Cover Story: Opening Their Eyes
An Education Gap
The USPS saw 41.2 million Americans submit change of address forms last year, says Karen Cronin, customer relations coordinator for the USPS. That led to nearly 10 billion pieces of undeliverable-as-addressed (UAA) mail and a total waste of $1.9 billion.
"For the mailers who are preparing the piece, it's not only a waste in that they're wasting the cost of printing," explains Cronin, "they're also running the risk of permanently losing that customer contact," making undeliverable mail a drain on postal customers as much as it is for the Postal Service. And, she says, the USPS frequently found that small businesses weren't making address corrections when they were notified of a change. Cronin believes most of this stemmed from a lack of education on the subject.
"For smaller businesses, you might find they just don't understand there are products out there," says Cronin. "They just continue to mail to the same people each time, and they don't even realize a lot of this mail isn't getting delivered. ... It's complex to learn about where you can go to get the addresses updated." In addition, she says it can be costly to pay for the endorsements and other services, "but in the long run, if you're continually wasting your resources on mail that's not getting delivered, and running the chance of losing your customers, that's more costly."
Euclide knows the USPS feels there is a huge disconnect with its smaller postal clients on address hygiene, but he also sees a problem that goes beyond education. He claims there are few easy ways for small companies and nonprofits like BSA to reach the required hygiene standards on lists that may be as small as a few hundred names. "There aren't many [list service and data hygiene vendors] who want to deal with these pennies."