Mailrooms Preparing for November's Move Update

Undeliverable-as-addressed (UAA) mail has become a problem with the Postal Service. The Postal Service states, “In Fiscal Year 2004 [they] handled 9.7 billion pieces of UAA mail at a cost of $1.8B.” UAA mail reduces productivity for both they postal system and businesses. Starting Nov. 23, the United States Postal Service’s Move Update standards take effect in an effort to reduce the amount of UAA mail.

Move Update will now require all mailing lists to be run through the national change of address system. The minimum frequency of change-of-address processing will be 95 days prior to the mailing date, rather than the 185 days it was previously. Standard mail as well as automation-rate and presort-rate First-Class mail will be included in the Move Update requirements.

In order to keep up with these standards, colleges and universities also must make changes in their mailing processes. We spoke with George Goldsworthy, manager of printing and mailing at Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, VT, about his preparations for Nov. 23.

Can you explain to us what the new standards of Move Update will require?
George Goldsworthy:
My understanding about the Move Update is that we will be checking our address data against software with the US Postal System and their address correction server, so we will be mailing to people at their current address as opposed to outdated information, which we may hold.

Is there any training or other preparation you have done for Move Update?
George Goldsworthy:
I went to several sessions with mailing companies and postal officials and brought back all that information and educated my campus and all our department mailers as to how we’re going to proceed. We developed guidelines as an institution so that we’d be rated as a good mailer with the postal service and so everybody here is in compliance now.

I think we were proactive in our education; on the first [test mailing], we could see the positive results, and now we know that our pieces are going to be deliverable. We greatly take advantage of our nonprofit rates. Now we can guarantee that a larger percent of [our mail] will be deliverable pieces and getting to their intended audience.

What will St. Michael’s do to check the addresses? Will you need to purchase software?
George Goldsworthy:
We’ve made an agreement with a private mail house located off-campus to have them run our data against their software. He returns our list to us after [the addresses] have been NCOA (National Change of Address) certified.

Rather than invest a large amount of money into the software to do this ourselves — we didn’t feel we’d pay that for a private vendor. The cost justification wasn’t there to invest in it ourselves.

Would you say then that depending on the size of the institution, some would go the route you went with an off-campus provider while other larger schools will probably buy the software for themselves?
George Goldsworthy:
We have a student population of 2,000 and an alumni base of 24,000. Larger institutions could have a student population twice the size of our alumni base. Given the size of their mailing and the size of their departments, and the fact that they handle their mail in house, it would make sense for them to invest in the software.

The purpose of Move Update was to cut down on the amount of UAA mail. What results have you seen from your test mailing?
George Goldsworthy:
The first test that we did last month was to a mailing list of 3,400 people, and we had approximately 340 or 350 addresses that were affected by this, in that we received a corrected address. This was 10 percent of our list. Rather than paying for address correction, which we would have done for this mailing, we get hard copy address corrections — we would have paid 50 cents per correction otherwise.

What happens to mail that might still end up with the wrong address?
George Goldsworthy:
If it doesn’t have a service endorsement on it, such as address correction requested or forwarding service requested, it is recycled material for standard mail. First-Class automated pieces still get handled as First-Class mail.

The majority of our pieces are being sent at nonprofit rates, and thus if it doesn’t have a service endorsement on it, which we pay for, it becomes recycle material. That was one of the larger initiatives directing this — there would be that much less mail ending up nondeliverable.