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Introduction and Installation

Introduction

Royal Mail offer a range of discounts under their various Bulk Mail schemes to provide an incentive for customers with larger mailings to carry out pre-sortation of mail.

The essence of these schemes is that mail is sorted and bagged according to a Sort Code, which is derived from the postcode of the mail item. Royal Mail is thus able to eliminate some of the normal stages of mail delivery - and pass on some of the cost savings to the customer. Savings of well over 30% of postage costs are possible on large or highly targeted mailings or where heavier items are posted - but even for a modest size of mailing, discounts of over 20% are quite achievable.

In order to take advantage of Advertising, Publishing, Business Mail, or Catalogue discounts, and to obtain full information on the requirements and facilities of the schemes, you should contact your Royal Mail Account Manager or telephone the Royal Mail Sales Centre on 08457 950 950. You will require a Bulk Mail contract before your mailing can be organised - your representative can organise this, as well as advise on all other matters relating to the schemes.

All sortation schemes require high quality address data - with high levels of postcoding and address accuracy. The first step for many organisations who intend to carry out bulk mail mailings, is to clean up the database to be mailed - and complete missing address fields - especially postcodes. AFD Software offers a range of address-list cleaning tools, and AFD's Refiner product is especially useful in this process.

AFD MailSaver is a comprehensive, easy to use Mailsort solution for all straight-line Bulk Mail sortations. MailSaver includes support for Advertising Mail, Sustainable Mail, Publishing Mail and Business along with support for BigBook and Heavyweight mailings and can produce data compatible with Royal Mail's electronic billing system (OBA). (MailSaver does NOT offer mixed-weight facilities) By attaching directly to databases, and offering SQL querying, MailSaver is not only simple to use, but incredibly powerful - and by writing results back directly into the database, MailSaver provides maximum versatility of use. MailSaver also uses some powerful techniques for ensuring you obtain the best possible discounts - including a special routine that cleans up faulty postcodes, and replaces many obsolete ones with the correct replacement postcodes.

These notes assume that you are already familiar with all the requirements of the Bulk Mail schemes. Further information and help about the schemes is available direct from Royal Mail at:

  • Royal Mail General Helpline - for all documentation and general enquiries. - 01865 780400
  • Royal Mail Mailsort Technical Helpline - for all technical enquiries. - 020 7371 6957
  • Your Royal Mail Sales Centre can be contacted on - 08457 950 950

All programs and data provided by AFD MailSaver are copyright and protected by the 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act in the United Kingdom and by the Berne convention and other International Copyright treaties.

You are permitted to install and use components of AFD MailSaver only on the number of computers for which a license is held. You may additionally make one copy of the program master disk(s) for back-up purposes, but no other copies are permitted, for whatever reason.

For the avoidance of any doubt, you are specifically not permitted to share a single license for AFD MailSaver between computers.

Evaluation versions of AFD MailSaver and the associated sample data are nevertheless copyright material. You may make and distribute copies of the evaluation version and its sample data, but these copies must be complete and unaltered. You may NOT use the sample data provided for any purpose other than to assist you in evaluating the usefulness of AFD MailSaver.

You may not extract, reverse-engineer or re-distribute data or programs provided under any circumstances whatsoever.

The MailSaver program and data license is renewable each time a new Mailsort database is issued by Royal Mail, normally about every 18 months, and renewal fees include a fresh set of data, program update and technical support until the next renewal becomes due.

MailSaver is also available by subscription to AFD's POP scheme. This covers all costs of using MailSaver, including program and data licenses, updates and technical support for just £35/month (min 12 months) including VAT, payable by standing order.

Installation

AFD MailSaver™ is installed automatically by a special installation program and all files are placed in the correct directories. Some information from your License Certificate will be required during installation, so you are advised to have this to hand:

Place the AFD Compact Disc in your drive then from the Task Bar, select Start - Run, then type d:\MAILSAVE and click OK

... where 'd:' is the drive letter of your CD-Rom drive - usually D:

Follow the directions on screen, and provide any information requested by the installation program.

The installation will create menu entries for MailSaver. These will include entries or icons for MailSaver and for various help and information documents and program examples.

Registration

On new installations, MailSaver will operate in a special mode, giving full access to data, for about two weeks. To register and fully activate your copy of the program, run the MailSaver 'Welcome' program. The evaluation version of the program does not require registration.

A copy of the 'Welcome' program is supplied to simplify the process of Registration and activation of your program license. To register your copy of MailSaver, you will also need the information printed on the 'License Certificate' supplied with your program.

To register, run the 'Welcome' program:

From the Task Bar select Start - Programs - AFD MailSaver - Welcome

Select your required registration method and follow the instructions on screen to activate your software.

You can also register via a WWW browser on another computer by visiting:

http://www.afd.co.uk/register.asp

and simply transfer the information to/from this machine.

If you need personal assistance with the registration process, you may call our HelpDesk on 01624 811712, Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm (except holidays).

Evaluation Version

The evaluation version of MailSaver is limited, in that:

  1. MailSaver uses an out-of-date sort database, so items are not valid for submission to Royal Mail.
  2. Only example-data is written back into your database.
  3. Mailing Labels are all printed addressed to 'AFD Software Ltd'.
  4. Obsolete postcodes are not changed.
  • otherwise the program operates exactly like the full version.

Technical Support

The AFD range of software is carefully designed to be easy to use, and trouble free. Every product goes through an intensive testing process on every operating system we support. It is a credit to the team who develop and maintain AFD products that they work "out of the box" in tens of thousands of installations, and we receive surprisingly few customer support requests.

Nevertheless, customers do occasionally have difficulties with new or complex installations, new programming projects - or as a result of system damage such as virus attacks: so AFD has provided a friendly, efficient Technical Support service to ensure that everyone can get the maximum benefit from their AFD system.

AFD Technical Support is a free, unlimited service for everyone who is evaluating or using our products. Our team will help you with any aspect of the installation, configuration, programming or use of any of the AFD range of software. We'll even do our best to help and advise with difficulties you're having with software not our own - so long as it relates to the use of an AFD product.

Unfortunately, we cannot help with other hardware or software products.

The HelpDesk is manned Monday - Friday 8:30am to 5:30pm each weekday except holidays:

  1. Email Support is the best and first-choice method of support. Our support engineers will respond to an email within a few minutes - and certainly our aim is to reply within one hour of receipt. You can email us at support@afd.co.uk or from our web site support page using our "Ask the HelpDesk" page which gives us most of the information we need before we respond, thus helping us to direct your enquiry to the correct support engineer. Email is also monitored outside normal office hours, each evening after 9:00pm and on holidays and at weekends (except Christmas Day) after 10:00am, 4:00pm and 9:00pm.
  2. Telephone Support. Call our HelpDesk (Mon - Fri 8:30am to 5:30pm) on 01624 811712 to speak directly to one of our product experts.

We won't waste your time and money in a hold system: if all our operators are busy you will be transferred to our purpose built call-handling system. Please leave a message giving as many details of your problem as possible, plus your name, telephone number and product serial number if you have one. One of our qualified engineers will aim to return your call within 15 minutes - but no later than within the hour at exceptionally busy times.

Data & Data Updates

Address data is constantly changing as a result of property redevelopment, business moves and the increasing trend towards the automation of mail delivery. MailSaver can detect and replace many previously changed postcodes but from time to time - usually about every 18 months, the Royal Mail issue a new Sort database after which the old database cannot be used for mailings. Subscribers to AFD's MailSaver POP scheme will receive these database updates automatically - other MailSaver users will be invited to order the required update in good time for the changeover date.

Overview

Starting the Program

From the Task Bar, select Start - Programs - AFD MailSaver - MailSaver

MailSaver will display an information splash screen, then the MailSaver Main Window will be loaded.

MailSaver also offers a number of 'Command Line' parameters for advanced users. These instruct MailSaver to use specific settings or carry out automatic instructions - for full details see Appendix 1 - Command-Line Parameters.

Main Window

Most MailSaver operations take place from the Main Window, and the method of operating the program will be familiar to Windows users, as the controls conform to Windows standards.

The operation of the MailSaver program has been carefully designed to be as simple as possible - and to closely follow the logic of carrying out a typical Bulk Mail process.

The step-by-step approach takes place on four tabs on the main MailSaver window:

  1. Open - Where you tell MailSaver where your data is stored, the type of file you are using, and set up any SQL query you need.
  2. Attach - Where you will map the fields from your database to the relevant fields in MailSaver.
  3. Settings - Where you should enter the details of the type of sortation you require.
  4. Results - Where MailSaver shows you the results of the sortation.

Before starting to use MailSaver for the first time though, you should tell MailSaver about your own particular organisation and needs, using the Properties Window. On the main MailSaver window, select the File Menu then Properties.

Setting MailSaver Properties

From the MailSaver 'File' menu, click on 'Properties' to access the MailSaver settings.

General Settings

Where you may enter details - such as your organisation name, and other preferences.

Option Description
Organisation Name This name is used on reports printed by MailSaver
Session Name MailSaver runs on many different types of database, you should think carefully about allocating easily remembered session names.
If your organisation is only likely to carry out a single type of sort, then one simple name may be all you need. In either case, you are recommended to keep the 'Practice' session data provided with MailSaver so that you can try out the program's facilities without affecting your own data!
It is NOT necessary to change the session name using this box - as you have the opportunity to name a session every time you save settings - or leave the MailSaver program.
Maximum Bag Weight This weight shows, in grams, the maximum weight of the Mailing Bags you will be packing. This weight is advised by the Royal Mail (currently 11kg at time of printing) - and their Health and Safety considerations impose limits on the maximum allowable weight in each bag. Estimating the number of items in a bag may result in small rounding errors, so it is normal to set the MailSaver setting about 250g below the absolute maximum advised by Royal Mail (ie 10750g at time of printing).
Maximum Tray Weight This weight shows, in grams, the maximum weight of the Mailing Trays you will be packing (excluding the tray itself). This weight is advised by the Royal Mail (currently 9kg at time of printing (10kg gross and 1kg weight of the tray). Estimating the number of items in a bag may result in small rounding errors, so it is normal to set the MailSaver setting about 250g below the absolute maximum advised by Royal Mail (ie 8750g at time of printing).
Marker Character The marker character is used to identify breaks between different mailing bags when labels are printed. In the case of Cheshire Labels, the first label for a new selection (mail bag) is printed with this character at the start of every line of the address - so that the packing team can easily spot when a new mail bag is expected. It is also used when printing Bag Labels - again to give a good visual signal for the packing team.
When installed, MailSaver has the asterisk '*' character as a marker - but you can change this if required.
MailSaver Folder (Directory) The folder in which MailSaver itself is installed, along with its main data files.
Data Folder (Directory) The folder in which MailSaver will store its working data files. This may or may not contain the database files to be processed.
Use Double Space in Postcode when exporting/printing data Postcodes are normally stored with a single space between the outcode and the incode. However for OCR readable Bulk Mail mailings Royal Mail ask that two spaces are used.
Bundle Options: Maximum Weight (grams) This option specifies the maximum weight in grams of each bundle for Big Book sortations. If you are not using Big Book you can ignore this setting. The maximum bundle weight accepted by Royal Mail when stacked in columns is 6.4kg so the 6000 setting covers this and gives some leeway. The maximum bundle weight accepted when loaded in layers on RSCs is 4.2kg so the 4000 setting covers this. If you would like to specify your own value, use the other field to do so.
Bundle Options: Maximum Items This specifies the maximum number of items in each bundle. There is no limit to this, but if you wish to restrict the items in each bundle to less than the weight setting might allow then use this option.

Printer Settings

This is where you tell MailSaver about the printer you will use for Bulk Mail printed reports.

Click the Setup button to choose the printer you wish to use from the list of those installed on your system.

OBA

OBA is Royal Mail's electronic billing system. MailSaver can produce data for export for a Bulk Mailing compatible with OBA. From here you can specify parameters which may need to be included in OBA codes. The options presented are as follows:

Option Description
Account Number Your OBA account number
Consignment Ref. Optional field for your consignment reference.
Order Number
Department
Validation
These may or may not be required depending on your OBA validation setup. Please contact your Royal Mail account manager if you are unsure if these fields are required or what values are permitted.
Include Inland Items Automatically generated OBA reports often only contain International items. Selecting this option will include the Inland items too.
Magazine Name (Publishing Mail Only) The Magazine Name your are sending out. This must match exactly that set up in advance on E*Pro.
Issue ID (Publishing Mail Only) The Issue you are sending out. This must match exactly that set up in advance on E*Pro.
Booking Reference (Response Only) Booking Reference Number used in Advertising Mail with Response services.

Storing Properties

When you are happy with any changes you have made, simply click the OK button to store these settings. If at any time you are uncertain about any change you have made - or if you have made a mistake - click the 'Cancel' button, and your changes will be discarded.

You are now ready to begin the sort process itself. When first installed, MailSaver is provided with a small database of about 1200 post offices. You are recommended to use this practice database in order to become familiar with the program - before using it on your own data.

Move now to the first tab on the main MailSaver window to select the database you wish to use.

Opening Your Database

From the MailSaver 'File' menu, click on 'Open Database' . Locate and select the database to be prepared for mailing and a pop-up menu will then allow selection of the specific database table containing the address data to sort.

Supported Database Formats

MailSaver can operate with Microsoft Access databases, xBase files (dBase, Foxpro, Clipper, etc), and Paradox tables. It also has native support for delimited (e.g. quoted comma separated) and fixed record length ASCII Text files.

Most other databases can be accessed through MailSaver's ODBC support, providing a DSN for that data source has been set-up on your system.

Opening Non-ODBC Databases

Use the 'File' Menu 'Open Database' (Ctrl+D) option to open non-ODBC databases. Select the database file you wish to work on and MailSaver pops up a menu. From this menu choose whether to work on a straight table of data (an Access database may offer several tables within the database file), or whether to use an SQL query. If you select to use SQL Query, a simple SQL Query is provided for access to the data in the first table. This is a starting point and the Query can be modified to suit your needs.

Opening Delimited Text Files

MailSaver includes very flexible delimited text file support for working with data in text format. This is particularly useful if your data format is not supported, as you can convert a copy to one which is, so that it can be processed. Most databases can export to Comma Separated Text (sometimes known as CSV or ASCII). As delimited text has it's limitations, If your database supports exporting fixed format text you may prefer to use that instead (see next section). MailSaver can only write back to fixed record length files it is reading data from - so if you process a delimited text file, a new file is created with the file suffix '.new', e.g. processing 'Address.Txt' would create 'Address.New'. It is helpful if the first 'Record' in your text file has the names of the fields in each field - like 'Street', 'Town'. MailSaver can then display these during attachment. SQL cannot be used to work with Text Files - so queries and sorting should be carried out before processing through MailSaver.

When you open a delimited text file you will be presented with the following options to specify the format of that text file:

The delimiter is the character which separates each field in the text file, e.g. a comma is the most common here. The qualifier is the character used to help prevent field cross-over as mentioned previously. If there is no qualifier present you can select None from the drop down list. Address list data is especially susceptible to spurious delimiter characters - like quote marks or commas. House names entered as "The Willows" or address lines like Rose Cottage, High Street, can mean that any data process thinks there are more fields than there really are. This is a problem. It's best to use Quoted Comma Delimited text which is less sensitive to errors. If there are problems in your data export MailSaver protects against the address record cross-over that can occur in these circumstances - and limits damage, usually just to one record . It remains far better if these characters are removed before creation of your processing file. The use first record for field names option specifies that the first record in the text file contains the field names - it is recommended you include these when exporting your data to make identifying and mapping fields much easier.

As Delimited Text Files are more limited in functionality than other database formats MailSaver also gives you the option to import the data into Access Format for processing. This allows more advanced functionality such as moving back through records, de-duplication etc. to be utilised which are not available when using delimited text files at the expense of speed and efficiency of processing. If you opt to use this option you can use the 'Export Data to CSV File' option on the File menu to export the data back to a text file once processing is complete.

Opening Fixed Record Length Text Files

Fixed record length text files are a very efficient file format and all MailSaver features are supported when using them. If your database is not directly supported, or you want maximum speed and flexibility from MailSaver this may be the best format for you. The only format which is as efficient as Fixed Record length text files for MailSaver to process is dBase files, Paradox tables come a very close third.

When you open a fixed record length text file you will be presented with the following options to specify the format of that text file:

MailSaver will attempt to automatically detect the format of the text file, but if you need to adjust this because there is no record separator so the record length cannot be determined or you need to tweak field positions then you can enter these directly here. You can also review some of the records in the file on the right using the navigation controls above the Cancel button to ensure the format is correctly specified.

Opening ODBC Databases

Use the 'File' Menu 'Open ODBC Connection' option to open a connection to an ODBC database that you have configured a DSN for on your system. The screen will change to allow you to select a DSN, and type your user identifier (uid) and password (pwd) if required and any additional parameters you may require to connect to that database through ODBC. You can then enter the SQL Query to access the data to be cleaned. Then click the 'Query' button to connect to your database.

Using SQL

Using SQL to query a database is a powerful, flexible way to control the cleaning process. To use it means learning some simple SQL statements. SQL can be used to restrict cleaning to just parts of the database (perhaps where postcodes are missing), to re-start a cleaning session where it was left-off - or as shown to speed up processing by presenting data in postcode order - which is far more efficient on disk access.

The precise form of these examples will vary with the name of the database and the name of the fields within it, but should be easy to translate:

Select * from [Addresses]

Selects all fields from a table called 'Addresses'. Every address record will be processed.

Select * from [Addresses] where Postcode < 'H'

As above - but only processes address records with a postcode beginning "A" to "G".

Select * from [Addresses] where Town="Ramsey"

As above - but only processes addresses in Ramsey.

Select * from [Addresses] where Orders > 500

As above - but only processes records where the Orders field contains a value greater than 500.

For full details of supported SQL statements please refer to your database engine's own documentation.

Attaching Fields

The Attach Tab (shortcut key [Alt+2]) shows MailSaver where the data is stored within your database.

Selecting Fields

This is done by clicking on the name of a field in your database - shown in the listbox titled 'Source' - and attaching it to MailSaver by clicking in the listbox titled 'Target'. A blue line is displayed to show the link, and the 'Sample Record' box shows what your data actually looks like.

This Tab shows MailSaver where the data is stored within your database. This is done by Clicking on the name of a field in your database - shown in the listbox titled 'Source' - and attaching it to MailSaver by clicking in the listbox titled 'Target'. A blue line is displayed to show the link, and the 'Sample Record' box shows what your data actually looks like.

If you wish to review the links you have set up, simply click on each field in the 'Target' list, and a red link-line shows you what field in your 'Source' database is attached to it (if any). Please note:

  1. Only one Source Field can be connected to each Target field

  2. The 'Result' Target field is provided to allow you to write back a special 'Result Code' during sortation. This result code indicates what MailSaver found about each address during sortation, as follows:

    Result Code Meaning Description
    0 No Error Sort Code Allocated satisfactorily
    10 Changed Postcode The postcode in the address you supplied is obsolete and MailSaver has used the replacement postcode allocated by the Royal Mail
    20 Invalid Postcode - Town Match The postcode (if any) is invalid, but MailSaver has allocated a Sort Code by matching the Post Town data.
    30 Missing Postcode The address has no postcode - and MailSaver has been unable to match the Post Town.
    40 Invalid Postcode The Postcode appears to be invalid - and MailSaver has been unable to match the Post Town.
    50 Missing Incode The second part of the postcode is missing.

    It is not essential to attach to the Result field - if no field from your database is attached, no error codes are written back to your database.

    These errors can also be viewed by printing the Exceptions Report.

  3. The Target fields 'Title', 'Initial', 'Surname' and 'Qualification' allow you to attach databases where the various parts of a contact's name are stored in separate fields - eg 'Mr' + 'F' + 'Bloggs' + 'PhD'. When you attach these fields, MailSaver assembles them into one 'Name' field for the purposes of label printing - eg 'Mr F Bloggs PhD'. If your database does NOT split these fields up, simply attach the contact name to the 'Surname (Name)' Target field.

  4. The 'DPS' (Delivery Point Suffix) field is required to qualify for Pulishing Mail & Business Mail discounts. It is a 2 character suffix to the postcode, which uniquely identifies a delivery point (letterbox).

  5. The 'Mailsort Code' field is provided in order to optionally write back the resulting Mailsort Code for each address into your database.

    It is not essential to attach to the Mailsort Code field - if no field from your database is attached, no Sort codes are written back to your database.

    The ability to record the final Sort code in your own database allows you to produce your own customised reports, mailing labels or form letters for use with your Bulk Mail mailing - using all the facilities offered by your own database program.

  6. The 'ID Code' is provided so that you may optionally attach a field from your database to be printed on the mailing labels, just above the address. It is useful, for example, to print an account reference code on a mailing label, so that returned envelopes can be quickly tracked down for database amendment.

Data Import Tools

When attaching your data, MailSaver enables the Tools menu - which provides 4 options for improving the data you are attaching:

  • Capitalise [Shift]+[F1]

    Many databases are stored entirely in UPPER CASE LETTERS. Whilst this may be adequate for an accounting function, it is not well presented for marketing communications. The Capitalise tool uses a powerful program to format the relevant parts of your address into upper and lower case letters. There may, however, be some problems with certain types of data which capitalisation cannot correctly handle - so you are advised to look at samples of your data using the Data browser, in order to ensure the results are satisfactory.

  • Cleanup Data [Shift]+[F2]

    The cleanup tool deals with a variety of problems in your data including: removing extra spaces; removing redundant punctuation (eg commas at the end of address lines) and removing unwanted punctuation, like full stops.

  • Upper Case [Shift]+[F3]

    The Upper Case tool forces all lines of your address data into UPPER CASE letters. Whilst this does not look as good as capitalised data, it does, at least, make the addresses consistent.

  • Initial from First Name [Shift]+[F4]

    This tool is only available where you are attaching a first name field to the Target 'Initial' field. It simply takes the first letter only of your data so that, for example, MailSaver stores a name like 'Mr F Bloggs' instead of 'Mr Fred Bloggs'.

    The database 'video control' at the bottom left of the tab, allows you to browse through your database to make sure the attachments you make appear correct, and any Import Tools are functioning as required.

When all your attachments are complete, click on the Settings Tab....

Settings Tab

The Settings Tab (Shortcut Key [Alt]+3) is where you specify the options for this Sort run.

The entries you make on this Tab will vary depending on the Advertising Mail, Publshing Mail or Business Mail scheme you are using, by the delivery speed you require - and by the actual physical characteristics of the mailing item you are posting.

Your Royal Mail Account manager should be able to advise on the service and settings you should enter here, but the following notes provide additional guidance:

Bulk Mail Product

This will be determined by the type of Bulk Mail service you require, and should be advised by the Royal Mail. Advertising Mail is used for a largely uniform message to all addresses for promoting the sale or use of products or services or to encourage contribution to, or support of a cause. Sustainable Advertising Mail is similar but for mailings with are aligned to the PAS 2020 environmental standard. Publishing Mail is suited to periodicals such as newsletters, journals and magazines. Business Mail generally contains general correspondence and items of a personalised nature. Catalogue mail is used for small to medium sized mail oder catalogues. Big Book and Heavyweight cater for larger items. All these have more detailed requirements which should be discussed with your Royal Mail Account Manager.

Sustainable Level

This is applicable to Sustainable Advertising Mail only and refers to the level of sustainable mail that your mailing conforms too. This will need to be confirmed by Royal Mail.

Bulk Mail Class

The 'Class' indicates the speed of delivery expected - eg 1 & 2 are roughly equivalent to first and second class mail service respectively, whilst Economy allows the Royal Mail to take about a week for delivering the mailing.

Not all classes are avaliable for all services and in that case only those options which are applicable are enabled.

Item Format

The Item Format specifies the type of item you are mailing. Please note that if a format is not available for the selected Bulk Mail Service you have selected you will be unable to select it and will need to use a service which supports the type of items you are sending.

  • Letter

    This is defined as an item which is no heavier than 100g and has a maximum size of 240 x 165 x 5 mm.

    Examples of items which would normally be classed as a Letter include most letters, postcards, bills and statements, some brochures and catalogues and most greetings cards.

  • Large Letter

    This is defined as an item which is no heavier than 750g and has a maximum size of 353 x 250 x 25 mm (345 x 245 x 25 mm when using Low Sort). Examples of items which would normally be classed as a Large Letter include letters containing unfolded A4 paper, large greetings cards, most brochures, CD's, DVD's, catalogues, company reports and some magazines.

  • Packet

    This format applies to items larger than a Large Letter. The maximum weight for an individual item is normally 1006. With the exact definition depending on the sort scheme used. With Advertising Mail this is furthur divided into Shoebox and Board Game referring to the type of items that may be sent using this format.

If you are unsure as to which format your mailing falls into, please contact your Royal Mail Account Manager for clarification.

Sortation

This indicates the level of sortation you want your mailing divided into. There are three choices depending on how many ways you wish to sort your mail and if you can meet certain Royal Mail machine-readable specifications.

Not all sortation types are avaliable for all services and in that case only those options which are applicable are enabled.

  • Low Sort OCR

    This is for addresses printed with an OCR font and is avaliable for letters and large letters only. Items are sorted up to 88 selections.

  • Low Sort Barcode

    This is for addresses printed with the Royal Mail customer barcode and is avaliable for letters only. Items are sorted up to 88 selections.

  • Low Sort Mailmark

    This is for addresses printed with the Royal Mail Mailmark barcode. Items are sorted up to 88 selections.

  • High Sort

    This is avaliable for all item formats and items are sorted to up to 1,525 direct selections and 88 residue selections.

Item Weight

Enter the weight of your mailing piece, in grams. Allow for the weight of the package as well as its contents.

Selection Size

This determines the minimum size acceptable for Direct selections. The Royal Mail Minimum selection size for letters is currently 50 items, for large letters is 10 items and for Packets is 5 items. Selecting values greater than these minima will reduce the discount you obtain - but may make packing more convenient. Under Low Sort sortations, since only residue sortation is attempted, a minimum selection size of 1 is imposed by the system.

Job Reference Number

Specify the Reference Number you wish to assign to this Job.

Use Bags or Trays

These options specify if you are using Trays or Bags to pack your mail. Royal Mail now give a discount for any Letter or Large Letter mailings sent using Trays. You should consult with your mailsort manager in conjunction with making this decision. Selecting this allows the weight specified for trays to be used in preference to that for bags allowing you to mix and match if necessary.

When all settings are entered and checked, click the 'Run Sort' button to carry out Mailsort processing.

Results Tab

The Results Tab (keyboard shortcut [Alt]+4) is used by MailSaver to display a summary of the sortation statistics - and to give a guide to the levels of discount achieved.

The various entries on this Tab are explained below:

Bulk Mail Statistics

Statistic Description
Item Weight The weight of each mail item as entered on the Settings Tab
Bag Quantity The maximum quantity of items to be placed in each mail bag. This is calculated from the Maximum bag Weight entered in the Properties window, divided by the Item Weight (above). If you are mailing particularly light but bulky items, you may need to use more bags than MailSaver's estimate. It is important, for Health & Safety reasons, that you do not pack bags with heavier weights than the Maximum Bag Weight specified by Royal Mail.
Records Processed The actual number of addresses supplied by your database table or SQL query. If addresses are found which cannot be matched for sortation purposes, they are allocated the Mailsort Code '00000', and in effect excluded from the sort run, statistics and reports. Mailing labels can still be printed for them, but these items must be posted at the normal public tariff.
AFD's Refiner and Postcode Plus products can help you add missing postcodes (and DPS codes), to your database, and so help reduce the number of items that don't qualify for Bulk Mail discounts. For further information please contact the AFD Sales team on 01624 811711 or email sales@afd.co.uk.
Changed Postcodes Where MailSaver detects an obsolete Postcode (ie where the Royal Mail have allocated a replacement postcode to an address), MailSaver will use the replacement postcode for the mailing - but indicate here how many records have been helped by this powerful feature.
Postcodes Matched Indicates the number of records where a full postcode or outward postcode was found and processed - it includes Changed postcodes (see above).
Percentage Full Postcode The percentage of the items included in the Sortation which have full postcodes. The calculation excludes Non-sortable addresses that are treated as outside the sortation in order to maintain the highest possible quality level for the Bulk Mail statistics.
Outward Postcode Only The quantity of addresses where only the first part of the postcode was present (ie the part before the space).
Post Towns Matched Where MailSaver finds an address with missing or invalid postcodes, it will attempt to use the Post Town to indicate the mailsort code - and thus retain the address within the discount. This statistic indicates the number of addresses where the mailsort code has been allocated by this matching process. Matched addresses only qualify for Residue discount.
International Economy This indicates the number of International items that have been identified for International Bulk Mail and have been selected for the International Economy service. This is only applicable if the 'Include International Items' option has been enabled on the Settings Tab.
International Standard This indicates the number of International items that have been identified for International Bulk Mail and have been selected for the International Standard service. This is only applicable if the 'Include International Items' option has been enabled on the Settings Tab.
International Priority This indicates the number of International items that have been identified for International Bulk Mail and have been selected for the International Prority service. This is only applicable if the 'Include International Items' option has been enabled on the Settings Tab.
Amount Suitable for Bulk Mail Records the quantity of addresses on which your sortation statistics are based - it excludes those addresses that cannot be matched and which will be posted separately.
No Postcode Shows the quantity of addresses with no postcode entry at all. It will probably include addresses that have been matched against the Post Town by MailSaver, so is of no direct significance to the sortation - but is provided to assist you in improving your database quality.
Addresses Not Matched Shows addresses with no postcode, plus addresses where the postcode entry is invalid and no Post Town match can be made - in effect this is the count of mailing items which will have to be sent through normal post.

Costing Summary

Item Description
Non-Bulk Mail Cost per Item Shows the normal cost of mailing each item, if sortations discounts were not available and is based on the normal public tariff - without the benefit of Bulk Mail Discounts or Straight-Line pricing.
Non-Bulk Mail Cost of Mailing Shows the total cost of the whole mailing if Bulk Mail discounts were not available.
Straight-Line Price Shows the unit cost of mailing for the items that can be included in the sortation, along with the total cost of mailing these items - but without the benefit of Direct or Residue discounts, OCR, or Early-Posting discounts. The straight-line pricing available for items above the first public-tariff weight band can offer significant savings over the pricing bands of the public tariff.
Non-Sortable Shows the number of items that are not included in the sortation and must be sent by normal public-tariff post - along with the total cost of posting these items.
Direct Discount Shows the discount rate available, the number of items that qualify for Direct Discount - and the total discount this provides.
Residue Discount Shows the residue discount available, the number of items that qualify for Residue Discount - and the total discount this provides.
Tray Discount Shows the tray discount available if applicable and the total discount this provides.
Sustainable Mail Shows the additional discount applied for the mailing meeting Royal Mail sustainable Mail guidelines.
Cost of Post Shows the total cost of mailing, including the Straight Line total price less the Flat Sort, Direct & Residue Discounts plus the cost of posting the non-sortable items. This excludes the cost of any International Bulk Mail selections who's price varies from destination country to country.
Your Saving Shows the total amount saved by using your chosen Bulk Mail service - along with the percentage saving you should make!

Now that your sortation is completed you may wish to save this session - or move on to printing reports and labels...

Other Features of AFD MailSaver

Opening & Saving Sessions

MailSaver allows you to save the settings of your current session at any time. Select File - Save from the MailSaver menu to use this facility - or press [Ctrl]+S. You are, in any case, prompted to save session settings when closing the program down.

MailSaver will always re-open the last session settings when it opens - but you can return to any set of session settings by using the File - Open [Ctrl]+O menu option.

Warning: If you save a session, then alter some settings without re running the sortation, your reports and results may be inconsistent!

Export

MailSaver can export the results of a completed session in the form of 'Quoted Comma Separated ASCII text' (or '.TXT') files. This format is widely supported - and these files can easily be used in popular spreadsheets and databases. The address label data can be used by most word processors as a Mail Merge data file.

The main export options, available from the File - Export menu are:

Standard XML File

Export the Standard XML File for bulk mail accroding to Royal Mail Spcefication.

A settings window allows you to set following options:

Setting Description
Save Path Allows you to set the location where the XML file will be saved.
Cell Reference This field should be used if you have multiple postings on the same account.
Posting Date This should be the date on which your bulk mailing is going to be posted.
CDD for Deferred This is the date you would like an Economy Deferred mailing to commence delivery.
Name The name of the company where the mailing is being collected from. E.g. "AFD Software Ltd"
Address The first line of the address of the company where the mailing is being collected from. E.g. "Mountain View Innovation Centre"
Postcode The postcode of the company where the mailing is being collected from. E.g. "IM7 2DZ"

Planning Data

The data used for preparing the Bulk Mail Planning Report

Multistage Planning Data

The data used for preparing the Bulk Mail Planning Report for your additional Advertising Mail MultiStage mailing.

Line Listing Data

The data used for preparing the Line-Listing Report. This data also carries the information required in the production of bag labels, if you wish to produce customised bag labels.

Address Label Data

Exports the processed address data, along with Mailsort code and the text used to generate the Customer Barcode.

An option window allows you to choose the mailsort code range you wish to export, and the following options:

Option Description
Starting and Ending Mailsort Code Allows the export to be split up to a specific mailsort code range.
Export All Exports All Records
Export Directs Exports Direct (non-residue) records only. Useful if you wish to separate out Direct and Residue records.
Export Unsortable & Residues Exports Residue and Unsortable records only. Useful if you wish to separate out Direct and Residue records.
Include Start and Stop characters in barcode Selecting this option exports the barcode text with the start and stop characters included. Otherwise these are not exported.
Include Text for Bag Labels Between Sections Inserts the bag label text whenever MailSaver calculates a new bag is due - ie whenever the Mailsort code changes and whenever a new bag is required due to weight calculations.
Remove Blank Address Lines Causes MailSaver to remove any blank lines from each address, so that any labels or mail-merge letters which you prepare have no gaps.
Include Marker on first/last label of a bag This provides a special marker string to be specified on the first or last label of a bag when required by processes to identify were a bag is required without printing a dividing label when a new bag starts.

Final Bag Label Data

This contains the data required to print final bag labels and is useful if you wish to print your own bag or tray labels.

An additional two, more specialised exports are also supported:

Export OBA Billing Data

Selecting this option will save a report containing the OBA codes necessary for use with the Royal Mail OBA electronic billing system.

Export for Final Bag Label Printer

Royal Mail supply some large Bulk Mail users with a special final bag label printer and software. This requires only the mailsort code and quantity of bags to be exported, this option therefore exports the required data for use with that printer.

The first (header) record of the export files contains the names of the exported fields - and most word-processors will read this header record and use it to prompt you when inserting the merge fields in your merge master document.

Printing Reports

MailSaver offers four session reports, and a powerful mailing-label printing facility. These are all found on the Print menu.

Planning Report

This compulsory report is required by Royal Mail to accompany the Mailsort mailing. It is a single page summary of the sortation statistics, and also includes, for information only, the approximate financial results of the sortation that MailSaver has calculated for you.

You can also Export the data for this report for use in spreadsheets etc.

Multistage Planning Report

This report is identical to the standard Planning Report, except that when you are also carrying out an additional Advertising Mail MultiStage mailing this report contains the information and pricing related to that additional mailing rather than the standard Planning Report which will give you the core mailing details. You may well, therefore, need to print both.

You can also Export the data for this report for use in spreadsheets etc.

Line Listing Report

This compulsory report summarises for each resulting Selection group (Direct and Residue), the number of items and number of mail bags included in each selection.

You can also Export the data for this report for use in spreadsheets or for preparing customised bag labels etc.

Exceptions Report

This helpful report lists all addresses where MailSaver has detected a fault in your address list data - along with a simple explanation of that fault. This report is not required by Royal Mail, but will assist the database manager to improve the quality of the address list for future runs.

AFD Software's Postcode Refiner and Postcode Plus programs are designed to make this database cleaning process much easier - as they can supply missing postcodes - as well as helping with a wide range of other address-list problems. For further information please call the AFD Sales team on 01624 811711 or email sales@afd.co.uk.

Mailing Labels

See the Mailing Labels section of this manual for full details of the Mailing Labels Printing feature.

Mailing Labels

Printing Mailing Labels

MailSaver's Label Printing facility can produce a wide range of mailing labels, bag labels and envelopes for use with your mailing. Choose the Print menu, Mailing Labels option (shortcut [Ctrl]+M) to launch the Print Labels window.

MailSaver's Label Printing facility can produce a wide range of mailing labels, bag labels and envelopes for use with your mailing.

If you have special printing needs - like form letters or catalogue overprinting etc, use MailSaver's 'Attach' facility to return the final Mailsort code to your database - then you will be able to use your database's built in features to complete these special tasks.

You can also Export the data for address labels as Comma Separated text for use in Mail Merge or to import into databases etc.

Label Layout Options

This part of the form defines the physical layout of pages of mailing labels. The right hand side of the window displays a visual representation of how the label sheet is made up - in terms of the number of columns and rows of labels on each page.

You should take care to ensure that you choose labels suitable for all the information to be printed on them - or data and pages may spill-over. If you intend to print Customer Barcodes, these will generally require deeper mailing labels than would otherwise be the case.

You should be aware that the final settings will be influenced by the printer's own limitations and 'built in' margins, by the actual label stock, and by the Windows Printer driver you are using.

Setting up mailing labels therefore usually involves measuring the physical sheet of labels and entering these values into MailSaver, then using the Test button, and making minor adjustments to the settings on a trial-and-error basis until a satisfactory result is obtained.

Option Description
Page Height The height of the page of labels - in millimeters.
Page Width The width of the page of labels - in millimeters.
Page Top Margin The distance between the top of the page, and the top of the first label - in millimeters.
Page Left Margin The distance between the left hand side of the page, and the left hand side of the first label - in millimeters.
Label Columns The number of columns of labels left-to-right across the page, MailSaver can print up to 4 columns of labels per page.
Label Rows The number of rows of labels top-to-bottom down the page, MailSaver can print up to 12 rows of labels per page.
Label Width The physical distance from the left hand side of one label, to the left hand side of the next one - ignoring any gap between the labels.
Label Depth The physical distance from the top of one label, to the top of the next one - ignoring any gap between the labels.
Barcode Weight If using Customer Barcoding, this factor, usually set between 1 - 9, allows you to adjust the thickness of the barcode stripes according to your own printer's physical printing characteristics. Typical Settings are: Dot printer 1-3, Inkjet printer 3-6, Laser Printer 8-9. Your Royal Mail Account manager should be able to provide technical specifications of the barcode, and print samples.
Setup Font This button allows you to choose the Windows printer to print your labels to.
The Font button allows you to select a suitable Windows Typeface and font size for printing your labels. Remember to choose a size that will allow all of the address (and barcode if selected) to properly fit on your chosen labels.
If you are claiming OCR discount, you should ensure that the font you select (and the printer quality you use) properly qualifies for this standard.
Your Royal Mail Account Manager can assist you in ensuring that your mail items meet the OCR standards.
Settings The settings drop-down box displays a list of all the label settings you have set up. To use a different setting, simply click your chosen one. To create a new setting, simply type a new setting name in the box, then press the 'Save' button. In this way you can develop your own settings, based on an existing one.
Save Saves the changes you have made to the current label settings

Printing Options

To print a Test Page, Mailing Labels, Cheshire Labels or Bag Labels, choose the label settings (see above), then use the Printing Options panel.

Option Description
Mailing Labels This option specifies that standard mailing labels are to be printed
Cheshire Labels This option specifies that labels should be printed where the first label of each Bulk Mail selection is marked with the marker character (usually the '*' (asterisk) character). Cheshire labels do NOT normally use bag labels as separators.

Technical Note:
To allow advanced users to 'tune' the layout of Cheshire Labels for specific Cheshire machines, two settings in the relevant Label Section of the MailSave.ini in your main Windows folder can be altered manually as follows:
Marker Offset = -120
Marker Font = WingDings 2

Marker Offset is used to position the Cheshire marker character to the left or right of the label body text - a negative number positions to the left, a positive number to the right. If missing, MailSaver will print the marker character to the left of the label body.
Bag Labels This option specifies a separate run of mail-bag labels containing the summary selection statistics for the selection
CBC Barcode This check-box allows you to optionally switch on Customer Barcode printing - when you are not claiming Low Sort Barcode discount. It is forced on when you are using Low Sort Barcode sortations - as these are based on Barcode services. Remember that you will need deeper mailing labels if you are using barcodes!
Bag Label Separators This check-box causes a bag label to be printed at the start of each Bulk Mail selection - and, where more than one bag is required for the selection, wherever the next bag should begin. This facility, usually used with Mailing Labels, provides a very clear indication to the packing team, as to when a mailbag change occurs - as well as providing a label for the bag itself.
Left Align Mailsort Code Should your Mailsort Account Manager or your own needs dictate that you require the mailsort code to be left aligned with the address this otion will do so. (It is right aligned by default).
Town in Capitals Royal Mail prefers the Post Town to be printed in CAPITAL LETTERS - which greatly assists mail sorting. If your data is in normal upper and lower case letters, or you have used MailSaver's capitalisation tool, this option will print the Town in capital letters.
Suppress County It is not necessary to print the postal county if your address contains a postcode. This option instructs MailSaver to omit the county from labels, wherever a postcode is present. This saves space on the labels - and is a useful way of helping prevent spill-over of text on labels, especially when Customer Barcodes are used.
Starting Mailsort Code Sets the mailsort code from which to begin label printing. By setting this and the Ending Mailsort Code, it is possible to print or re-print sections of labels as required. The Line Listing report is a useful reference document which will help you choose which selections to print.
Printing mailsort Codes 0 to 0 will print the non-sortable part of your mailing, which should be sent through the normal postal service
Printing Mailsort Codes 1 to 99999 will print the sortable part of your mailing.
Ending Mailsort Code Sets the mailsort code at which to end label printing.
Print All Prints all Bulk Mail records
Print Directs Prints direct selection records only. Useful if you wish to separate out direct and residue selections.
Print Unsortable & Residues Prints unsortable and residue selection records only. Useful if you wish to separate out direct and residue selections.
Cancel The Cancel button will be enabled during label print runs. If you wish to stop the run, simply click this button. It is not available at other times.
Test The Test button prints a single sheet of labels, using the current settings to help you ensure the settings are correct.
Print Starts the printing of your chosen type of labels - according to the current settings.

Pricing

MailSaver calculates the cost of posting mailsorted items based on the latest pricing and calculation methods provided by the Royal Mail. The prices provided by MailSaver are intended as a guide only.

MailSaver is regularly updated to reflect changes to Royal Mail pricing which usually come into effect in April each year. However, additional price changes do occasionally occur at other times. For 2014 bulk mail price changes have come into effect on 31st March.

If you rely on MailSaver to assist in estimating the cost of a mailing always ensure you have updated to the latest release applicable for the time you are intended to dispatch the mailing. MailSaver customers are notified by email of pricing updates and invited to download the latest version of the software.

Click here to access details of the latest Bulk Mail pricing from Royal Mail.

Appendices

Appendix A: MailSaver Command-Line Parameters

MailSaver Command-line Parameters MailSaver offers a number of command-line parameters for advanced users. These can direct MailSaver to use specific settings, or even carry out a whole mailsort process unattended, including printing reports. This may be especially useful for mailings which are repeated regularly.

Command-Line parameters are normally added to the Property settings of the MailSaver icon on your menu or desktop - following the path and name of the program in the 'Target' setting of the program menu setup. For full details of setting up Windows Icons or menus, please consult your system manager or system supplier. An example of a setting for MailSaver might be:

C:\mailsave\mailsave.exe 
/SESSION NAME=MONTHLY /WARNINGS=OFF 
/AUTO=RUN SAVE PLANNING LINELIST EXIT

The above instruction should be typed as one complete line.

This example causes MailSaver to load the 'Monthly' session file, switch off on-screen warnings, then carry out an automatic Mailsort Run (as directed by the settings file). The Automatic run will 'RUN' the sortation, 'SAVE' the updated session settings file with the new statistics, print the Mailsort 'PLANNING' report, then the 'LINELIST'ing report, then MailSaver will 'EXIT'.

Command Line Parameters include:

/SESSION NAME

Directs MailSaver to use the specified session file. MailSaver session files have the suffix '.ini' and are stored in the MailSaver Data Folder. They have the same format as a Windows INI file, and contain all the sortation and database attachment details for a MailSaver session.

If you wish to assemble your own session files, it is best to make a copy of one created by MailSaver, then make any necessary changes you require.

/MAIN FOLDER

Indicates the valid path to the MailSaver main program folder (directory) - which is normally the folder in which MailSaver was installed. It is seldom necessary to use this command-line setting.

/DATA FOLDER

Indicates a valid path to the MailSaver main working folder (directory). This folder may also contain the actual database files too if you wish, but this is not necessary as MailSaver will be instructed by the session settings file as to where the database is actually located.

/WARNINGS=OFF

If this command is issued, most of the normal MailSaver warning and notification dialogs are suppressed. This is normally used when MailSaver is instructed to run an automatic process, so that the process is not interrupted by a message. If warnings are switched off, you must make certain that your sortation results are valid for the Mailsort process you are running.

/AUTO=

The Auto Command consists of several additional instructions, each separated by a space, which MailSaver will then carry out - in the order they are presented. Note that if the /WARNINGS=OFF command is not included, it is likely that MailSaver will often stop waiting for you to click OK to a message box.

Auto Commands include:

  • RUN - Carry out a mailsort run using the current session settings. If you did not use the /SESSION NAME command, MailSaver will use the last session settings.

  • SAVE - Save the session settings. This will also save all the results and statistics of a sortation - and is typically used after a RUN command.

  • PLANNING - Print the Planning Report for the current Session

  • LINELIST - the Line Listing Report for the current Session

  • EXCEPTION - Print the Exception Report for the current Session

  • EXPORTPLAN - Export the Planning Report to file "PLANNING.TXT in the Data Folder

  • EXPORTLINE - Export the Line Listing to file "LINELIST.TXT in the Data Folder

  • EXPORTADD - Export the Address Data to file "ADDRESS.TXT in the Data Folder - with No Bag Label data and no Removal of blank address lines.

  • EXPORTADDB - Export the Address Data to file "ADDRESS.TXT in the Data Folder - with Bag Label data but no Removal of blank address lines.

  • EXPORTADDR - Export the Address Data to file "ADDRESS.TXT in the Data Folder - with no Bag Label data but Removing blank address lines.

  • EXPORTADDBR - Export the Address Data to file "ADDRESS.TXT in the Data Folder - with Bag Label data and Removing blank address lines.

  • EXPORTFINALBAGLABEL - Export the Final Bag Label data to file "FinalBagLabel.txt in the Data Folder.

  • EXIT - Exit the MailSaver program.

To close the Label Printing window, click the close box on the window or press [Alt] + [F4].

Appendix B: Useful Sources of Information

Mailsort Users Guide

Full details and technical specification of the various Mailsort schemes.

Introducing Mailsort

An Introduction to Mailsort

Know How - A user's manual for Mailsort, Walksort and Cleanmail

A general guideline giving a basic introduction to the mailsort service.

All publications available from:

http://www.royalmailtechnical.com/User_Guide.cfm

Details regarding the Royal Mail E*Pro electronic billing service can be found at:

https://www.royalmailwholesale.com/

Royal Mail General Helpline - for all documentation and general enquiries. 01865 780400

Royal Mail Mailsort Technical Helpline - for all technical enquiries. 020 7371 6957

Your Royal Mail Sales Centre can be contacted on 08457 950 950

Appendix C: End User Licence Agreement

See https://www.afd.co.uk/eula

Appendix D: Royal Mail Terms

See www.afd.co.uk/rmterms