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Thu July 20 2017 16:03:19

Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage

By: Ina Steiner

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On August 1st, the USPS will begin verifying that shippers have paid the correct amount for postage purchased online for packages they send through the Postal Service and will bill them or their vendor if postage is due. The Automated Package Verification System will roll out on August 1st and promises to compensate shippers for over-payments as well.

The USPS notified Click N Ship customers, and PC postage providers have begun emailing customers over the past week or so to let them know about the program. 

Some sellers are concerned about how the USPS and companies like eBay would handle the billing, and seemed especially concerned about disputes.

Eric Nash, Senior Director of Online Marketing at Stamps.com, said there were positives. For example, buyers will no longer receive packages with "postage due" notices for underpaid packages, and packages will not get returned to the seller if the USPS detects underpaid postage, thereby eliminating negative buyer experiences, he said.

Nash said the program could cause some confusion or frustration on the part of sellers as many customers do not know they are under-paying postage. "Their scales could be off or they may assume you can use a Priority Mail Flat Rate Box with regular Priority Mail postage," for example, he said. 

Stamps.com communicated with customers and published this blog post informing them of the new program.

Some sellers say the program could be positive in that it would prevent unscrupulous sellers from cheating the Postal Service. One seller said they always overestimated their postage, so hoped they'd receive credits through the program.

A major area of concern among sellers is whether they will be able to dispute a claim they underpaid for a package's postage, which the Post Office collects through vendors. 

Nash said the USPS has developed a process where a customer can send an email to VerifyPostageHelp@usps.gov - they will need to include the parcel tracking number and reason for the dispute in the email.  

He said the USPS has provided the following service levels for responses:

- Response time to disputes expected to be 2 to 5 business days.

- Time limit for adjudication to be 15 business days max.

- There is not expected to be partial reversals. It dispute will either be approved or denied.

- Stamps.com customers will get an email when the dispute is opened and then a second email when the dispute has been approved or denied.

- Stamps.com is building a one-step mechanism within the Reports/Print History feature for customers to send the appropriate dispute info to the USPS.

Do you have questions or concerns about the new USPS Automated Package Verification System? Leave a comment below - we'll be publishing more on this as it rolls out in the coming weeks.




Comments (36) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage   Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage

by: lessthanthreerecords This user has validated their user name.
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Thu Jul 20 17:57:04 2017

I love how Eric Nash says that a customer's scale may be off, but completely ignores the fact that USPS scales may be off.  It happened to me!  I was paying to ship quite a few packages in the post office (not Click N Ship) and I knew roughly what each should cost.  They seemed to be coming up slightly more expensive than I was expecting.  When the clerk came to a tube that I was shipping first class, she said that it was too heavy to go first class and would need to be shipped priority.  I knew this was incorrect and I asked her to check the scale.  She got out a small set of weights and, sure enough, the scale was not zeroed correctly.  She zeroed it and continued weighing my parcels.  I asked her why she wasn't correcting the parcels that I was overcharged for.  She said they were already on the truck (highly unlikely!)  I told her to get them off the truck, and she refused.  I asked for the post master and she said he wasn't there (he just walked by about a minute prior!)  It crossed my mind to refuse to pay, but they had already taken about $1,000 worth of packages (mostly insured) out of my sight.  I knew that if I refused to pay, the insurance would not be honored and I would be risking a lot more than a small overpayment on several packages, so I paid.  Afterwards, I reported the incident to the Department of Weights and Measures.  The person I spoke with said that what she did was illegal, but that the USPS was not within the jurisdiction of the Department of Weights and Measures.  Now, if it's that difficult dealing with an incorrect scale in-person at the time of the transaction, how will a customer possibly dispute the actual weight of a package that they sent days (or more) earlier?  This makes fraud on the part of USPS (whether intentional or accidental) far too likely.  If USPS is concerned about customers underpaying for postage, they should weigh every package when it is accepted and if it is underpaid, they should not accept it.

Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage   Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jul 20 18:14:47 2017

It occurs to me there are some additional, rather complicated issues involved here not spoken...and not just related to USPS reasonable desire to charge accurately.

First, in the case of the carrier (applies to all of them BTW) disputing weight, one may have quite a challenge proving ship weight was indeed correct if the package is now out of hand and in carrier's possession.  In a perfect world, the shipper does have an accurate scale, thereby rendering any 'question' moot.  But in the past, and WITH accurate scales, I've had more than one FEDEX (for example) 'recalculation' show up as a surprise in a monthly invoice.  And it was a challenge to challenge that....  Now USPS....  Time will tell.

Incidentally, shipping isn't necessarilly all done just through a ship 'vendor'.  Many sellers have direct carrier accounts too.  Disputing with a carrier directly is one thing.  Disputing via a vendor who was billed by USPS for underpayments?  That's a two popcorn box sideshow.  

Regardless, it was also always very difficult to predetermine total weight before an item was actually prepared for shipment - so one could accurately portray ship cost in the listing, embedded OR disclosed.  Even weighing an item with packing material and estimated duff, one can not do that to the 'eventual accurate' ounce until an item is sold, actually packaged, AND the seller knows where it will go.  Meaning one can't really BE fully accurate in a listing.  Meaning reliance on a 'close estimate' for weight, and then relying on eBay's (for those sales) shipping calculator.  Good luck with that, right?  Of course, one can define a 'flat rate' - but again, to where?  

So one is left to 'overestimate', (e.g., worse case) thus impacting total cost competitiveness, even when claiming it to be 'free' in an offering.  Meaning the BUYER now pays that excess - or if refunded by the seller, then the seller pays the unrefunded 'fees' - already unearned as they are even when accurately predetermined.  

The carrier gets what's due - that's fine.  But this will increase venue 'unearned' fees too - fine for them only.  

Of course, this all may be a non-issue - or much less of one - for prepackaged commoddity item sellers.  

Imagine that.

Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage   Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage

by: GoingBroke This user has validated their user name.
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Fri Jul 21 00:40:58 2017

That's fine as long as they reimburse if we are over--Since they are checking every package it would be just as easy to do a refund as to bill us. Just another way to get more money because we would have no way to dispute the extra charges since it would have already been delivered. I would think it's pretty even because if we can be under you know we can also be over at times-But I obviously they are not concerned about those packages.  

Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage   Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage

by: GoingBroke This user has validated their user name.
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Fri Jul 21 00:42:08 2017

That's fine as long as they reimburse if we are over--Since they are checking every package it would be just as easy to do a refund as to bill us. Just another way to get more money because we would have no way to dispute the extra charges since it would have already been delivered. I would think it's pretty even because if we can be under you know we can also be over at times-But obviously they are not concerned about those packages.  

Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage   Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage

by: Esther This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 21 00:43:22 2017

I recently bought some water filters on eBay that included free shipping.  However, the PO would not release the package to me until I paid an additional $6.55 in postage as the seller had used the flat rate USPS cardboard envelope for three undersink water filters which are hard cylinders 12 inches long and at least 2 inches in diameter and more than 2 pounds in weight.  My carrier said the contents of the package exceeded what the envelope is designed for.  The only thing I find on the USPS website is that a flat envelope cannot exceed 3/4 inch thickness.  I wanted the filters and paid the excess postage. The seller said this never happened before and did not offer to pay the postage so I called eBay and was told to file for a return due to the item not being as advertised and to explain the excess postage but that I wanted to keep the item. I am waiting to see what happens.

Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage   Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage

by: minnie This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 21 01:52:42 2017

...And I thought all this time that USPS was double checking our packages when we took them to the post office!  I use a digital scale that was sent to me from USPS years ago.  I've never had a package returned for insufficient postage, or any buyer complain of a package arriving postage due.  I have read of many posts on ebay's discussion forums where buyers receive their packages postage due, so will be happy to no longer read those posts after August 1 !

Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage   Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage

by: Barbbie This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 21 03:44:23 2017

I once had an elderly buyer tell me her post office was asking her for more money - and that they do this to her often, nearly every package and that she normally pays it but this one was priority mail and it was a few dollars more so she wanted to ask me what she should do.  Since I always put things in the right box and go by the postal rules, I was certain there was no mistake.  I told her not to pay it. To give me the number of the person attempting to charge her and I would call them myself. She then reported back that they let her have the package without charge.
Now maybe she was just trying to get a discount from me, but it didn't seem that way to me. I think some people at some of these post offices are up to no good so I do not know how this will work in practice. I would imagine it can still go on.
Where is the "official" point of the weight going to be? Delivery, Drop off, main office or hub, some other place?
If the weight is at the local office, nothing may change unless the local office decides to weigh or make sure their sellers are using the proper shipping boxes/envelopes; unless this is just a way to allow them to not have to directly confront their customers.
Oh well, I guess we will see!

Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage   Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 21 03:53:30 2017

I wonder how this will effect sellers like me who stuff jeans in a tyvek mailing envelope or in a flat rate envelope?  Two weeks ago, I mailed a leather jacket (stuffed it) in a flat rate envelope.  The whole "not what it was intended for" is frightening, and I know a lot of Ebayers who watch YT videos where they show you how to stuff clothing in those flat rate envelopes.

Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage   Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage

by: funkygrrl This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 21 07:23:12 2017

I hope that the verification of the weight is at the dropoff point (Post office). If they do it at one of their sorting centers or something, we'll have no way of disputing.

Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage   Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage

by: HardWorkingSeller This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 21 07:37:59 2017

I believe that the 3/4" max thickness rule applies to First Class Flats and not Flat Rate Envelopes.  With Flat Rate Envelopes the contents just need to fit within the envelope and you are not allowed to modify the form factor of the envelope.  Tape is OK if it is to secure the seams.  Tape can't be used to change the envelope's form factor.

Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage   Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage

by: 1st Armored Div. 1971-1973 This user has validated their user name.
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Fri Jul 21 07:54:14 2017

USPS seems to ignore the fact that not all clerks know how to select the proper service for a package/letter/large envelope. I have been to USPS Mailing Requirements many times in Cincinnati about clerks trying to charge for First Class Package instead of First Class Letter because they do not understand the regulations.

Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage   Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage

by: cmabresch This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 21 07:58:09 2017

Meanwhile Amazon is getting a $1.60 per package kick back from USPS

Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage   Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage

by: Jus_e This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 21 08:33:40 2017

How are we going to get reimbursed via ebay? yeah, right! Then wouldn't ebay owe us money because they charge us for shipping too? This is too much, I have to get my own site, I've already got a headache. The process is probably simple but I bet ebay will make this whole big thing out of it and figure out how to get extra money.***sigh***

Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage   Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage

This user has validated their user name. by: TraderBoo

Fri Jul 21 09:48:59 2017

Welcome to the world of Algorithm when computer Algorithm is the Police, the Judge and the executioner, ebay is doing it for years now USPS is joining the party.    

Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage   Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage

by: StoneArtUSA This user has validated their user name.
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Fri Jul 21 10:01:09 2017

If my package is returned to me for insufficient postage do I have to pay full postage again to re-ship or just pay the amount short?

Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage   Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage

by: Watching the Wheels This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 21 10:36:26 2017

I don't use shipping labels for this very reason. IF any customer of mine is advised of owing money, "I" will be expecting my PO to cover for THEIR mistake. SIMPLE.

Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage   Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage

by: Done This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 21 11:06:36 2017

So will the post office check my scale for me?  Or how else do I do this?

Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage   Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage

by: hashtaggs This user has validated their user name.
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Fri Jul 21 11:23:10 2017

That's bullshit, what about when we all overpay, do we get credits???????

Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage   Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage

by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 21 11:25:27 2017

Its so great to be using just regular stamps for postage. We like to confuse the postal jerks and see how well educated they are. Most need a calculator to add 2 and 2.

We also save a ton of money buying our postage at 65 percent of face value. The only online shipping we do is ONE LABEL via stamps. com so that we have the one required priority mail item to qualify us for pickup. The rest are just regular stamps. All kinds of them and all denominations. Drives the postal jerks crazy having to add it all up.

So postal people go for it.

Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage   Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 21 11:45:10 2017

At this time, we should picket the usps for giving china unfair cheap prices.

also usps needs to have programs for sellers who use them alot and give discounts.

if they want to get picky, we need to as well.

We will also need to demand that they tell Ebay to stop misrepresenting their first class shipping time.

Lets fight the usps for the TRAITORS THEY ARE

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