Hub SCF price eligibility expands July 1

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Newspapers that had been receiving the DSCF discount for dropping direct containers of periodicals or standard mail at a former sectional center facility, now designated as a service hub for mail cross-docking purposes, will find much of that price eligibility restored by July 1.

Forty-six service hubs were activated April 11. The hubs will allow some newspapers to avoid unnecessary trips to faraway mail processing plants. The U.S. Postal Service soon will formally recognize the DSCF price when flats trays (white tubs—preferred method) or sacks of periodicals, or sacks of standard mail, sorted to carrier-route, 5-Digit or M5D (mixing both) are dropped at the hub.

NNA began requesting the establishment of hubs in closing plants in 2011. Progress in setting them up has been slow. That number—the 46 now recognized for DSCF price—were way too low to satisfy most newspapers or shoppers that had been dropping mail historically into the SCFs converted to hubs following the many consolidations of smaller processing plants into larger plants under the Postal Services Network Optimization program.

The good news is that, under NNA pressure, 166 more hubs will be added to the list July 1, bringing the total to 212, and catching most of the recent consolidations.

This is important to those dropping at hubs, since the DSCF price was grandfathered for 2014 but lost pending a 2015 rate case that was delayed until April 2015 and then May 31.

Not that most of us don’t appreciate a delay in price increases, but the price eligibility in question hung in the balance. The first 66 should start getting the discount May 31, with the additional 166 eligible July 1.

Many publications dropping eligible copies would have been denied the price for either five months or six. A few still may hang in the balance.

The price is valid because direct containers are destined for a sort level below the old SCF, and therefore earn the price. But mail sorted to a 3-digit or SCF bundle or container designation will not earn the price when entered at a Hub. Such mail must still travel upstream to the processing plant now handling mail for the former SCF.

Your presort software should stay abreast of this, but you may want to check with the software provider to be sure. Because of confusion within USPS about announcing this new rate, some software providers may not be aware that this new discount is going to be programmed into the new May 31 rates.

If postal personnel question the DSCF discount for direct containers dropped at a hub, refer them to Customer Support Ruling PS-344, posted May 19 as an interim step to NNA’s request that this be included in the DMM to clear up confusion. Refer them to the Postal Explorer website ( Then click on Customer Support Rulings, fifth item below “Domestic Mail.”

Cross-docking should now occur at all hubs

Remember, under a policy letter NNA exacted from USPS Network Operations last year, if a newspaper enters direct containers at an origin-entry post office within the coverage territory of the former SCF—now hub—they should be “cross-docked” or handed off from an incoming truck trip to an outbound truck trip at the hub.

This allows delivery on a timely basis within the former SCF territory for newspapers going to adjoining communities or counties where newspapers lack enough copies to drop cost-effectively using exceptional dispatch (periodicals only).

This policy is contingent upon the maintenance of highway contract route transportation from the former SCF to post offices. That is the case in the vast majority of instances, although in some situations, a new hub has been created outside the former SCF. The postal service still has to have a network of truck trips to deliver mail to post offices each morning and pickup outbound mail each evening.

The hub work group of the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee, whose members include Brad Hill of Interlink and me, has asked USPS to review the remaining former SCFs for inclusion as eligible hubs for SCF discount.

Many newspapers are located in and operate web printing plants in towns that mail multiple newspapers and drop certain copies at the former SCF. The discount only applies to mail dropped at the hub. Mail being cross-docked that originated at 5-digit offices was never eligible for DSCF pricing, and that rate status is unchanged.

Consideration will also be given to a request that a hub-specific labeling list be created for inclusion on Postal Explorer website.

Military addresses now more like civilian ones

The postal service revised addressing standards for military mail to APOs and FPOs effective May 31 in order to be compliant.

All military mail pieces (APO and FPO) must show the correct “UNIT,” “CMR” (Community Mail Room) or “PSC” (Postal Service Center) and number, plus the box number as part of the addressing elements.

Just like domestic addresses, now military addresses “must contain specific standardized elements that are used to check the validity and deliverability of a mailing address in a database, which will return the applicable ZIP code or ZIP+4 code.” This was announced in the April 30 Postal Bulletin. Revisions are in DMM 703.2.2.1.

Addresses must also include the correct AA, AE, or AP designation. AA, AE and AP are used for addresses with the 3-digit ZIP code prefixes 340, 090-098, and 962-966, respectively.

Line 1 will contain the full name, with rank, if desired.

Line 2 is the delivery address line, which must show the info in the second graph of this item above.

Line 3, or bottom line, is the APO or FPO (“city”) designation and the appropriate two-letter AA, AE, or AP (“state”) abbreviation followed by the ZIP code or ZIP+4 code. © Max Heath 2015

MAX HEATH, NNA Postal chair, is a postal consultant for Athlon Media Group, publisher of Parade, American Profile, Relish and Spry newspaper supplements, and also for Landmark Community Newspapers LLC. E-mail via National Newspaper Association.