Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Sat Sept 4 2021 10:09:38

Will USPS Surcharge Help It Deliver During the Holidays?

By: Ina Steiner

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It's official - online sellers who ship orders through the US Postal Service will pay higher rates during the holidays. But the USPS makes no guarantee those packages will arrive on time.

On Friday, the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) approved the USPS's temporary rate adjustments for the 2021 peak holiday season citing extra handling costs due to "heightened peak-season package and shipping demand."

The PRC said the rate adjustment was similar to the one instituted during the 2020 holiday season (which was in place October 18 through December 27, 2020). 

However, holiday shippers experienced unprecedented disruptions in delivery through the USPS last year, with many holiday shoppers never receiving packages, or receiving them days or weeks after the Christmas holiday.

In its announcement Friday, the PRC said approved peak-season pricing would affect prices on commercial and retail domestic competitive parcels - Priority Mail Express (PME), Priority Mail (PM), First-Class Package Service (FCPS), Parcel Select, USPS Retail Ground, and Parcel Return Service. 

International products are unaffected. 

The temporary rates run from October 3, 2021, and remain in place through Saturday, December 25, 2021. 

"This seasonal adjustment will bring prices for the Postal Service's commercial and retail customers in line with competitive practices," the PRC said. 

But, it added, "No structural changes are planned as part of this limited pricing initiative," and it made no demands of the USPS to do better this year in terms of on-time delivery.

Online sellers took the full brunt of late packages for which they paid a surcharge, as described in this letter to the EcommerceBytes editor in January.

It wouldn't be surprising if online sellers were willing to pay a holiday surcharge if it meant their packages would arrive intact and on time. But paying more only to have buyers of late-arriving packages file winning claims is illogical for any businessperson.



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by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Sat Sep 4 13:23:32 2021

“ But paying more only to have buyers of late-arriving packages file winning claims is illogical for any businessperson.”

No doubt, but a “winning” on parcel roulette would have to be paid out by the carrier, who did in fact deliver, albeit “late-arriving”.  Unless of course … some other entity decided they had some Magic 8 Ball (tm) control over the process that allowed them to make time ‘guarantees’.  Then yeah, especially considering the extra fee on top of the surcharges, not to mention where the payola comes from.  Not logical.

In any event, the USPS was unprepared for the perfect storm of COVID  (de-staffing the entire logistics chain and it’s barnacles) + holiday + eComKaboom that erupted, and Dejoy’s monkey-wrenching during an unprecedented candidate pool election then bottlenecked the trickles.  

While they do not plan structure changes (that’s a good thing) now, the surcharges will help cash flow to pay for an increased number of seasonal help.  If you’re looking for some extra holiday scratch, and might be willing to lend a hand keeping it all moving, check with your local PO for opportunities now open.  

Will that all ‘fix it’?  Hardly.  It can’t hurt (unlike unearned fee increases), but even with lessons learned, that would be a lot to expect.  Kind of like expecting teleported shipping miracles on the cheap during the seasonal consumer glut.  On either end of the trip.

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This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Sat Sep 4 13:28:55 2021

A little off topic but it involves shipping and eBay.

Has a customer buy (3) items yesterday morning.
The buyer asked if I could ship it Express Mail.
The buyer paid 3x$5 for shipping.
I could ship it Small Flat Rate for $8
Shipping it Express is $22
So we look on MP for a place to ask for additional shipping.
There is none so we call eBay, they start talking about "bank drafts" and ask if we want to ask for a Paypal payment, my wife says: What if they don't have Paypal?

eBay pauses.........Then credits our account $8.50 to cover the additional cost of shipping!. . . . .eBay actually ate it for the customer and us. . . .KUDOS EBAY KUDOS

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This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Sat Sep 4 13:41:55 2021

With all the Stuttering coming from USPS, I charge a rate high enough to get the
package to the West Coast, and refund the shipping overage.
It's the wave of the present  :o)
People are raving about it, and it's attracting customers unlike anything I've seen since I went into business.
It's totally fool proof. Nobody gets ripped off, and everybody likes getting REAL cash back.
The number of return customers has gone up.

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by: Silver Ice King This user has validated their user name.

Sat Sep 4 15:26:47 2021

USPS just got a rate increase in August, its second increase of 2021 all while proposing that mail now take longer to deliver so they can use ground methods to reduce the costs involved.  We all know that the only reason USPS was losing money was because of the $5 billion pre-funding of their long term retiree medical expenses that Congress imposed on them many years ago, which I am sure that the government gets its hands on for use to fund their pet projects.

Why doesn't DeJoy finally increase the cost of mailing packages from China to the US as he has had the authority to do since July of 2020.  Trump went through all of the required steps for the US to withdraw from the Universal Postal Union (UPU) who still feels that Chinas economy is similar to that of a 3rd world country so they pay the same amount for postage to the US as Ghana currently does.  

Having its hand forced by the US the UPU finally agreed last June that nations could create their own International postage rates effective in July 2020,  just as DeJoy was taking over as the Postmaster General. Yet here we are over a year later and those rates have not yet been changed all while US citizens have suffered through 3 rate increases due to USPS losing money which they are not allowed to do by law.  USPS loses approximately $1 for every e-packet that they handle from China and nothing has been done to even try to recoup that revenue from China.  Could this possibly have anything to do with DeJoys'  investment of between $35 and $70 million in stocks of other delivery services which he openly lied about during his confirmation hearings?  Until this increase is put into place, USPS should no longer be allowed ANY price increases for Domestic packages or mail, as US citizens should not continue to have to subsidize Chinas shipments to our country while China continues to charge us $16+ for a 4 ounce package shipped to China.  I am sick and tired of seeing items for sale on Ebay for $0.99 including shipping from China which does not even cover the loss that USPS incurs for delivering that package.

Yet DeJoy continues to look for increases in the fees we pay for USPS to deliver our mail and packages all while crippling the USPS in any and every way possible in outperforming the other package delivery companies.  I am furious over this last increase that was implemented on August 29th and then just a few days later they are granted another increase which is supposed to help them deliver our items more promptly by hiring additional staffing.  Why not put those speedy sorting machines back into service which was one of his first acts as the PG which effectively slowed mail down and incurred additional labor costs for sorting the mail again.  Since they were once again granted a ridiculous unnecessary rate increase I feel that his job should also be at stake for this increase.  USPS needs to meet or exceed the delivery timeliness that they had during the Holiday Season before the pandemic (Oct - Dec 2020) and if they do not at least MEET this goal then he should be terminated immediately.  Somebody who has worked at USPS should be the next PG as they could not possibly do  worse job than DeJoy has done during his first year on the job!!!

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by: Geetar This user has validated their user name.

Sat Sep 4 19:27:12 2021

I agree 100%, raise China's postal rates.....But in actualty it doesnt matter. Now Bezo's is on his knee's with the chinese, and is having them ship from china right to his Amazon warehouses.

  Sooo, this raising of the rates for the holiday's. I dont understand in any buisiness, when you do more volume, operating costs go down soooo...WTF? This doesnt make sense to me.

  I am going to add $1 to every item I have to ship USPS starting the beginning of OCT.

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Sat Sep 4 21:07:49 2021

USPS rates go up, my package weights go down.

When China et at pay the same prices I do - then we can talk.

After the "I want more money from you for no reason" surcharge ends - actual weights go back on packages.

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by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 5 12:38:52 2021

“… in any buisiness, when you do more volume, operating costs go down soooo...”

Amazon packages typically are distributed directly to a local PO without  transiting the mainstream.  More volume (of just those) results in longer time (or more bodies) to route sort.  As each parcel also can be mathematically equated to an average delivery time (in labor), plus dimension and measurable vehicle costs, increasing tha  

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by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 5 12:46:40 2021

(Sorry….fat fingers…)

…increasing that volume also increases those costs on a given delivery day basis.  One can also extrapolate how volume impacts internal network handling and sorting, in terms of extra (bulk transport) material handling, extra ground and air transport needs (on both ends), etc.  Training seasonal help isn’t free either.

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by: terry55 This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 5 15:23:40 2021

I'd be happy if they'd just stop breaking packages and when they do "actually" pay for their mistakes

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by: toastedmutt This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 5 19:17:36 2021

I am still waiting on 7 packages that disappeared with tracking into the USPS sorting facilities last October & November never to be seen again.

USPS recently stopped sending me "we're still searching for your package" emails. Got to wonder how many thousands, millions of packages disappear every year into the bowels of USPS.

Raise shipping rates again without even pretending USPS will "try" to do better is nothing more than slap in the face of American owned businesses.  

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by: mjr55 This user has validated their user name.

Sun Sep 5 23:57:04 2021

I mean.....be serious, did it help anything last holiday season?

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This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Mon Sep 6 01:52:59 2021

Why would anyone legitimately expect that.  It didn't do it last year we have no reason to believe it will do it this year.  It is likely most of the money is just to service the debt they have.

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by: UB This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 6 07:10:06 2021

USPS has added a bunch of new packaging sorting machines as well as leasing additional space for machines  to handle the overflow. Now if the government stops handing out free money for people to not work ( paying for cell phones, internet. housing, food stamps, medical and a lot more) businesses can get some workers.  USPS has a major problem hiring people just like other businesses and a lot of the issues is lack of proper staffing. The lack of self respect today is just amazing. There is places where mail routes are not getting delivered everyday because of lack of carriers. Hopefully, USPS management wakes up and changes hiring so a person hired starts as a career employee (PTF), which should lead to gaining more workers.

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by: shut1968 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 6 08:10:13 2021

If its anything like the recent hike in price it will only screw up service even more.. since the new rates went into effect we've had more late deliveries in one week than the past 3 months.

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by: mazelgirl This user has validated their user name.

Mon Sep 6 12:14:18 2021

It won't.  The PO is short-staffed and cannot get help.



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