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POST OFFICE STATION 17 Return Service and
Business Reply Mail

Departments wishing to make use of these services should make arrangements directly with the U.S. Postal Service as outlined below.

Return Service allows you to request an address update and/or forwarding from the USPS on any undeliverable item you send out. Some simple types of these services are free, but others are paid for by a fee per piece, which is charged to a trust account you open in advance with the USPS. This service is then set in motion by such endorsements as ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED or RETURN SERVICE REQUESTED printed on your mailpiece.

Whether any cost incurred for this service, plus any added expense to print the endorsement on your mailpiece, is worth it to your department depends upon the purpose of your mailing. To give two opposite examples, if you are collecting money from those on your mailing list, you will definitely want it as complete and correct as possible, and the cost may be well justified. For a casual newsletter, however, probably it wouldn't be.

If you wish to utilize this service, you may open a Return Service trust account by visiting the Church Street Post Office, 1718 Church Street. Please see the Trust Account Controller's office. The expected volume of your returns should govern how much you deposit at a time. You will need to furnish the name, address, and phone number of the person to be responsible for the account, as well as the exact return address you will use on your mailpiece. The return address will be used for matching your mail to the appropriate account.

Click here: RETSVC.PDF to view information from the USPS on designing this type of mailpiece, or here to search the Postal Service page from which this information was taken.

Business Reply service allows you to send out cards or envelopes which your correspondents may return to you without any cost to themselves. Like Return Service, this is charged to you at a per-piece rate, over and above first-class postage, charged to a trust account you open in advance with the USPS.

Whether the cost for this service, plus the added expense of printing a special mailpiece, is worth it to your department depends chiefly up on the rate of return you expect. Since each piece coming back costs first-class postage + an additional fee, obviously if all the items you sent out came back, you would incur very substanial costs over what you would have paid to simply put first-class return postage on all the pieces. If your expected return rate is about 20% or less, Business Reply is a good option. If more than that, careful calculation is needed. If returns are expected to anywhere near approach 50%, Business Reply is, as we say here in the Medical Center, contraindicated.

If you wish to use this service, you will need to first take out a Business Reply permit and then also open a trust accont as described under Return Service at left. You may obtain a permit by visiting the Mailing Requirements section at the main U.S. Postal facility, 525 Royal Parkway. This office is on the front, immediately to the left of the public window service area. There will be an application to fill out, and an annual permit fee. Please contact the USPS Mailing Requirements office at 885-9383 if you need further information about this process.

Please keep in mind that the printing company or service you subsequently use to print your Business Reply piece must adhere strictly to the USPS guidelines for this type of item. You will learn more about these guidelines at the Mailing Requirements office; you may click here for information on designing this type of piece: BRM.PDF, or here to search the Postal Service page from which this information was taken.