U.S. Postal Service Mailer Scorecard Assessments and Service Providers
Since October 2016, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has sent out scorecard assessments based on Full-Service Mail Quality Metrics over an established threshold. These assessments are based on the previous month’s data as reported on the Mailer Scorecard. They may look similar to bills for postage due, because no matter how the USPS spins it, that’s what these assessments are.
If you “remove the Full-Service Discount” for a mailing that took place in the past, you’re asking for postage that wasn’t paid for at the time of mailing. If you assess a per-piece charge for pieces that don’t meet the Move Update standard, then you’re asking for additional payments.
Sounds like a bill. Looks like a bill. It’s a bill.
Semantics aside – did your mail service provider (MSP) or presort vendor receive an assessment? More importantly, did they receive an assessment on mail they processed for your company? Do they plan to pass the assessment on to your company?
The USPS sends the assessment to whoever submitted the e-documentation that accompanied the mailing. In most cases, this is the MSP or the presort vendor. The recipient has 10 business days to challenge the assessment. One option is to refer the USPS to the vendor’s client, as identified by the Customer Registration ID (CRID). Or the vendor could pay the assessment and bill the client separately.
As a reminder, the assessments are calculated under 7 categories:
- eDoc Processing
- Report Availability
- Full Service
- Seamless Acceptance
- Move Update
- Manual Data Requests
Who should be liable for these assessments if the error thresholds are exceeded? Well, it depends. Does the vendor create the Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb) or does the customer pass along a fully composed print file, including the IMb? Does the vendor run the file (or mailpieces) through NCOALink or does the customer maintain responsibility for Move Update compliance? Who creates and transmits the Mail.dat files?
If they haven’t already done so, customers, MSPs, and presort vendors should meet and discuss the Mailer Scorecard, potential errors, and responsibility for paying assessments. The agreements should be documented and added to the existing contract or service-level agreement. A simple addendum will ensure fewer issues if the USPS does apply an assessment. All new contracts or renewals should include a section on regular reviews of the Mailer Scorecard, notification of any assessments, appeals, and responsibility for payment.
In the meanwhile, all mailers – owners, MSPs and presort vendors – should be signing on to the USPS Business Customer Gateway and reviewing their Mailer Scorecard. The USPS has made it easy to view mailings by different vendors a company may use to process their mail. With weekly check-ups, customers will know how their mail is performing before the assessments are released the next month. MSPs and presort vendors will be able to see any problems with specific customers. Both sides can work together to resolve difficulties early in the process.
Documented agreements in contracts. Awareness around performance. Communication and cooperation. All essential elements to success in this new era of postal compliance.
Lois Ritarossi is the President of High Rock Strategies, a consulting firm focused on sales and marketing strategies, and business growth for firms in the print, mail and communication sectors. Lois brings her clients a cross functional skill set and strategic thinking with disciplines in business strategy, sales process, sales training, marketing, software implementation, inkjet transformation and workflow optimization. Lois has enabled clients to successfully launch new products and services with integrated sales and marketing strategies, and enabled sales teams to effectively win new business. You can reach Lois at email@example.com.
Mark M. Fallon is president and CEO of The Berkshire Company, a consulting firm specializing in mail and document processing strategies. The company develops customized solutions integrating proven management concepts with emerging technologies to achieve total process management. He offers a vision of the document that integrates technology, data quality, process integrity, and electronic delivery. His successes are based upon using leadership to implement innovative solutions in the document process. You can contact Mark at firstname.lastname@example.org.