While many people were celebrating Independence Day with an extra-long weekend, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) filed a price adjustment request with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) on July 3, 2017. Under Docket No. R2017-7, the USPS seeks approval for changing how it verifies compliance with Move Update and to increase the assessment charges for pieces that don’t meet the standard.
Move Update, the process for updating names and addresses, is required by USPS if mailers want to receive discounted postage rates. Mailers who use the exceptional address format (e.g., Jane Doe or Current Resident) do not have to meet this requirement.
The Postal Service offers mailers four approved and two alternative Move Update methods:
- Ancillary Service Endorsement
- Address Change Service (“ACS”)
- National Change of Address Linkage (“NCOALink®”) System
- NCOALink® MPE (Mail Processing Equipment)
- Alternative Move Update Methods (Legal Restraint or 99 Percent Accurate)
Currently, the USPS samples mail upon entry using the Mail Evaluation Readability Lookup Instrument – or MERLIN. Postage assessments are based on the percentage of mail in the sample that fails. Under the proposed changes, the USPS will check ALL eligible pieces through the Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb). Known as the “census method”, this process will result in all mailpieces exceeding the threshold being charged a Move Update assessment fee.
Along with the process change, the USPS will increase the assessment charge from $0.07 to $0.08 per piece. The new fee will go into effect with the next rate change, which is expected to take place on January 21, 2018.
Good mailers should welcome these changes. The Move Update requirement for First-Class Mail has been in effect for 20 years. Too many scofflaws have avoided compliance for too long. With the data gathered from the IMb and related e-documentation, the USPS has better insight into which mailers are following the rules.
Also, the census method is more accurate than sampling a few trays. Instead of relying on acceptance clerks and decades-old MERLIN technology, the USPS – and mailers – will have the benefit of multiple scans. The more data, the better the accuracy.
The USPS expects mailers who take advantage of discounted rates to be compliant with all regulations, including Move Update. The proposed changes should help increase compliance through accurate measurements and higher fines. Mailers should support the USPS and this request.