In recent months, many have seen articles and announcements that the U.S. Postal Service is implementing new strategies to control operational costs. And, along with these new strategies, it is enforcing some old mandates that have been around for a number of years. One mandate that has become a vortex of recent activity is Move Update Compliance. Stepped up or re-instated enforcement was to come in March, then April and then May. In April at the National Postal Forum in
Why Enforce Move Update Requirements?
If you mail at First-Class rates to an address that is not current mail will be determined as undeliverable as addressed (UAA) and:
Steps to Take
Step 1 Know the Requirement
Domestic Mail Manual E130.3.3 Address Quality
The mailer's signature on the postage statement certifies that this standard has been met.
Addresses on all Presorted First-Class Mail must be updated within 180 days before the mailing date with a Postal Service-approved method:
Domestic Mail Manual E110.5.0
Basic Standards Documentation
A postage statement, completed and signed by the mailer, using the correct Postal Service form or an approved facsimile, must be submitted with each mailing except for single-piece First-Class Mail or single-piece Priority Mail mailings in which the correct postage is affixed to each piece. Supporting documentation might be required by the standards for the rate claimed or the postage payment method used.
Your Signature Says It All
Be aware that Postal Service Revenue Assurance can assess penalties (hold you liable) for your signature only. Effective with the new postage statements of June 2002, your signature on a postage statement claiming First-Class Presort Discounts certifies:
Postage Statements prior to June '02 required you to indicate the Move Update method used. The standard has not gone away just because the methods no longer appear on the form! Now, your signature alone certifies that you have met the entire Move Update standard.
Step 2 Identify Your Level of Exposure
You and your staff know your clients. You know whether or not they mail claiming First-Class Presort Discounts and how frequently.
Step 3 Educate Internal Staff
Particularly those who can never say no to a customer.
Those questions are just as important as checking on how much postage needs to be in the account. You may actually have to forego claiming the presort discounts if you know you are mailing for a client that is very high risk.
If you start this process of educating your staff now, asking the Move Update questions will be as common place as ZIP+4 encoding your client's data is today.
Step 4 Research Capabilities of Your Presort Software
Many presort software packages on the market today have numerous database maintenance features included with their presort capabilities. They may also have capabilities that are specific to the approved Move Update methods. For example, the package you currently use may have:
Step 5 Research Costs Associated with Each Move Update Method
There are charges specific to each Move Update method and the range can be dramatic. This can be well worth the research time and effort.
Step 6 Communicate with Your Clients
Inform them of the Move Update requirements. Do you maintain their lists? If so, agree on who is responsible for keeping the addresses "current." Along those same lines, make absolutely sure there is a clear understanding of the term(s) list maintenance, computer processing, list processing, etc. Your customers may assume that, since their mailer performs ZIP+4 encoding and postal presorting to their data, address updating is included under that general term of "computer work."
If they do their own database maintenance, inform them of the specific work they need to perform with relation to Move Update.
Since potential penalties can be significant, you need to consider exactly who needs to be aware of the monetary ramifications. For example, the signature of the Marketing Manager who is authorized to sign for amounts up to $5,000 may be worthless in the event of a $10,000 fine.
Give your clients the information so they can check it out themselves. This will preclude their tendency to want to "shoot the messenger." Now, if you haven't discussed this with your client in the past, you can explain that even though the requirement has been in existence for some time now, the Postal Service has not been aggressively enforcing it.
Step 7 Develop a Mini Strategic Plan
Build a plan for your mailing business that specifically addresses the issue of Move Update Compliance.
Mailers need to keep a watchful eye on the entire issue of Move Update Compliance. There will be many changes made in the coming months. Hopefully, the changes that occur will result in some real opportunities for the mailing industry. However, without copious, consistent communication and education on Move Update issues and consistent enforcement of the requirements, the mailing industry will remain uncertain as to how to proceed into the future.
Mary Ann Bennett is the president and CEO of The Bennett Group. For additional information, please contact her by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 585-820-5457.