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Secondary Addresses becoming a Primary Concern

April 04, 2016

Address quality is still a major concern for the mailing industry. According to the latest Undeliverable as Addressed (UAA) statistics from the USPS, over 6.5 billion pieces of mail were UAA in 2015 and cost the mailing industry over $1.2 billion to resolve. The largest contributor to this is UAA was the 4 billion pieces of mail treated as waste!

A mail piece that does not have a complete, correct, and current address will never achieve the timely, predictable, or ultimate delivery that was expected and paid for by the mailing industry. Most often (75.8%), UAA mail can be attributed to addresses not being updated with NCOALink data despite availability of on-line access from companies like BCC Software; however, another major contributor is missing or incorrect secondary address information.

A secondary address is an apartment number or a suite number. These are typical in high-rise buildings, but can also include townhomes in a gated community. Often times there is a cluster box in the lobby or at the gated entrance of the complex where letters and envelopes can be placed securely in a row of mail receptacles. In the event that the secondary address is missing or incorrect, the carrier may still be able to place the piece in the correct location since all the receptacles are available and hopefully the carrier’s personal knowledge of the occupants can be leveraged. The USPS estimates that 2.2 billion pieces of UAA mail are delivered each year that relied upon the carrier’s knowledge.

While a cluster box may be able to assist in carrier assisted UAA, what about parcels? Few if any cluster boxes have enough parcel lockers to allow a carrier to deliver all the parcels and most consumers would likely prefer to have their packages delivered at their doorstep. If the secondary address is missing or wrong, how will the carrier make delivery? Consider the aforementioned gated community of townhomes. The carrier would have to canvas the area hoping to find the right townhome to deliver the parcel. That adds a lot of costs to the USPS, which is why beginning July 2016, the USPS is proposing a 20 cent surcharge on all packages that do not contain a complete and correct secondary address. In other words, a DPV return code of ‘D’, indicating a missing secondary, or a DPV return code of ‘S’, indicating an incorrect secondary, meaning the secondary presented is wrong will no longer be allowed. A DPV of ‘Y’ will be required for all parcels.

An accurate secondary address is a challenge to the mailing industry. For business addresses, the SuiteLink solution can sometimes provide the answer, but not always. It relies heavily on a precise match of the USPS registered business name, which means acronyms or Doing Business As names can be problematic. And currently, the USPS does not have an APTLink (apartment link) product that could provide secondary address information for residential addresses.

The solution, assuming the USPS moves forward with their July 2016 implementation date, is for the industry to solve the problem. Point of entry address correction solutions, such as BCC Software’s ZIPFOURce and Datavolve technologies can be leveraged to transactionally correct address information. Or in the case of correcting a list of names and addresses, BCC Software’s Address Resolution Service (ARS), which can be conveniently accessed from within Mail Manager, can be leveraged to append or correct the secondary address. In many cases, the ARS correction rate has been shown to resolve 50% or more of the addresses submitted.

The Mailers Technical Advisory Committee has formed a special workgroup to explore the secondary address requirement for parcels as well as other parcel related concerns. In the meantime, it is a good idea to begin looking into ARS or point of entry solutions to help reduce UAA and avoid a costly 20 cent per package surcharge due to an incomplete or missing secondary address.

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