Of the 290 business mailers surveyed by USPS’s Office of Inspector General, 58% said they did not use Full Service IMbs because of high start-up costs and software requirements. Only 23% of the surveyed mailers said they were using Full Service.
“The man hours that go into making a mailing Full Service compatible are not worth the postage discount,” said one large mail owner (more than 1 million pieces annually). Another estimated it would have to spend more than $100,000 on new print heads and software upgrades to be able to create Full Service mailings.
The OIG report, released a few days ago, recommended that the Postal Service consider new Full Service incentives “to offset program start-up costs.”
But money is not the only issue, and perhaps not even the biggest one, the report indicated. Mailers will find their mailing vendors – “mail service providers” in postalspeak – reluctant to handle full-service mailings because the Postal Service’s employees and information systems are so poorly prepared to handle them.
The OIG recommended that USPS provide more training to Business Mail Entry (BMEU) clerks and PostalOne! help desk employees. Management largely shrugged off that recommendation, but the OIG considers the issue so significant that it won’t consider the matter closed until it receives written confirmation that corrective action has been taken.
Full Service Intelligent Mail barcodes uniquely identify each mailpiece. IM barcodes are part of the Postal Service’s plan to track and manage mail volumes in an automated way, but Dead Tree Edition has nicknamed them “FUBAR codes” because of the program’s many problems.
The OIG report includes some instructive comments from mail service providers, including these:
- “USPS employees know little or nothing about this service and this is frustrating mailers with the IMB Full Service.”
- “Provide better BMEU training during initial mailings so the clerks and their managers know & understand the process (better than I do - I shouldn't be teaching them).”
- “The PostalOne! help desk most of the time does not have a clue they don’t respond to e-mails all the time and the wait time on the phone is too long.”
- “To make matters worse, even the USPS personnel (in Memphis) are confused as I've had to correct and educate them.”
- For Intelligent Mail, Occasional Failure Is An Option describes reliability problems with the web-based PostalOne! information system.
- Postal Service Chooses "Un-Intelligent" Mail points out that a Postal Service catalog doesn’t use IMbs.
- Full-Service Intelligent Mail? Forget About It, Postal Expert Says focuses on the 10 reasons not to use Full Service IMbs.
- Intelligent Snail: USPS Finally Addressing Crossed-Out Barcodes, which has some interesting comments from postal employees, reports on a failure to retrain letter carriers regarding IMbs.