Seamless Acceptance Automates Mail Verification
Author Sean Connor
In March 2019, the United States Postal Service (USPS) published a Federal Register Notice that mandated mailers with Detached Mail Units and Full-Service Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb) mailers would be required to utilize Seamless Acceptance within 1 year. Although it would seem this initiative is a great benefit to mailers and their customers, the announcement was met with great concern within the mailing industry. As is often the case, the USPS had announced this change with little notice to the industry, and then rescinded the notice once the outcry started. This initiative is now on hold.
Why is Seamless Acceptance such an issue for mailers?
First, a bit about the initiative: before Seamless Acceptance, mailers would present their mail to a USPS acceptance unit. The mail acceptance units are manned by USPS clerks who check the mail for proper preparation and documentation before accepting it into the postal system. Poorly prepared or documented mail is rejected. The mailer must either pay additional postage or fix the errors and resubmit the mailing.
Under Seamless Acceptance, for mailers who qualify by proving that their mail consistently meets the preparation and documentation standards, the USPS forgoes this verification process. The mailer prepares and enters the mail into the postal system without review by an acceptance clerk.
It would seem that everyone should love this streamlined processing. Prepared mail doesn’t have to be staged for USPS verification, saving time and labor. Space doesn’t have to be set aside for postal clerks in mailers’ plants. Mailings can be entered into the system 24 x 7, with no waiting for clerks to be assigned. Verification process bottlenecks are eliminated.
So, why the concern? Under the old system, if a mailing was verified and accepted by a USPS clerk, and later found to have issues with preparation and documentation, penalties were almost never assessed to the mailer.
Under Seamless Acceptance, if issues are found anywhere throughout the postal processing, mailers are subject to assessments taken directly from their mail permits. With electronic documentation and scanning of the IMb throughout the system, the USPS has incredible visibility of each mail piece. Errors can be detected, and assessments charged at any point from acceptance to delivery.
The error tolerance is low, and penalties are high.
For example, if mail pieces are found in the postal system that can’t be tied to the postal documentation submitted by the mailer, they are labelled “Undocumented”. On a monthly basis, if Undocumented pieces total over.3% (the mail has to be 99.7% documented), the USPS charges the mailer an assessment based on the rate at which the USPS determines the mail pieces should have been mailed. For example, if a mailer that submits 2 million pieces per month, and 6,000 pieces are deemed Undocumented, the mailer could be assessed $3,300. Mailers can appeal but the assumption is that the pieces were not prepared properly until the mailer proves otherwise.
In the future the USPS could add other assessable categories. There are at least 35 other potential assessable issues that are currently monitored and reported by the USPS. These issues could be added to the penalty at any time. Once a mailer implements Seamless Acceptance, they can’t revert to having an acceptance clerk review the mail.
Jet Mail saw opportunity instead of risk and was at the forefront of this initiative. Beginning in February 2017, we tested our Seamless Acceptance performance in parallel with standard acceptance and demonstrated our success in preparing, presenting and documenting our mail.
In July 2018, Jet Mail implemented Seamless Acceptance.
Since implementation we’ve seen the benefits of streamlined operations, significant reduction in space needed for verification staging, immediate loading of postal trucks 24x7, and reduced processing time for our postal liaisons. Other benefits include free electronic notification of Address Service Requested and Green and Secure handling of undeliverable pieces.
Jet Mail continues to prove every day that we prepare high quality mailings per USPS standards. Jet Mail receives daily feedback on our performance which we utilize to improve the processing of our clients’ mailings.
For Address Service Requested mail, the USPS provides an electronic file of records to update our customers’ address files. This saves money in both postage cost and labor necessary to update data from returned mail pieces. An added benefit is that the mail pieces are recycled, reducing the transportation and processing costs while reducing the impact on the environment.
We expect that through increased visibility of mail through the postal system, we’ll continue to get better information for our clients on the performance and status of their mailings in the postal system.
For Jet Mail’s clients, the benefits are subtle but powerful. Not every mailer can qualify for Seamless Acceptance. Each company must prove that their mail meets the high standards through parallel testing to qualify for the program prior to implementation and are held to these standards on every mail piece submitted to the USPS. Our clients have peace of mind knowing that the mail we induct into the USPS system will be processed accurately because Jet Mail prepared it correctly. We’re held accountable by the USPS for our quality. Our customers can rely on Jet Mail’s knowledge, expertise, and systems to accurate process mail every day.
We are happy to share our experience with anyone who mails and is interested in Seamless Acceptance benefits. Give us a call at 1-800-JET-MAIL, email at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact us through our web site www.jet-mail.com.