Sunday, April 12, 2015

U.S. Postal Shredder (USPS): Damaged Catalogs Spark New Business Idea

Catalogs are being damaged so frequently in the mail that one company has turned the problem into a new business venture.

Flyouts in an FSS machine
“A recent project involving a national catalog brand showed that 23 percent of the catalogs received by our field agents arrived in poor condition,” a US Monitor press release said recently.

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.

Additional suspects
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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Anonymous said...

perhaps the USPS could go into the shredding business since they are so good at it already? charge the customers to rip their letter mail and catalogs to shreds! that is all the smart~aleck comments i have for today~~~thank you

Anonymous said...

catalogs?please,the po will take that ratio of damage,they literally figure the few out of millions lost is nothing.unless,it's your catalog or you're the sorry one who has to deliver it of course.the huge problem is thin,slick,political is supposed to be treated just like first class,but every election,they run it through fss.Only the first piece is in order.the machine can't grab individual pieces so next ten or thirty are maybe your rt but not in order,maybe your station,but you're already on street,and a good amt not even your po.they know this,they will not stop because "it's machineable"we have election stragglers up to a week after elections.delay political mail?used to be a fireable its your boss doing the deed.i could go on.....

Anonymous said...

I am a eBay seller and I ship a lot of stuff by flat rate Priority Mail. I have been getting complaints about shredded boxes. Maybe they have a box shredding machine as well.

Anonymous said...

I get lots of direct mail. I rarely receive anything that is mangled or shredded. Occasionally, but rarely.

Anonymous said...

It's likely that the APPS package sorter is the culprit of damaged boxes. Imagine the machine drops a box into a container from the height of 4-5 feet. Then it proceeds to drop more (often heavier) boxes and flat bundles on top your box. Get the picture?

In the old days, employee placed boxes into bags and containers. Now, in the name of progress, they a dropped and crushed.

Anonymous said...

I got a huge chuckle at the 1st poster stating in the past parcels were "placed" in containers. Not after 1968 when I started at the PO. At 1st we tossed them into sacks and later bins and cages. Rarely was anything "placed" anywhere!

Anonymous said...

Mail and packages have never been gently placed by any delivery service. There's no time or room for that. Several problems with the apps, biggest problems are understaffing, poor training of the mailhandlers, supervisors that do not understand the machine or much of anything else. Too often we see the wrong types of mail being processed on the machine. But there's also a big problem with mailers not properly packaging the product for processing. Major retailers that do not properly bundle their product, people that use boxes not designed for mailing and offices trying to stuff 317 pages into a tiny 8 1/2x11 envelope and sealing it with a tiny piece of tape. There needs to be a lot of education given to postal mgmt and customers in order to solve a lot of problems with mail being shredded.