April 25 2007 11:43 AM

Undeliverable-as-addressed (UAA) mail continues to place a financial burden on both mailers and the Postal Service. The Postal Service is strongly encouraging mailers and shippers to improve the quality of their addressing. Improving address quality helps mail reach its intended recipients and helps mailers receive maximum return on their investments.


For mailers and shippers who also use private carriers, poor address hygiene can drive up costs even more. Address correction and return service surcharges and the cost of reshipping improperly addressed packages can quickly run up a company's monthly bill. A package destined to a business or residential customer may only lack a suite number or street directional, but parcel carrier companies often charge $5 to $10 in additional surcharges for address correction and delivery. For an undeliverable parcel, the shipper may pay for attempted delivery to the incorrect address as well as the return.


Businesses can dramatically reduce address correction and return fees simply by running their address lists through a CASS-Certified address matching software.


Customers may obtain CASS software directly from the Postal Service National Customer Support Center (NCSC) in Memphis, Tennessee or may choose to purchase the software from a CASS vendor. Companies also may send their mailing lists to a list processor who will clean up the mailing list for a small fee.


CASS-Certified software will correct bad ZIP Codes, one of the most common causes of address correction fees and returns. A CASS cleanup will alert the shipper to multi-point addresses where an apartment or suite number is required, indicate undeliverable addresses and flag for a missing directional and correct some improper street suffixes such as road versus place.


Starting August 1, 2007, CASS (Cycle L), CASS-Certified ZIP+4 address matching software will implement a correction and validation process before adding a ZIP+4 Code to an address. CASS-Certified software will accomplish this first by converting old-style rural route and box number addresses to city-style addresses that have undergone a 911 emergency conversion, using the LACSLink product within CASS and will then validate the primary number with the DPV (Delivery Point Validation) product within CASS, which validates delivery points. Only those addresses that have confirmable primary number information (street numbers or PO Box numbers or, in rare cases, rural route box numbers) will be assigned the proper ZIP+4 Code from the USPS ZIP+4 database. Those address records where DPV is not able to confirm the primary number will not receive a ZIP+4 Code.


Will this new requirement affect you? Yes, in two ways. First, it will give you confidence in the quality of addresses in your database that have been ZIP+4 coded, knowing that your mail will reach your customer. Second, it will identify those addresses that would be undeliverable due to problems with primary numbers, providing you with an opportunity to correct them prior to mailing. Overall, these new requirements in CASS Cycle L will help you to reach more of your intended recipients and avoid lost opportunities with your customers due to undeliverable-as-addressed mail.


LACSLink and DPV, working in conjunction with CASS-Certified software, benefits both mailers and the Postal Service. It helps mailers identify UAA mail, saving postage and processing costs for mailers while reducing processing and delivery costs for the USPS.


Another program that is available to help mailers and shippers improve deliverability and reduce costs is the Postal Service NCOALink (National Change of Address) program. This program is available directly from the Postal Service NCSC or through a certified vendor. The NCOALink database includes change of address information for any business or residential customer who has registered a move with the Postal Service within the past 48 months. The NCOALink program will match a company's database against these changes and provide updated corrections. NCOALink keeps you on top of address changes before you mail and can qualify you for some of the Postal Service's best postal discounts when used within six months of mailing.


Information about USPS products and services can be found on www.usps.com. Customers can access a list of USPS-certified vendors for CASS, NCOALink and RDI by calling the USPS National Customer Support Center at 800-238-3150 or by logging on to http://ribbs.usps.gov/files/vendors/. Customers can learn more about CASS by logging on to: http://www.usps.com/ncsc/addressservices/certprograms/cass.htm.