USPS issues final rule on summer’s mobile barcode discount

The US Postal Service has published its final rule confirming the details of this summer’s 2% promotional discount, encouraging mailers to make use of mobile barcode technology on letters and flats. The rule announced last month was published in the Federal Register today, stating that presorted and automation First Class Mail cards, letters and flats, and Standard Mail letters and flats will be eligible for the discount if bearing two-dimensional mobile barcodes.

The codes must bear technology such as QR codes, watermarks or tags that can direct consumers to a website via a mobile phone scanning application. Eligibility requires the connected website to either allow e-commerce purchases to be made, or take the form of a URL personalised to the individual consumer mail recipient.

The discount is being offered through July and August 2012 to highlight the possibilities of the technology connecting physical mail communications to online information.

USPS offered a similar discount last summer, which proved very popular with mailers, but saw some doing little to meet the eligibility criteria other than printing mobile barcodes on their mail that critics have suggested did not work, or did not provide value to consumers.

This year, the final rule states extra requirements aiming to make the barcodes useful for consumers.

Mailers have to direct consumers through to a mobile-optimised website, and cannot simply offer consumers a payment page, online bill payment enrollment, or a personalised page that contains merely address information or individualised serial numbers.

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Eligible mail will have to be separate from other mail, accompanied by electronic documentation and bearing Intelligent Mail barcodes.

USPS has said metered mail will be included within the discount, publishing special lower rates for postage being affixed to metered mail, since the discounts cannot be applied retrospectively.

This will see First Class Mail postcards at 20 cents postage per item, automation and machineable letters at 25c, non-machinable letters 45c and flats at 35c, with Standard Mail prices from 12c for regular letters and 13c for regular flats.

Nonprofits are included in the discount programme, with metered mail rates for Standard Mail letters at 5c and flats at 6c.

Mailers will be able to register for the promotion campaign from May 1, 2012, and must register at least a day before their first mailing date.

Full details of the promotion final rule can be found here.

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