Since the introduction of high speed, automated mail processing equipment in the early 1990's the Postal Service has been incrementally increasing the requirements for address quality to earn any postal discounts. This trend continues with the May 14, 2007 rate case. From ZIP+4 to Delivery Point Barcodes to CASS/MASS certification the goal has always been to have fully automation compatible business mail .
With the January 2013 rates and requirements this trend continues.
Shape Based Rates
The rules attached to the May 14, 2007 rates regarding shape and weight will change the postage cost in a very significant way. The Postal Service is recognizing that shape makes a difference in the cost to process mail. The higher postage rates for non-letter size mail is a recognition of the Postal Service's costs. It is important that mailings be designed to take this shape based pricing into account.
Mail Sort will gladly help with any design questions you might have. The Postal Service rules are in the Quick Service Guide here.
Postal Reform Act
The Postal Reform Act implemented in 2007 changed the way postage rates are set in a fundamental way. No longer will the Postal Service be allowed to raise the rates at their discretion as the changes will be capped by the change in the consumer price index. The Postal Service's current financial troubles are generating call to revise the current law. As this call for a new legislation gains momentum look here for additional comments.
The intelligent barcode (IMB), formerly the four states barcode, replaced the delivery-point barcode in January of 2013. This new symbologly, pictured below, is already appearing on flat sized mail. The barcode is designed to allow for tracking of individual mail pieces through the entire processing system. Mail Sort has not seen any degradation in coding rates, or acceptance issues at the Postal Service. The Postal Service will require the Full Service Option for the IMB in January 2014. This will mean that all mailing documents be submitted in an electronic format. The Full Service Option will require a tighter control on production as mailing documents can not be revised after submission. Mail Sort does not foresee any major issues for the mailer with this new requirement.
The Postal Service has announced that there will be major changes where the mail is accepted and processed. The Chicago Main Facility on Harrison Street is on the list of the facilities to no longer accept mail. The USPS Acceptance unit is to be split to the South Suburban Facility in Bedford Park and The Carol Stream Facility in Carol Stream. While no definite date has been announced this change will affect Mail Sort's operations. As more is announced by the Postal Service we will contact all customers as needed.