Introduction Think about the types of mail you receive. Mail can refer to printed matter like letters, postcards, parcels and packages, and even electronic mail. Think about the differences between these types of mail.
In an office, a large volume of mail is received every day. All printed matter and electronic mail, as well as parcels, received by the office are called incoming mail.
When incoming mail is received, it has to be sorted, recorded and distributed quickly. Mail-handling is very important or crucial because a piece of mail will lose its function and importance if it does not reach the person to whom it is addressed.
Procedures for Handling Incoming Mail A piece of mail goes through several processes before reaching the person or department it is addressed to. An office uses the following procedures for handling incoming mail: A) separating and opening B) date-stamping and recording C) sorting and distributing
A. Separating and Opening After separating mail marked ‘Private’, ‘Personal’ or ‘Confidential’, the rest of the mail needs opening. Mail may be opened either with a paper knife or an electric letter opener. If there is a large number of letters, an electric letter opener will be able to open them very quickly.
When opening mail, 1. DO NOT open envelopes marked ‘Private’, ‘Personal’ or ‘Confidential’. If an envelope is opened by mistake, write ‘Sorry, opened by mistake’ across it. Do not remove the document from the envelope.
2. Tap the envelope on the table before it is opened so that the document drops to the bottom of the envelope. In this way, the document will not be cut or damaged by the letter opener.
3. Open mail marked ‘Registered’ or ‘Urgent’ first and send it quickly to the addressee(s). Registered mail may be received at any time of the day. This type of mail needs to be signed for in the postman’s receipt book.
4. Attach all enclosures to the document. An enclosure may be a catalogue, cheque or card that is in the envelope with the letter. These are usually indicated by the abbreviation ‘enc’ if one copy is attached, or ‘encs’ if more than one copy is attached. This marking is made at the bottom of the document.
5. Sort all the printed matter before opening the parcels. This is to prevent documents from being misplaced or thrown away by mistake while you are unwrapping parcels.
B. Date-stamping and Recording After separating and opening the mail, all printed matter is stamped with the date for recording purposes. The stamp should not cover any printed words on the document, as the words may be important information.
When the volume of mail is large, a date-stamping machine is used to stamp the date and time on each item of mail. All incoming mail is recorded in the INWARD MAIL REGISTER.
INWARD MAIL REGISTER DATEReceived from Document No. ENCSRouted to Sign & Date 4 th JUNEALI & Co.Inv. 9120-Accoun ts 4 th JUNEExcapade Sushi Letter1Human Resourc e 4 th JUNEHua Ho.Letter2Sales & Marketi ng
When a cheque or cash payment is received through the post, it must be entered correctly into the Remittances Book. ‘Remittance’ means the payment of goods or services sent from the buyer to the seller by post. The cheque or cash received is then given, together with the Remittances Book, to the Accounts Manager for signing.
It is important to maintain up-to-date and accurate records of incoming mail so that any item can be traced easily. This helps to save both time and effort later.
REMITTANCES BOOK DATERemitterMethod of payment Inv or A/C No. AmountSign & Date 4 th JUNEAbu & Co. Cheque01303$200 5 th JUNEAziziCash0021$500 5 th JUNEAzuraCheque291211$150
C. SORTING AND DISTRIBUTING After date-stamping and recording the mail, keep the envelopes or wrappers for a few days before disposal. In this way, if you receive any enquiries about the incoming mail, you will be able to check the information using the postmark.
The postmarks on envelopes act as proof of the postal date and time. Usually, mail is sorted by department and then distributed. Another way to distribute mail is to sort it directly into pigeon-holes or wire trays for staff members.
If mail is sorted and distributed by department, a trolley may be used for delivery. When making internal mail deliveries to departments, remember to: A) plan the delivery route b) attach a circulation list
Q 1. Why is it important to follow the correct procedures when handling incoming mail? 2. What would you do if you accidentally damaged a letter when opening it? 3. Why should you stamp a letter with the date you received it? Give at least 2 reasons. 4. List 3 ways in which you might distribute incoming mail to staff.
5. Read the following list of mail items and explain how you would process them. (a) A parcel that looks as if it has been previously opened (b) A letter marked ‘urgent’ (c) A parcel with goods that have been damaged in the mail (d) A fax that has come through to the office overnight with ‘priority’ stamped on it
(e) A personal letter to a staff member (f) A letter which states that a cheque is enclosed but it is not with the letter (g) Thirty applications for a job vacancy in the organization