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Mon Feb 15 2010 22:02:59

Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here

By: Ina Steiner

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Shipping is an integral part of an online retailer's business, and even a small amount of money saved per package can add up, boosting your profit margin. But making sure the package arrives, intact, in a timely manner is key to customer satisfaction.

The U.S. Postal Service is eager to help sellers ship efficiently, and will answer questions from you. Whether it's about Shipment Confirmation Acceptance Notice (SCAN Form), Media Mail, marketplace integration, Delivery Confirmation - leave your questions below. I'll round them up and present them to my contact at the USPS and report back on the answers in a follow-up post.

What shipping problems have you experienced that you can't solve?




Comments (71) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here   Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here

by: Pam

Mon Feb 15 22:15:20 2010

It's frustrating to pay for delivery confirmation on my shipments only to find out that they don't always get scanned.  Is there anything that I can do to be sure my packages are scanned and I'm receiving a service that I'm paying for?

Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here   Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here

by: buck efay

Mon Feb 15 22:30:13 2010

Why can't they make insurance online trackable since it is exactly the same number of digits & gets scanned & just eliminate the need for delivery confirmation when insurance is purchased? This is a big frustration, I hate buying DC when I really want insurance of delivery.

Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here   Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here

by: Karen

Mon Feb 15 22:42:06 2010

I've had that happen many times, too.  It is always with first class packages, usually large envelopes, that never get scanned.  On occasion it will be a parcel post.  But, priority has always scanned for me.  I've been told they do not have to scan the first class if the envelopes are less than 1/2 inch thick.  Is that true even if we have paid for the delivery confirmation?

Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here   Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here

by: fruity

Mon Feb 15 22:42:15 2010

Hi in my spare time I watch the House Oversight & Gov't Reform, so I'm familiar with what is going on with the USPS and it's need to become more competitive. I thought when I watched the previous hearings that there was opportunity for the Postal Service. Here are some of my thoughts.

electronic money orders. This is something the USPS had been working on for quite some time. It was abandoned but I believe in this day of identity & credit card fraud it is still a viable and secure form for low dollar amount processing. The postal service could even allow for stored value, pre-filled and verified accounts. You'd be surprised how many of us still would prefer this method

From what I gathered from Paypal supervisors, Paypal has discounted rates, either direct via USPS or Pitney Bowes. I believe its PB that's more the case. Is there any way a small business can negotiate rates with you. I ship exclusively USPS, I have no desire to use UPS or Fedex but I only ship 50 packages a month. Could you partner with service providers, 3dcart, bonanzle, etsy.. groups where there are small businesses but collectively a large number of USPS customers. Maybe create an incentive tied to signups or historical, maybe even through the SBA or even an exhaustive application to vet the business. But will you please consider making a certain level of discounting available to entrepreneurs, the small businesses that are everywhere you are. Working with small business, is good business. Loyal business and it allows us to be able to compete


Ecommerce is growing, it's going to replace many of traditional brick & mortars. Larger businesses with consolidated fulfillment centers are not going to set up shop and use USPS services, not in any way like the small businesses that need your services. The USPS could expand to becoming a type of hybrid clearinghouse/fulfillment shipping center. There's lots of opportunities.


Lastly, make our ability to report postal fraud more effeciently to the USPS. Tie that delivery/tracking number into a database. The fraud has not gone away, it's just been easier to prevent it from reaching you. We see the fraud, we see the repeat offenders but these individuals have no concept of postal & wire fraud.

the USPS is the small businesses best partner. We can thrive!

Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here   Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here

This user has validated their user name. by: Nan

Mon Feb 15 22:44:21 2010

Is there an optimum size for postage labels printed on our home computers (from sites like Click N Ship or PayPal Shipping)?  This question is for a half sheet label.  I would like to adjust my printer/page margins to the correct settings.
Thanks!

Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here   Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here

by: Harriet

Mon Feb 15 22:57:00 2010

Not a question, but just want to say that the folks at my Post Office are just terrific. They have helped me so much, telling me when I should try to shave off one ounce from a box in order to get the lower rate, or try to make it a little smaller, telling me when Flat Rate is not the best option, and just a million little hints all along the way from the time I started shipping things. I get great service. My packages are well taken care of locally and it seems that once they get a good start, it goes along fairly smoothly. I know most of the rules now, but in the beginning, it was such a help.

So thanks, guys and gals for the wonderful help. It is invaluable.

I have also found that the Post Office in general is trying to improve their interim scanning on DCs. I've seen a big improvement in just this last year.

I do always bring packages right up to the counter and have them scanned in with a counter DC. I am not a huge high volume seller, only one or two per day, so it is easy for me to do that, plus the PO is only 5 minutes away.

I would like to see some real tracking soon. It would help us, and also the PO, since they are competing with others who do actual tracking.

And dimensional weight is a real killer. Those of us who ship large packages have a difficult row to hoe.

Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here   Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here

by: Gary Overton

Mon Feb 15 22:57:58 2010

Is there a limit to the amount of tape you can put on a flat-rate envelope. Regulations don't say, but some clerks claim you cannot put any tape. Others say 1 piece where it is sealed. Others say tape at each seam. Are the clerks not trained?

Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here   Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here

by: Kristoffer

Mon Feb 15 23:07:35 2010

Two of my questions have already been asked but I will post anyway.

My first question would be - When using USPS.com - why do they only offer Priority and Express shipping? Why not parcel, first class and media mail (or even first class international)? Seems like allowing those options would free up the front end postal workers a good bit.

Next, I generally get a few questions a week from buyers wanting to know where their package is. Usually this is because the delivery confirmation number only shows that a shipping label has been printed several days after I have actually shipped the item. Why does the post office not scan all packages when received? From a business standpoint it would seem beneficial to let their customer (the seller) and my customer (the buyer) know exactly where the package is. While I understand this is delivery confirmation and not tracking it would be a great help to me and my customer to know that the package has at least been received by the post office.

And lastly, I am very thankful that the post office offers a discount when purchasing certain shipping online - but have they ever thought of doing something like UPS does, with an even greater discount to small businesses? These days it would not take a huge discount to make me happy.  

Thanks in advance.

Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here   Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here

by: buck efay

Mon Feb 15 23:25:13 2010

There needs to be a viable tracking option for overseas packages that is cost effective. Any ideas on that?

Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here   Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here

by: eillib

Mon Feb 15 23:40:45 2010

I am a very small seller on Amazon - about 6 items a week.

I use Paypal for first class, parcel post and media mail - it is not just for Ebay sales.  You get the online discount. My big complain is that they use my balance or if zero balance, my bank account - not the credit card I would prefer to use.

I use the Post Office shipping manager to print overseas labels.  Since I only ship cd's overseas, I know the rate and keep stamps to put on those. I have to HAND the overseas package to my mailman or hand it in at the Post Office.  Since i rarely have to do this, it works.

RE: Tape on flat rate envelopes - My neighbor forwarded some mail to me in a flat rate envelope - she put tape on the flap and took it to the post office and got postage from the clerk for it.  When it reached me, I got a large postage due bill because of the tape.  I did not open the envelope and emailed the post office (there at least used to be a way to ask a question). The answer was that tape was acceptable. You just could not alter the shape of the envelope. I took the reply and the envelope to the local post master, (who had been rather nasty to my daughter on a similar occasion) and made him eat crow and issue a refund. No trouble since then. Now if you are trying to ship a box in a flat rate cardboard ENVELOPE, all bets are off - that makes it non-machineable and subject to regular rates. I believe the envelope has to have a uniform thickness. i.e. you can't turn the flat rate ENVELOPE into a box.

Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here   Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here

by: Joyce Chapman

Tue Feb 16 00:50:54 2010

I use all three shippers, Fedex, UPS and USPS. I have my on accounts and use Endicia for postage. Endicia gives me discounts for USPS  and the insurance. I have third party discounted insurance for high value items.
When I had  a PO substation in LI NY I didn't have problems, they knew more about the postage regs than the post office. Florida was a total disaster, I had the phone number for the supervisor in Orlando on speed dial - they recognized my voice I had to call so often. Now I am in NC, they are almost as bad as Florida, just not very bright. I require insurance on all packages except now ebay say I cant do that. I only sell on consignment on ebay, my own business is on Bonanzle and my website. If there is no insurance and the PO looses the package I refuse to deal with it. I have had more than enough trouble over lost packages that the buyer refused to pay for the insurance. If the PO looses it that is NOT my problem, it becomes the buyers problem, all packages are shipped with DC. I have a record of that if the PO doesn't scan it. I can provide the number to the buyer. But if it was not scanned it cant be found.
I see absolutely NO reason to use ebay for shipping when you can get a better discount with Endicia and Pitney Boles on your own. Also, I DO NOT accept paypal, so I would not know if there are any problems with using them for shipping, but, I assume since it is paypal there must be some.

Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here   Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here

This user has validated their user name. by: Bill

Tue Feb 16 02:03:41 2010

We also use Endicia for shipping. We ship at least 200 packages a month and the insurance rate with Loyd's of London is great at $0.80 per hundred for US and $1.65 per hundred for over seas.

I also use their scan form service which is available for premium members and above and ALL forms of mail (including International First Class)is on the scan form. It always shows that the package was presented to the Post Office for shipping and at what time once it is scanned. I have not had any problem with tracking once it is on the scan form like I did years ago when I used the old DC form.

What is amazing is the amount of people that do not even know about a scan form or how to use it and these are people that do smaller amounts and use click-n-ship or PayPal for their shipping labels. The scan form is there to use and I am told by my Post Office that only 2 other people that use my Post Office also use the scan form and there has to be at least 50 or more people that regularly ship packages from my Post Office.

Bill

Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here   Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here

by: too fat to fish

Tue Feb 16 04:46:52 2010

What a bunch of baloney. The Postal service has a long history of slow and inept service, bad reputation for both handling and mailing requirements, window clerks that lie, shows favoritism often, and overcharges. Heck, if i didn't know better i'd say ebay runs the postal service!

Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here   Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here

This user has validated their user name. by: Ed Gadfly

Tue Feb 16 07:36:25 2010

Please ask about FLAT RATE BOXES.

Why can't customers print postage for the various sizes? The programming is not as complicated as it is for zoned rates. (Although the Post Office DOES have that covered.)

Sellers have gotten the run around about this FOR THREE YEARS!!!

eBay blames the Post Office, the Post office blames Paypay, then someone else says it's Pitney Bowes fault.

Bottom line - it has not been done for years - sellers have had to pay more for postage and been inconvenienced.

Thank You for asking Ina! Your blog lets us put the truth out, and You, David and the crew try to cut through the bull. Your site and blog are timely, and not worked on twice a month.

You Guys are Our Advocate! Thank You!

Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here   Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here

by: Theresa

Tue Feb 16 08:45:29 2010

My thoughts are more suggestions then questions.  To be more competitive and to truly help small businesses, I would like to see USPS do the following:
1.  Allow printing of first class international packages through paypal.  I suspect that is currently not an option because they think we will just go ahead and pay for priority, but that is not the case - instead we just lose the international customer.
2.  Allow printing of parcel post packages through usps.com.
3.  Offer loyal customers a discount.  I spend $30-$50,000 per year with USPS and the only one getting any discount is paypal.
4.  Improve tracking and scanning.  When updated or reliable information is not available, some of my customers seem to think I have not actually shipped their package.
5.  Increase the online maximum insurance value of $500.  

The less time I spend at the post office, the more time I have to generate additional sales and print more labels.  And the less time your clerks have to spend on me.

Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here   Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here

by: Julie

Tue Feb 16 09:41:21 2010


1) Why can't there be additional ounces added to first class? I don't understand what the big deal is. Make it so first class can go much higher than 13 ounces!

2) Why does Paypal only have medium size priority flat rate box, to choose as an option?

3) Is it possible that the delivery confirmation includes the address item was delivered too? Many times I have had my packages delivered to the wrong address, thanks to postal carrier mistakes. This makes the seller at fault, when it is clearly the mail carriers fault. I always use Paypal/USPS to print shipping label from and use the exact mailing address on paypal payment, and sometimes packages are still delivered to the wrong address. It does not matter, seller is always at fault, in ebay and buyers eyes.

4) Are mail carriers required to have annual eye exam's? If not, is it possible to make this mandatory?



Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here   Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here

by: Violet

Tue Feb 16 10:19:07 2010

There should be a way that both Sellers & Buyers are able to track International Packages without having to pay any additional fees.

Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here   Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here

by: Ebay No More

Tue Feb 16 10:36:06 2010

#1 The need to train mail carriers that it's not acceptable to mass scan packages as delivered until they are physically at the home and deliver the package. The accuracy rate for delivery confirmation service is so poor that Amazon will not accept USPS delivery confirmation as proof of delivery. That is sad. In a dispute or AtoZ Guarantee buyer complaint Amazon has announced a seller will automatically lose any dispute where USPS delivery confirmation was used as proof of delivery. USPS error rate must be lowered for this service and the need for USPS to work with Amazon to get DC accepted as proof again.
#2 Why are scan sheets only accepted by mail carrier pickup method and not honored when brought into a branch office? We have had this happen twice and USPS employees at the counters refuse to scan the packages and the scan sheet. Today in order to compete with Fedex and UPS this service MUST be available no matter where the package enters the system. When I complained to the USPS they say the packages should have been scanned but no assistance to make sure it doesn't happen again. The ability to scan and monitor a package throughout the entire delivery journey is mandatory. To compete with Fedex and UPS the USPS must offer this service.
#3 USPS is giving volume discounts to large volume businesses which means as a small business owner I can't effectively compete in the marketplace. USPS is providing preferential treatment. Why should I be penalized for not shipping USPS when I have been forced to ship Fedex because most of my business is from Amazon and Amazon won't accept USPS DC as proof of delivery? Appears to me that cleaning up USPS internal issues might bring back business.  
#4 Ensuring that Overnight Express packages can be picked up by mail carrier method. We had to quit offering Express service to our buyers because it means we must take the package to the USPS branch. Our local USPS branch will not guarantee that any Express package picked up by a mail carrier will make it back to the branch in time to be processed. So our buyers are now offered Fedex 2 Day which is cheaper for buyers than Express and can also be picked up conveniently by Fedex staff at our place of business.

Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here   Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here

by: buck efay

Tue Feb 16 10:59:39 2010

Why can't I get local pickup of packages? The USPS says it's "because we are in a private community, and they can't use our roads", but yet, I can PAY them extra for a PO box WITHIN MY COMMUNITY, where they have to use our roads to get to, but yet, can't pick up the dozens of packages we ship weekly. The local postmaster refused to give delivery scans, by the way, even though I was paying the higher over counter rate, which is to receive acceptance scans. Why Not? I pay high priority rates, but receive less or nothing for my fees. The post office allows too much power to these postmasters & then back them up against customers, even when they are in violation of USPS regs. After pushing the issue of DCs, the USPS REMOVED the text regarding acceptance scans rather then make this jerk do his job. Is that USPS' idea of service?

Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here   Online Sellers: Ask Your Shipping Questions Here

by: James

Tue Feb 16 11:21:53 2010

It's frustrating to pay for delivery confirmation on my shipments only to find out that they don't always get scanned.  Is there anything that I can do to be sure my packages are scanned and I'm receiving a service that I'm paying for?"

I have the same problem, and if they don't get scanned, Am I still covered if it doesn't get there for some reason?

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