on Jan 10th, 2011
in Finances: Cost & Revenue
| 6 comments
Postage Meters are printing machines or systems for home or office that print postage directly onto mailpieces, or onto an approved label, for mailing. Customers can request refunds on meter mail for a variety of reasons. For example, customers can request refunds when meter mail postage is printed for the wrong denomination, mail is damaged before it is delivered to the Postal Service, or postage is printed but not mailed. For customers to receive a refund, they must take their unused meter mail postage along with the Postal Service Form 3533, (Application for Refund of Fees, Products and Withdrawal of Customer Accounts),to their local post office to request the refund. Once postal employees receive a refund request, they process the request manually by counting each piece of metered postage in question to verify the refund amount. The Postal Service charges a 10 percent fee (up to $350) for each refund processed. If the 10 percent fee is greater than $350, the Postal Service charges the customer a flat fee of $35 an hour to process the refund. Once the local postal employee verifies the refund amount, the post office either issues a no-fee money order (if the refund is less than $500) or forwards the supporting documentation to a disbursement center for refund payment. In Fiscal Year 2010, the Postal Service refunded customers more than $21 million for spoiled and unused meter mail postage. If all associated mailpieces were metered at the First-ClassTM 44-cent stamp rate that would mean postal employees manually counted 47.7 million mailpieces to verify meter mail refunds. The topic is hosted by the Office of Audit Field Financial – West team.
on Dec 20th, 2010
in Finances: Cost & Revenue
| 1 comment
The Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) requires the Postal Service to measure service performance and report to the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC). The PAEA directs that external measurement systems be used for evaluating the Postal Service’s mail delivery performance unless alternate systems have been approved by the PRC. The PRC reviews this data to ensure that delivery performance does not deteriorate under the current rate setting process and to assess customer satisfaction. The Postal Service has approval to use a hybrid measurement system for bulk presorted First-Class™ and Standard Mail® relying on Intelligent Mail Barcode (IMb) scans to measure arrival at postal facilities (start the clock) and a network of external reporters who record delivery times. The PRC has expressed concern about the accuracy of start-the-clock recordings, noting that Postal Service’s start-the-clock event was based on the first read on mail processing equipment rather than on the documented arrival time. Given limited data availability, the PRC also expressed concern that the IMb service delivery performance measurement is not representative of all presort First-Class and Standard mail. They also recommended the Postal Service continue to work to correct service problems. The Postal Service implemented full-service IMb mailer certification procedures to ensure that mailings meet appropriate business rules. However, this certification process is not mandatory. Do you think that the mailer certification procedures will increase the availability and accuracy of start-the-clock data? Have you experienced problems with the certification procedures? Are there other steps the Postal Service can take to ensure the reliability of IMb-based service performance data? You are also invited to comment on this topic on our Audit Project Pages. The topic is hosted by the Office of Audit Cost, Revenue, and Rates team.
on Dec 13th, 2010
in Finances: Cost & Revenue
| 35 comments
The Postal Service does not receive tax dollars to sustain its operations, but relies on accurate postage payments for support. While the vast majority of the Postal Service’s customers pay the full cost of mailing, revenue loss, otherwise known as revenue leakage, can occur when individual or business customers don’t pay the appropriate postage for their mailings. Postage may be paid in a number of ways. Customers can buy stamps at a customer service window and apply them to letters and packages as they need them, which can sometimes lead to underpayment of postage. Business customers can pay through meter or permit accounts. Business Mail Entry Units make sure that the correct postage has been affixed or claimed when discounts are claimed. Online sellers can use PC Postage and Click-N-Ship® postage with free carrier pick-up, eliminating the hassle of taking their goods to the Post Office to be weighed and shipped. Of course, this could lead to mistakes in mailings sent out under the wrong, and cheaper, mailing class for which the goods do not apply, such as mailing a set of skis as media mail. Because of its dire financial situation, it’s now more important than ever for the Postal Service to protect the revenue it is due whether it comes in from the post office window, meters, online postage accounts, or from permit accounts. Now is the time to share your thoughts and help the agency get back in the black. What are the best ways to protect Postal Service revenue? Enter your comments below. The Office of Audit Sales and Service team is hosting this topic.
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