Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Fri Sept 1 2017 23:35:01

US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday

By: Ina Steiner

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Don't panic if you print your shipping labels online, but sellers who purchase postage for First Class Packages at the Post Office should be aware of a change in rates that goes into effect on Sunday. 

We admit it, this one snuck by us. It was a reader who alerted us this afternoon. 

"Have you heard anything about parcel post rates going up next Tuesday," he asked. "My postmaster told me they were and even gave me a chart of the increases. 1-4 ounces increase from $2.67 to $3.00 and so forth."

USPS spokesperson David Partenheimer confirmed that there was a change going into effect on September 3, 2017, telling us the Postal Service had sent reminders to mailers:

Reminder: First-Class Mail Parcels transfer to the Competitive Price Listing
On August 9, 2017, the Postal Regulatory Commission ("PRC") approved the transfer of the First-Class Mail Parcels ("FCMP") product from the market-dominant product list to the competitive product list. The approved new rates (13 rate cells in total) can be viewed on the Postal Explorer website at pe.usps.com and will go into effect on September 3, 2017. 

After implementation, the FCMP product will become a new "Retail" rate category within the existing First-Class Package Service ("FCPS") product. The new "Retail" price category will be called "First-Class Package Service - Retail" while the existing FCPS price category will be renamed "First-Class Package Service - Commercial." The new FCPS-Retail product has the same characteristics as the former First-Class Mail Parcels product.

Partenheimer also sent us a link to the PRC approval of the change, which was issued on August 9th.

Stamps.com spokesperson Eric Nash told EcommerceBytes there is no change in the rates for online sellers printing postage online. Previously First Class Mail Parcels was Market Dominant and could be purchased at the Post Office. First Class Package Service, which is Competitive, can only be purchased online, he explained.

"Now they are making these one mail class (in the competitive schedule), with "First Class Mail Parcels" being changed to "First Class Package Service - Retail" (purchased at the Post Office) and "First Class Package Service - Commercial" (purchased online)," Nash said. "The rates at the Post Office for First Class Package Service - Retail" will be higher than online rates."

The significance of Market Dominant versus Competitive is that the USPS has limits on raising Market Dominant rates, whereas it has more leeway in raising Competitive rates.

Nash also pointed out another change that is coming:

"First Class Package International Service is having tracking (known as EDelCon internally with USPS - formally titled "Electronic USPS Delivery Confirmation International service") added to four new countries. As of 8/31, Cyprus, Greece, Japan, and Russia will receive tracking. This tracking service will also now be available to customers purchasing First Package International Service at the Post Office (this will start on 9/22/17)."

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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday   US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday

by: timeaftertime This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 4 14:11:03 2017

@go-figure, you're absolutely right! It's a 12% increase on the first 3 ounces of First Class parcel. Those using the ebay/PP shipping and other electronic label printing will not see an increase.  That said, there MAY be some eBay sellers who still go to the post office to mail packages! You would give up the PayPal protection (but not EBAY protection?? as long as you shipped to the required address and could prove delivery)  -- there is no requirement about where you must buy postage.

I gave up using them, after wasting too much time over hassle after hassle and ''error messages'' - site unavailable/ try again later.

Ruby Lane was all over this last week, and so was Stamps.com .  


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by: Whatever This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 4 14:22:02 2017

everybody makes money except us - what the heck are we doing anyway? ban china

Perminate Link for US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday   US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday

This user has validated their user name. by: LasVagueness

Mon Sep 4 15:14:52 2017

It's worth rereading @epuise's comment:

"There is no reason eBay can't CREDIT BACK the FVF on POSTAGE bought on eBay. That prevents fee avoidance while being FAIR to sellers who charge actual rates to ship."

Perminate Link for US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday   US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Mon Sep 4 18:02:15 2017

@tiffee

No.  But then they wouldn't as the increase is for RETAIL prices only.  They don't pay retail pricing.

Perminate Link for US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday   US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Mon Sep 4 18:07:46 2017

@timeaftertime
"That said, there MAY be some eBay sellers who still go to the post office to mail packages! You would give up the PayPal protection (but not EBAY protection?? as long as you shipped to the required address and could prove delivery)  -- there is no requirement about where you must buy postage."  While it is true that Ebay does not require sellers to purchase postage from any certain vendor to qualify for Seller protection, they do require tracking.  So those using regular stamps and the such do not have tracking and therefore do not qualify for Seller Protection.

Perminate Link for US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday   US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Mon Sep 4 18:13:31 2017

@LasVagueness

That would only hold true if you buy into the argument that Ebay started the FVF on Shipping because of those sellers that abused the system and overcharged for shipping to avoid FVF on the product price.  For me this was just an excuse and has nothing to do with the reason they did it.  However it was ONE of the excuses they did put out there to sellers.

To me it is more reasonable to believe they did it for the second reason they stated at the time and that was to bring themselves more in line with the fees other sites charges as they do charge FVFs on Shipping.  Whether other sites do this or not, it is what Ebay said at the time.  It is my experience that some do and some don't.  My guess they were trying to be more in line with what Amazon charges while forgetting that Amazon processes their own payments therefore there isn't an additional fee for the money processor.  With that said, Amazon fees are still higher than Ebay's, so I guess that kind of accommodates the difference.

Perminate Link for US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday   US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 4 18:37:21 2017

Rate information noted is for retail (counter, & online without account perks) pricing.  It applies regardless of customer nationality.  There are alternatives for businesses and individuals who wish to avoid retail pricing on USPS products and services.  They vary by circumstance and any deal terms contracted.  USPS also picks up.  Except in China, and elswhere non-domestic.  

Incidentally, the USPS is not 'free' to set prices without US governing oversight, either commission related, or legislative.  And upgraded postal delivery services paid for (at any rates) are already reimbursable via submission of claim and proof of supporting scan data for non-compliance.  Package values can also be insured via numerous means.  

As for eBay, they don't give a stamp lick about 'fair'.  Buying postage via their klugy integration is just another cost-center for them.  That whole 'inflated shipping supression' excuse is a smokescreen also designed to bolster 'their' free that isn't free shipping push.  

All that aside, clearly there are situations where a fee and price 'business disadvantage' exists when it comes to obtaining supply, product, or services to support one's own enterprise .  

The difference is, there are many tools and alternatives that exist that allows for choices to control one's own expenses, and to control one's own business processes so to take advantage of deals made available.

Except if one 'chooses' to sell on eBay.  To stay there, one must relinquish much control, and pay fees assessed, (e.g., cents without sense), with purposefully limited and constrained opportunity for growth so to become eligible for a 'fair share' of price breaks.  

For everything THEY are 'selling' you.  

Perminate Link for US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday   US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday

This user has validated their user name. by: LasVagueness

Mon Sep 4 20:39:58 2017

@Marie

Thank you for your detailed follow-up. I'm not privy to the inner sanctum of eBay's accounting spinmeisters, but believe them to be disingenuous nonetheless. Their word crafters ('free shipping') are quite adept at making the palatable 'palatable' via crafty verbiage, fancy packaging, and subterfuge.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Bill

Mon Sep 4 23:26:36 2017

Marie,

When you use your own stamps tracking is available. It is called label 400 and is free from the post office. I have been using it for a few years now and I use my discount postage for the shipping. The new increase still puts me under the online rates. They get scanned when I give them to the post office and I have 100% tracking on eBay.

Perminate Link for US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday   US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Tue Sep 5 02:24:24 2017

@LasVagueness

"I'm not privy to the inner sanctum of eBay's accounting spinmeisters..."  Nor do I.  I was repeating stuff they said when they started that particular FVF.

"...Their word crafters ('free shipping')..."  Ebay didn't coin that term.  It existed for quite a while before Ebay decided to give it a try.  I'm not sure who started it, but it was a marketing program by some other online sites to include Amazon, Target and others.

Perminate Link for US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday   US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday

by: JBH This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 5 12:48:38 2017

Have any of you read the article?   Price increase is on over the counter retail rates at the Post Office! Commercial rates, which is what is charged if you go through eBay, Stamps.com or Paypal to print your labels will not be effected.  

So why would you raise the prices on your auctions unless you are physically carrying your parcels to the Post Office and having the clerk weigh them and apply postage.  And if you're doing that you're already paying too much.   Yeah, eBay fees are ridiculous, so save a little bit by printing your postage labels through a site where you get a discount.

USPS is trying to steer customers away from the counter (and the salary of clerks) to buy postage online and print at home.  

UPS and FedEx can pay claims on every parcel they "loose" because they can be a lot more selective on what they'll take and charge higher rates overall adding surcharges for residential addresses, rural areas, fuel, and this year from UPS holiday period surcharges.  Priority parcels are insured, and you can buy insurance on First Class (make sure when buying labels on eBay you go with Postal Service insurance and not the more expensive type they offer)

And I'm sure with the recent surge in gas prices UPS and FedEx will be tacking on higher fuel surcharges, so in most cases Post Office will be best bet.

Perminate Link for US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday   US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Tue Sep 5 12:54:06 2017

@JBH

It is only a couple of posters that were momentarily confused by the increase notice.  But there are plenty of sellers that do not purchase their postage online that do need to be concerned about this increase.

Perminate Link for US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday   US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday

by: JBH This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 5 12:55:01 2017

International rates (China being able to ship so cheaply) are set by the Universal Postal Union, which is like a big treaty group of countries that agree to accept each others mail (I know that's a simplistic explanation, but I don't understand it all).   From what I'm told, there has been a lot of push from the member countries to change the system so Chinese merchants would have higher rates when mailing to other countires.  But I'm sure it will take years.  I've also heard that the Chineser government subsidizes a lot of the postal rates so sellers there can afford to offer free shipping.

Perminate Link for US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday   US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday

by: JBH This user has validated their user name.

Tue Sep 5 12:58:15 2017

The new rate chart was available on usps.com, you just had to dig for it.   My bet is they can't post the chart until the rates are actually in effect, there are a lot of weird rules, maybe years ago someone used the new higher rates before the date, complained to their Congressman and now they're super secret until they are live.

Perminate Link for US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday   US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday

This user has validated their user name. by: LasVagueness

Tue Sep 5 22:07:59 2017

@Bill I knew the 400 label worked for pre-purchased Priority Mail envelopes but didn't know it could be used for first class or stamped mail. Thanks for the info!  

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This user has validated their user name. by: LasVagueness

Tue Sep 5 22:09:43 2017

@Marie I was curious about the origin of 'free shipping' but could find no mention of it online. Yes, it has probably been around a very long time.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: Bill

Tue Sep 5 23:48:17 2017

LasVagueness:

The 400 label is only good for First class packages and of course Priority mail that you put your own postage on.

As of tonight the Notice 123.pdf is not updated with the new prices. I have to ship tomorrow so I will find out what the skinny is from my friends at the Post Office.

Perminate Link for US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday   US Postage Rate Increase Takes Effect on Sunday

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Wed Sep 6 02:52:58 2017

@LasVagueness
I could be wrong, but I think the marketing tactic of Free Shipping was started in 2008 by Luke and Maisie Knowles, founders of Coupon Sherpa.

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