From the Ashes
Needless to say, we withdrew the mailing and researched why we were in violation. Although we knew we could file an appeal with the USPS if we thought the ruling was erroneous, that would delay the mailing even further while we waited for a response to our appeal. Or we could go forward with the mailing, pay more than $1 million in postage and get a refund if the USPS ruling was later found to be incorrect. Neither of those options were acceptable, and so we focused on getting back on track with the mail date without having to reprint the envelopes, outsert the contents from the “bad” package and then re-insert — at a cost of more than $30,000.
After consulting with the client, we decided to overprint the outer envelope word “Priority” with black ink. Although we still had the challenge of outsorting the contents of the mailing in order to edit the carriers, our cost to correct the error was cut in half — to $15,000 — with a delay in mailing of just one week. The next time we mailed in October of 2000, the teaser was changed to read “Urgent Gram — Please Rush.”
Important Fundraising Lesson Learned: When in doubt regarding the “legality” of your mail-piece design, be sure to reference the Domestic Mail Manual, which is the USPS guidebook and available online at http://pe.usps.gov, or contact your local USPS business Mailpiece Design Analyst. To find the closest Design Analyst to you, contact the USPS National Customer Support Center at 800.238.3150. That entity will review your mail-piece design at no cost and provide feedback on any concerns within just a day or two.
Had we contacted our Mailpiece Design Analyst in advance of printing the “Priority Mail” carrier, we could have avoided the cost of correction and the delayed mailing. It goes without saying that any mail-date delay has the potential to negatively affect the projected fundraising goals for a direct-mail campaign.