Updated June 2014
In this Customer Support Ruling, a determination will be made as to whether a “check,” while present in a mailpiece, is “personal” information mailable only at First-Class Mail, Priority Mail, or Priority Mail Express prices.
This ruling concerns the classification of a “Pay to the order of retailer check” mailpiece that is part of an advertisement for a specific product, e.g., baby food.
Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) 243.2.1 provides that mailable matter that is neither mailed or required to be mailed as First-Class Mail or Periodicals may be eligible for Standard Mail prices. DMM 233.2.3 prescribes that matter containing personal information must be mailed as First-Class Mail, Priority Mail, or Priority Mail Express. Personal information is any information specific to the addressee.
Normally, a check which is made payable only to the addressee or only to a specific individual is personal correspondence and generally is mailable only at the First-Class rates of postage. In contrast, a printed (computer-generated) bearer check, styled either "Pay to John Doe or Bearer," "Pay to Bearer," or "Pay to Addressee or Bearer," would generally be acceptable at the Standard Mail rates. That is because the “bearer” check does not take on the characteristic of “personal” information, e.g., directed to a specified individual. Such cash or bearer checks may be negotiated by anyone who presents them for payment.
For the sake of discussion, the “Pay to the order of retailer checks” in question will be referred to as hybrid coupon/checks. Hybrid coupon/checks are a relatively new innovation in marketing. Although the mailpieces contain “Pay to Order” checks, the circumstances here differ because the payee is not the addressee or related entity. The hybrid coupon/check is a coupon providing a discount on the advertised product. The coupon may be used by the addressee or for that matter any person that possesses it (in other words it is a “bearer” coupon to the addressee). When used by a consumer, it becomes a Pay to Order check to the retailer that makes the sale. The retailer can deposit the check along with other checks taken during a day’s business.
In view of the above, it is concluded that the mailpiece in question does not contain “personal information” requiring the piece to be mailed as First-Class Mail. Such mailpieces are eligible as Standard Mail.