I spent the last several weeks deep-diving issues related to the Intelligent Mail barcode (IMb). It was quite an experience.
There has been an increasing amount of discussion about IMbs because, in January 28, 2013 POSTNET will be phased out for all automation discounts. If you want postal discounts, you’ll have to use the IMb.
If you try to use POSTNET anyway, you’ll be stopped at the counter (or the Bulk Mail Center) and have to pay the difference between the automated and non-automated pricing before your mail will be taken.
You can just imagine the havoc that would wreck on schedules and budgets. Best to start making the transition now.
What struck me during the process is how much inaccurate or outdated information is out there about the differences between IMb Basic, IMb Full-Service, the formerly separate USPS services they do or do not contain, the phase-in and phase-out dates for each, and just about everything in-between.
This was the case even from those we would consider to be experts in the field. I downloaded white papers, PowerPoint presentations, did interviews with recognized personalities. Then I sent the finished, approved copy to the U.S. Postal Service, which red-lined it something fierce, even places that had been reviewed, corrected, and updated by my experts.
Part of the issue is the complexity of the IMb, especially the Full-Service IMb. Part of the issue is the lack of clear, well-defined accessible information, even on the USPS website. Part of the issue is the fluidity of the situation, so that what was accurate even last month isn’t accurate now. The USPS was still deciding on what to call certain services even as they were reviewing my copy.
So there are three takeaway points here:
1. The phase-out of POSTNET is definite this time. Sunset will be January 27, 2013.
2. If you want to continue to obtain postal discounts, start the transition to the IMb now. Time will fly by faster than you can imagine.
3. If you want the most accurate information, check with the Post Office itself. It has even set up a toll-free number for help with IMbs. You might have to wait on hold for awhile, but then, patience is a virtue, right