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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.

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Readers Comments

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 21 14:32:55 2017

When I was located in NYC, I was LUCKY enough to have family who worked at the post office where I dropped off packages - made selling on eBay ALOT easier.

I would bring in my 6-10 a day and put them in the bin as directed - and the PO NEVER contacted me - and I knew the relative who worked there, another postal teller AND the head of that PO branch.That went on for 16 yrs!

There were a few times where I had to get them done manually. %95 were with in an ounce and I was told - they are NOT going to bother reweighing it for that. For the rest that were a few ounces over (extra packaging) - the head of he station told me "you are a great customer - some of your items are abit OVER, some are abit UNDER - so it all evens out and we dont care - just bring us MORE" and I did.

I think that in all the years Ive been selling - Ive had ONE buyer complain that USPS wanted more money from him - I told him prove it and I will do it -NP. Never heard from him again - he must have been one of eBays STELLAR KEEP AT ALL COSTS buyers.

HOWEVER, as told to me by an eBay employee - since eBay is the vendor of record - they sell you the postage - if a box IS overweight - USPS used to come back to them and make THEM pay for it. I cant verify it - but if so - it warms my heart - that someone somewhere is getting the beter of eBay (FOR ONCE).

I did get an email from eBay about (1) package in all that time (1998-2017) about a package being overweight - but they neither provided me the label number OR a any details on which package it was. Typical eBay 1/2 job.

Im sure there are sellers who cheat USPS - and if so - you deserve to get caught and made to pay so that they rest of us dont have to make up the shortfall.

BUT, its a bit disingenuous to come and cry about "some" sellers abusing USPS weights, when as said - they let the Chinese get away with shipping for nothing (and hey do the final mile so they have some control) and  2) they cut all kinds of deals with Amazon and others .. a few cents here and there is nothing is nothing compared to what they give away (the Sat overtime alone is more then what they are complaining about)

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Fri Jul 21 17:12:02 2017

@hardworkingseller

"I believe that the 3/4" max thickness rule applies to First Class Flats and not Flat Rate Envelopes."
The 3/4" rule is for FCP [first class parcel] Domestic. It must be either stiff or 3/4" thick or more at any point in the package / envelope.  It isn't a "max" thickness, it is a Minimum thickness OR it must be stiff, not easily bent.

The only time I ever had issues with what USPS felt was an underpayment was before they revised this rule on FCP.  It was a bit confusing apparently to some postal workers.  They thought the FCP rule was it needed to be stiff AND at least 3/4" thick at some point in the package and that was NEVER the rule.  It always has been OR.  

But as is often the problem, the rule was written to be as clear as mud.  So these postal workers that didn't understand the rule, they would bump these packages up to PM rates and charge my customer.  Or I should say they tried.   As each time this happened I call the local PO for my customer and politely explained the how the policy actually read.

Since then, USPS has updated this rule in the DMM and it is easier to understand so I have not had this problem for a long time.

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by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 21 19:00:45 2017

The biggest cheaters are china, so unless you complain about them, I could care less about residents here cheating, not my business.

What is my business is that china gets special rates, as well as large companies who get to wholesale out the price, yet barely give us savings.

The usps to me are nothing but cowards and traitors. They should be fighting hand and tooth this deal the government made with China, instead they just take it and up the citizen's rate an a bi yearly rate!

go to the abyss usps!




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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Fri Jul 21 19:53:33 2017

Luckily, my postal scale weighs on the heavy side, so I always have enough postage on on packages. And since I take every one of them to my branch and have them scanned, and the clerk always weighs them at that time, I don't have any fears that I will be getting billed for incorrect postage.

But I fear for other sellers who get a clerk that needs to zero out his/her scale. Or the one time I had a clerk measure my package because she thought it was too big for the postage on my label, but started measuring from the 1" mark, not the beginning of the tape measure.

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This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Fri Jul 21 20:20:23 2017

I think the post office does a great job but somehow I really doubt we'll be seeing any refunds for overestimated postage.

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by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 21 22:36:29 2017

I put two stamps on an 8 x 11 envelope with some docs in it (few pages) I had to mail and sent it certified today via the PO at the counter.  As they figured the postage service total, they took the time to weigh the envelope (1.08 oz), and refunded me the excess .38 or so right there.

Don't remember that happening before. I didn't even think to ask about it, frankly.

Extrapolate.

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by: dasw This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jul 21 23:03:39 2017

If they decide to check the weights at the Local Post Office, what will be the reason to use Scan Sheets?  

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by: Guest This user has validated their user name.

Sat Jul 22 12:17:29 2017

I process hundreds of packages a night that are shipped 1st class, but are of priority weight. I once processed an eBay package that weighed 20lbs, but only paid 1st class postage. The supervisors tell us to process it and get it on the truck to its destination. Hopefully this will get cheaters to be more competitive on Ebay and other marketplaces Competing with cheaters and Chinese ,sellers you barely make a profit anymore.

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by: ebizguy This user has validated their user name.

Sat Jul 22 20:20:30 2017

Nothing new here, the USPS is finally doing what UPS and FedEx has done all along. It’s difficult if not impossible to cheat UPS or FedEx out of shipping fees because they weigh and measure everything when it passes through their systems. They don’t rely on what the customer declares, and they don’t bill the customer until AFTER the items have been delivered. The problem with the USPS is, they rely on the data provided by the customer and collect the money when a shipping label has been generated. After this, it takes diligent USPS employees to notice any shortages.

So, why is everybody crying about the USPS verifying weights and postage amounts? Is it because the good ‘ole days of getting cheap shipping at the expense of the USPS is coming to an end? There’s always UPS and FedEx as alternatives, go to them if you’re not happy.

What this falls under is revenue protection by the USPS to ensure they are getting paid properly. For a long time, the USPS has been plagued by online sellers declaring packages lighter than actual weight, using media mail to ship goods instead of books, altering shipping labels, duplicate labels, and many other ways to cheat the USPS out of revenue.

Yes, check your scale. If you have one of those cheap Chinese scales, throw them out. If you’re a serious seller with a serious business, you need a scale that is legal for trade. I’ve seen a few people here who are challenging the USPS scales. If they are using cheap scales or even digital bathroom scales to weigh items, I’d put my money on what the USPS scales say the weight is. USPS buys only the good stuff, usually Mettler Toledo scales that are legal for trade.

You need to be compliant, and not knowingly or unwittingly defraud the USPS of revenue. If you get caught, the Postal Inspectors will assume you have been defrauding for a long period of time, and they will drag records of everything you’ve ever shipped out of the bowels of the USPS computers, and make you pay restitution and possible prison time. Check out these links

http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/San-Diegan-Admits-to-
Defrauding-USPS-18K-in-Unpaid-Postage-US-Atty-361147831.html

https://www.clickondetroit.com/news/washington-township-ebay-business-accused-of-400000-postage-counterfeit-scam

Get
a good scale that is legal for trade, have it tested and verified annually, and you’ll sleep OK at night.

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by: lurkulator This user has validated their user name.

Sat Jul 22 21:03:46 2017

@Esther
>>...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.

eBay will do nothing. Seller might voluntarily refund.

Has been said in eBay forums that there is a "Postage Due" claim option at PayPal for reimbursement of postage due paid (I would assume under SNAD claims). Search or ask in eBay or PayPal forums for details.

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by: AngelaTC This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Sat Jul 22 21:04:56 2017

@Esther - As long as the size of the envelope wasn't expanded, your local Post Office is wrong.  Click the link under my name - there's a link to the PO rules that cover it.

Perminate Link for Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage   Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage

by: Sierra This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jul 23 02:06:16 2017

@Froggy - where are you buying postage (stamps?) for 65% of their face value?

Perminate Link for Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage   Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage

This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Sun Jul 23 08:15:03 2017

Their biggest money-loser is still shipping Chinese ePackets for free and they're not going to stop _that_ anytime soon.

Perminate Link for Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage   Check Your Scales - USPS Will Begin Verifying Postage

by: exdwh This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jul 23 12:22:08 2017

Obviously, the weight (and size?) will be verified when passing through a hub-- just like UPS and FedEx. The old process for underpaid postage will still be necessary for stamped mail.

The biggest problem I see is that while UPS/FedEx deal in pounds, USPS deals in ounces where there's a lot more room for error. The USPS rates can be very non-linear. It's a big increase beyond 15.9 ounces for domestic First Class. International First Class also has lots of potential steep edges. These are what scare me.

I suspect that the dispute process will involve a USPS employee looking at a photo taken when the package was measured. Sort of like those red-light cameras. If they can see something weird like 2 packages stuck together, you'll probably get a free ride. Otherwise, I don't see any way to win unless you're a volume shipper and can show that you shipped 100 of the same widget without getting flagged.

There's going to have to be some wiggle-room and statistics applied. They'll have to look at the magnitude and frequency of the errors. I don't think honest shippers have much to worry about.

--David

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by: Toledo Maude This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jul 23 15:42:13 2017

I use a digital scale to weight packages.  I have complete confidence in the scale as 99% of my packages go Priority Mail. And mostly Priority Mail charges by the pound.  So only when a package weights over a pound (or several pounds) and 15 ounces do I have cause to wonder if the scale is dead on accurate.  

And if the package is no where close to crossing the line to the next pound, I add two ounces to the weight just to be sure the charges are accurate.

In these rare instances that a package is close to another pound,  I pray that the scale is accurate and go with the scales weight or I buy the next higher pound rate.

Only once since I started buying shipping labels on line has a customer had to pay for postage due.  

Since I drop off my packages at the post office counter and the clerk verifies weight and charges, I do not see a big impact with the post offices policy change.

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by: stevenl This user has validated their user name.

Tue Aug 1 19:18:15 2017

barbbie, you should report that post office to the postmaster and usps inspector general.

if that elderly buyer is paying extra each time to receive your packages, then something is seriously wrong.

anyway, report that specific post office to postmaster, usps inspector general,
also more contacts here http://www.prc.gov/contact

unless the elderly buyer is lying to each seller and saying he/she got charged extra each time.  

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