Special Section Mailing & Fulfillment -- Don't Blame Merlin
The answer in both cases is no. Merlin, in fact, has verified the honesty that prevails in our profession.
Specifically, as presented at the February Mailers Technical Advisory Council meeting, Merlin passed 99.9 percent of the 34,341 mailings examined since Jan. 17. Only 22 mailings were rejected for inclusion of false -0000 extensions and only 17 mailings kicked back for incorrect -9999 extensions. In other words, this was much ado about nothing. Or was it?
The angst attributed to expanding the scrutiny of Merlin is a manifestation of the communications gap that continues between the mailing community and its postal partners. Fortunately there are serious initiatives under way by all concerned parties to improve the dialogue on Merlin. There is an expressed desire to resolve the myriad standardization processes existing in industry as the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) strives for one final depth of code standard employed by this diagnostic tool.
One of the most important communications initiatives is the planned formation of a new MTAC Work Group that will concentrate on the prickly matter of "final depth of code" standards. Concurrent with this effort, which is expected to be active for at least six months, are a number of other industry groups and coalitions that will fill the news channels with concerns, problems, resolves and stumbling blocks along the way.
Collectively, this becomes a much-needed communications improvement of a complex initiative designed to greatly improve the quality of mail entering in the mail stream.
It's ironic that the underlying purpose of Merlin is often forgotten. Merlin raises the quality standards of an already powerful medium. In so doing it injects greater efficiencies, which help keep USPS costs in check. These same standard improvements prevent corrupt addresses from entering the mail stream, which improves overall delivery and response, the common objective of all mailers.