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Did Amazon Violate USPS Rate-Hike Regulations?

Amazon
Did Amazon Violate USPS Rate-Hike Regulations?

The USPS raised postage rates on July 10, but sellers reported Amazon began charging them the new rates on July 1st, as we reported on the EcommerceBytes Blog on July 4.

A seller said an Amazon rep told them implementing the USPS rate increase early was done deliberately. When asked about the issue and how it was possible for a third party to start collecting higher postage rates early, a USPS spokesperson told EcommerceBytes, “We would refer you to the Amazon PR office for any comment regarding this.”

When we followed up with the question, “Does the USPS allow online postage providers to implement USPS rate hikes ahead of time,” the USPS spokesperson responded, “No.” Meanwhile, an Amazon spokesperson contacted by EcommerceBytes said he would look into the matter, but has yet to provide a response.

A seller forwarded an email they received from Amazon Customer Service that stated in part:

“…due to the relative closeness to Prime Day (July 12 – 13), there were concerns the changes could impact your ability to Buy Shipping during this time. Tools like Buy Shipping take time to implement changes. As such, the change was implemented early.

“We understand the inconvenience this change creates, we want to ensure that you have a successful Prime Day without any risk to your ability to fulfill orders.

“You can learn more about USPS price changes on the USPS website.”

Sellers also discussed the issue on the Amazon discussion boards. One seller said they still hadn’t received any refunds for paying the higher rates early, to which another seller responded in part, “It was not an accident. The mod stated it was done on purpose. The refunds should happen in the next 30 days. Not immediately.”

We dug deeper and found the following post from an Amazon moderator published on the Amazon discussion boards on July 7 – three days after our initial blog post reporting the issue (and six days after it had implemented the rate hike early):

Update Regarding USPS Rate Changes
Dear Selling Partners:
Thank you all, for reaching out regarding your concerns regarding USPS rate increases. We have confirmed that the rate adjustment was implemented July 1st, instead of July 10th. Tools like Buy Shipping take time to implement changes. Due to the relative closeness to Prime Day (July 12 – 13), there were concerns the changes could impact your ability to Buy Shipping during this time. As such, the change was implemented early; however, the difference in rates will be reimbursed for all orders automatically by Amazon’s system during the impacted period.

If you have orders that have not reimbursed for this difference in rates after 30 days, please reach out to Seller Support with your list of impacted Order IDs to request a refund. You can confirm if an order has been reimbursed by reviewing the Payments Dashboard 73 in Seller Central.

We appreciate everyone who brought their concerns to the Forums regarding this USPS rate increase. Please note, we have reached out to the appropriate leadership to improve communication so that future changes are shared proactively. While we understand the inconvenience this change creates, we want to ensure that you have a successful Prime Day without any risk to your ability to fulfill orders.

You can learn more about USPS price changes on the USPS website.
Thank you for your understanding,
Amazon Forums Moderation Team

We followed up with the USPS late Wednesday afternoon when we found the Amazon post acknowledging it had deliberately implemented the USPS rate hike early.

Sellers’ funds were tied up for 30 days due to what appears to be Amazon’s violation of the US Postal Service’s regulation. If it’s allowed this time, what’s to stop any online postage provider from doing the same thing in the future?

Ina Steiner on EmailIna Steiner on LinkedinIna Steiner on Twitter
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). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

One thought on “Did Amazon Violate USPS Rate-Hike Regulations?”

  1. Etsy & eBay are able to implement USPS rate increases on the day they happen, so how is it that the Grandpappy of all marketplaces can’t do the same?

    Also, didn’t USPS announce the date of their rate increase before Amazon announced the date of Prime Days (seems like they did)? So Amazon should have scheduled Prime Days for a week or so later, rather than playing the float game.

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