Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sun Oct 20 2019 20:50:36

Might We See an End to Free Priority Mail Supplies?

By: Ina Steiner

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The USPS Inspector General is studying the Postal Service's practice of providing free expedited packaging supplies. Will free Priority Mail boxes become a thing of the past?

The USPS OIG (Office of Inspector General) published an Audit Asks blog post recently titled, "Does USPS's Expedited Packaging Supplies Program Effectively Increase Revenues and Manage Costs?"

It initiated a project titled, "Expedited Packaging Supplies Program Costs" on September 24, 2019. It estimates it will publish the results of in March 2020.

"Free packaging is a unique selling tool, differentiating the Postal Service from its competitors," it wrote.

The Postal Service says the program generates new revenue, grows business, increases volume for Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail, and improves customer retention and loyalty. 

And it covers its costs - "according to USPS, costs for providing free packaging supplies are included in the current rate structure of the corresponding mail products (e.g., Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail)," the OIG wrote.

The Inspector General wants to hear from people about what they think, and this is your opportunity to weigh in.

If you value free Priority Mail postal supplies; or if you have ideas for how the USPS could ensure free boxes and envelopes are used by customers appropriately, speak up now.

If free Priority Mail boxes become a thing of the past, how would it impact you?



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Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Might We See an End to Free Priority Mail Supplies?   Might We See an End to Free Priority Mail Supplies?

by: Shopatusm This user has validated their user name.

Sun Oct 20 21:08:06 2019

What's disgusting is you have tons of ebay sellers taking free Priority mail boxes and other free supplies from the Post Office and selling them on ebay.. These are the low lives that are going to ruin it for everyone.. Just like the shady sellers who would start their listing at 1 cent and the shipping included the price of the item.. It's only a matter of time before it catches up to people and then we all pay the price. Report sellers who you see are doing this.

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by: industrystones This user has validated their user name.

Sun Oct 20 22:15:17 2019

@Shopatusm - Relax, and have a hot bowl of soup. Good Grief.

If a seller wants to involve the obscene shipping costs we re being charged or integrate the massive fees Ebay is taking from us, that's Their business. Price too high on the item?  No one is twisting your arm to buy it. Just move along.

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by: littlesaint This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 21 00:47:08 2019

Re-selling free shipping supplies provided by USPS is against the law and punishable with fines. I'm fairly certain that the number of people selling supplies on Ebay are not having a sizeable impact on USPS' ability to provide these supplies. If USPS does decide that free supplies are no longer feasible, I will no longer use their services for anything other than First Class parcels. Their compulsory annual (and 2nd additional 2019) increases should provide adequate compensation for these supplies and this continuous nickel and diming will be the final nail their coffin for many sellers who already have decided to give their business to FedEx.

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by: ZZ This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 21 00:50:15 2019

It's a money maker for the Post Office. They only stock Flat Rate boxes for the customers at the P.O. Often the flat rate is much higher than Priority (or 1st class)  by weight and zone. I've never heard a teller tall someone to buy a plain box and save or send it 1st class because it's a lot cheaper and will likely get there just as fast (or faster).

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by: ZZ This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 21 00:55:50 2019

Speaking of shipping supplies, what about the plastic envelopes eBay sells that you can use your quarterly store credit to buy? Seems to me the price has doubled in less than a year. Why? Becuse they can.

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by: littlesaint This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 21 01:10:15 2019

The questions posed on the USPS survey are utterly preposterous. Someone with a straight face actually thought it was a good idea to solicit the general public for answers to questions that could only be answered by someone actually employed by their agency with access to real data. This survey tells us everything we need to know about their incompetence and why they are continuously in the red. Free packaging supplies is not their only issue. If USPS is interested in exploring feasibility, perhaps they should stop employing imbeciles to do their marketing research.

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 21 05:04:56 2019

I saw this coming when the PO started stocking the name brand shipping supplies for price alongside the free supplies.  I just ordered a bunch of priority mail boxes and envelopes in anticipation --thanks Ina!  I don't know where I'm going to put the supplies, but gotta prepare.  The other thing is this - when I went to order the supplies I noticed the padded envelope is no longer available....coincidence?

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by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 21 05:56:34 2019

Like we've said before. If it doesn't fit in a envelope for 0.55 we don't sell it. And we have over 9000 items in our store. Gone are the days of wrapping and boxing something. Just shove it in an envelope and slap a stamp on it. Done, Finished, Gone.

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by: cvsharkey This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 21 07:45:53 2019

I just ordered a supply of the padded envelopes. They are shipped to me via a 3rd party, not the PO. And this is the first shipment that is clearly made by a different vendor. the plastic used is not as soft as it was, nor as pliable. I rec'd these just this past week.

Perminate Link for Might We See an End to Free Priority Mail Supplies?   Might We See an End to Free Priority Mail Supplies?

This user has validated their user name. by: NoMoreEbay

Mon Oct 21 07:53:51 2019

The IG is just greasing the next outrageous price increases. Do away with all free boxes, including he small, med and large flat rate. Have multiple Priority shipping methods with a price increase of 10% across the board. Customers provide their own box.

ebay sellers are but a small fraction of USPS's business.They influence nothing.

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by: HardWorkingSeller This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 21 08:12:13 2019

eBay sellers are USPS's second largest source of packages accounting for approx. 15% of their volume, per eBay.

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

Mon Oct 21 08:17:52 2019

I have never used anything but the USPS to ship.  I very rarely use their boxes.  If they can meke them lighter weight like alot of the boxes that come from China then OK.  I use boxes that I find other places.  They fix the items I sell better and are much lighter weight.  I have been shipping many items that are not prone to damages in vinyl sleeves or wrapped in bubble wrap with vinyl sleeves.  it works well and many things can go 1st class.

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This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Mon Oct 21 08:18:55 2019

ZZ said what I was going to say.  All my PO has are the flat rates, which are expensive and ill-ftting for what I sell.

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by: unhappyebayguy This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 21 09:30:53 2019

I love USPS Priority Mail but I will simply turn my business to Fed Ex for the small stuff as they will continue to give free supplies and grab whatever share of the pie USPS gives up.  

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Mon Oct 21 09:45:10 2019

@Chicago48

https://store.usps.com/store/product/shipping-suppli
es/priority-mail-padded-flat-rate-envelope-P_EP14PE

Perminate Link for Might We See an End to Free Priority Mail Supplies?   Might We See an End to Free Priority Mail Supplies?

by: InspirationPlus This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 21 10:10:30 2019

I just put an order thru Stamps.com for free USPS supplies. All Priority supplies were available there except the medium flat rate boxes. There was no reason given, such as 'out of stock', or 'discontinued', but I thought it was strange that they had both versions of medium flat rate lumped together with no cart available for either. I wonder if this is an indication of things to come?

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by: thebobman This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 21 10:32:35 2019

So i just sold a $100 motherboard. Wi to ny. Regional A is $8.50, smartpost is about $9.50 and fedex ground is about $12.50.

Usps will arrive in 2-3 days and fedex will likely take til next week. Fedex is usually 50% more that usps flat rate options. Is anyone else seeing different?

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by: leathermermaid8 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 21 10:33:28 2019

Considering that some use the USPS bubble mailers as filler inside boxes, no one should be surprised.  This along with turning USPS boxes inside out when the item is actually being shipped UPS.  The irony is that UPS often hands off certain packages for the USPS to complete delivery.  I've seen the reverse done with UPS plastic mailers as well.

Free isn't sustainable.

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by: epuise This user has validated their user name.

Mon Oct 21 10:34:23 2019

Nothing is "free".
The COST of these supplies is included in the prices.
The branding is ADVERTISING for the USPS.
I wish everyone would STOP saying stuff is "FREE" when it isn't.
The ONLY REASON I still ship USPS is the Flat Rate Envelopes.
Most of my other stuff, I custom make a box.
Charge me for Flat Rate Padded, etc., I'm done.
I will take those items, like others, OFF online sales.
EVERY TIME USPS RAISES RATES... It costs ME MORE... in FEES to Venues.
ENOUGH w/ the greed.
The economy stinks & most of us are barely covering our bills.

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

Mon Oct 21 10:48:58 2019

While I have plenty of USPS PM boxes, what I use the most is the flat rate envelopes; large, small, legal, and padded. Otherwise, I use regular boxes most of the time as I have found that used regular boxes such as what I get when Amazon ships to me end up being cheaper than the PM flat rate or variable rate boxes. Most of the items that I sell can fit into plastic envelopes that keep the weight down. I have been doing this for well over a year or so and have had only one envelope destroyed.

When I first started selling in 2002, you could get rolls of PM tape and then because sellers were going through it so much they no longer will give it to us so I use the free PM stickers to indicate that the box is PM and I make sure I have a sticker on every side, top, and bottom of the box so the PO workers can tell at a glance that it is PM and not parcel post. Incidentally, I still have about half a roll of the PM tape!

For me, if they want to DC free boxes that is okay and I have a bunch of them already. But I do use the flat rate envelopes and would hate to see them discontinued. But if they do, I would still want the PM stickers for free.

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