Wow! Another sharp turn on Postal Service roller coaster

By William E. (Bill) Garber
Interlink founder

When the Postal Service announced the day after Thanksgiving that they will not require Full-Service Intelligent Mail® next month as planned, Helen Sosniecki, Interlink’s senior sales and marketing manager and NNA McKinney Award-recognized former community newspaper publisher, was not particularly surprised.

“Long-time publishers have been down this road with the Postal Service before so it’s not surprising that many may have taken the January deadline with a grain of salt. It’s also why there is always such a flurry of activity whenever a Postal Service deadline is implemented,” she said.

Many Interlink clients will remember their adventure as the Postal Service started integrating Coding Accuracy Support System (CASS) requirements 20 years ago.

After a series of false starts and negotiated delays, there came a moment when there was no alternative.

When that moment came, as I recall, the National Newspaper Association (NNA) headline on Max Heath’s postal column in Publisher’s Auxiliary read: CASS Process Now! It stretched clear across the top of the page.

Interlink clients, as many readers here will recall, felt no sense of being smacked by that exclamation mark. Most had for a year or more been routinely CASS processing their list through Interlink.

Interlink always has attracted publishers who believe that getting in front and staying in front of the Postal Service technology curve is in the best interest of both their subscribers and their mail room.

Interlink’s president and an NNA representative on the Postal Service’s Mailer’s Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) Bradley Hill is committed to keeping Interlink clients comfortably at the front of the technology curve.

“Full-Service Intelligent Mail® is deeply embedded in the Postal Service strategy for reducing their expenses while improving delivery performance for every class of mail,” he said.

“While the Postal Rate Commission (PRC) invalidated the way the Postal Service sought to implement this requirement, the PRC explained to the Postal Service how to go about requiring Full-Service Intelligent Mail® without running afoul of its finding,” he added. “I have no doubt that Full-Service Intelligent Mail® will be required.”

In short, Full-Service Intelligent Mail® remains in the future for all mailers, just not starting next month.

Like CASS processing, when Full-Service Intelligent Mail® is required Interlink clients will be relaxed because they will already be using Full-Service Intelligent Mail®.

This delay is technically a good thing, as Max Heath says. There are technical issues that would have made the Jan. 26 deadline more than a little awkward at local post offices. These issues are well known and already are scheduled for resolution shortly, some even by next month.

Interlink clients would absolutely have been able to meet the Jan. 26, 2014, deadline. Delaying that deadline will certainly make the transition for our clients in the weeks ahead a little less stressful.