The History Of Paper

On Paper by Nicholas BasbanesPaper… it’s a powerful thing. Almost every important document ever composed was written on paper. Great empires were built on principles written on paper; music, plays, poetry, laws, business agreements, commerce, novels, treaties, blueprints, the list goes on and on.

A good book on the subject is “On Paper” by Nicholas A. Basbanes published by Random House. Basbanes details the 2,000-year history of paper, including how it is made and how it is used. His book has a rating of 4.6 out of 5.0 stars on Amazon.com and promises to be a good read.

We caught an entertaining interview with Basbanes on the Diane Rehm Show the other day which launched us into our search for his book. It would be nice and appropriate to say we bought the paperback, but there are other ways to read a good book these days. 😉

Unlike so many other landmark breakthroughs … we know today with some degree of certainty when paper was first made and where it emerged.

So there you go. You were wondering what you were going to do with all that time that LetterStream saves you…

And now you can get your paper fix without licking all those envelopes.

 

Do You Have A Backup Facility For Your Mailing Operations?

Critical Mail BackupWhile most of our customers choose to outsource their entire outbound mail operations to LetterStream, there are some that are unable to reassign staff or who are hesitant to return leased equipment due to financial burdens that might be incurred.

Whatever the reason not to outsource completely, we have a solution in keeping with our mission of being the best mail solutions partner. We have created a hot backup mailing facility program to allow businesses to keep their own mailing operations up and running, and increase their speed and reliability by using LetterStream when more mailing power is needed.

The program is simple to implement and is fairly inexpensive considering you have all the power of LetterStream print and mail operations at your finger tips. This includes a fleet of high speed printers, a mail preparation and inserting department, and barcode tracking of every mailing project. LetterStream is fast and accurate, and our prime location in Scottsdale, AZ protects us from most of the world’s natural disasters and extreme weather. So if your operations are down because of snow or ice or flood or earthquake… chances are we are still fully staffed and fully operational, and can get your mail out the door and on its way.

For our east coast friends, LetterStream being in the MST time zone results in a few extra hours each day to get your critical mail jobs out the door. We can handle a wide variety of business and transactional mail including letters and flats, checks and invoices, and certified and registered mail.

Contact us to learn more about how LetterStream can keep your mailing operations up-and-running, in any situation.

 

"Business Closed"

Business Closed Google Image Results
*Google Image Search

I was shocked to discover that my business closed the other day. For some reason I had assumed I wouldn’t be the last to know.

Well, that’s not exactly how it turned out, but it sure threw me. I was tracking a test piece of USPS Certified Mail that I sent to my office. And right there in the USPS tracking history were the words “Business Closed“. Wow, what a bummer.

Business Closed Certified Mail Tracking Status

When I see the words “Business Closed” on a piece of mail it reminds me of “Moved – Left no forwarding”, or “No longer at this address” or “No receptacle”. Those words conjure up “Out of Business” and, well, “Business Closed“. After all, the screenshot above is what Google found when I did an image search for “Business Closed”. Looks like they came to the same conclusion.

Seeing those words on a piece of mail to my own office caused me to wonder what sort of financial position we must have been in to just up and close our doors in the middle of the night.

Turns out all is fine (except for maybe the choice of words the Postal Service uses when tracking Certified Mail). Here is the explanation for this new tracking status: “Business Closed” simply means that the mail carrier arrived outside of the normal business hours. In our case, the mail carrier attempted to deliver a certified letter on a Saturday when we were closed for the day (key word, ‘day‘).

So when you see the words “Business Closed” in your tracking history, simply translate it to “No one at the office today, will try tomorrow“. Personally, I was happy to know that I can continue showing up and writing little tidbits about First-Class and Certified Mail on this blog.

*To track a certified letter, go to www.LetterStream.com and find the “Certified Mail Tracking” section on the lower right side of the page.

 

LetterStream on the Air – Money Radio Interview

Money Radio

David Patterson, founder and president of LetterStream, will be interviewed on the radio on Thurs., May 1, 2014. He will be heard for a 5-minute segment of the “Business for Breakfast” program on Money Radio.

Business for Breakfast“, hosted by Ken Morgan & Julie Dougherty-CFP, airs weekday mornings from 6-8 am on Money Radio 1510 AM, and is also heard on 99.3 FM.

David will be talking about how easy it is to get USPS First-Class and Certified Mail out the door on the LetterStream website.

*Be sure to tune in from 7:24-7:29 am to hear how LetterStream and OnlineCertifiedMail can work for you.

 

This Letter Is Fine. Why Did It Come Back To Me?

Letter Man with Question MarkThis question is similar to ones that we’ve answered in our blog posts over the years, but with a slight twist. Sometimes a perfectly addressed letter gets returned to us without a yellow sticker, without handwriting on the outside saying something like “no longer at this address“, and seemingly without any clue as to why the mail piece came back.

Well, there are always clues. For starters, re-read the recipient’s address, one line at a time. Is the address really accurate as written on the envelope?

If every indication is that the information is correct, simply ask the USPS mail carrier for some insight as to why the piece was delivered to you instead of the person it was addressed to. Chances are they can tell you; but if not, simply hand the letter to them and ask if they could re-mail the piece for you. Quite often they will politely take the letter and get it back into the mail stream for you.

There are times when the USPS barcode (printed on the lower portion of the face of your envelope) is incorrectly coded to send the letter to your own address. If there is a barcode at the bottom, see if there is a zip code spelled out beside the barcode. If the zip code printed there is your own zip code, the mail piece may get rerouted to your own address again due to the automated equipment the Postal Service uses to sort mail. In this case, use a sharpie or black pen or marker to block out the barcode on the bottom. This will force the postal sorting machines to look at the destination address one more time to figure out where the piece is going. Chances are, this will allow the piece to arrive at the right destination, assuming your address is valid (click here to read about address correction).

Still not sure what is happening to your mail piece? Take a picture of the envelope and email it to us. Make sure you capture the entire face (front side) of the envelope. We will be checking the ‘to’ and ‘from’ addresses, postal barcode, permit/postage area, and anything else on the face of the envelope that can give us clues. Please make sure your image is in focus. It can be rather difficult searching for clues in an out-of-focus image.

We will do our best to unravel the returned mail mystery and let you know what we find.

 

Off To The CAI Arizona Trade Show In Glendale, AZ

Central Arizona Chapter CAI - Community Association InstituteLetterStream will have a booth at the Arizona Chapter CAI (Community Association Institute) trade show again this year.

The event is this Friday, April 4th, 2014 at the Glendale Civic Center in Glendale, AZ.

This will be a great local event with:

FREE FOOD — lunch provided between 12:30 – 2:30
FREE RAFFLES — drop your business cards for lots of chances to win
FREE STUFF — the usual; pens, sticky notes, stress balls, etc.
FREE FUN — catching up with current and prospective vendors and business partners

We will be in booth H1. Interesting booth number, but we will be in the hallway by the registration table. Be sure to stop by and meet our crew and learn how LetterStream can help improve your mailing process.

This event is free to homeowners, community managers, board members, property management employees, etc. (i.e. just about everyone). Click here for registration.

The Trade Show Floor and Hallway Exhibits will be open from 9:30 am – 12:30 pm.

It’s a can’t-miss opportunity to stop by and say “Hi” to the LetterStream team.

Glendale Civic Center ~ 5750 W Glenn Drive ~ Glendale AZ 85301

 

What's The Longest City Name In The U.S.?

That’s an interesting question, but why should we care?

Well, you got me there; as there isn’t a big reason to care. However I discovered this information years ago, and when you’re in the mailing business it’s sometimes handy to know these little oddities.

For instance, this might come in handy if you are building a CITY field in a database, or maybe testing some new addressing software. You might also want to know this if you are using MS Word to create a mail merge onto a small postcard.

You see, if you know the longest city name in the U.S., you can put your addressing software to the test and impress your colleagues at lunch. 😉

Some might say the longest U.S. city name is Truth or Consequences located in New Mexico, however, the longest, at 22 characters including spaces, is Rancho Santa Margarita, California. And with a population of around 50,000, it counts as a bona fide city.

Rancho Santa Margarita map

If you are creating your own mailings, you might want to scribble this down somewhere so you can make sure your database and mail merge programs can handle it.

On the other hand, if you use LetterStream, you can trust that we’ve already figured this one out, as well as many other peculiarities relating to mail.

 

Why Do I Get So Much Returned Mail?

Stack of USPS returned mail

Gosh, we wonder the same thing. Will it ever stop?

But fortunately for us, we get paid to process returned mail, so maybe it’s not such a bad thing after all (at least, not in our case). 😉

Mail gets returned to the sender for a lot of different reasons, and sometimes, for no reason at all. Almost all returned mail has a yellow sticker on it that has been placed there by the Post Office.

In this blog post we’ve put together a little Troubleshooting Guide to Returned Mail that should help you “sort it out”–sorry, couldn’t resist.

Let’s start with the obvious reasons and work our way down.

1. The address on your letter is incorrect. This could be anything from the wrong zip code, to a misspelled city name, to a street address that doesn’t exist. The yellow sticker may say “No Such Address” or “No Unit” or “No Such City”. To correct this, a) Double check your records and make sure you’ve got the right address and/or b) go to USPS.com, click on the link on the left to “Find a Zip Code” and enter your address. If the USPS website can’t find the address, chances are it isn’t correct. You can also use our online address correction tools to clean up an entire mailing list.

2. The person no longer lives at that address. It could be that your address is fine but the mail piece was returned because the person has moved. The yellow sticker might say “Unable to forward” or “Forwarding Address Expired” or “Not at this address” or “No such person”. With north of 7% of Americans moving each year, you can anticipate that your mailing list will have similar changes. When someone moves, they fill out a change of address card (online or at their local post office) which the Postal Service puts in their computer systems to verify addresses. So, when a letter is addressed to a good address, to a specific person who filled out a change of address card, their mail will be forwarded to their new address. Unfortunately, if the person didn’t fill out a change of address card, but they did move, that mail piece will be returned to you. This is the same as “moved – left no forwarding address”. We have an online tool that lets you see if people have moved (filling out the changed of address card) any time in the last 18 months and provides you with their new address.

3. The person has no mailbox. This isn’t very common, but it can happen. The yellow sticker might say “No receptacle”. This means there is no mailbox for the mail carrier to put the mail in. This could occur because the house is new, isn’t built at that address yet, or the mailbox was blown over in a storm or run over by a car. There could be many other things that take out a mailbox, or it could have been taken down intentionally by the owner. Unfortunately we don’t have any online tools to solve this one.

4. The Post Office didn’t get it right. Sometimes the postal clerk or someone else at the post office gets confused and assumes or incorrectly determines that the mail can’t be delivered. There’s not much we can do to help out on this one, but if you believe everything is correct with the name and address then drop it back in the mail and see what happens. It just might make it where it needs to go the second time around!