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Rule

Authorization to Manufacture and Distribute Postage Meters

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Postal Service.

ACTION:

Final rule.

SUMMARY:

This final rule clarifies and strengthens requirements for manufacturers of postage meters to control meters used for demonstration and loaner purposes.

DATES:

This rule is effective April 25, 2001.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

James Luff, 703-292-3693.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

When manufacturers do not follow established policies and procedures for postage meters loaned to customers for temporary use (“loaner meters”) and those used for demonstration purposes, there are potential revenue protection problems as well as costly data entry errors. The potential for postage meter misuse and fraud must be eliminated. To accomplish this objective, the Postal Service must publish procedures for handling loaned and demonstration meters, and manufacturers' employees, dealers, and representatives must follow them.

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List of Subjects in 39 CFR Part 501

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For the reasons set out in this document, the Postal Service is amending

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PART 501—AUTHORIZATION TO MANUFACTURE AND DISTRIBUTE POSTAGE METERS

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1. The authority citation for part 501 continues to read as follows:

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Authority: 5 U.S.C. 552(a); 39 U.S.C. 101, 401, 403, 404, 410, 2601, 2605; Inspector General Act of 1978, as amended (Pub. L. 95-452, as amended), 5 U.S.C. App. 3.

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2. Section 501.22 is amended by adding new paragraphs (s) and (t) to read as follows:

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Distribution controls.
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(s) A demonstration meter is typically used to acquaint a potential user with the features of a meter as part of the sales effort. The following procedures must be followed to implement controls over demonstration meters:

(1) A demonstration meter may print only specimen indicia and must not be used to meter live mail.

(2) A demonstration meter must be recorded as such on internal manufacturer inventory records and must be tracked by model number, serial number, and physical location. If the meter's status as a demonstration meter changes, the meter must be administered according to the procedures that apply to its new status.

(3) A demonstration meter may be used only for demonstrations by a manufacturer's dealer or branch representative and must remain under the dealer's or representative's direct control. A demonstration meter may not be left in the possession of the potential customer under any circumstance.

(t) A postage meter loaned to a customer for temporary use (a “loaner meter”) is typically used to acquaint a potential user with the features of a meter as part of the sales effort, or serves as a temporary placement while the customer awaits delivery of a new meter. The following procedures must be followed to implement controls over loaner meters:

(1) A loaner meter prints valid indicia and may be used to apply postage to a mailpiece. Only electronic, remote-set meters may be used as loaner meters. The city/state designation in the loaner meter indicia must show the location where the user's mail will be deposited.

(2) A customer may have possession of a loaner meter for a maximum of five consecutive business days. When the customer chooses to continue the use of a postage meter, the loaner meter must be retrieved and a new meter must be installed under the customer's license.

(3) The manufacturer's dealer or branch representative (“representative”) must have a USPS-issued meter user license to place a loaner meter. A single license per USPS district can be used to issue loaner meters to customers in any of the different Post Office service areas within that district.

(4) Loaner meters must be reported electronically to the USPS meter tracking system when activated. A Form 3601-C, Postage Meter Activity Report, must be initiated to activate a loaner meter under the representative's meter license. The licensee and meter location information on the form will show the representative rather than the temporary user. However, loaner meters may only be placed with customers who have been issued a USPS meter license.

(5) Representatives must record and verify the accuracy of the ascending and descending register readings when a loaner meter is placed with the customer. Any discrepancies detected during the verification process must be reported immediately to the meter manufacturer, who will then notify Postage Technology Management.

(6) The representative is responsible for resetting the loaner meter with postage and must arrange for reimbursement directly with the customer.

(7) The representative maintains full responsibility for the loaner meter. As both a manufacturer's representative and a meter licensee, the representative is subject to the provision of Domestic Mail Manual part P030 and Code of Federal Regulations part 501. As a licensee, the representative assumes all licensee responsibilities under USPS meter regulations and must ensure that loaner meters are available for examination by the Postal Service on demand and are examined in accordance with Postal Service policy. Any losses incurred by the Postal Service as a result of fraudulent use of the loaner meter by the customer are the responsibility of the meter licensee, the customer, and the manufacturer.

(8) When the customer returns the meter, the dealer or branch representative must record and verify the accuracy of the ascending and descending register readings and inspect the meter. Any discrepancies or indication of tampering or fraudulent use must be reported immediately to the meter manufacturer, who will then notify Postage Technology Management. In such circumstance, the meter must not be used and must be returned to the manufacturer's QAR department via Registered Mail.

(9) Loaner meters must be reported electronically to the USPS meter tracking system when withdrawn from service. The dealer or branch representative must prepare Form 3601-C, Postage Meter Activity Report, for each loaner meter withdrawn.

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Stanley F. Mires,

Chief Counsel, Legislative.

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[FR Doc. 01-10148 Filed 4-24-01; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 7710-12-P