Starting as early as January 2015, mailers will be charged for mail preparation errors in a new way. We'll get a first glimpse of this new process in early October, when invoice examples will be available.

Currently, mailings are checked for presort, barcode and address quality errors before the mail is accepted into the USPS mail stream. Most mailers are familiar with MERLIN - the Mail Evaluation Readability Lookup Instrument. This machine tests a few trays out of the mailing, ensures that the mail is sorted correctly and passes the Move Update standard. Based on that sample, mailers are notified of errors, and can either correct the error or pay additional postage to get the mail accepted as-is.

What is changing? Mailings will continue to be accepted and tested as they are today. In addition to the MERLIN verifications, every piece will be checked against presort, mail entry and address quality standards as the mail is run on USPS equipment. Any issues found will be tallied for each mailer over the course of a month. Those results will be available to view on the Business Customer Gateway. At the end of the month, if the percentage of errors is over an established threshold, an invoice will be generated for the difference between the number of errors and the threshold.

What is being measured? Initially, only mail sent with Full-Service Intelligent Mail preparation will be subject to invoicing. All the mail prepared with a single eDoc Submitter CRID will be evaluated together against several error conditions. Full-Service mailings will be evaluated for barcode completeness and accuracy, along with ensuring the electronic documentation is filled out properly. Each verification will need to be within a threshold for error tolerance, or an invoice will be generated that will effectively remove the Full-Service discount for those pieces. The verifications for Full-Service are:
· The Service Type ID (STID) in the IMb needs to be appropriate for the class of mail and services requested. 2% error tolerance.
· The Mailer ID (MID) used in the IMb needs to be properly registered in the USPS database. 2% error tolerance.
· All Intelligent Mail barcodes used in Full-Service mailings will need to be unique across all mailings using the same Mailer ID. 2% error tolerance.
· The barcodes on trays, sacks and pallets need to be readable and not under plastic strapping. 2% error tolerance.
· The By/For information (which includes the MID, Customer Registration ID and/or permit number for both the mail owner and mail preparer) needs to be correct and registered properly in the USPS database. 5% error tolerance.
· The Entry Facility used in electronic documentation (Mail.dat, Mail.XML or Postal Wizard) needs to be valid. 5% error tolerance.
· For co-palletized mailings, an OCI file is required in Mail.dat. 5% error tolerance.

USPS has proposed that they will validate Move Update compliance using a similar method. Rather than using a sample of the mail, all mail will be evaluated as it is processed on sorting equipment. USPS is proposing to invoice mailers for errors over 0.8%.
Mailers using more advanced preparation techniques, such as eInduction or Seamless Acceptance, will have additional verifications. The exact details have not yet been published.

What is the invoicing process? Invoices will be created electronically, and sent to the Verification Assessment Evaluator (VAE) designated for your Business Customer Gateway account. Throughout each month, errors will be tallied for each electronic documentation (eDoc) submitter. Ten to eleven days after the end of the month, mailers who have errors over any of the threshold will get their invoice. Mailers will have only a few days to review the invoice, and dispute it if anything looks incorrect. Invoice payment can be pulled from any permit the eDoc submitter used over the previous month, or split across multiple permits.
Mailers should monitor their Mailer Scorecard throughout each month to ensure they won't exceed the error thresholds.

What is the timeline? Mailers will have their first look at their Full-Service quality on October 11. USPS will be validating the data throughout the month of September, and an example invoice will be generated the following month. This will continue until January 11, when the invoices will become active and will require payment. A first look at Move Update quality will be available on January 11, with active invoices starting as early as April 11, 2015. The first Seamless Acceptance verifications will likely match the Move Update schedule.

Mailers should start looking at their Mailer Scorecard in PostalOne! as soon as possible. There will only be a few months to correct any errors before the penalties are live. Also, some accounts may have the wrong contact set up as the VAE. This is important to note because the VAE is responsible for reviewing, disputing and paying the invoices.