MAIL HANDLING NOTES

Mail is written correspondence which can provide a written record for vital evidence in case of a legal dispute.

Use of mail is a way of communicating with a business organization apart from being physically present or by telephone.

Thus, mail is any written correspondence coming in and out of an organization.  Correspondence includes:

  1. Letters, telexes, cables, telegrams and memos
  2. Business documents and complaints, inquiry, quotations, orders, invoices, statements, cheques, etc
  3. Information brochures, price lists and catalogues
  4. Plans and diagrams
  5. Records – insurance policies, minutes, reports, personnel information
  6. Newspapers, magazines, booklets and books
  7. Parcels and packages

Mail is handled by:

  • Personal Secretary to the Office Manager
  • Office Managers themselves
  • Members of the lower management
  • Supervisors assisted by their junior staff
  • Central mailing department in private sectors
  • The registries in government departments

TYPES OF MAIL

  • Personal mail which includes any communication addressed to a specific name
  • Business mail includes letters, which are addressed to the company
  • Internal mail which includes mail within the organization, for example, memos, letters and other documents, e.g. circulars prepared within the organization and are to be dispatched to the various persons and departments or pinned on the notice boards
  • Inland mail refers to letters, packets and parcels posted to destinations in the Kenyan country
  • First class mail is mail/letters promised by the Post Office for the next day, i.e. mail arrives at its destination (usually) 24 hours and the charge is more
  • Second class mail – it is cheaper, but slower and it may take up to 4 days, i.e. mail arrives when it is posted, for example, a letter posted on Friday with a second-class stamp may not arrive at the address of the recipient until the following Tuesday.

MEASURES TO ENSURE NO LOSS OF INCOMING MAIL/STEPS OF HANDLING INCOMING MAIL

  • Collection of mail from the post office at regular intervals during the day or in the morning
  • Private lockage bags may be rented for taking mail to and from the post office
  • Mail should be received by a clerk in the general office or a receptionist in small organization or a separate mail department in large organization
  • Sorting of letters into private, personal or confidential and to reach addressee’s desk unopened
  • Business mail letters are opened and checked if the correct letter has been inserted in the envelope by looking if the address in the letter and on the envelope are the same
  • Clip enclosures with their accompanying letters and any missing enclosures should be noted in writing on the letter
  • Recheck all envelopes to make sure that nothing has been left accidentally in them
  • Ensure all letters accompanied by remittances e.g. postal order, cheque or cash, money order, a check is made to ensure the amount you receive is the same as that mentioned in the letter and if it doesn’t hand it straight to your supervisor. All amounts of money received are entered into the cash book
  • Record all business mail in the inward mail register or an inwards correspondence book
  • Remittances are recorded in a remittance inward book
  • Separate records should be kept of all registered mail and recorded deliveries received. Recorded and registered mail has to be signed for upon delivery by the post office
  • Time and date stamp all documents received from the envelopes to indicate that the letter was received
  • At regular intervals during the day, mail is collected by the messenger or departmental staff and delivered to the relevant departments
  • Use of a circulation slip when a correspondence has to be read by more than one person, and each should sign after going through
  • All incoming mail before filed should have a release symbol to indicate it has been dealt with and ready for filing, i.e. the initials of the person authorizing it and the date
  • Parcel post is dealt by the parcels department or mail room department in case of a small organization
  • Forward parcels to their respective departments and individuals as shown in the parcel and obtain signature from the receiver in a parcels book

MEASURES TO ENSURE EFFICIENT DISPATCH OF OUTGOING MAIL FORM THE REGISTRY/STEPS OF HANDLING OUTGOING MAIL

  • Collect mail at regular intervals throughout the day by mailing department or messenger
  • Sorting of mail into relevant groups, e.g. first class mail, airmail, combination of letters and parcels, registered mail and recorded delivery, parcel post are dealt with separately
  • Check that letters are signed, dated and have appropriate references and enclosures
  • Check if addresses on the envelopes are the same as those on the letters
  • Envelopes marked personal, confidential, registered or airmail should have their letters marked the same way
  • Fold and insert letters and enclosures into the envelopes and in case of window or aperture envelopes ensure the address is clearly seen
  • All letters should have their envelopes addressed by the secretary as soon as she finishes to type the letter and if a typed envelope has been misplaced from the outgoing letter, the mailing clerk is expected to get another envelope and address it
  • Use of letter and parcel scales to weigh letters
  • Stamping of the envelopes with postage by use of postage stamps or a franking machine
  • Ordinary stamped mail is put into a post box or post office box
  • Post franked mail either in a special envelope or hand it over the counter at a post office
  • Special items of mail, i.e. mail requiring special services such as registration or special delivery should be delivered at the counter of the post office and a receipt obtained for record purposes

IMPORTANCE OF AN INWARD MAIL REGISTER

  • It is a proof that a particular letter mentioned in it has actually been received
  • It is a safeguard against the loss of any letter
  • When a letter is handled over to the section concerned initials are obtained as an acknowledgement receipt

MAIL ROOM EQUIPMENT AND MACHINES

  • If several hundreds of letters have to be handled each morning and as many sent out each afternoon, the mailing department needs, above all, some long tables or counters which can be kept clear for this work
  • Along the back of one or more of these tables there will be trays or pigeon-holes labeled with departments and individuals names to take the documents after they have been sorted and stamped
  • Cupboards built beneath one of the workers could be used to house packing materials such as brown paper, string, gummed paper strips, self-sealing paper tape, sealing wax, corrugated cardboard, etc
  • A shelf on the post office guide could be kept. It is an official handbook of the post office and is published periodically.  It gives full particulars of the principle services and charges together with street directories, maps, bus, rail, air timetables and any other reference books that prove useful
  • Two smaller tables could be provided – one for the supervisor or chief clerk and one to house the franking machine, scales, stapling machines and other small equipment. If any petty cash is kept, it should be locked in a cash box kept in the supervisor’s drawer
  • A place must be reserved for the empty manila envelopes used for the internal mails if this system is used. Trays or pigeon holes are needed for branch communications where these existed.
  • Table or floor space are necessary, must be provided for any letter-opening, folding or sealing machinery that may be used
  • A few chairs will be needed for at the two smaller tables and some stools of an appropriate height to be used at the sorting tables
  • Important small items such as the date stamp, paper knives, air mail stickers and other special labels should be kept together in an easily accessible place
  • Wire trays and baskets – used to handle correspondence that has been sorted and each marked with departmental name
  • Trolleys – used to take mail around the building to the people concerned. If there is a lot of mail for one person, place the mail in a folder with his name on it
  • Pigeon holes – these are labeled alphabetically for various executives or departments. Mail is placed into the correct hole after sorting
  • Desk sorter – for placing letters and documents related to one department onto one panel of the desk sorter
  • Paper clips – is an instrument used to hold sheets of paper together, usually made of steel wire bent to a looped shape
  • Punch – used to put holes in a document ready for filing
  • Paper knife – for opening business envelopes
  • Letter opening machine – used to open envelopes when the number of letters received is large, that is, 100 or more to save time
  • Time and date stamping machine – used to time and date stamp all documents removed from the envelope
  • Letter folding machine – used when a large number of letters or documents require folding so as to save time
  • Letter inserting machines – used to insert folded letters into envelopes at a great speed
  • Folding and inserting machine – for folding and inserting letters into envelopes at great speed
  • Addressing machines – used to print names and addresses of regular customers or correspondence. The master is prepared in the form of stencils, spirit masters or metal plates.  They are then passed through the machine for printing on envelopes
  • Envelope or automatic sealing machines – used to seal envelopes when the quantities of envelopes are large
  • Composite machine – this performs three functions, namely, folds the document, inserts them in envelops and seals the envelops
  • Stamp emitting machine – rolls of postage stamps can be bought for use from these machines
  • Stamp fixing machine – when a envelope is placed under the machine a stamp is automatically moistened and affixed on the envelope
  • Stapling machine/stapler – this is used for affixing letters and enclosures or other pages together
  • Sponge and roller moistener – stamp moistening device for wetting stamps or envelopes to affix or seal
  • Guillotine – for cutting and trimming papers to the required size
  • Shredder machines – destroys secrets and confidential material if no longer required
  • Jogger – vibrate papers together into alignment before fastening i.e. stapling or binding
  • Collating machine – assembles duplicated documents comprising a number of pages such as s report before being fastened together
  • Letter or parcel scales to weigh correspondence to ensure correct postage
  • FRANKING MACHINES – are used for large quantities of outgoing inland and/or overseas post. It quickly records the value of postage on envelopes or on adhesive labels for parcels.  The machine is usually reset at the post office on the payment of some money in advance and once the total postage paid for is exhausted the machine locks itself and has to be reset again at the post office.  Letters passed through the machine emerge stamped with the postage paid, a date, cancellation mark and also if desired, an advertisement.  The postage printed is changed by the setting of a lever to the correct figure and the meter on the machine records the value of the postage

Advantages of franking machines

  • It saves time and labour because it can frank many letters within a very short time
  • It facilitates greater security as opposed to lose stamps which can be stolen or lost. The machine can be locked to prevent unauthorized use
  • Better control of expenditure/money as the machines shows at a glance the amount used and the balance at hand
  • Advertising slogans and the senders address can be printed with each and every franking and this saves printing costs/advertising costs
  • Speedy dispatch of mail. Franked letters go to the sorting office for dispatch as they do not need to be cancelled, that is, date stamped
  • Firms with a franking machine do not need to maintain a postage book as the machines meter indicates the amount of postage paid

Disadvantages of franking machines

  • Cost – money has to be spent on buying or hiring a machine. In addition the post office requires users of machines to have them inspected and serviced regularly to ensure efficient operation.  Repairs and servicing costs are forms of additional expenditure
  • Inconvenience – franked envelopes cannot be posted in the same way as those with postage stamps affixed. They must be arranged with all the names and addresses facing the same direction, securely tied into bundles and handed in at a specific post office.  However, if the post office is shut, franked envelopes may be posted in a post box, but it is necessary to first put them in a special envelope
  • Doesn’t provide a record of the letters posted
  • It is uneconomical for small firms with fewer than 20-30 letters daily to have this machine
  • Operators may waste postage by franking wrong amounts or by not producing legible impressions

MEASURES TAKEN TO CONTROL COST OF CORRESPONDENCE IN AN ORGANIZATION

  1. Re-use of envelopes , for example, window envelopes
  2. Use of a general memo when communicating to employees instead of sending each person a letter
  3. Use of a circulation slip when a letter has to be read by several persons
  4. Handling letters received with care to avoid loss of enclosures, for example, money orders
  5. Hand delivery of letters for near destination instead of posting
  6. Have responsible persons to handle correspondence and who are qualified to ensure good quality work, for example, errors made when stamping.
  7. Use of telegrams

REVISION QUESTIONS

  1. Explain the procedure for handling incoming mail after it has been sorted into business and personal mail or measures to ensure no loss of incoming mail or measures to reduce delays in receiving of incoming mail in an office
  2. Name four types of correspondence
  3. Outline three limitations of using a franking machine in an office
  4. Outline the procedure followed when preparing mail for dispatch in a mail office or measures to ensure efficient dispatch of mail from the registry
  5. List four types of office equipment that may facilitate the handling of correspondence in a mail room
  6. State three challenges that may be faced when using adhesive stamps to send office mail
  7. Explain the ways an Office Manager can improve confidentiality in the handling mail in an office
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