As the USPS prepares to resume its roll out of Seamless Acceptance, mailers are starting to wonder what they are going to do about those undocumented pieces they see on their Mailer Scorecard. It's no secret that in the future the USPS wishes to assess mailers for these pieces without being subject to any threshold. For many mailers the assessment for undocumented pieces could be the most expensive assessment they face. Unlike some of the other assessments that are passed onto the respective mail owners, this assessment will usually come right out the mailer's pockets. Like it or not, Seamless Acceptance is in your future, but taking the time to address the challenge of dealing with undocumented pieces will make Seamless work best for you.
For Seamless mailers, an undocumented piece is one that has been mailed with a barcode that the USPS cannot find in the mailer's eDoc. The USPS wants every single mailpiece to be uniquely barcoded and identified in the eDoc, even if the mail is not Full-Service. For a mailpiece barcode to end up in eDoc it usually has to be presorted with presort software or run through an MLOCR. Many mailers have small jobs, usually Single Piece rate First-Class mail that have IMb's, but would normally be metered and not run through presort software or an MLOCR. By definition all these pieces will be undocumented since no eDoc was provided. And that's just one of numerous causes for undocumented pieces. It would be a good idea to start identifying why you are seeing undocumented pieces and plan to eliminate them or provide the USPS with the information required to successfully challenge an assessment.
Mailers can start by running these small jobs through presort software and start using eDoc even for their smallest jobs. There was a change made in June 2014 that allows mailers who use eDoc to pay for postage to pay for as little as one mail piece with their permit. This would allow many mailers to stop metering these jobs thereby reducing production costs enough to offset adding the presort step to these jobs. There is only so much you can do to avoid undocumented pieces on your Scorecard because sometimes you have done everything right, but for some reason the USPS can't locate the barcodes in your eDoc. When this happens the burden is on you to prove that these mail pieces have been paid for.
You should be able to download the barcodes of your undocumented pieces. What you want to do is determine if you mailed these barcodes, and if so, when. You would want to supply the USPS with the submission date, Job ID and either the file name or the "historical header sequence number" of the Mail.dat file that contained this barcode. You would also want to supply the USPS with the Postage Statement ID(s) generated by PostalOne! for that submission. If you think this kind of research is easier said than done, you are right. The good news is that some vendors are working on or already have solutions to help you with this. With the anticipated undocumented piece assessment there may be a lot at stake, so hoping it will never happen is not a sound strategy. Now is the time to develop an understanding of the issues you may be facing and work with your vendors to implement a cost-effective solution.
VP of Premier Client Solutions
Lloyd Moss has worked for postal software vendors since 1991 and has assisted hundreds of mailers of all types. Lloyd helps clients with all avenues of process efficiency within the post-presort market including investigating their current systems and implementing recommended best practices mailing management solutions.
He also served as a subject matter advisor on U.S. Postal Service eDoc and Intelligent Mail® Full-Service projects for 3 years while at Accenture.