USPS Gets Moving with Move Update Revisions

Postmaster General John Potter’s challenge to reduce undeliverable-as-addressed (UAA) mail 50% by 2010 appears headed in the right direction. During the Feb. 21 Mailers’ Technical Advisory Committee meeting, Potter announced that the U.S. Postal Service plans to revise the agency’s Move Update rules to include advertising mail and trim the amount of time given for address updates from six months to three months.

Currently, Move Update — which began in 1997 and is designed to reduce UAA mail – allows first-class mailers to receive automation or presort rates when they update addresses every 180 days using the Address Change Service, NCOALink, or another USPS-approved service. “We are going to put out a Federal Register notice and move the requirement to three months rather than six months, and we are going to do it for advertising mail as well,” Potter told committee members.

He said the agency would give mailers 180 days to implement the rules after they are finalized via the Federal Register, but a Federal Register notice date has not been established.

David Robinson, director of address quality for Stamford, CT-based Pitney Bowes, views the Move Update revisions as a good thing for the industry. “It is a positive because it’s part of USPS’s initiative to reduce UAA by 50%,” he says. “It doesn’t come as a surprise. Adding standard mail to this also reduces costs of properly disposing of that mail.” The U.S. Postal Service spends about $1.8 billion a year handling UAA mail.

Robinson doesn’t see any obstacles to the revisions. “I don’t think it will be problematic,” he says. “The USPS is aware the industry has the tools to do this and make sure companies are being more responsible, having a better sense of their target audience.”

David Weaver, president/CEO of the Alexandria, VA-based Mailing & Fulfillment Service Association, also supports the Move Update revisions. “The mailing service community will support that,” he says. “It should be a no-brainer to keep postal costs down. And there has been pressure from these do-not-mail initiatives, with at least nine states with pending legislation. This should help us reduce sending mail to kids, dead people, and dogs. It’s the whole issue of address integrity. We’ve been wondering why this hadn’t been done sooner.”

Most advertising mail, Weaver says, is standard mail, and the latter accounts for about half of the mailstream. “This should have a big impact,” he says. “This will be a significant move toward that.”

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