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Who Is Picking Up All the Empty Amazon Fresh Totes?

It seems the USPS would like to get paid for picking up all those empty Amazon Fresh totes it delivers full of groceries on customers’ doorsteps. On Friday, the Postal Service filed notice with the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) a notice of change to its “Customized Delivery Market Test.”

The USPS had first filed a request for Customized Delivery in September 2014, and the PRC granted authorization that October to run the 2-year test, which ends in October 2016. Note that the documents don’t mention any retailers by name.

According to Friday’s filing, the USPS intends to begin charging for tote-pickup beginning October 21st, but the fee was redacted from public filing.

It appears that the Postal Service was already picking up the totes – according to Amazon’s description of Amazon Fresh Doorstep Delivery: “We will leave your items on your doorstep in temperature-controlled tote bags and pick them up with your next delivery.”

But the filing describes the new feature as follows:

“This new feature of the Customized Delivery market test will involve the Postal Service picking up empty totes after they have been used in the test, so that the test participants can retrieve the empty totes the next day. Under this new feature, test participants will be able to request a pickup of empty totes once per day via MyPO, for a fee of (redacted).

“Postal carriers would pick up the empty totes on their regular routes, and return the empty totes to the DDU at the end of the day. The test participant would then be able to pick up their empty totes from the DDU when dropping off their new grocery deliveries the following morning.”

The USPS told the PRC, “This new feature would be a convenience to both test participants and individual consumers, and would allow the Postal Service to explore a potential new source of revenue under the Customized Delivery market test.”

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Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.