As we move closer to the mandatory Seamless Acceptance compliance dates in 2021, mailers who have not previously participated in Seamless Acceptance are working on improving their Mailer Scorecard results. The Seamless Parallel period of the program is the perfect opportunity to closely monitor your Mailer Scorecard and implement processes to improve your scores.
Common Mailer Scorecard Errors
While there are many verifications performed by the USPS for Seamless Acceptance, there are some errors that tend to occur more frequently.
By/For errors: This data is meant to identify to the USPS the parties who are responsible for preparing the mail (the “By”) and the owner of the mail (the “For’). Common errors include invalid or incorrect Mail Owner and/or eDoc Submitter data. Keep in mind that this data appears in multiple fields in the Mail.dat file, so make sure the information is not only valid and correct, but that there are no conflicts between these data fields.
MID/CRID errors: Mailer Identification (MID) and Customer Registration Identification (CRID) data is used for numerous purposes in both the Intelligent Mail (IM) barcode and in the eDoc. Errors can occur if this data is invalid, incorrect, or if the data is conflicting in various Mail.dat fields, or between the IM barcode and the Mail.dat file.
STID errors: Service Type Identification (STID) is used to identify the types of service that the mailer is requesting from the USPS. Errors can occur when this data is incorrect, invalid, or conflicting.
Undocumented piece errors: This is one of the most common errors, and it means that the IM barcode scans from the individual mail pieces cannot be tracked back to any eDoc submitted within the last 45 days. To the USPS, this means that there is no proof that these pieces were paid for. Keep in mind that these errors can be reported in situations where the source of the error is another mailer or the USPS. Nevertheless, the burden of proof is on you if it shows up on your Mailer Scorecard.
Move Update errors: Although address hygiene tools have been around for decades, surprisingly, there are still many dated address lists being used for mailings. The Move Update error occurs when individual mail pieces are scanned and the USPS detects a Change of Address (COA) order for that address that is 95 days to 18 months old. As a mail service provider, you often have no control over how and when your clients use address hygiene tools, so it is a good idea to routinely educate your clients on the importance of address list cleansing.
The best way to improve your Mailer Scorecard results and avoid assessments is to be proactive. Assess your mailing workflow and identify points of weakness and opportunities for improvement. Work with your software providers or service providers to review software settings, parameters, and default data. Analyze the interaction and communication between the presort, production, and post-presort functions in your operation. Many times, making simple changes in one area can greatly improve the quality or productivity in another area. Keep a detailed log outlining the creation of your unique IM barcode assignments. This is a lot of work, but it is invaluable if you are hit with undocumented piece assessments. Create a roadmap of areas identified as needing improvement, then prioritize and schedule projects to resolve the issues. Don’t forget to implement periodic audits to ensure that your improvements are being utilized routinely and correctly, and to identify future improvements.
The USPS has many resources available on the PostalPro website to help you understand the Seamless Acceptance verifications and your Mailer Scorecard. Software and service providers offer many tools to help monitor your Mailer Scorecard, generate IM barcode uniqueness logs, create undocumented piece audit reports, and proactive tools to verify your data before you go into production or submit files to PostalOne!
Jeff Peoples is founder, president, and CEO at Window Book. With over 30 years of innovative postal solutions that make using the Postal Service easier and more profitable for mailers and shippers, he has done presentations at industry events, GraphExpo, MAILCOM, the National Postal Forum, Postal Customer Council meetings, Harvard Business Expert Forum, and other industry and direct marketing events.
This article originally appeared in the September/October, 2020 issue of Mailing Systems Technology.