Costs of participating outweigh the minimal benefits, and the U.S. Postal Service’s processes and systems are not equipped for Intelligent Mail, Mary Ann Bennett says in “Ten Reasons Why Mailers Should Delay Implementing the Full Service Intelligent Mail barcode”. Bennett is founder of the Mailing Training Institute, President/CEO of The Bennett Group Inc., and a frequent speaker and writer on mailing issues.
“Postal acceptance personnel inducting Intelligent Mail barcode mailings need training and familiarity with new Intelligent Mail barcode mailing procedures," Bennett writes. (Articles on Intelisent's Postal Affairs Blog point out that the USPS's recent directive not to cross out the IMb on misaddressed mail is sometimes unworkable and conflicts with other instructions from the Postal Service.)
The Postal Service has no method of testing whether "software vendors are correctly producing and embedding data in the Intelligent Mail barcode," Bennett writes. "With 'anything goes' data permitted in the Routing Code, even addresses failing the ZIP+4 DPV encoding process produce an Intelligent Mail barcode that appears to be perfectly acceptable."
"Mailers will need to spend money to participate in the Full Service Intelligent Mail program, and it provides them with no ROI benefit," the paper says. Among the costs are new or enhanced software to produce the barcodes, purchase and licensing of Mail.dat software, and payments to vendors (or more software) to interpret Intelligent Mail data. (A publisher told me that a fulfillment company charges his company $1 per thousand to add full-service IMbs to mailing files. Guess what the Periodical discount is for full-service IMb: $1 per thousand.)
For full-service IMb, postage statements must be submitted through the Postal Service's clunky and unreliable PostalOne! website. That site was out of service for five days earlier this month, which significantly increased the cost of preparing mailings, Bennett writes. Both the USPS and mailers are still digging out from the resulting mess.
"Several mailers are experiencing hours of processing time to submit electronic files," Bennett reports. "The USPS has released no information regarding its computer capability upgrades to handle the volume" and has no "real contingency plan" for outages.
- The Postage Discount No Mailer Wants: Why the IMb should really be called the FUBAR code, and how claiming the full-service discount could actually increase a mailer's postage costs.
- USPS: Ve Haf Vays of Making You Use Our Barcode: The Government Accountability Office (GAO) criticized the IM program as being unattractive to mailers. The USPS responded that huge penalties will coerce mailers into using the barcodes next year.
- Watch out! It's the IMb Express! Even in 2008, it was clear that the Intelligent Mail program was a train wreck waiting to happen.