those errors in the future.
Again, Seamless Acceptance software tools, such as SeamlessAssurety™, can be used to streamline this process. Any reported undocumented records can be downloaded from the USPS, either from the Scorecard or through the USPS Informed Visibility platform, and the software solutions can search for those records in the Mailers’ database.
Exact matches or near matches can be identified to help the Mailer either prove that the errors were falsely reported or to rectify the conditions that caused the error.
By using these software solutions to retain a repository of the eDocs submitted to PostalOne! the Mailers can reconcile most of the other potential errors as well. The information listed above regarding eDoc preparation, for example, can easily be reviewed to challenge or correct reported errors in those data fields.
The Bottom Line
The benefits to the USPS of the Seamless Acceptance program are already being realized as large and mid-sized Commercial Mailers migrate into it. The potential benefits to Mailers’, however, are less well understood. By eliminating the time-consuming, manual verification, and acceptance procedures at DMUs and BMEUs, MSP’s can much more efficiently schedule their printing and production processes.
Mail can be loaded immediately onto the trucks, saving them time and space of storing the mail for verification. Staffing, production equipment, and other resources can be scheduled more accurately and reliably to increase productivity and cut costs. Mailers can produce and induct mailings 24*7 without depending on onsite Postal (USPS) personnel to verify their commercial mailings.
The customers of the Commercial Mailers, the mail owners, can also benefit from more predictable delivery dates as well as a reduction in undeliverable pieces.
Until these longer-term benefits are being realized by Mailers, the incentive program recently proposed for Seamless participants would go a long way toward driving more mail into the Seamless Acceptance program and that would be good news for the entire mailing industry.