|Sun Mar 6 2016 21:23:13|
Could Abuse Spell the End of Free USPS Boxes?
By: Ina Steiner
Some sellers would be lost without the free Priority Mail boxes that the US Postal Service provides. Boxes and packaging material all add up, so free mailers are welcome.
But what's free to sellers costs the USPS - the agency's overseer said it cost the USPS $158 million for Express Mail and Priority Mail supplies in fiscal year 2010, and said that number rose to $192 million in fiscal year 2015.
The USPS Inspector General wondered recently
if the strategy of providing certain boxes to mailers at no charge is sustainable, and we wondered how sellers would feel if there was an end to free boxes.
"Free packaging differentiates the Postal Service from its competition," the OIG said. "However, because the supplies are free and readily available at all post offices, some customers use the boxes, envelopes, and labels for other purposes, such as shipping with competitors or using the labels for an art form known as graffiti slaps."
We've seen people sharing tips on how to use the boxes to make furniture, though the use of the labels as "graffiti slaps" is new to us.
Could the increasing cost ever prompt the USPS to start charging for PM boxes, even for flat rate boxes? Given the financial straights the agency finds itself in, it wouldn't be the most radical cost-cutting idea proposed.
A couple of online sellers weighed in by leaving comments - one noted that small eBay sellers reuse all of the boxes they receive other items in; another said large eBay and Amazon sellers abuse the system.
"However," the seller noted, "the USPS doesn't even accept reports about packaging abuse, so it is going to continue unchecked. I could document several moderately large sellers who have sent me multiple shipments and are consistently abusing the packaging. Why cannot I not report this somewhere so the USPS can take action?"
How would such a change impact your business? What would you tell the USPS and the OIG?