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Mailing Mistakes to Learn From

On this page I will show you examples of design mistakes that can cause presorted mail to be rejected by the Post Office. Generally, the post office rules are made for particular reasons, which once you understand them actually make sense.

For self-mailers, put your fold under the address!

For example, one of the most common errors these days are having the open end of self mailers end up under the address. Since the PO began automating their mail handling (which has led to markedly faster average delivery times), they have instituted strict standards for mailing design. In the old days (before 1995), you only had to apply a wafer to a self-mailer when there was something loose that could fall out. But now you have to have any piece sealed, and it is best and cheapest to seal from the top - then you only need one wafer. But if the piece is sealed from under the address, then you need two wafers at least. It took a trip to the mailing facility at Morgan Station in Manhattan to understand why. The reason is that the newest mail handling machines use blown air to push the mailing pieces down ramps to be read by pretty fancy OCR equipment. Somehow, the mailpieces end up standing on end, address straight up, for their OCR treatment. When you have the fold under the address, you have created a sturdy platform for your self-mailer to stand up on. But if you have it open ended on the bottom, buttressed by only two flimsy wafer seals, there is a chance the mailing piece will fall down and be bent or even lost in the machinery. So don't forget, design your piece so that the open end is above the address.

How can a approved non-profit mailer not qualify for non-profit rates?

This just happened to me. I sent in a card for Arts at St. Anns, for whom I have been mailing postcards for at the non profit rate for over 10 years already, with never a problem. All of a sudden, I get a call from my friends at the PO's weigh office. "Your postcard doesn't qualify and you have to pay the for-profit rate."

I couldn't believe my ears and I asked what the problem was. Here is the card....

This card had two problems.. First, it says on the upper left that Sirius Radio is one of the presenters of this show. Sirius Radio is a commercial entity, and even though St. Anns is not, by partnering with a for-profit they are not allowed to mail at the non-profit rate (you can click on the card to see it better).


Secondly, the circle on the bottom right has an advertising phrase for the Independence Savings Bank. While it is fine to print a corporate logo to attribute your donors, you may not print any sort of advertising message that is more than a logo.

I had the same problem once with the Brooklyn Sports Foundation. They published an annual calendar and sold ad space on the bottom of each month. Having those ads meant they had to mail at regular standard rates, not non-profit. In case you weren't aware, the non-profit rates are about 60% of the cost of regular standard rate, so there is real money involved.



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