on Dec 6th, 2010 in Finances: Cost & Revenue | 8 comments
 
Mailings that meet minimum volume and preparation requirements to qualify for reduced postage rates are called business mail. Properly accepting business mailings is critical for the Postal Service since it accounted for $25 billion in revenue in 2010. Several types of Postal Service facilities accept business mail. Business Mail Entry Units have acceptance clerks with specialized training and systems for accepting business mail. Local Post Offices can also accept business mail. Most revenue for bulk business mailings is recorded using a system called PostalOne!. PostalOne! has built-in controls that assist clerks in properly accepting the mail. However, approximately 11,000 units that recorded more than $114 million in Permit Imprint and Periodicals transactions in FY 2010 have been forced to operate without PostalOne!. Regardless of the level of training or type of system used, each unit must accept, verify, and collect postage for mail according to required policies and procedures, a process for which it is crucial to have PostalOne!. If classified and accepted improperly the Postal Service risks accepting improperly prepared mail or mail paid at an improper rate. For the past several years, the Postal Service has faced significant revenue losses due in part to decreased mail volume and increased competition from other media alternatives. The Postal Service must continue to explore opportunities to improve processes and eliminate redundancies in their system. Because business mail acceptance generates a significant amount of revenue, the Postal Service may want to reevaluate the number of entry points for accepting business mailings, including the 11,000 units not on PostalOne!. Do you think that the Postal Service should restructure the entry points for business mail? Give us your comment below. The topic is hosted by the Office of Audit Field Financial – East team.

8 Comments


The Postal Service currently offers a discount system that is far too complicated for even trained acceptance employees (or programs) to grasp and implement. It needs to be simplified as it reminds me of the current tax code. Additionally, the rates offered to non-profit and periodicals mailers seem to be a service with very little reward to the Postal Service but similar service. Imagine what a thick periodical would cost if mailed at first class. Both of these peices of mail are basically processed the same with the same cost. The primary difference is the delivery time and the rate the customer pays. Eliminating acceptance points without PostalOne! would be a very small fix to a very large problem.

Second poll question would be better if it described what kind of impact. (negative?)

Limit the number of BME access points, and train employees at those access points how to process BME mail correctly. BME techs should take a re-certifying test once a year, and if they fail to re-certify they should lose their bid. Make those bids level 9 or higher to make it attractive to the best clerks.

There are several issues facing BME access points which may be improved by limiting the number of BME points to units with the trained clerks and space and equipment to handle these larger mailings.

1. Training - as noted the complex rules that are in place require a highly trained acceptance staff. It common that clerks within any one unit as well from unit to unit translate the requirements differently. This allows mail in some units to be accepted at the most favorable rates while not meeting the standards required. Not only causing revenue loss but may require higher operational costs that the USPS deems are required as part of work share discounts.

2. Material handling - Old units and smaller BMEU do not have space or equipment to handle palletized mail which the USPS now prefers for larger mailings. Limited space for rolling equipment, nutting trucks, AMPCs, hampers etc. These limitations increase the USPS' staff requirements, presents a injury danger to clerks as they lift more mail on and off scales; dangers to mail presenter to a lack of space to safely present mail. Dock slots are tied up for longer periods of time causing units to accept mail after acceptance hours, since the mailer was there before unit closing only being limited by the lack of space to offload.

3. Having less units may allow an easier handling of postage deposits with in the BMEU instead of the current two step practice of going to the "retail" counter to present postage checks. This practice again ties up the limited acceptance units dock slots when mail is being offloaded by dock high trucks since there are limit parking spaces available.

4. Many of the smaller units within urban areas do not process the mail and have reduced their hours to the point that the mailings dropped there take longer for delivery and cost the USPS and mailer more to handle the mail there instead of going to a modern unit that is staffed by trained USPS acceptance clerks that have the proper tools to handle "volume" mail.

5. I also suggest that the minimum number of pieces be increased from the current 200 pieces for standard mail and 500 for 1st class presort mail. These volume levels simply are too low to for any meaningful operational saving either by the USPS or mail service providers.

It seems the majority of mailings are not complicated, not unusual, and not difficult. I would have to consider changing delivery methods if I had to truck to a BMEU 25 or more miles away, when the mailings are basically the same every month and limiting entry points won't change any of that. I agree with most posters here about the difficulties of smaller/older offices, but they aren't insurmountable. Having to go to retail windows for check acceptance and the inevitable waiting in crowded lobbies is driving business away, which IS insurmountable!

Thanks for taking the time to respond to our blog. All of the comments will be considered as we move forward with our audit work. Voting indicates that by a margin exceeding 2 to 1 respondents thought bulk mail acceptance should be limited to units with better controls, including qualified staff. While almost 9 of 10 voters indicated there would be an impact to customers and/or employees, they did not feel compelled to elaborate. Any feedback here would be appreciated by he audit team.

-OIG Pittsburgh Audit Team (DK)

There should be no sort required for mailings less than 10,000 pieces. The mailer should present this mail faced in full trays. No separtions, no rubber bands, no numverous 1/2 trays. This mail should/must be automation compatable and that is it. Give a piece total. No complicated rate separations, just a simple # of pieces X an average of all the rates. Verification of the number of pieces could be done on the DBCS or a quick weight verification. We should not be wasting time on small mailings. Mailings of 10,000 pieces or less can be run on the DBCS in minutes. We should be focusing on the larger mailings with the greatest risk to the Postal Service.
Customers would love this because they would not have to separte the mail. We would save time by no spending time on low risk, small dollar mailings. These type of mailings could be accepted anywhere and the mail and paperwork sent to the major BMEU. No disputing with the customer of sortation or rate claimed.

Just my 2 cents worth

I could not agree more, I think that mailings of less that 10K should not only have no sorting requirements, but the discount for mailing this mail should be minimal if any. Small Mailings have limited sortation anyway and cause additional rework by the usps to gain density of the sortation for cost efficient transport. If the minimum mailing size for automation discounts were raised to 10K, the mailers with small volumes of mxd aadc mail would opt for a combined mailer to commingle these small mailings into a larger mailing with higher saturation of destinations.

I work at a large BME office, I believe BME clerks and managers across the country would agree that the FIRST thing they need to do is FIX postalone once and for all. It is constantly crashing, and even when it does work it is slow and does NOT correctly follow the process. For example, per HQ, clerks should only verify the number of pieces in a mailing randomly per postalone - this will lead to huge revenue losses because piece counts are the number one error we face. Next, you're not allowed to run Merlin and do a manual 2866 to record huge pallet label errors that will lead to missent mail and loss of revenue to reroute the mail correctly. The list goes on and on. Another issue is the End Of Day report, we find that many A.O.'s will actually release mail because they are afraid to have anything on the End Of Day report even though the mail is wrong and revenue is missing - they would rather release the mail than have it on the report - this is due to huge amounts of mis-information from HQ. Another problem is the VAR program used mostly by PSI but by others. We are financing PRIVATE companies with POSTAL money, ridiculous ! These companies should be required to meter at the lowest rate and pay additional postage just like everyone else. Lastly, the people running BME at the highest levels truly don't understand how it works and they are making some bad decisions. they really need to get rank and file BME acceptance MUCH more involved in designing how PostalOne and the verification process works

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