Because 2020 was too easy a year for the mailing industry, the Postal Service has decided to up the ante in 2021 by throwing in an additional rate increase (maybe), and making Seamless Acceptance a requirement for Full-Service mail. Whee! Seamless becomes the law of the land for Detached Mail Units on May 1, 2021, and for BMEU’s on July 1.
Mailers are understandably concerned – this change limits the ability to correct errors at acceptance, so a mailer may not know there was an error until it hits their scorecard, although the monthly averaging of errors makes it easier to overcome any penalties. The most frightening error is undocumented mail. If the Postal Service identifies mail in the system that is not in your eDocs, they may assume that the mail wasn’t paid for, and assess full postage for the piece. Ouch.
The reality is less terrifying than perception. We have a number of clients who have been happily using Seamless for some time now, and find that the benefits far outweigh the risks. It streamlines the acceptance procedure and, as long as the quality of the mail is good, they rarely deal with any kind of assessment.
So, how do Informed Visibility and Seamless interact? Does one have anything to do with the other? From a compliance perspective, the answer is a resounding “NO”. In order to track your mail, all you’re really doing is changing the Service Type ID (STID) in the Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb). It has no impact on how the mail is monitored through the system. Simply Tracking mail can never create undocumented mail.
On the other hand, there are some useful capabilities that may come by using IV, and specifically SnailWorks in conjunction with Seamless:
- An added file quality step – in the job creation process, SnailWorks will identify and reject files with duplicate serial numbers. We’ve seen mailers use the same serial numbers on a second mailing – and saved them a hit on their scorecard;
- Document mail date - SnailWorks can help document when mail was sent, and what serial numbers were used, including gaps in sequence – this can be helpful when appealing assessments;
- Document acceptance and delivery - Being able to document when mail was originally accepted and delivered can only be helpful.
While these capabilities can be of some help in dealing with issues that may arise, we are careful not to oversell them as a comprehensive Seamless solution.
Even though Seamless lives in kind of a parallel universe to our mail tracking universe, we understand how important these kinds of issues are to our customers, and we want to help you be prepared for them. We are gathering some world-class industry leaders to help you understand the implications of Seamless Acceptance, and the best practices for being sure you are prepared for it. Stay tuned for an announcement of this very special webinar coming in March. One other element of Seamless Acceptance that we think has not gotten the attention it deserves is the challenge of documenting the sending of mail. Once Seamless is in place, the Postal Service won’t be checking it and verifying your mail as it has in the past. While Seamless Acceptance will make sure you didn’t mail more than you paid for, it doesn’t really have a mechanism to prove when or how much you mailed. The mechanism that does exist is Informed Visibility. SnailWorks has developed reports that can document that every skid and every piece of mail has been accepted. Contact us to learn more.