Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Delivering to Empty Houses

In order for mail to remain a viable options for communications and advertising, every part of the mail supply chain has to eliminate every penny of unnecessary costs.  No cost is more unnecessary than printing and delivering a mail piece to the wrong address.  Every penny associated with delivery to the wrong address reduces the return generated by mail delivered to the intended recipient.  

Minimizing this wasted expense has focused on mail that is addressed to a specific individual.   However, a recent report by Diana Olick on CNBC.com suggests that even saturation mailers face this problem.   Her report indicated that that identified that 11% of all homes are vacant.  The problem is greatest in those parts of the United States that either saw over building of new home, as occurred in Arizona, Nevada, and Florida, or have experienced long periods of economic decline as have occurred in manufacturing focused cities in Michigan, Ohio, western Pennsylvania, and upstate New York.   

Right now, saturation mailers accept a level of waste to get the lower rates available to those mailing to every house.  For example, if the mailer's total cost of printing and postage is 25 cents, then delivering 11% of saturation mail pieces to a vacant house  increases the cost per occupied address to 28.1 cents, a 12.25% increase over the cost per possible address.   The cost per occupied address would be even higher in one of the cities with above average vacancy rates.  

Mailers, printers and the Postal Service would benefit if they could develop a way to reduce delivery to unoccupied houses as an effort to reduce wasted deliveries improves the economic return on saturation mail and will increase demand for this service.  However, currently fixing the problem of delivering to unoccupied houses can result in skipping a significant portion of possible addresses on a carrier route which could bump up the rate to one that does not require delivery to every address on a route.   The Postal Service, mailers and the Postal Rate Commission should take the opportunity to solve this problem by developing a way for the Postal Service to continue to offer the lowest Enhanced Carrier Route rates even if requirements for that rate could not be met due to low occupancy rates on one or more routes within a metropolitan area.


Anonymous said...

If saturation mailers are using computerized delivery sequence address lists then it is possible to skip delivery to some addresses marked vacant. The question is how up to date the vacant the vacant information is.

Anonymous said...

I am puzzled by this information. USPS Delivery Statistics file, required for use by Saturation Mailers, allows and offers Active Residential column for such a purpose. Now there can be changes within a ZIP since the last update, and some post offices do a better job updating stats than others, but this best practice should not cause the rate of duplication cited by CNBC and your piece posted here.

Max Heath, postal chair, National Newspaper Association

Anonymous said...

Again the mailer wants someone else to subsidize his mailing costs, they either can have directed advertising or saturation, but they can not have directed mailing at saturation prices. There is a cost to delivery to every address 6 days a week 52 weeks a year, this why FedEx and UPS have no interest in taking over the USPS delivery work. And how should we decide if a house empty???? The postal service is obligated under the law to delivery all first class mail, if it is properly addresses. It’s the mailers job to keep their own mailing list not the postal services.

Anonymous said...

Here's an idea. Why don't you slap a stamp on your letters like the rest of us. I don't see the post office or anyone else coming into your business and complaining about the salaries and bonuses you hand out. It's only a "solution" if it saves your salary and your money. Who cares if the USPS goes under as long as you remain status quo?

dryMAILman said...

If the output of Northrop Grumman's Flats Shuffler Shredder (FSS) can be taken directly to the street for immediate delivery, then so can the near-saturation flats (ECRLOT) produced by "self-serving" printers. Why is the USPS changing carrier work rules to make their FSS ROI look better than it is? The USPS lacks accountability and integrity. WE ALREADY HAVE WALK-SEQUENCED FLATS!

dryMAILman said...

Letter carriers do not take near-saturation flats directly to the street because that would expose Northrop Grumman's Flats Shuffler Shredder (FSS) for the Fraudulent Spending Spree (FSS) that it is. WE ALREADY HAVE WALK-SEQUENCED FLATS! The work rules change in FSS offices to make postal FSS look less costly. By the way, has anyone seen the new PMG demonstrating how to carry and deliver postal FSS?

Anonymous said...

The United States Postal Service has something called "Address Quality Analysis" to help Mailers with address hygiene.

Anonymous said...

Apparently you are unaware that there IS a system in place that denotes vacants addresses. This is also communicated to mailers who use the Postal Service's verification of delivery addresses.

Anonymous said...

A house delivered by a city carrier must be vacant for 90 days before it can be tagged as vacant. The mailer must update their mailing list every 90 days to be current with the line of travel and new construction and vacant homes

Anonymous said...

as stated above there is a system that is updated by carrier route by the carrier themselves. this info is then sent to mailers to update their systems. the program is called by the PO as ASO. look it up .

Anonymous said...

The posters are correct, there is a system in place for vacancies over 90 days old to be "taken off the mailing lists".

BUT: the carrier has to update this "edit sheet, or red book" as it is called.

The carrier is in a catch 22 situation...too many 'vacancies' and the supervisors will want to add to his route.

Also, most supervisors will not give the carriers time OR the training to fill out this form correctly, when it usually would be advantageous to management for the form to be filled out properly and as often as possible.

Proper filing would also reflect addresses that are NO LONGER vacant, and also add new addresses, from construction, or addresses that were being delivered, but never accounted for.

But management never seems to "get it".

Such a great system in place, and I know how to do mine, but it has been sitting on my "case" for weeks, untouched, for "there is no one to do the computer work".

No wonder we are fighting for survival...they strain at gnats, but swallow or overlook camels. :)

Anonymous said...

the house does NOT have to be vacant for 90 days before the carrier tags it vacant....you can tag it vacant IMMEDIATELY, but it cannot be MORE than 90 days or it is an error

Anonymous said...

Use "Simplified Addressing". No more waste! Details can be found at:


You; Me; Genius! : )

Jay said...

You postal fairrers are a trip. You get made because a machine can do your job and feel threatened. No metter how much you complain the FSS and newer development will hopefully get rid of all of you lazy overpaid gov workers.

Funny that the FSS ROI is under a year. That means after the first year the USPS is saving shitload of money. But thats why you are complaning. No wonder the rest of the country hates you guys.