By The Postal Curmudgeon December 13, 2005 -- Greetings fans of the postal service. It's been some time since we least griped together. The Curmudgeon was hiding for fear of retribution for my last column on consistency. Seems it really got the "attention" of some folks at L'Enfant Plaza. It seems that in some cases your local postal folks are not calling you (the mailer) but rather the owner of the mail This edition discuss the merits (or lack there of) the new USPS equivalent of spy-ware called eMIR or electronic Mail Inspection Report. This is a system that is designed to allow postal employees to communicate "issues" with mail downstream from the point at which it is accepted. The idea is that if the down stream processing plant note a "defect" in the way the mail is prepped, they can notify the accepting office the deficiency so they can communicate the issue to the mailer. Good communications, should equal improved quality. Great principle. It's supposed to allow reporting for things such as incorrect sortation, poor quality or incorrect attachment of tabs (wafer seals), broken or incorrectly assembled bundles or packs and the like. But here's how it's also being used. Mailer A (a friend of the Curmudgeon) enters a 50M-piece catalog mailing for his client XYZ Kitchen supply. Somewhere downstream the extra sturdy (not) rubber bands supplied by the postal service breaks and the bundles come apart in the bag. The clerk at a distant processing facility opens the bag and finds the broken bundle and make a report through the eMIR system. What makes things even better is that the postal service gets the information from the owner of the mail from you, the professional mailer. Now here's why this is important to you. The eMIR complaint is received at the Postal Facility where the mail was entered. How do they know? By the permit number printed by you right on the piece. Works the same way for metered mail. It seems that in some cases your local postal folks are not calling you (the mailer) but rather the owner of the mail (in this case XYZ Kitchens). The phone call does something like this. "This is Sally from the United States Postal Service Business Network. May I speak to the person responsible for your catalog mailing please?" "Hello this is Mr YZ of XYZ kitchens, how may I help you?" "Well, Mr. YZ this is Sally from the US Postal Service business network. We just wanted to alert you that the recent mailing you of your Christmas Catalog was not prepared properly. We've noted some problems at our processing plant with broken bundles of mail and that will make it difficult for us to deliver your catalogs. We just wanted you to know. Have a nice day Mr YZ, Good bye." OK, so from one bag with broken bundles come the assumption by your customer that his all important "make the year" Christmas catalog will be "difficult" for the Postal Service to deliver. What makes things even better is that the postal service gets the information from the owner of the mail from you, the professional mailer. They compile this data into a database of so called "ghost permits" with the implied promise of guarding what essentially amounts to your customer list. Now the fun begins. You get the call from Mr. YZ hysterical because he thinks his entire catalog mailing wasn't prepared properly by you. Do I even have to recount that phone call or his threats of litigation for "ruining" his holiday sales? I think not. After the phone has melted in our hand you wonder out loud "problem with delivery" when were they going to tell me. You call Sally from the Postal Business Network and she confirms it. "Oh yes," Sally says, I did you a favor and notified your client of the quality problem, that's our new policy." The circle is complete. After years of trying to build the volume of advertising mail, the postal service has, in an effort to improve quality, shot itself in the foot, and while they were shootin' got you thru the heart too. If you experience the guttural joy of eMIR. Don't' sit back and take it. Call your local postal managers and let them know this is unacceptable. After all the future of postal rates depends on volume, and mail owners like Mr. YZ sure aren't increasing their direct mail budgets based on the good news like Sally gave him. Until we gripe again, I am, The Postal Curmudgeon.