|Flyouts in an FSS machine|
The company is now offering to tell its clients not only when their catalogs are delivered to customers but also whether those catalogs are “received torn, creased, smudged, wrinkled, stained or with water damage.”
The U.S. Postal Service’s Flat Sequencing System earned the nickname “Flats Shredding System” from postal workers because of its propensity to mangle magazines, catalogs, and other flat mail. In its early days, FSS generated plenty of complaints from mailers about damaged pieces.
The huge machines have been tweaked to reduce torn covers, “flyouts”, and other such problems. Still, shifting catalogs from traditional carrier-route bundles to FSS seems likely to cause more damage, especially for thin, flimsy copies.
FSS is not the only likely culprit for increased catalog damage, however.
Companies these days rarely send “big book” catalogs that provide a comprehensive listing of their products; that’s what their web site is for. Instead, they mail more targeted pieces that are designed to spark interest and a visit to the web site.
That is resulting in thinner catalogs, more saddle stitching (using “staples”) rather than perfect binding, and lighter cover paper – all of which makes them more prone to being damaged in the mail than the big-book catalogs.
Full mailboxes may also be a factor. With the rise of e-commerce causing more parcels and thick envelopes to end up in mailboxes, flat mail may be more likely to get rolled or scuffed upon delivery.
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