The Postal Service reporting tool known as the Mailer Scorecard enables eDoc submitters, mail preparers, and mail owners to monitor their mail quality across multiple USPS programs, including Full-Service, Electronic Verification, eInduction, Seamless/Automated Verifications, and Mail Irregularities. It has become an important tool for mail service providers (MSPs) to understand any quality issues the Postal Service is finding with the mail being prepared for clients and to help identify collaboration opportunities to maximize delivery success.
The Mailer Scorecard provides a dashboard view of monthly mailing activity results. (The display defaults to show the current month, with the ability to view the previous 13 months.) Each month’s mailings will be aggregated and the number and percentage of mail pieces that do not meet a specific set of metrics will be displayed on the Mailer Scorecard through a summary page with drill downs into Mail Quality Reports. Scores that exceed established thresholds will be highlighted in red or yellow. Red means a metric exceeds the threshold. Yellow means a metric exceeds 50% of the threshold. Separate Scorecard views are available for eDoc submitters, mail preparers, and mail owners.
At the end of the month, the total of all results is used to determine mail quality. Any metric that exceeds its threshold will be charged an assessment. An automated message is sent on the eleventh of each month for any assessments due from the previous month.
The full assessment (invoice) for a calendar month reflects the cumulative discrepancies on mail preparation, barcode readability, and mailing address quality errors. However, this can present a challenge for mailer service providers, since the Scorecard reflects all activity throughout the month ― not activity by job processed. The charges could reflect different mailings for different mail owners, all combined.
So, what should you do if you receive an invoice, despite your efforts to prevent errors? The mail service provider must unravel a knot of deficits to understand the source of the assessments. Since there can be errors in the invoices, you’ll want to drill down through the Mail Quality Reports available through the Scorecard to verify any errors. You can request a review if you feel any of the penalties are in error.
Some of the common errors you may encounter include:
Undocumented Piece Errors
This type of error is one of the most difficult and potentially costly to understand and research, as undocumented piece ownership is driven by the owner of the mailer identifier (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, but it also uses this scan to confirm payment for 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 the 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.
These errors occur when mail owners or mail preparers are not identified or are inaccurately identified for mailings 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.
As 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 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.
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.
The Mailer Scorecard can be an extremely valueable resource when researching, validating, and addressing any errors you encounter as you work to improve your mail quality. Better quality mail drives more efficent and predictable mail delivery.
If you have questions about using the Mailers Scorecard, reach out to the USPS Business Acceptance Solutions analyst in your area. Contact information for analysts is available on PostalPro.
Anna Klein is Mail Operations Manager, IWCO.
This article originally appeared in the March/April, 2023 issue of Mailing Systems Technology.