With the holiday season around the corner, our Customer Support team has been getting more and more questions regarding the coverage and dates of the Presort and Encoding Tables. Many mail shops know this time of year brings high-volume mail, and they’ll begin to receive orders much earlier than normal. To avoid the time crunch as the deadlines for these orders close in, we find many mailers sorting much earlier than they would for mailings during other times of the year. Which is why this month we’re discussing dates and coverage of the Presort and Encoding tables to provide you a better understanding of these files, along with how and when they can be used.
Encoding Tables refer to CASS™ files, which are released by the USPS® every month. Generally, BCC Software releases new CASS tables every even month. These are detailed on your BCC Mail Manager™ toolbar with the heading “Encoding Data.” This section will either list the number of days until the data file expires or that the file is opened/closed. There are five different data file groups listed for a normal BCC Mail Manager install:
- ZIP + 4®
While updated every other month, Encoding Table files are good for 90 days, meaning there will always be at least 30 days of overlap. Additionally, these files cover any encoding performed on a list for up to 180 days after the date of encoding. This means even though your August data files are only good until the end of October, a list encoded with these current tables will count as encoded for much longer. So, with this in mind as long as your sort is within the next 180 days and your encoding files are currently valid there should be no need to rush on to the next tables to get a sort prepared for later in the year.
While Encoding Tables are released every other month, new Presort Tables are released each month, but cover a two-month period, and will list the date the current data table would expire in the toolbar. BCC Software releases updates regularly that contain the Presort Tables for a given month. These are also built into your web updates, so it is possible to get the updated data without installing the specific Table updates. These tables also have some considerable overlap but offer much less future coverage. For this reason, most holiday mailing questions revolve around the release of these tables. We seek to post these tables as soon as we can, due to the corrections and frequency of these tables coming out generally post several table updates a month, roughly every two weeks.
When looking at the Presort Tables in BCC Mail Manager, the toolbar only shows the end date of the current tables, meaning they should never show a date more than two months in the future. However, there frequently are other tables covering dates farther than that in the program.
Let’s look at an example
Presort Tables begin at the first of the month, so for example on 9/20 the toolbar will display an end date of October 31st using the 9/1-10/31 tables. Once we move on to 10/1 however, the date on the toolbar will update and show an expiration of 11/30 (the 10/1-11/30 tables). We may have access to these later tables before 10/1, but because the toolbar assumes a mailing date of “today,” it may not be obvious that these were installed.
The easiest way to tell is to open up a list and go to presort it. On the Mailing Date Details screen and allow you to look through all the Presort tables installed with BCC Mail Manager. In the above scenario if I have installed the 9/14 table update, on this screen I can now select the 10/1 tables and sort jobs that need to Mail in November. I should also be able to change the Mailing Dates on the Mailing Presort Information screen in order to adjust the tables being used to cover the desired mailing date. In either case this may not be obvious from the toolbar.
We recommend subscribing to the BCC Mail Manager Update Notifications Forum on the Customer Portal and staying on top of your updates for best results. If you have any questions, contact Customer Support at 800-624-5234.