SYSTEM FOR METERING PERMIT MAIL
CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED
Reference is made to commonly assigned co-pending patent application Ser. No. 09/083,605 filed herewith entitled "A System For Metering Permit Mail That Has An Encrypted Message Affixed To A Mail Piece" in the name of Ronald Sansone.
FIELD OF THE INVENTION
The invention relates generally to the field of mailing systems and more particularly to automated mailing systems. 15
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
Governments have created postal services for collecting, sorting and distributing the mail. The postal service typically charges mailers for delivering the mail. Mailers may pay the 20 post office for its service by purchasing a stamp, i.e., a printed adhesive label, issued by the post office at specified prices, that is affixed to all letters, parcels or other mail matter to show prepayment of postage. The placing of one or more stamps on a mail piece is a labor intensive endeavor. Thus, stamps typically are used by individuals, small or home offices and small businesses.
Another means of payment accepted by the post office is mail that is metered by a postage meter. A postage meter is 3Q a mechanical or electromechanical device that: maintains, through mechanical or "electronic registers" or "postal security devices," an account of all postage printed, and the remaining balance of prepaid postage; and prints postage postmarks (indicia) or provides postage postmarks (indicia) 35 information to a printer, that are accepted by the postal service as evidence of the prepayment of postage. A postage meter is able to affix two to eight postal indicia to two to eight mail pieces in one second. Thus, postage meters may be used by individuals small or home offices, small busi- 4Q nesses and large business.
Other means of payment accepted by the post office is payment for manifest mail and payment for permit mail. In a typical manifest mailing system, a mailer produces mail in accordance with a mail manifest list and determines the 45 quantity of mail and weight thereof. Then the mailer prepares the appropriate postal forms and delivers the mail and forms to the post office. Thereupon, the post office checks the manifest list, the appropriate forms and checks the quantity and weight of the mail. The post office also requires 50 permit imprints to be printed on the mail piece. The mailer prepares postal forms and brings the mail and postal forms to the post office. The post office checks the forms, checks the mail pieces and confirms that the completed forms coincide with the checked mail pieces. Then the postal clerk 55 debits the value of the postage placed on the mail pieces from the mailer's postal account. Groups of individuals and businesses that produce very large quantities of mail use manifest and permit mail.
A disadvantage of the current manifest and permit mailing 60 systems is that the systems are very labor intensive. The intensive labor component is the completion of the forms and submission of the mail and forms by the mailer to the post office and the review and acceptance of the forms and associated payment process and mail by the post office. 65 Thus, many people are assisted by machines used to produce permit mail. However, the mailer and the post office use
manual acceptance procedures to check the mail and forms and receive appropriate payment.
Another disadvantage of the prior art is that permit mail is only able to enter the post office during certain postal working hours.
SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
This invention overcomes the disadvantages of the prior art by utilizing a system that reduces the amount of labor required to produce permit mail. The foregoing is advantageous to the mailer because it reduces the amount of time the mailer spends in the preparation of postal forms and the performance of postal procedures. The variable data indicia printer is able to run at a more rapid rate than normal indicia printers because the amount of information to be reprinted is much less. This is important because it saves the mailer labor and time and it enables the mail to reach the post office sooner. The foregoing is advantageous to the post office by reducing the acceptance processing time. This reduces the post office's labor and enables the mail to enter the delivery system sooner.
The small mailer's mail would enter the facer canceller and be automatically processed. The high volume mailer's mail would be accelerated through acceptance because it would follow metered acceptance procedures.
This system also provides means for the mailer to add additional information fields to convey postal instructions to the postal service. This invention accomplishes the forgoing by preprinting the non-variable portion of an indicia. Some pre-printed portions may be printed with a fluorescent and phosphorescent ink, while other pre-printed portions may be printed using standard colored or black inks. Some variable printed portions may be printed with a fluorescent and phosphorescent ink, while other variable portions may be printed using standard colored or black inks.
An advantage of this invention is that it provides more accurate reporting and checking of the number of permit mail pieces. Thus, the mailer pays for the number of mail permit pieces actually mailed and the post office receives the correct revenue for the number of permit mail pieces that it processes.
Another advantage of this invention is that it provides additional security for permit mail. The foregoing is accomplished by placing variable information within the permit indicia or in the vicinity of the permit indicia. The variable information may be printed with a fluorescent and phosphorescent ink to further increase the security of the permit indicia. The variable information may also be printed with a black or colored ink.
A further advantage of this invention is that it also allows permit mail to be placed in letter boxes or delivered to the postal clerk in the lobby of the post office.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 is a drawing of a conventional prior art postal meter indicia containing normal accounting and security features, printed by conventional printing or bit map generated printing;
FIG. 2 is a drawing of a conventional prior art permit indicia containing normal features, either pre-printed by conventional means or by bitmap generated printing;
FIG. 3 is a drawing of a drawing of a pre-printed metered permit postal indicia;
FIG. 4 is a drawing showing the pre-printed postal indicia of FIG. 3 containing variable information specific to the piece of mail that the indicia has been affixed to;