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Chapter 2
postal operations

i. Mail Recovery Centers

The Postal Service operates two mail recovery centers (MRCs). They are located in St. Paul, MN, and Atlanta, GA. These facilities are responsible for the final disposition of undeliverable-as-addressed and nonreturnable mail. During 2004 they processed approximately 1.3 million parcels and 73.1 million letters. To better serve customers the MRCs are used as diagnostic tools to pinpoint specific problem areas that affect mail volumes. By communicating these problems to mailers, mailers are able to improve their mail preparation and/or packaging. The Postal Service works closely with mailer organizations to determine ways to provide better service and reduce operating costs. A direct result of this process was the Expanded Return Program, whereby undeliverable mail items found in company-identifiable packaging are returned in bulk, as postage due, to the 40 participating companies. In 2004, the MRCs returned a total of 6.1 million pieces of mail to their rightful owners. Additionally, the MRCs continue to improve processes for identifying the rightful owner of the mail and therefore continue to increase the number of mailpieces returned to customers. The Mail Recovery Program works closely with Operations, Delivery Programs, Retail, and the Postal Inspection Service, to bring improved organizational efficiency to this activity.

j. Corporate Customer Contact

Corporate Customer Contact (CCC) provides customers with easy, toll-free access to a broad range of products and services through a comprehensive network of toll-free numbers. CCC handles a wide variety of general information inquiries through 800-ASK-USPS. An additional toll-free number, 800-222-1811, handles international and domestic Express Mail inquiries, as well as domestic delivery and signature confirmation inquiries. It accepts customer orders for stamps through 800-STAMP-24. CCC also provides support for the majority of e-mail customer contacts through the Contact Us page on The overall goal is to improve customer service, improve operating efficiency, decrease general information calls to local offices, and increase revenue. The CCC network has centers in Denver, CO; Orem, UT; Jacksonville, NC; and Columbia, MD. This contact center network annually responds to 62 to 68 million phone and e-mail inquiries from across the nation. Queries range from general information, such as mailing rates, hours and locations of local Postal Service facilities, and service opportunities, to stamp orders, track and confirm inquiries, and technical problems related to the Web site.

B. Products and Services

The Postal Service has a statutory requirement to provide products and services that meet the varied needs of business and residential customers. In 2004 initiatives focused on developing new products and services to meet customers' needs, as well as improving the value of existing products and services.

1. Correspondence and Transactions

First-Class Mail service accounted for 48 percent of the Postal Service's total domestic mail volume in 2004. In 2004 there was a continued focus on transaction mail (bills, statements, and payments) to strengthen the mail as the primary channel for financial transactions. Ongoing refinements of the National Firm Holdout program and constant attention to two-day and three-day service performance have supported service improvements in this critical part of the mail base.

a. Reply Mail

Reply Mail lets businesses provide preaddressed letters and postcards, with or without postage, to encourage customers to respond to their offers. In 2004 the development of a Reply Mail Web site makes Reply Mail easier and more effective. The Web site allows customers to learn how to use Courtesy Reply Mail (CRM) and Business Reply Mail (BRM) effectively. This Web site also increases customer ease-of-use by reducing the time and effort currently required to apply for BRM and obtain a new BRM permit and ZIP+4 Code. CRM customers are able to design their letter/postcard mailpieces, obtain a unique ZIP+4 Code, and create an electronic CRM mailpiece.

b. Remittance Mail

Remittance Mail is the segment of First-Class Mail service that is comprised of payments typically enclosed in Courtesy Reply envelopes. When combined with the outgoing bills and statements, bill and remittance mail accounts for an estimated 50 billion pieces of mail, 49 percent of items sent by First-Class Mail service.

Because of the economic importance of bills and remittance mail volume, the Postal Service has undertaken an "Improvement and Innovation Initiative" to respond to current and growing challenges in the payments industry. The initiative is designed to identify and implement service improvements that ensure consistent performance and expedited mail processing and delivery, plus position the Postal Service as a value-added service provider through the introduction of innovative solutions for industry.