Posts Tagged letter

USPS | How A Letter Travels OR How Does My Mail Carrier Know Where I Am?

How A Letter Travels OR How Does My Mail Carrier Know Where I Am?

USPSmailIn discussing with a customer the USPS Move Update requirements, she was curious how the letter carrier knows to take the letter to her house even though the address is wrong.

Here at Strahm Automation we use several processes to meet Move Update compliance.

Some customers choose NCOA as a pre-printing step – saving them printing and postage on addresses that may not ultimately make it into a mailbox. As well, they get reporting back of updated addresses and addresses that are just flat out “bad”.

Many presort only customers choose Move Comply as their update method. This process takes place at the presort level. Our MLOCR sorters bounce the address on the envelope against a USPS database and spray the correct barcode onto the envelope.

Back to Mary and her question of how the carrier knows exactly where to deliver her mail, this informative piece from the USPS gives a great overview of how a letter travels through the mail stream. I hope you find it enjoyable!

https://about.usps.com/publications/pub100/pub100_078.htm

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Addressing Your Mailpiece!

Where To Put The Address On Your Mailpiece!

We’ve discussed many times the importance of your address list – quality, completeness, Move Update compliant and list hygiene. Now that you know what you need for your address list, where oh where to put the address on your mailpiece!

The delivery address instructs the USPS where to deliver the mailpiece. You want to make sure you are giving all the necessary information as well as placing it on the mailpiece that makes it most efficient for the USPS.

Outgoing Address must include:

  • Recipients name or other designation
  • Street number and name (including any pre-or post-directional), or PO Box number, rural or highway route or box number, and secondary description such as a suite or apartment number.
  • City and state
  • ZIP Code or ZIP+4

Alternative Addressing Formats:

  • Simplified addressing is used for general distribution to all residences/businesses on a rural route, highway contract route or all boxholders at a Post Office.  In this case “Postal Customer” is used in place of a person’s name.
  • “Occupant” can be used instead of a recipients name on a mailpiece with a complete delivery address.
  • “Or Current Resident” can be used in addition to a recipient name. This indicates that the mailpiece should be delivered to the specific address even if the person named has moved.

Return Address:

  • A return address tells the USPS where the sender wants the mail returned if it is undeliverable. A return address is required on certain types of mail. The USPS preferred placement of the return address is the upper left portion of the mailpiece on the side bearing the postage.
  • Include all the necessary information as for the outgoing address

Tips:

  • The USPS prefers a simple sans serif typeface (some examples are Helvetica or Arial).
  • Use a minimum of 8 point type unless the address bears an Intelligent Mail Barcode, in which case you can go to 6 point in all caps.
  • Type or machine print in dark ink on a light background. Reflectivity between the ink color and the paper stock color may effect whether your mailpiece will qualify for automation rate discounts.
  • Left justify every line.
  • Use two letter state abbreviations.
  • There should be one space between city and state, two spaces between state and ZIP Code.

Now that you have all the address components down, where should you place the address on the mailpiece?

The address must always appear on the side of the mailpiece bearing postage. In order to claim automation postage rates, it must be parallel to the top edge.

The USPS will want to place a barcode on your mailpiece. The barcode acts as a driver for the mailpiece. USPS sorting equipment reads the address and sprays a corresponding barcode onto the mailpiece. For this reason you need to keep a clear space (Barcode Clear Zone in USPS speak) 5/8” from the bottom edge and extending 4 ¾” from the right edge. If you plan to seek automation discount postage rates, keep this area free from any logos, artwork or messages.

The outgoing address block needs to appear in an area that begins 2 ¾” from the bottom edge, and leaves a ½” space on the left and right edges.

Dark shaded area indicates “free space” for nonaddress printing.

Light shaded area indicates preferred clear zone to enhance readability.

If using a window envelope, make sure your address shows completely within the window and leaves at least an 1/8” clearance between the address and/or barcode and the edges of the window. Tap the envelope on a solid surface to make sure address doesn’t shift outside of window – perform this tap test on all four sides of the mailpiece.

Address placement for flat size mail differs slightly. As in letter size mailpieces, the address must appear on the same side as the postage. It should placed in the upper portion of the flat (top half) and should be parallel to the top edge although it may be placed perpendicular to the top, near or at the open or bound edge.

Now that your mailpiece is designed to meet postal requirements, you’ve included a great offer or call to action, you’ve compiled a clean, targeted mail list and perfect address placement you are ready to mail away! Happy mailing and good luck!

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How Secure Is Your Mail?

How Secure Is Your Mail?

securemailIn this day of heightened security awareness, how secure is your mail?

Not only the piece of paper in an envelope, but what about your data?

 

Let’s take it from the top:
Is your data transmitted to your printer in a secure transmission? Do you know that it was securely received and when? Do you know that what you transmitted is what was received?

What about the printed piece? Is the print facility secure? Is it video monitored? Is visitor access restricted? Are data servers and processing centers secured and with limited access?

Once printed, are steps taken to ensure that there is no “double feeding” of documents into a single envelope? Is there a process to track an individual mail piece from beginning to end? Is there record that all printed pieces are accounted for and inserted to an envelope?

What happens once this piece of paper is printed, folded, and inserted? Is your mail retrieved by the USPS? If so, is that USPS truck sealed – meaning only authorized USPS employees may remove that mail from the truck?

Just a few questions to ponder – and perhaps to ask of your print and/or mail provider before your next mailing.

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USPS Update | Rate Increase January 26th, 2014

Increased 2014 Postage Rates – Effective January 26, 2014

uspspostalrateincreaseJanuary 26, 2014 Mailing Services Price Change

As per a news release on September 25, 2013 prices for most Postal Service mailing products and services will change on January 26, 2014.  This includes First Class Mail, Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services and Extra Services.

The proposed changes are intended to generate $2 billion in incremental annual revenue for the Postal Service.

Highlights of the new single-piece First-Class Mail pricing, effective Jan. 26, 2014 include:

  • Letters (1 oz.) — 3-cent increase to 49 cents
  • Letters additional ounces —  1-cent increase to 21 cents
  • Letters to all international destinations (1 oz.) — $1.15
  • Postcards — 1-cent increase to 34 cents

Stamp prices have stayed consistent with the average annual rate of inflation of 4.2 percent since the Postal Service was formed in 1971.
Pricing for Standard Mail, Periodicals, Package Services and Extra Services also will be adjusted.

In a letter from Board of Governors Chairman Mickey Barnett described the “precarious financial condition” of the Postal Service and the “uncertain path toward enactment of postal reform legislation” as primary reasons for seeking price changes above the CPI increase. He also indicated that the price adjustment above the CPI increase is necessary in order to ensure that the Postal Service will be able to maintain and continue the development of postal services of the type and quality which America needs.

“Of the options currently available to the Postal Service to align costs and revenues, increasing postage prices is a last resort that reflects extreme financial challenges,” said Barnett in the letter. “However, if these financial challenges were alleviated by the timely enactment of laws that close a $20 billion budget gap, the Postal Service would reconsider its pricing strategy. We are encouraged by the recent introduction of comprehensive postal reform legislation in Congress, and despite an uncertain legislative process, we are hopeful that legislation can be enacted this year.”

Except in exceptional or extraordinary circumstances, postage price increases are capped at the rate of inflation as measured by the CPI-U. The Postal Service is filing a price increase above CPI-U due to extraordinary and exceptional circumstances which have contributed to continued financial losses. The Postal Service recorded a $15.9 billion net loss last fiscal year and expects to record a loss of roughly $6 billion in the current fiscal year, and has an intolerably low level of available liquidity even after defaulting on its obligation to make prefunding payments for retiree health benefits.

If your business is not already using a presort vendor, now is the time to look into that service.  With ever increasing postage rates, why not take advantage of discounted rates presort houses are able to offer you?

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USPS Classifications Of Mail – Part 2

Is It A Letter Or A Flat – Part 2

Last week we delved into the basics of letters and postcards. This week we will review the abundance of information regarding flats and parcels.  It’s a lot, so hold on to your hats!

Flats

A flat is described as a rectangular or square piece of mail that is too big in at least one direction to be a letter. That is, larger than 6 1/8” or 11 ½” or thicker than ¼”.

Just to confuse matters more, the mail piece cannot have a side longer than 15”, a side shorter than 12”, is not thicker than ¾” and does not weigh more than 13 ounces for First Class mail or 16 ounces for Standard Class.

USPS recently changed the rules for flats and all pieces must now meet certain flexibility standards. There is a complicated test to determine flexibility; it is always wise (and suggested!) that you discuss this with either your local Postmaster, Business Mail Analyst or your mail presort vendor.

Significantly higher postage rates are charged for mail pieces that don’t meet these flexibility requirements. This would include items such as CD, DVD or boxes. Pieces too rigid to qualify as flats are generally categorized as parcels.

Periodicals get their own special class and must meet requirements to fit one of two sorting processes. They, too, fall into either machinable or nonmachinable catagories.

Standard Class has a category not flat-machinable (NFM). This is a piece that would normally be a flat, with the exception that it does not meet flexibility requirements. This includes boxes, CD/DVD or anything with a non uniform thickness.

Not flat-machinable mail pieces have a higher postage rate because they must be sorted by hand.

Parcels

As with other mail classes, there are two groups of parcels – machinable and nonmachinable.

A machinable parcel is regular in shape (not including tubes, rolls, etc) and is able to be processed on automated sorting equipment. These mail pieces are also too large or rigid to be considered a flat.

Must meet all of the following:

  • Must be at least 6” Must meet all ofbut not more than 34” AND
  • Height must be at least 3” but not more than 17” AND
  • Thickness must be at least ¼” but no more than 17” AND
  • Must weigh at least 6 ounces but not more than 35 pounds (except books and printed matter, which cannot be more than 25 pounds).

Irregular parcels may includes most everything that cannot be called a letter, flat, NFM or machinable parcel. This includes rolls, tubes and anything else that is too big or too irregular to be sorted on automated equipment.

An Outside parcel exceeds the size limitations of machinable parcels. This includes tubes or rolls longer than 26”, strapped boxes, metal or wood boxes, cartons containing 1 or more gallons of liquid and other out of the ordinary pieces.

It bears repeating, your best action is always checking with your local Postmaster, Mail Acceptance Analyst or presort mail vendor. 

Strahm Customer Service Representatives are available and knowledgeable in answering all your mail piece questions!

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USPS Classifications of Mail

Letters or Flats?

letterpcUSPS terms for defining classifications of mail can be confusing.  These classifications are based on the size and shape of the mail piece; not only do they determine postage, but they are routed across the country in a different manner as well.

When you are preparing your mail piece, it is important to know what classification your mail fits into since this will directly impact your postage budget.

Letters – machinable and nonmachinable
Flats – machinable and nonmachinable
Machinable parcels
Irregular parcels
Outside parcels
Postcards

Letters

  • Height is at least 3 ½” and no more than 6 1/8”
  • Width is at least 5” and no more than 11 ½”
  • Thickness is at least 0.007 and no more than ¼”

Letters that can be sorted on automated equipment are eligible for better postage prices than those that are nonmachinable.

Machinable letters meet all of the criteria above and

      • Weigh no more than 3.3 ounces
      • Are rectangular in shape – it should meet the aspect ratio, which can be determined by dividing the length by the height.  Aspect ratio should be not less than 1.3 or more than 2.5.

Examples of nonmachinable letters include

      • Weight of more than 3.3 ounces
      • non-rectangular
      • enclosed in any type of plastic material
      • includes strings/buttons/clasps
      • contains items such as pens, coins or keys which cause the thickness of the mail piece to be uneven
      • too rigid to meet flexibility requirements
      • has the address placed the same direction as the shortest side of the mail piece instead of the longest side,
      • is a selfmailer with the folded edge perpendicular to the address
      • is a booklet that does not meet USPS

Barcoded mail pieces are eligible for discounted postage rates and must meet additional requirements beyond those for machinable letters.  Always check with your mail vendor for eligibility.

Postcards

Special postage rates are given only for First Class postcards meeting eligibility.  There is no postcard rate for Standard Class.

Eligibility for First Class postcard price include:

      • Rectangular in shape (see how to determine aspect ratio above)
      • At least 3 ½” high and not more than 4 ¼” high
      • At least 5” long and no more than 6” long
      • Thickness is at least 0.007” and no more than 0.016”

Cards larger than outlined above should use Standard Class letter or flat pricing, depending on the size of the card.

This covers the very basics of letters and postcards.  Next week we will address the confusing world of flats!

As always, if you have questions or want additional information, our Customer Service Representatives are here to serve you.

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