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 as First-Class Mail or at Express Mail rates.
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 rates. DMM 233.2.3* prescribes that
matter containing personal information must be mailed as First-Class
Mail or as Express Mail. 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
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.
*See also DMM 133.3,
333.2, 433.2, 343.2, and 443.2.
United States Postal Service
Washington DC 20260-3436