No, I'm not talking about the recent realignment of the old DMM. I'm talking about what Seamless Acceptance is going to do to the Postal Service's bible of rules and regulations once it is fully implemented. One thing is for sure, with no acceptance personnel to verify content and mailpiece design, more postal inspectors will be needed to chase down church ladies, small business people, and the unscrupulous professional mailer that intentionally does not prepare mail according to the DMM's requirements.

If rules/regulations are not enforced at acceptance, no one will follow the rules and regulations!

One of the main drivers for the USPS to change their acceptance and drop ship systems is the elimination of acceptance people and a reduction in dock personnel. With labor costs generating 80% of the Postal Service's total costs, and postal costs driving postage, I am in favor of reducing labor costs. The problem is that the Postal Service keeps reducing customer facing knowledge employees as they exponentially increase the complexity of their mailing requirements.

They reduced the number of MDA's and centralized control over them a few years ago. When we couldn't get our questions answered soon enough, we were told to go to our BMEU employees to get help. Though many are not adequately trained, they are performing these duties as upper management continues to work their way through the MDA brain drain fiasco. Unfortunately, the existing BMEU employees are the last accessible human vestiges of mail prep knowledge in the Postal Service.

I want verification (approval) of content and the physical aspects of every mailing at time of entry!

{I knew you would need this extra moment to recover from nearly fainting.}

I have no problem with letting scanners check everything they can scan. This increases accuracy, reduces postal costs, and saves everyone time. The concept of Seamless is to accept the mail and verify it downstream through the use of sampling and barcode readers. The part of acceptance that requires human intervention is whether a piece meets content and mailpiece design standards, and to perform piece weight measurements/calculations.

These content and physical verification functions must be completed at time of entry, not downstream! It won't take as many employees to do this streamlined verification as it does to do an in-depth verification today. It can be done in smaller (square foot) offices than is currently being used and it will not require floor scales. But verifying content and the physical aspects of a mailpiece will require a well-trained, knowledgeable employee. Eliminating BMEU employees will have a significant negative effect on the majority of organizations presenting mail, as well as the Postal Service itself!

Why is this important to my company?
With no pre-entry verification, an operator of a sorting unit may be tasked with and decide that since a piece jammed on their machine the mailing should obviously be deemed non machinable and trigger the non-machinable surcharge. Not being trained in mailpiece design, neither this person nor their supervisor would be able to recognize that the jammed pieces meet applicable standards. Once this non-machinable determination has been made by any postal employee, my recourse is very limited. Have you ever had a negative ruling overturned, no matter how uninformed the postal person making the initial ruling?

A terror scenario might be with the induction of a 1.88 ounce First Class enveloped letter. Upon scanning the mail job at one of those fancy new terminals, my mail would be loaded on a truck to New Orleans, where it is not unloaded until a tropical storm passes. Upon entry into the New Orleans SCF the mail job is flagged by postal computers to be sampled. The employee performing the sampling finds that the piece weight is now 2.05 ounces (after setting in a hot humid postal trailer for a week) and assesses an additional $0.40 in postage. On a 100,000 piece job the additional postage (assessed thirty days later on a postal score card) would be $40,000.00, enough to bankrupt a small shop.

Finally, content determinations for non-profit mailings are fairly technical. Without human verification at entry, I could make a non-profit mailing thinking that the content was OK, only to have it sampled later and judged noncompliant. Worse, there is a possibility that a piece that cannot claim non-profit rates, through a quirk in the rules, may have content that also disqualifies it for Standard Mail rates.

In this situation First Class postage would be assessed by an unknown postal employee with questionable training. The upcharge assessed on 100,000 pieces for a 2.05 ounce piece could be as high as $65,000.00. And my customer? Long gone. Pre-entry verification would allow me to either collect the additional postage before entry or argue and prove the content meets applicable standards.

There is another factor to consider with Seamless Acceptance and the use of occasional sampling to verify piece weight, compliance with content restrictions, and mail design standards. Without an acceptance clerk constantly saying, "no, you have to do it this way" no one will know how mail is supposed to be prepared or what the applicable standards are. If mail is not consistently verified by qualified postal employees at time of entry, occasional mailers will never prepare mail correctly or meet content and design standards, due to a lack of knowledge. Worse, some "professional" mailers will fane ignorance and see what they can get away with.

Note for postal management: Seriously, you don't think occasional mailers will go on-line looking for answers in the DMM, do you?

If there is little to no verification of the content and physical make-up of the piece, the DMM becomes a book of suggestions rather than a book of regulations. This can have a huge negative financial impact on the Postal Service and those that play by the rules. While I require customers to use the proper paper weight and meet current design standards (tabbing etc.) my competitors will be telling customers (through conscious intent or ignorance) that all of that is no longer necessary. The cost differential and flexibility provided by not following the rules will deliver a significant incentive for all companies to ignore the DMM.

As an MSP I cannot afford to enter a direct mail job and find out a month later more postage has been assessed because some uneducated (in the DMM) machine operator or other under trained employee deems it so. The liability potential of sampling downstream is staggering. Likewise, the additional cost of processing and potential lost revenues to the Postal Service of millions of pieces of mail generated by uneducated (in mailpiece design, weight restrictions, and content) mail preparers could be just as staggering.

A Seamless analogy in the commercial world would be if a retail business decided, in a cost cutting effort, to eliminate all check-out employees. The company would move to total self-serve requiring customers to use U-Scan machines, unsupervised. In lieu of having employees supervise/verify the check-out process, management would periodically have the janitorial staff do random compliance checks in the parking lot, when it wasn't raining. These checks would verify that customers had indeed scanned all of the items they carried out of the store and paid the appropriate amount due.
Yeah, like their shelves wouldn't be empty and the company gone broke within a week!