We've seen a few reports from sellers who say the USPS incorrectly adjusted postage paid on packages they've sent this month. For example, one seller contacted us and reported that on June 9th, they received over 40 adjustments in the amount of $4.75 for First Class Packages mailed between May 25 - June 1st.
The USPS launched a program
in August 2017 called the Automated Package Verification System (APV) designed to help collect and deter shortpaid revenue for postage purchased through PC Postage label providers.
"APV verifies whether the correct postage was paid for each package by comparing the postage paid from a mailer's manifest to the postage calculated using the actual package weight and dimensions, as captured using scales and dimensional scanning devices installed on mail processing equipment.
"When incorrect postage is paid, the system generates an invoice and sends it to the label provider who then either sends payment to the Postal Service on behalf of the customer for the shortpaid amount or issues a credit or refund to the customer for the overpaid amount."
In response, sellers discussed how to resolve the issue and whether changing shipping services might make a difference.
In a help page
, Etsy tells sellers they can only dispute a shipping label adjustment directly with USPS and provides contact information.
eBay's help page
offers the following recommendation to sellers who feel any amount owed or refunded is incorrect: "We recommend to check the weight and dimensions on the package to ensure that the discrepancy identified is actually invalid. The tips on this page should help you validate that. If you still feel the discrepancy is incorrect, you may contact USPS to raise a dispute, which should take no more than 15 days to receive a reply."
Bonanza also offers advice
to its sellers in a FAQ in which it calls the USPS APV machinery "state of the art," writing that it catches both underpaid and overpaid packages. The FAQ continues, "there are situations where the scanning tool can have a false positive (i.e, a package will be flagged for being underpaid even though the correct postage was applied)."
The FAQ tells sellers they should contact Bonanza if they encounter errors. It also notes, "the USPS will not be providing partial reversals. A dispute will either be approved or denied. If the dispute is approved, Bonanza will credit the overpayment back to the seller."
A USPS spokesperson provided EcommerceBytes with the following statement this week in response to our inquiry about a possible glitch:
"There were no Automated Package Verification system issues reported in June. We expanded our coverage of automated verifications. Any customers who believe they were charged in error can dispute through our APV Help Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org."
While many sellers are fluent in the intricacies of shipping carrier rules and rates, it's always possible that some sellers could have been tripped up by them. Dimensional weight rates come to mind - they impact large but light-weight packages.
Expanded verification gives sellers another reason to double-check postal rates and regulations for the packages they send.
And while you might think sellers would be against the concept of automated postage verification, we've heard sellers say that as long as it's working accurately, they approve of cracking down on colleagues who may be cheating the system while they themselves pay the correct, full postage for their packages.