It has been brought to our attention that we need to provide a better understanding regarding one of the functions through the TaxJar program, address validation. Therefore, we wanted to take the time to give Affiliates a bit more explanation of how ship-to-address handling in our systems has been evolving since we introduced TaxJar, as well as some tips you can use to help resolve error messages.
As many of you know, we have been using a TaxJar integration to help calculate sales tax for some time now. Before TaxJar was implemented, Xebra and XOMS had no address validation whatsoever. When we first began using TaxJar, we started running into errors calculating taxes because Affiliates were entering jobs with invalid ship to addresses and a valid ship to address is required to calculate sales tax. These errors were holding up invoicing jobs until iPROMOTEu staff could work with Affiliates to correct the ship to address on invoices.
The most common errors that we were seeing was that the ship to zip code or state code was missing, so we added validation to Xebra and XOMS that simply required these fields to be filled in when entering new addresses.
Over time we found that it was not enough to simply validate that the state code and zip code were filled in. We started seeing errors where Affiliates were entering zip codes that were not valid for a particular state or city within a state. These errors were also coming up whenever we tried to calculate sales tax and would also hold up invoicing until the addresses could be corrected on the jobs.
To help reduce this in iSUITE, we added additional validation during ship to address entry to try to ensure that addresses are valid so that we won’t run into issues later during invoicing. This address validation is provided by TaxJar and it is provided to TaxJar by another company called Smarty Streets. This type of address validation was never part of Xebra or XOMS.
In iSUITE we have seen some instances where Affiliates were unable to complete creating a new Shipping Customer or submit an Alternate Address where the city was abbreviated such as Mt. View (Mountain) or St. Louis (Saint). Often, this is easily correctable by spelling out the abbreviation. However, we do not have control over the accuracy of the address validation or how well it handles the correction of invalid or abbreviated information. It seems as though it is up to the local post office (USPS) to determine whether it is preferred to abbreviate or not. In some cases, the address validation will accept a name either way as long as the rest of the address is correct. If any other part of the address is missing or incorrect, it is more likely that the validation will have a problem resolving an abbreviated name when the post office has entered a non-abbreviated name or resolving a fully spelled out name when the post office entered an abbreviation. For the most part, it works well, but there will be quirky results with certain addresses that are beyond our control.
In some other cases (hopefully rare), jobs processed through Xebra or XOMS had errors in the ship to addresses that TaxJar didn’t report. TaxJar would internally report tax based on what it thought was the intended correct address. These internal corrections made by TaxJar were not reported back to Xebra or XOMS, so the addresses in Xebra or XOMS remained wrong on these old jobs. If iSUITE runs into one of these addresses that had unreported problems, iSUITE will now report that the address is wrong. You will often see these error reports occur on repeated jobs where the information was incorrect. Incorrect ship to addresses should be corrected, so we feel that catching these problems is a good new feature.
Here are some tips you can use to help resolve the most common error messages should they come up:
- We find it helpful to google the address/city/zip code to see what the USPS version of the address is
- If you are creating a new customer and the system provides an invalid combination city, state, zip error message
- If you are unable to submit an Alternate Address due to an invalid combination city, state, zip error message
- Check your line items/alternate addresses to ensure there is not an alternate address that has a missing or invalid zip code.
- If you have repeated a job and a sales tax error message comes up
- If you are unable to view the Financials or create a document because of a sales tax error message
As always, if you are unable to resolve an error please contact Affiliate Services for further assistance or submit your issue to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please provide details of what you have entered and on what screen to help troubleshooting.
We hope this provides a bit more clarity into how and why the system is validating ship to addresses and why you may see some errors from time to time. The need to validate ship to addresses and the processes for accomplishing it have been evolving since we introduced TaxJar. We will continue to monitor problems that affiliates run into in this area and make further adjustments if we find opportunities to improve.
Eric Porter, Senior Manager of Affiliate Technology and Operations