Be prepared when electronic documentation (eDoc) fails

The number of newspapers replacing hard copy postage reports with eDoc (Electronic Documentation) continues to grow. Getting started is quicker and easier than ever, and the feedback is overwhelmingly positive among those who have submitted eDoc for a few issues.

Moving to electronic documentation changes more than just how that information is shared, however, and it is imperative that newspapers understand what to do when eDoc stops working. For that reason, and because not all postal employees are well informed yet regarding the contingency plan, Interlink is re-running the following article.

By Brad Hill
President

Abandoning hard copy postage statements in favor of electronic submission offers several advantages to newspapers, not the least of which is welcomed convenience to both publishers and Post Office employees alike.

But what happens when the ‘e’ in eDoc stops working?

Can publishers be assured that the benefits of going electronic aren’t outweighed by some additional risk of having their papers refused or delayed when it’s time to mail? After all, those printed forms have certainly proven to be a reliable medium. Today, I bring you good news, mixed with a word of caution:

THE GOOD NEWS: The Postal Service has developed a contingency plan to ensure acceptance continues when electronic submission becomes unavailable, for mailings that typically send documentation electronically. Better still, this plan places only a minimal burden of recordkeeping on the publisher during the outage.

WORD OF CAUTION: The plan does not appear to be well-understood yet by postal workers at facilities where the use of electronic documentation is minimal. Fortunately, the 10-page document that describes this plan is available for public download on USPS website, which should minimize local push back.

The plan, as it is written, is fairly straightforward: Inform the post office anytime eDoc cannot be sent, log a few details for each postage statement that is missed, and submit the actual postage statements electronically within three days of the system coming back online. Hardcopy postage statements should not be entered when electronic documentation is unavailable, as might be assumed. This is to prevent duplicate postage statements from being entered into PostalOne! for the same mailing once electronic versions are eventually received.

Each mailing entered during the outage must be accompanied by a Customer Mailing Log. The following should be included for each postage statement that normally would have been sent, using one line per postage statement:

* Permit Holder

* Permit Number

* Total Pieces

* Total Postage

* Mailer Job ID

That information can be found on the front page of hardcopy postage statements produced by Interlink Circulation, with the exception of the mailer job ID, which can be any number you choose for tracking purposes.

The contingency plan identifies three scenarios for why electronic documentation might become unavailable:

  1. PostalOne!outage – bugs, maintenance, etc. on USPS end.
  2. Mailer outage – system crash, loss of power or Internet, etc. at your office.
  3. PostalOne! system delayed file transmission – which does not apply to Interlink’s method of sending eDoc; this can be a problem for Mail.Dat users.

 

Except in the case of PostalOne! outages, a ticket must be opened with the PostalOne! Help Desk to inform them when you are unable to submit eDoc. That can be done by calling (800) 522-9085, or sending an email to postalone@usps.gov.

Failure to submit eDoc should not prevent your mail from being entered and processed, even if it’s your fault. Understanding this plan and being ready to share it with your postmaster if necessary is the best way to ensure delivery of your paper isn’t affected when problems arise.

A copy of the PostalOne! External Contingency Plan is available for download here.

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