The Mailer Scorecard has become an important tool for mail service providers (MSPs) to understand any quality issues the Postal Service is finding with the mail prepared for clients. As early users of this tool, we’d like to share what we’ve learned about validating and researching the information found in the Scorecard. We’ll provide an overview of some of the more common errors you may see on your eDoc submitter Scorecard, help you understand what the errors indicate, and give you resources to help identify possible causes for errors. We also want to share a new option to easily retrieve all your Mailer Scorecard errors in near real time. Let’s get started.
1. Service Type Identifier (STID) Errors
STID errors occur when the STID on the mail piece IMb is missing, not valid, or does not match the mail class and/or service level identified in eDoc. An example of how this error may occur is if the STID in the mail piece IMb identifies the mail piece as First-Class but it is described as Marketing Mail in the eDoc. Another example would be if the STID on the mail piece identifies it as Basic-Service mailing but the eDoc identifies it as Full-Service.
PostalPro provides an STID Table where you can confirm the STID you are using is valid and correct. The table identifies STIDS by mail class for both Basic- and Full-Service, as well as with and without tracking and address correction options.
2. Mailer ID (MID) Verification – Container Handling Units and Pieces
The Mailer Scorecard evaluates all MIDs provided in the eDoc. If the USPS determines the MIDs provided for containers (usually a pallet), handling units (usually a tray), or mail pieces are either missing or invalid, it will be reported as an error on your Mailer Scorecard.
You can easily identify these errors by accessing your Business Customer Gateway (BCG) Manage Account Customer Validation Tool. From there, you can determine if the MID is valid, as well as identify ownership of all MIDs as assigned by the USPS.
3. By/For Errors
These errors occur when mail owners or mail preparers are not identified or are inaccurately identified for mailings of more than 5,000 pieces per day for a single mail owner.
· The “by” validation relates to the mail preparer – The mail preparer is responsible for the preparation and/or submission of the mail to the Postal Service.
· The “for” validation refers to the mail owner – The mail owner is the entity who directly benefits from the mailing, determines such things as the content and count of the mailing, and pays for the postage either directly or through the MSP.
If you are the MSP, you will need to obtain the mail owner’s CRID, MID, or possibly their permit number to correctly identify them in your eDoc. We suggest validating and ensuring linkage of all postal identifications associated to the mail owners for whom you prepare and/or submit mail. You can validate Postal identifications such as CRID/MID and Postal Permit through the Business Customer Gateway prior to submission, using the customer validation tool. You can request CRID, MID, and permit information in bulk using the BCG Bulk Search Utility. If you continue to receive validation errors, you will need to contact your mail owner and/or the PostalOne! Help Desk.
4. Container or Handling Unit Entry Facility Errors
These errors are detected when the eDoc Locale Key or the Postal Code for a Full-Service container or “orphan” handling unit (a tray or bundle not associated to a container) does not exist in the Mail Direction File (MDF) or the Facilities Database (FDB) or is not current.
To eliminate entry errors, you can verify entry point information by accessing the Facility Access and Shipment Tracking system (FAST). You should also verify with your software vendor that your eDoc includes the most current version of the drop shipment information.
5. Container, Handling Unit, or Piece Uniqueness Errors
All barcodes — IMcb, IMtb, and IMb — must be unique across all mailings from all mailers for the previous 45 days from the postage statement mail date in eDoc.
Addressing these errors may take the collaboration of a few parties, including the mail owner, the mail preparer, and your presort vendor. You need to understand who will be managing uniqueness, and the other parties must defer to the uniqueness manager when creating content for all barcodes. Make sure all parties involved understand the rules regarding uniqueness. Uniqueness of container and handling unit includes both the MID and serial number, while uniqueness of the mail piece includes the STID, as well as the MID and serial number.
6. Undocumented Piece Errors
This type of error is one of the most difficult to understand and research and, potentially, the most costly, as undocumented piece ownership is driven by the owner of the MID on the mail piece.
When the Postal Service processes your mail piece, it not only reads the mail piece IMb to direct your mail piece to the correct delivery point, it also uses this scan to confirm payment for the mail piece by matching the IMb scan to your eDoc. If the USPS is not able to match the scanned mail piece, the USPS presumes that particular mail piece did not have postage paid.
There are several reasons you could receive undocumented piece errors, including:
1. The IMb on the mail piece does not match the IMb in the mail.dat PDR or PBC file submitted for payment.
2. The mail pieces scanned by the USPS were removed from the Mail.dat (as spoilage) but ended up in the mailstream.
3. Your transportation carrier delivered mail to the USPS earlier than expected, and the mail was processed before payment was made.
4. The IMb on the mail piece was misread by the processing equipment.
5. Mail was submitted during a PostalOne! outage and the appropriate contingency plan wasn’t followed.
Regardless of the cause, the burden of proof is on the MID owner to provide proof of payment.
How do we investigate these undocumented pieces? Detail regarding Mailer Scorecard errors is available by drilling into the Scorecard; however, the steps are taxing, data is limited, and the information can be up to 72 hours behind. Acknowledging these restrictions, the USPS also provides MSPs the option to submit requests for the error detail on a weekly or monthly basis. Neither option is ideal.
Thankfully, significant progress was recently made when Mail Quality Data feeds became available through the Informed Visibility (IV) platform. The USPS Mail Quality task team provides MSPs with self-serve data feed access to unlimited and near real-time error data. This now provides the opportunity to take corrective action as soon as possible, if required. To learn more about this new tool, you can find FAQs and other information on PostalPro.
We hope the information we’ve shared will help you as you research, validate, and address errors as you work to improve your Mailer Scorecard. Better quality mail drives more efficient and predictable mail for all of us.
Nancy Garrison is Compliance & Monitoring Analyst at IWCO Direct. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Kurt Ruppel is Director Postal Policy and Marketing Communications at IWCO Direct. He can be reached at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared in the January/February, 2019 issue of Mailing Systems Technology.