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NLS Operations Alert

 

No. 12-18

 

DATE          :  March 2, 2012

TO                :  Network Libraries

FROM         :  Deborah Toomey, Postal Liaison

SUBJECT   :  United States Postal Service mailer services

 

Recently there was discussion on the LBPH listserv regarding the distinction between Return Service Requested and Address Service Requested mailer services available from the United States Postal Service (USPS) and what, if any, costs they entail.

 

Section 703.5.1.2, Free Matter for the Blind and Other Physically Handicapped Persons, of the USPS Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) indicates that free matter “is treated as First-Class Mail for the exclusive purposes of determining appropriate standards for processing and delivery and for handling if undeliverable.” This means that network free-matter mailings are eligible for Mailer Services.

 

The DMM lists several options under 507.1 Treatment of Mail that are available for first- class mail and it also includes a comprehensive chart at 507.1.5.1. All mail considered first class, whether marked for a USPS mailer service or not, is treated by the USPS as Forwarding Service Requested. In this service, USPS provides a new address label to the item mailed and delivers the item to the recipient, the reader. No separate notice is sent to the sender, the network library. When the book—with the address change on the card—is returned to the library, the new address will be on the reverse of the mailing label. No fee is charged for this service.

 

Return Service Requested mailer service is supposed to return the item to the sender, the library, with the reason for the nondelivery attached. It should not contain the new address information, only the reason why it was not deliverable. No cost is associated with this service. The library must then re-mail the item after determining the patron’s new address. However, on February 27, 2012, the USPS issued a new Customer Support Ruling, PS-177. Under this directive, if the item mailed is delivered, opened, and then returned, postage may be collected by the USPS. The network library may be charged if this happens.

 

If your library is being charged for Return Service Requested, it may be an error by your postal carrier or the item may have been delivered to a patron who opened the item and then returned it, which would incur a fee.

 

Address Correction Requested does entail a fee. The item is sent to the patron at his or her new/correct address and a copy of the patron address change is made and provided to the requesting library. Operations Alert 10-46 Address Correction Requested was recognized last year as a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, regional library “best practice.” Address Correction Requested entails much more handling by the USPS, so its costs must be recouped by the USPS. There is a comprehensive chart outlining when a fee is and is not charged with Address Correction Requested:

 

Option 1

If no change-of-address order on file:

Piece returned with reason for non-delivery attached 

(no charge).

 

If change-of-address order on file:

 Months 1 through 12: Piece forwarded (no charge); separate    notice of new address provided (address correction fee charged).

 Months 13 through 18: Piece returned with new address attached (no charge).

 After month 18: Piece returned with reason for non-delivery attached (no charge).

Option 2

If no change-of-address order on file:

Piece returned with reason for non-delivery attached (no charge); separate notice of reason for non-delivery provided (address correction fee charged).

 

If change-of-address order on file:

 Months 1 through 12: Piece forwarded (no charge); separate notice of new address provided (address correction fee charged).

 Months 13 through 18: Piece returned with new address attached (no charge); separate notice of new address provided (address correction fee charged).

 After month 18: Piece returned with reason for non-delivery attached (no charge); separate notice of reason for non-delivery provided (address correction fee charged).

 

The USPS DMM 507.4 defines when each option is enforced. Network libraries selecting Address Service Correction notification on their return address should be prepared to pay associated costs.

 

In addition to contacting the NLS Postal Liaison for specific postal issues, you may wish to share the NLS Factsheet on Free Matter Mailing with your postal carrier. It is available at www.loc.gov/nls/reference/factsheets/mail.html.

 

For more information contact:

            Deborah Toomey

            Postal Liaison

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