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Customer Support Ruling

   
 

Advertising for Services
June 2005

PS-318 (343.2.2)

In this Customer Support Ruling a determination will be made as to whether certain “personal” information present in the mailpiece is part of an “explicit” advertisement where all of the personal information is “directly related” to the advertisement and the “exclusive” purpose for including the personal information is in support of the advertisement.

The subject of this ruling is the classification of a solicitation by a firm that assists notary publics when applying to renew their appointments.  The mailpiece contains a printed letter advising the addressee his/her Notary Commission expires soon, and urging the addressee to use the services of the firm to renew his/her commission. Included as an integral part of the mailpiece is a State Application for a Commission as a Notary Public. The printed letter contains the name and address of the notary public (the addressee) and a state commission number (similar to an account number that merely identifies the addressee), neither of which is generally considered to be “personal information” for mail classification purposes. There is no other personal information in the letter.

The enclosed application is partially completed and includes personal information; i.e. the date of birth of the addressee, the expiration date of his/her commission, and the state and county in which the commission is held. The partial completion of the application makes it easier for the addressee to utilize the sender’s services; that is, the sender merely needs to verify the accuracy of the information rather than complete the form on his/her own.

Under the provisions of Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) 333.2.3* material containing personal information is subject to First-Class or Express Mail postage. Personal information is any information specific to the addressee.  DMM 343.2.2* provides that personal information may not be included in a Standard Mail mailpiece unless three conditions are met: the mailpiece contains explicit advertising for a product or service for sale or lease or an explicit solicitation for a donation; all of the personal information is directly related to the advertising or solicitation; and the exclusive reason for inclusion of all of the personal information is to support the advertising or solicitation in the mailpiece.

Examination of the mailpiece demonstrates that it contains personal information; i.e. the information on the partially completed application form. Accordingly, the piece must be examined for compliance with the three-part test in DMM 343.2.2.

Review discloses that the piece contains an explicit advertisement for a service; i.e., the services of the sender available for a fee to renew the addressee’s commission as a notary public.  The next step in the process is to consider whether all of the personal information is related directly to the advertising. The personal information included on the application form is required to be furnished on the State’s application in order to apply for re-appointment as a notary public.  As explained in the printed letter accompanying the form, the information is included to persuade the addressee of the convenience of using the sender’s service.   Accordingly, all of the personal information in this case is directly related to the advertising in the mailpiece.

The final step is to consider whether there was any purpose for inclusion of the personal information other than to support the advertising. Nothing in the mailpiece indicates the personal information is included for any purpose other than to convince the addressee to utilize the sender’s services to apply for renewal of his or her appointment as a notary. Therefore, it is concluded that all of the information in the mailpiece appears to have been provided solely for the purpose of enhancing the advertised service.

Based on the above, the mailing was determined to be eligible for the Standard Mail rates.

*See also DMM 133.3, 233.2, 433.2, 243.2, and 443.2.

(Signed)
Sherry Suggs
Manager
Mailing Standards
United States Postal Service
Washington DC 20260-3436