Some retailers who want to offer free returns to their customers use USPS Merchandise Return Service (MRS), allowing customers to return goods using merchant-provided prepaid labels. By August, retailers will have to transition from MRS to the “USPS Returns” service.
USPS Returns leverages the same technology used by the Postal Service to automatically verify that shippers have paid the correct postage purchased online, called Automated Package Verification (APV).
As the Postal Service explained:
“Under the Package Platform initiative, the Postal Service has leveraged devices that were installed as part of the Automated Package Verification system to enhance the capability of equipment used for the processing of package-size mailpieces.
“The upgraded equipment captures near real-time data on package dimensions, weight, mail class or product, and other attributes, and transmits the data to Postal Service information systems. The Postal Service will use this new technology to streamline its processes for the identification and postage assessment of each return package, and enable account holders to pay the postage for their returns electronically.
“Mailers will receive detailed reports to monitor package level pricing as their returns are processed and delivered through the Postal Service network. This improved functionality will significantly reduce the need to manually weigh and invoice returns or to estimate postage via sampling under the Postage Due Weight Averaging Program for MRS packages, and will eliminate the scan-based payment process currently used with USPS Returns services.”
USPS Returns rates include: Priority Mail Commercial Base and Commercial Plus; First-Class Package Service – Commercial; and Parcel Select Ground. Negotiated Service Agreement (NSA) prices are available for eligible customers.
The USPS will collect postage and fees for the program through an Enterprise Payment System instead of the legacy Scan Based Payment (SBP). EPS is a relatively new payment system designed to provide a single point for all payment-related activities. Shippers must set up an EPS account for electronic funds transfer for payment of USPS Returns service postage.
The Postal Service said it believes the revisions to its returns package product offerings will provide customers a more efficient process and a superb customer experience. Current USPS Returns service and MRS customers must migrate to the new automated methodology by August 28, 2020.
Federal Register Vol. 85, No. 37 published the announcement.