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  • Thoughts about mailing issues....

    We have been doing bulk mailings for a several years using Accuzip. A few months ago we did a mailing of 8,000 #10 envelopes for a regular customer sent out first class. A few weeks later they came in with a few boxes of returns, numbering around 800 pieces, or around 10% of the mailing. We looked at some of the explanations on the letters and talked with the support staff at the SCF. They took about a dozen of the addresses and verified they were good. They then told us there must have been a mistake and that they would re-mail the pieces at no additional charge. After doing this about half of them came back a second time at which point the client was satisfied and decided it must be an issue with their list, but the post offices only comment was that it must have been the discretion of the post man. Apparently if he thinks the person at the address is no longer there, he can just kick it back, even if the physical address is good...???

    Well, fast forward a few weeks and it has happened again. This time we did a mailing for our local Chamber of Commerce using their monthly mailing list of members and their permit. They said that they had gotten back many times the normal number of returns. Some of the addresses they kicked back were large banks and other businesses that have been in the same location for a hundred years.

    While I realize the USPS can have internal issues, it worries me that it will give us a bad reputation, especially since I can't give them a solid answer to what the problem was. Can anyone offer any insight into what might be going on or share similar stories or thoughts?

  • #2
    I do mailings everyday. Recently I received 20 or so of our own invoice back in the mail, one being the church my family has been going to for more than 50 years. The carrier took them back saying they must have been put into the wrong machine. I still got another 10 back the next day! I re-mailed the contents in new envelopes with new postage of coarse and none came back. On My mail software user board the best comment I got was ... "That's why we use electronic invoicing." From a mail service provider .... and The USPS wonders why mail volume is dropping.

    Comment


    • #3
      I email a lot of invoices too but let's not forget about spam blockers and technical issues. Not that I'm defending USPS. I have emailed invoices to a single customer and when the check comes in, it appears they skipped some invoices. When I call them, they say they never got them. I'm sure it's not just technical glitches but also human error - it's easy to miss an email when you get dozens of them a day. But I'd say you have a solid answer and the solution is outside of your control.

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      • #4
        There are around 25 different reasons your mail may have been returned (see USPS Publication 507.1.4.1). But, the predominant reason would be an incomplete or incorrect address. Those pieces should be marked by the USPS as "UAA" (Undeliverable As Addressed), or, "ANK" (Attempted, Not Known). If it's marked UAA, then you are probably missing part of the address (an apartment number, suite, unit, etc.). In those cases, the carrier may, or, may not deliver the piece. For instance, if you are mailing to XYZ Corporation, at 123 S Orange Avenue, which is in an office building, but, you left off the fact they they are in Suite 600, the carrier is within his standard operating procedure to kick the mail back. However, sometimes, the carrier will deliver anyway because he knows that XYZ Corp occupies suite 600, but, he is under no obligation to do so.

        If the mail is marked "ANK", that means that they tried to deliver to that address, but, the person that you are mailing to doesn't live there. That notation can sometimes be followed up with the characters "MLNA" (Moved, Left No Forwarding Address).

        Now, there are a couple of other reasons that your mail may have been returned that has nothing to do with the quality of the address. It has more to do with your mail piece design. For instance, if the return address on your envelope or self mailer extends down and encroaches in to the OCR clear zone of your address block (a clear zone that extends edge to edge, left-to right of your envelope or self mailer), the scanners at the postal processing facility may intermittently pick up and confuse the return address as the delivery address. It won't happen on every envelope or self mailer, but, sporadically. There are design regulations in the DMM to prevent this, but, I have seen it happen from time to time. Your normal tip-off that this has occurred is that the returned envelope has no markings on it at all.

        Another mail piece design flaw which causes returns, especially with pieces that are inserted in to a window envelope, is that the insert that carries the address, "floats" around inside the envelope during processing such that the address is sometimes not visible (hidden) to the scanning equipment (the insert that carries the address does not fit securely inside the envelope and does not comply with DMM 601.6.3). Since the scanners can't read the delivery address, the mail would be kicked back to the return address. This flaw would be caught by the BMEU had they performed a "Tap Test" on your mail, but, those types of audits are random, so, it's quite possible mail that would not pass a tap test would get through most of the time. You should perform your own tap test back at the plant on enveloped mail to insure that the piece is in compliance with 601.6.3. before presentation to the BMEU.

        The UAA & ANK issues should be minimized by making sure your mail is CASS'ed using current USPS updates. I say "current", because all delivery addresses are in a constant state of flux. Routes and facilities are constantly being consolidated and combined, street names are being changed, zip codes are being changed, etc. ANK issues should be minimized by making sure your mail file has been NCOA'd prior to mailing in compliance with the Move/Update regulations. The mail design flaws are the hardest ones to figure out, because, most BMEU employees won't be able to help you.

        I hope this helps!

        -Best

        MailGuru

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        • #5
          Thank you Guru for the detailed reply. The vast majority have UTF written on them along with a yellow sticker stating "Not Deliverable as Addressed". These are the ones that we can't seem to find an issue with when checking the addresses. The people at the USPS help line verified several of them as good.

          Let me give you an example of one that came back and see what you think could be wrong.

          American Family Charities, Inc.
          6301 James A Reed Rd
          Kansas City, MO 64133-4776

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          • #6
            That's normal, these had no marking as to why they were returned and as the OP stated most were long established addresses without apartment numbers or such.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by kdw75 View Post
              Thank you Guru for the detailed reply. The vast majority have UTF written on them along with a yellow sticker stating "Not Deliverable as Addressed". These are the ones that we can't seem to find an issue with when checking the addresses. The people at the USPS help line verified several of them as good.

              Let me give you an example of one that came back and see what you think could be wrong.

              American Family Charities, Inc.
              6301 James A Reed Rd
              Kansas City, MO 64133-4776

              Well, that could be a couple of things: (1) The mail is "Not Deliverable As Addressed". This could be because that physical address (6301 James A Reed Rd) happens to be a 3-story office building with multiple businesses located at that address and you did not specify which suite number they are in. The address will still CASS correctly, but, it still can't be delivered. For instance, if you mail in to an apartment complex without specifying the apartment number, it will still CASS correctly, however, the "plus 4" number will direct the mail to the apartment management office (not the individual you are trying to mail to). (2) They may have moved, but, there is no change-of-address order on file. Or, (3) They moved, there is a change of address order on file, but, they moved over a year ago (UTF - Unable To Forward). When someone files a change-of-address, mail will be automatically forwarded to your new address for up to 12 months. After that, it is returned back to the sender. You're probably using an old mailing file that has not been NCOA'd in a while.
              Last edited by MailGuru; 04-13-2018, 10:05 AM.

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              • #8
                Have you reached to Accuzip for assistance? While I hear their support is quite good they have one of the worst address engines in the industry, both BCC full service and First Logic Solution code at a much higher rate according to our tests. Having said that it’s likely another issue given your return rate. Your software vendor should be able to answer the question or direct you to the proper resources at the USPS. The posts I’ve seen from the MailGuru tend to be spot on and I suspect it’s a mail piece design issue. You can reach out to the USPS’s MDA Support Center which provides Mail Piece design assistance at MDA@usps.gov (preferred method) or at 855-593-6093. When contacting the MDA Support Center, please provide contact name, company name, email address, phone number, and supporting documentation, if applicable. I would also recommend bring in the BDS (business development specialists) in your area to your location for an onsite meeting, they can be an excellent resources. If you need help finding your BDS feel free to contact me at sales@tecmailing.com, we maintain a current list to assist our clients.
                Last edited by tecmail; 04-13-2018, 10:33 AM.

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                • #9
                  Kdw, I ran an NCOA on that address, and, it shows a move date (business move) of 5/1/2015. We only subscribe to NCOA_Link (Lite), which only goes back 18 months, so, it doesn't tell me what their new address is. I also got a COA Match Flag of "P" which means "Error in Primary Address", probably because it doesn't have a suite number attached. In short, you are running a really old file that hasn't been updated in at least 3 years, which, is why you probably got a lot back with "UTF" (Unable to Forward) or even "FOE" (Forwarding Order Expired) as forwarding orders and services only last 12 months.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by MailGuru View Post
                    Kdw, I ran an NCOA on that address, and, it shows a move date (business move) of 5/1/2015. We only subscribe to NCOA_Link (Lite), which only goes back 18 months, so, it doesn't tell me what their new address is. I also got a COA Match Flag of "P" which means "Error in Primary Address", probably because it doesn't have a suite number attached. In short, you are running a really old file that hasn't been updated in at least 3 years, which, is why you probably got a lot back with "UTF" (Unable to Forward) or even "FOE" (Forwarding Order Expired) as forwarding orders and services only last 12 months.
                    Boom. Roasted.

                    As a note, I always talk to my mailing customers about the list they are providing - how did they obtain the data, when was it last verified etc. I convince most to run the list through NCOA to weed out and update any addresses. I feel it's the most air-tight method of ensuring your customer's mailpiece gets into the right hands. We don't do many mailings (15 per month), but my customers never have issues.
                    Last edited by PricelineNegotiator; 04-13-2018, 12:21 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Very surprised that you only got 10% back!

                      According to the USPS, about 20% of the American Population moves every 12 months.

                      If the file hasn't been updated in 3 years, you should have gotten much, much more back.

                      The "Postal Gods" looked down favorably upon you!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        That is why we look back 48 months, nothing goes out of here without running through NCOA first, even with "or current resident" until the PO fixes their software and stops dinging my scorecard.

                        With the lopsided algorithms our processors have to use for NCOA you will still have some returns, that is where ACS comes into play.
                        (2) Ricoh Pro 7110SX digital printers
                        OKI C931e with Straight Shooter Envelope feeder

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by MailGuru View Post
                          Very surprised that you only got 10% back!

                          According to the USPS, about 20% of the American Population moves every 12 months.

                          If the file hasn't been updated in 3 years, you should have gotten much, much more back.

                          The "Postal Gods" looked down favorably upon you!
                          Oddly enough, we do mailings with that list every 6 months and update it with moves, though we only started that 18 months ago, so it could have been out of date when we got the list initially.

                          I am more concerned over the second CoC mailing since they keep the list updated and mail monthly with another printer using that list and claim that only this mailing had so many returns. I asked if they wanted us to assist, but they said they would handle it since it was their permit, so I don't have the returns to look over.

                          I haven't tried contacting Accuzip.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by kdw75 View Post

                            ".......concerned over the second CoC mailing since they keep the list updated and mail monthly with another printer using that list and claim that only this mailing had so many returns.
                            As PricelineNegotiator and Shawnd previously stated, most shops routinely run NCOA on the list just prior to mailing. We do the same here. I'll wager that the other printer also NCOA'ed the list just prior to mailing, which, is why they don't get as many returns as you do.

                            The problem is, most shops get in the habit of doing that automatically, since it is a postal regulation in order to qualify for a presorted postage discount. However, most shops do not return that updated information back to the client so that the client can update the original source file. They just figure it is a part of the job, just like CASS-ing, and running the mail sort. This means the original source file is always out of date.

                            If you didn't run NCOA on the customer's original source file prior to mailing (like the other printer did), this would explain why they don't get as many returns back as you do.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              A few things, if you’ve established yourself as a mail producer running all of your data through NCOA should be standard operating procedure along with providing those returns back to the client. At a minimum I would recommend using 18 Month NOCA with ANKLink (If you’re shopping for/using mailing software or hosted solutions ANKLink should be a requirement) ANKLink will flag addresses that have 19-48 month moves but do not provide the address so you can identify the issue. BTW Accuzip has this but like most software providers they like to nickel and dime for add-ons/upgrades.

                              I like this for two reasons, one, you’re not paying through the nose for 48 month NOCA and two it will let you know how well your client is managing their data. Also, this is an opportunity for you to up sell and educate your client on data hygiene best practices. Also, keep in mind how flawed the NCOA process is, there’s no mandate that you have to file a COA form with the postal service and addresses simply fall off after 49 months. This is why it’s so important to educate your clients. While there are some decent proprietary change of address sources (Lexis Nexus, Times Publishing) these should be seen as a last resort due to their high cost.

                              Since this is a chamber list I wouldn’t expect too many moves since the USPS move statistics are for people not business; I suspect with your return numbers it’s likely that ANKLink will identify some of your issues. I’ll be happy to run the list for you to verify my assumptions but I will have to get a PAF from your client (which can be facilitated through you).

                              Also, the CASS process includes SuiteLink, a process that attempts to assign Suite numbers so your software should be assigning the proper suite should it exist (also a process that isn’t 100% reliable but better than nothing)
                              Last edited by tecmail; 04-19-2018, 03:07 PM.

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