On the scene at MTAC: Merlin delayed

The U.S. Postal Service will delay for 30 days the implementation date for using the flat-sized mailings test results of “Merlin”–the Mailing Evaluation, Readability Lookup Instrument. Merlin automates verification procedures that were previously conducted manually to ensure that bulk mail is eligible for worksharing discounts.

The Merlin delay was announced during the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee (MTAC) meetings on Feb. 6-7 in Washington. Led by MTAC mailer reps such as Anita Pursley, vice president, postal affairs for catalog printer Quebecor World, who heads up a Standard Mail work group for MTAC, mailers complained that Merlin results are inaccurate, due to software problems.

A new MTAC work group, led by USPS manager, marketing & technology channel management Michele Denny, will submit new Merlin recommendations by early March. “We’ll work first on the quality of flat mail and flats barcodes,” Denny said during her presentation on Feb. 6. “We’ll then move forward on Merlin and with all other aspects of that program as our starting point.”

As Robert O’Brien, vice president, postal & distribution policy for Time Customer Service pointed out, there are already more than 160 Merlin devices out in the field. “We haven’t assessed one barcode readability assessment on a letter or flat since August because we found that the original software was in error,” he said. “We need to find out the problem and come up with a solution, and that’s what this group will work on.”

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