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USPS® changes are coming in July 2014 – Are you ready?

by Janet Lockhart-Jones, Ed.D., MDC | May 6, 2014 | No Comments

It seems like yesterday that the industry was adjusting to the USPS® January 2014 price and regulatory changes. To be truthful, many mailers are still in a period of adjustment.  Nevertheless, in our industry, the only constant is change.  In keeping with this reality, the USPS® has proposed both structural and non-structural changes that could take effect in July 2014. Though nothing yet is final, and everything is subject to change, it is important that mailers know what changes are being considered, and how the changes could impact mailing operations and postal budgets.

Structural Changes Proposed

Changes to First-Class Mail®

Intelligent Mail Package barcode (IMpb) barcode for identification of Extra Service on a mailpiece with an Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb).

The USPS® proposes to implement support to identify an IMpb barcode that identifies the Extra Services that are claimed on a piece. In this case the mail piece itself is bearing an IMb. The IMpb will assist the USPS Product Tracking & Reporting system to provide tracking for the Extra Services. This new IMpb barcode will be added as a new record to the Mail.dat specification, and as a new field to the Mail.XML Mail Piece message.

Changes to Priority Mail®

Premium Forwarding Service Commercial

The USPS proposes adding the Premium Forwarding Service Commercial (PFSC) for Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express to the PostalOne! and Business Customer Gateway (BCG) Systems. This will allow commercial mailers to consolidate mail received at multiple Post Office boxes or street addresses into a single package for delivery to one address.

Commercial mailers wishing to participate would need to enroll in the service through the BCG interface. The mailer’s permit must be linked to a local trust, CAPS, or USPS Corporate Account and not have a negative balance, nor may the enrollment fee result in a negative balance. The balance will be validated via the PFSC application’s use of PostalOne!’s application programming interface (API) to verify the balance.

Changes to Standard Mail®

The USPS proposes to launch a coupon-based promotion using the Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) product to encourage small business customers to try direct mail.

Changes to Multiple Mail Classes

1. Spoilage/shortage of all Pieces on a Postage Statement – The USPS proposes to allow mailers to submit a postage statement that comprises all spoiled or all shorted pieces for Standard Mail or First Class Mail submissions that are commingled Ready To Pay.

2. Shipper Paid Return Service – The USPS proposes to add Shipper Paid Return (SPR) service to the existing Address Change Service (ACS) option.  SPR allows the return postage for undeliverable pieces to be calculated and collected in an automated process and billed directly to the mailer along with the address correction or reason for non-delivery.

3. IMpb Non-compliance Updates – The USPS proposes to implement updates to IMpb Non-compliance processing. In January 2014 three verification types (each with its own compliance threshold) were implemented for IMpb non-compliance processing; a per piece fee is identified for pieces that fall below the applicable compliance thresholds. Postage Statement line S23 is used to provide the information on pieces that will be charged for the IMpb non-compliance fee. With the July 2014 release the three verifications and their respective thresholds are proposed to change as follows:

Unique Trackable Barcode – changes from 98% – to proposed – 99%

Destination Delivery Address or ZIP+4 Code in the File – change from 93% – to proposed – 95%

Shipping Services File 1.6 or higher, including required data elements – change from – 90% – to proposed – 95%

In addition, the USPS proposes to also include the following types of parcels for the assessment and charging of IMpb non-compliance. Based on approvals of the proposed changes (due to be received sometime prior to July 2014), some or all of the classes below may not be added to the assessment/charging of IMpb non-compliance; if that happens these classes will not be added to the assessment list:  Standard Mail Parcels, Bound Printed Matter Parcels, Library Mail Parcels and Media Mail Parcels.

4. Live Animal Transportation Fee – In January 2014, the USPS® implemented a Live Animal Transportation Fee for day-old poultry sent Priority Mail Express or Priority Mail to Zones 5-9 only (Priority Mail Express is only supported by eVS). Effective July 2014, the USPS proposes to assess the Live Animal Transportation Fee for all shipments of live animals, for all mail classes regardless of Zone. Both the current Day-old Poultry fee and the proposed Live Animal fee are assessed on the basis of weight; the fee is implemented on a per-pound basis. The Day-old Poultry fee is currently not assessed automatically by PostalOne! as the PostalOne! system does not capture the presence of such content (via any of the submissions methods).

5. Support for identification of Hazardous Materials contents – The USPS proposes to implement support to identify hazardous materials as content of mail. At this time, this change is not proposed/related to any fees or prices. In addition to the identification of Hazardous Materials as content, the USPS will support a new Service Type code for the identification of such materials.

6. Commercial Plus Pricing – The USPS proposes to build a new Commercial Plus Pricing (CPP) module in Program Registration for Priority Mail Express, Priority Mail (including Critical Mail), and First-Class Package Service.

7. Changes to International Mail – First-Class Mail International (FCMI) Flats Weight Limit

The USPS proposes to change the weight limit for First-Class Mail International (FCMI) to 16 ounces, in order to be compatible with the revised Universal Postal Union maximum weight limit of 500 grams for large letters.

8. Priority Mail International Regional Rate Box – The USPS proposes to expand the price options for Priority Mail International Regional Rate Boxes to include Commercial Base and Commercial Plus pricing.

Non-structural Changes Proposed

1. Intelligent Mail Barcode Accounting (IMbA) – The USPS proposes creating an Intelligent Mail Barcode Accounting (IMbA) system to automate counting and invoicing processes for USPS products. The initial rollout will support Qualified Business Reply Mail (QBRM) and Alternate Postage.

2. Business Customer Gateway Access to the Collect On Delivery (COD) Application – The USPS proposes to add access to the new COD application through the Business Customer Gateway.

3. Online Permit Creation – The USPS proposes to make online permit creation open to all Business Customer Gateway users, so registered business users will be able to request a new mailing permit without visiting their Post Office in person.

4. Seamless Acceptance – Seamless Acceptance will be enhanced in order to make processes better for users. Areas to be improved include invoicing, undocumented piece processing, move update processing, reporting, and allowing mailers to get their data through Mail.XML.

5. Minimum Volume/Weight Standards for Parcel Processing Categories for Domestic and International MailingsThe USPS proposes to revise the minimum volume and weight requirements for parcel mailings. Under the proposed change, a minimum requirement of 50 pieces or 50 pounds can be met using multiple postage statements, provided the mailing and/or statements are: 1) the same permit holder’s permit number / same permit holder’s permit type, 2) eVS or Manifested, 3) presented at the same time, and 4) at the same acceptance unit. For Parcel Select mailings, the mail may be presorted but does not need to be manifested.

The minimum volume or minimum weight requirement can be met by combining the applicable totals from domestic and / or international postage statements. There is no change in the requirement that domestic mail and international mail cannot be reported on the same postage statement and must be reported on separate postage statements. Parcels included: Priority Mail Express (PME), Priority Mail Express International (PMEI), Global Express Guaranteed (GXG), Priority Mail (PM), Priority Mail International (PMI), Bound Printed Matter nonpresort, Parcel Select nonpresort, Media Mail(Retail SP price only), Library Mail(Retail SP price only), and First-Class Package International Service (FCPIS). This includes PME, PMEI, PM, PMI Flat Rate Envelopes and GXG envelopes.

6. Electronic Verification (eVS)

a. Live Animal Transportation Fee BNS 539 – The USPS proposes to implement a Live Animal Transportation Fee to increase USPS visibility of Live Animal shipments while en route. Commercial customers will indicate that the mailing contains Live Animals in the electronic files. A per pound fee will be charged for live animal transport. The charges will appear on postage statement line S25 – Live Animal Transportation Fee.

b. Hazardous Material – The USPS proposes to implement support for identification of Hazardous Material to increase USPS visibility of hazardous material.

This post presents a snapshot of proposed USPS changes for July 2014.  The complete document can be found on RIBBS at the following location: https://ribbs.usps.gov/intelligentmail_schedule2014/releases/july2014/docs/releasenotes/PostalOneReleaseNotes38_0_0.pdf

As the July implementation date approaches, more information will be forthcoming from the Postal Service.  It is important to remember that at this time changes presented in this blog post and in the full document are proposed and not yet final.

The following are among the trademarks owned by the United States Postal Service: First-Class™, First-Class Mail®, IM™, IMb™, Intelligent Mail®, Intelligent Mail Package Barcode (IMpb™), Priority Mail Express™, PC Postage®, Post Office™, Postal Service™, Priority Mail®, Standard Mail®, United States Postal Service®, U.S. Mail®, U.S. Postal Service®, USPS®, USPS Electronic Postmark®. This is not a comprehensive list of all Postal Service trademarks.

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