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Sun July 23 2017 08:51:37

Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification System

By: Reader

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Dear Ina,
I recently received an email from USPS that has me a bit concerned. It's about their "Click-N-Ship" service, and it claims that if they notice a discrepancy "during the shipping process" they will send an email to the sender and will bill you for the additional postage due.

I always carefully weigh packages and do not "cheat" on the weight when I purchase a label. If I were to take a pre-paid package to the post office, and they said that the weight I entered was incorrect, I would ask them to double check, and then could make my decision if I wanted to pay the extra cost or not ship the package.

My concern is that if USPS thinks they're going to verify the weight and other information "during the shipping process," what recourse do I have if they incorrectly measure a package or flat-out lie that it's under paid?

I had an issue several years ago at a post office where I was over charged for several packages (not pre-paid - I was paying at the post office). I knew roughly what each one should cost, and they seemed to be coming up slightly higher. Finally, a tube was weighed and the clerk said it was too heavy to be shipped first class. I knew that wasn't the case, so I told her so. She got a small set of weights out to verify the scale, and sure enough, the scale was improperly zeroed. She did correct it, but refused to fix the parcels that were already weighed. I asked for the postmaster, but he wasn't there. 

I later contacted the Department of Weights and Measures, and they said that while it was illegal for her not to have corrected the original packages, their department had no jurisdiction over the USPS.

This is a tough enough issue to deal with when I'm in-person at the scale/register. What will I do if the USPS claims my package was heavier than marked after the package is out of my hands? How will I prove my case that it was weighed correctly?

I understand that there are people who deliberately mark lower weights in hopes of saving a little money. That's why I have no problem with the clerk weighing the package when I drop it off. If he/she asks for more payment, I can refuse and take the package back, if that's my choice. Or, I can ask that they check that the scale is zeroed properly. I can't do any of those things once I no longer have the package.

If the USPS notices that a pre-paid package is under-paid after the customer has left, they have the option of returning it to the sender. I've had this happen once or twice with no mention of why on the package (they usually mark the package with the reason for return - under payment, refused, no such address, etc.) In these cases, I was able to get the post office to process the package again without re-paying, after they verified that the information (weight, etc.) was correct.

However, if they are now going to start billing the sender rather than returning the parcel, the opportunity for fraud on the part of USPS (whether accidental or intentional) is huge.
Troy

Note from the editor: Here's more information about the new USPS Automated Package Verification System that will roll out on August 1st.




Comments (16) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste   Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste

by: TomH This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jul 23 10:09:10 2017

I agree with Troy.  Over charges on weight and sizing will happen. Not as a policy, but just because people are people and there are a percentage of non complement people everywhere including the post office.

Also there is a percentage of just pissed off people everywhere who just seem to exist to make mischief.

The Post Office has had more than their share of both. Not to mention the arrogant ''expert'' clerks that are often just plain wrong.

As the OP said/implied, there is no way for redress. A classic situation of he said, she said. I've had packages mis-weighed several times, but more often I've had them incorrectly measured. Some clerks definitely do have problems with the measurements, though I expect those will be correctly checked by scanners during the sort processes.

Since I am extremely careful with weight and measurement (I've never loss the issue with the post office the few times it came up); I would prefer the package returned on the one hand, but on the other hand is the necessity of avoiding metric digs with the marketplaces so I will, in my mind, accept that the the Post Office will get a few extra pennies from me now and then.

Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste   Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jul 23 10:47:57 2017

Some folks will swear the entire PO is corrupt, and all clerks incompetent, and that fraudulent overcharges will now abound accordingly, citing unfortunate, no less true experience as a basis for that opinion.

The PO, citing a now unacceptable level of underweight package postage 'experiences' - also no less than true - is now seeking to correct that by (virtually) assuming all shippers need to be 'suspect', and by taking action to double check.  

Naturally, the sellers who take care to be accurate, yet can't see that the PO might also, are....upset, and suspect.  So to, is the PO, who might seem to 'unfairly' suspect those majority of sellers who are 'honest'.

Where does this 'mutual suspicion' end?  

With recognition and acceptance that, yes, there are incidents attributable to 'mistakes', and some even to 'fraud', some of each amplified by 'arrogance' and unwillingness to 'admit error', intentional or not.   But for all that, it happens in the minority.

Almost all sellers take care.  Almost all are not frauds.  And almost all PO folks are well trained and competent, albeit hamstrung by the same 'poor policy' communication and enforcement found in ALL walks of life and business.

The best one can do - beyond continuing to be 'honest' thus making the issue moot - is try to deal with each (contentious) occurrence as it arises, and try to save the 'outrage' for when such 'negative experience' can be shown to be systemic, (like on eBay for example) vice occasional, (like with shipments via USPS, and others).

That is the real challenge, no?

Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste   Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste

by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jul 23 12:31:52 2017

So the post office has a new verification system. .....THATS FUNNY.

Can't count the times that we have taken the packages with prepaid online labels to the post office only to have them arrive with postage due. This after the postal jerk checked the label and weight.

The post office like all big monoplies are just as irresponsible and corrupt. They answer to no one.
When problems arise all they get is a hand slap.

Problems with the postal service are getting worst each year as they try to squeeze every dime they can get out of the customer and let the CHINESE send their garbage for next to nothing.

If they had any real gonads they would be more worried about getting the mail to the right address and person instead of somewhere on the next block.

If they had any real competition they would be out of business in months.

Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste   Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Sun Jul 23 13:00:08 2017

I think this new policy of theirs can only be truly judged with time.  It may be fine or it may go terribly wrong.  Right now all of us are operating with no facts because they have never done this before.  

Now if we do run into problems, what will the appeal process look like or is there even going to be one?

For those of us that use Ebay labels, that adds another layer of uncertainty since USPS would bill Ebay and Ebay would bill us.

I honestly don't anticipate a huge problem with this for me, as I don't currently have issues with this.  But only time will tell.  

Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste   Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste

by: FeelingFroggy This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jul 23 14:58:36 2017

Guarantee you ebay will make money on this one...

Each time the post office charges ebay for postage Ebay will probably charge the dumb seller another 5.00 as a carrying charge. So Funny.

Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste   Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Sun Jul 23 15:47:37 2017

I know this wouldn't work for everyone, but I take every package to the counter, have the tracking number scanned, and get a receipt, which shows right there what the weight was at the time of acceptance. So if the post office comes to me looking for more money, they better have a really good explanation as to why my package got heavier after it was in their possession.  

Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste   Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste

by: angryllama This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jul 23 16:31:09 2017

I owned a REAL business for 20 years and for my last 10 years in that business sent out on average 100 or so UPS packages per week.   I can recall only ONE EVENT where they UPS "auditors" found and billed me a HUGE $$$ back charge on one of my VERY RARE Red Label OverNight packages.  As a BUSINESS I had assigned to my company a UPS REPRESENTATIVE who came by the office every 3 or 4 weeks and was ALWAYS on call for any problems.  The problem with the HUGE overcharge / BackCharge was that an essentially FLAT 24 x 24 x 3 inch package to MIS-MARKED while in transit as though it were 24 x 24 x 24 ......  That meant that this perfectly marked and PAID Overnight package that DID weigh 10 pounds got RE-Rated UP as though it were 56 pounds as the FALSE dimensions made for an EIGHT Cubic Foot package.  8 x 7 per pounds per cubic foot called out for 56 pound package.  

Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste   Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste

by: Stig of the Dump This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jul 23 20:14:28 2017

Long overdue by the USPS. Hard to believe they weren't doing this all along.

Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste   Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste

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

Mon Jul 24 00:36:43 2017

I've never had any trouble with my PO or my mail folks. My current mail lady and I are on a first name basis. I know when I have occassionally checked tracking for a package and her scanning if I hadned her the package says so, and if I left it in the box, it says something else. I also at times, and especially whenever we a new scale I have the PO double check that my weights are coming out right.

I have however over the years gotten Priority packages with 3 oz FCM postage paid, mail via Media mail that isn't, etc. So in a way I'm happy that some cheaters will get caught. I realize that I might get a few dings by accident, but worth it to me to get some that can sell so much cheaper than others is because they cheat consistently on postage even if only a few ounces per package.

Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste   Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 24 02:37:57 2017

There's a good video about this new shipping rule: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOUcEYw6kJI&t=116s
Many ebayers mail their jeans and clothing in flat rate envelopes (cardboard mailer).  From what I understand, you can still mail those items in FRE.  Lindey discusses how to use tape.  Flat refers to the Price not the shape.  You do not have to use the FRE for documents.

Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste   Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste

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

Mon Jul 24 07:30:25 2017

I am very concerned about this new ruling. About 4 years ago, I stopped using Priority Mail. Out of the blue, I received a certified letter from the Postal Inspector stating that I owed $2,600 and some change in underpaid postage. The letter stated that they had been running an investigation on my packages over the past quarter and that an average of 12 packages (out of 600 for that quarter) had been underpaid. They took that ''average'' and multiplied it by the TOTAL number of packages I had sent in the last year and decided I owed them over $2,600. I was using ShippingEasy with an account through Endicia at the time. I weighed every single package that went through here. I had paperwork for each order on which I had written the size of the box and the exact weight of each item. It took 3 months of letters, paperwork and copies to fight them but AMAZINGLY, I ended up owing them absolutely nothing! Had I not had all that info in writing, I'm betting I'd be $2,600 poorer. They were nasty and uncooperative. Did I ever receive an apology? Nope. No explanation either. Not an exciting thought that they can just now hit my bank account, any time they feel like it.  

Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste   Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste

This user has validated their user name. by: toolguy

Mon Jul 24 09:21:35 2017

I own an American made scale!

It doesn't make mistakes. . .

Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste   Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste

by: mcposty This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 24 10:43:35 2017

Usps are traitors and criminals. I never wave to a mailman because they should all refuse to work until we stop giving china free shipping.

Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste   Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste

by: a_c_green This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 24 10:52:42 2017

Package weight is only as accurate as the scale weighing it at that moment. Already there have been several discussions on the eBay boards about laughable warnings received from the USPS about a 6-pound package weighed later as ''6.01 pounds'' or similar. Yes, pounds expressed as a decimal, and a ludicrously small overage as well. It made no sense.

In addition, that entire new system comes down to an uncomfortably heavy reliance on a network of independently-calibrated weighing machines (at the counter and then again further down the line) somehow magically staying in perfect synch with each other while simultaneously being maintained by employees who, far too often, couldn't care less about such details.

For example, the scales at the Willis Tower (Chicago) post office were so wildly off on the high side that on one occasion they couldn't scan in a 12-ounce First Class Package at the counter because their scale claimed it to be over one pound. The next counter scale adjacent to it was equally high, and their APU self-serve lobby machine was underweighing by almost the same amount. It took weeks and more than one complaint to USPS before someone dragged their equipment back into line.

Similarly, I've seen package tracking histories coming up with odd scanning sequences caused by miscalibrated machines. One machine at the Chicago ISC handling outbound shipments thought it was still in New York. Another at a regional sorting office has its timestamp 12 hours off, stamping AM entries as PM by mistake, and PM entries as AM of the next day following.

Given the amount of anecdotal evidence that I've seen myself, and I'm just a small shipper, I cannot conceive of the USPS doing something like ''Revenue Validation'' (or whatever they're calling it this week) in anything resembling a competent manner without a whole lot of retraining at all levels.

Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste   Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste

This user has validated their user name. by: FEEbay

Mon Jul 24 14:04:18 2017

So??? What is the difference between this and UPS or FedEx ?? I am just happy that they will no longer hit up the BUYER for postage due, and just charge our Stamps.com account for the discrepancy.
UPS makes adjustments on our bill for underweight, or incorrect dim weight all of the time, and now USPS will do the same..... nothing to see here folks  

Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste   Weighing in on New USPS Postage Verification Syste

by: rfmtm This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jul 24 20:13:36 2017

This is going to be a nightmare.  I am also not aware that USPS even has the equipment in place to do this, so if mostly done manually, more delays and human errors will abound.

I will be sticking with Flat Rate packages whenever possible, to avoid the problems that certainly will be coming.  



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