Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Full-Service Intelligent Mail? Forget About It, Postal Expert Says

Despite postal discounts, mailers should not implement full-service Intelligent Mail barcodes, a leading postal consultant says in a paper issued today.

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.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Full Service IMB - be a afraid, very afraid.
"Bennett" eludes to a possible delay (Nov 2011). Hopefully this comes true and hopefully, goes well past that date too!!!
The USPS is like a used car salesman trying to sell a clunker, but Dead Tree and the Bennetts'of this postal world are the "CARFAX" keeping the USPS inline - keep up the good fight.