Information About Mail Services, Postal Rates, Postage, More…
Mailing Gift Cards
Richard P. Weiss
Retail personnel are all familiar with the included (up to) $50 worth of insurance coverage on Priority Mail, and up to $100 of insurance on Priority Mail Express. They also know that customers can purchase additional insurance for an added fee. Some exceptions to insurance purchases, which are readily known regard the poor packaging of a parcel, causing damage that may warrant a denial of a claim. Checks cannot be insured because they have no intrinsic value, except for their replacement value. The same thing applies to the face value of stocks and bonds. But, what about insuring the gift cards that we sell?
Suppose a customer purchases a $500 gift card and wishes to mail it. Can they insure it for $500? According to DMM 609.4.1, Payable Claims, section m, “Except for Registered Mail, the maximum indemnity for negotiable items (defined as instruments that can be converted to cash without resort to forgery), currency, or bullion, is $15.00.” Additionally, DMM 609 4.3, Non-Payment of Claims, states that “Indemnity is not paid for insured mail (including Priority Mail Express and Priority Mail), Registered Mail, COD, or Priority Mail and Priority Mail Express in these situations:”…section z: “Lottery tickets, sweepstakes tickets, contest entries, gift cards and similar items.”
When selling and/or mailing a customer’s gift card, advise them of the restrictions on the indemnity for these items. Suggest that they contact the number on the back of the card to inquire about procedures for reimbursement for lost or stolen cards. Have them record the gift card account number and pertinent contact information for the card before sending it. This will assure that we are providing our customers accurate information and not charging them for additional insurance they may not be able to use.
Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) for Retail
Richard P. Weiss, Business Service Network Rep, USPS
Founder, Postal eCareer Writing Services
Several years ago, the Postal Service introduced a form of discount rate mailing that may be entered either at a Retail unit or through a business mail entry unit (BMEU). Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) offers business customers a way to mail in bulk for less than one-fifth of the cost to mail at First Class rates, without either a permit account (when mailed at a retail unit) or a need for address listings. The Postal Service’s online EDDM site offers mailers an online database that provides a printout that shows the total number of delivery points for each selected carrier route within a retail acceptance unit.
EDDM mailers may present a mailing of at least 200, but no more than 5000 pieces per day per zip code to a retail service counter (limits are higher when presented to a business mail entry unit). Mail pieces for entry as EDDM must fall within the “Flat,” also known as a “Large Envelope” processing category, except that the minimum length has been decreased from the 11 1/2 inch minimum to a lower 10 ½ inch minimum. The minimum height for an EDDM mail piece is 3 1/2 inches. To qualify as an EDDM mailing, each mail piece must be over 6 1/8 inches in height, or over 10 1/2 inches in length, or over 1/4 inch in thickness. Mail pieces must be bendable (not rigid) and not exceed 12 inches in height, 15 inches in length, or 3/4 inch in thickness. No piece may weigh over 3.3 ounces or be thinner than .007 inches (about three sheets of paper). Note that weigh limits, maximum mail volume, forms, and permit requirements differ for customers entering their mail at business mail entry units. The Postal Service provides more information on mailing through BMEU units at www.usps.com/everydoordirectmail.
Once customers choose which carrier routes to include within their mailing, as they have selected from data on the EDDM web site, they generate facing slips for each carrier route as well as the accompanying postage statements (PS Form 3587 for retail, PS Form 3602 and PS Form 8125 for BMEU entry). The postage statements include the name of their business name and phone number, their customer registration ID (CRID), and information regarding the number of pieces and total postage for their mailing. Page 2 contains a printed listing of zip code, carrier route, and number of pieces per route. Customers will also present a Retail Post Office Listing Form that provides the name, address and phone number of the office of mailing, along with a breakdown of mail pieces and postage by carrier route. The Retail associate must verify that only the carrier routes appearing on these printouts appear on facing slips on their customers’ mail bundles. This is the only way to verify piece counts; a bundle to carrier routes to those not listed on these documents constitutes excess mail not paid for by the customer.
Customers must bundle their mail in groups of 50 to 100 with rubber bands. Each facing slip must include the piece count per bundle as well as the associated carrier route, and other information as listed on the slip. Retail associates should verify this preparation as well as the required markings on each piece. All EDDM pieces must include the entire mailing label on the “top” half of the mail piece. The top of each mail piece refers to the shorter “width” side when the piece stands up so its length is vertical. Orientation of the label is not important except that when it is parallel to the top of the piece, it must not be upside down. In place of a name and address, the mail should read, “Local Postal Customer.” EDDM indicia information must include “PRSRT STD, ECRWSS, US POSTAGE PAID, EDDM RETAIL.” The ECRWSS stands for “Enhanced Carrier Route Walk Sequence Saturation.” This designation lets carriers know that the mail for their routes covers every stop (saturation) and they can deliver the mail in their regular line-of-travel (walk sequence).
For more information on EDDM, log into www.usps.com/everydoordirectmail.
Invalid Affixed Postage
By Richard P. Weiss, Retail Associate, USPS
We all know that mailers may not reuse postage stamps, or use canceled postage stamps for mailing their letters or packages. There are, however, less clear provisions when determining the validity of fresh postage stamps without cancellation marks.
Anonymous Mail: Mail pieces weighing over 13 ounces that bear postage stamps must not be mailed in collection boxes; mailers must present these pieces to Sales and Services Associates at the customer service counter for acceptance. Once SSAs accept the mail pieces, they must print zero postage PVI labels, or additional postage if needed, and affix these meter strips to the mail pieces.
Stamps cut from stamped envelopes, aerograms, or stamped cards: Postage cut from these prepaid mail pieces are worthless once detached. Explain to customers insisting on using stamps in this manner that the prepaid envelopes and cards may have had cancellation marks away from where the postage appears. If they argue, cite DMM 604.1.3.d. This section also states that stamps are invalid when covered by a coating or tape that hinders cancellation marks.
Stamps that overlap: Overlapping stamps may take less room when attempting to cover a mail piece, however these stamps may have been cancelled on one side and covered with other stamps, giving the appearance that all the stamps are fresh. Return these pieces postage due. For backup to counter an argument by a potentially irate customer, mention DMM 604.1.7. Write it down on memo paper and hand it to them.
Precancelled stamps: Only permit holders of PC postage accounts may use these stamps for their bulk-rate mailings.
Meter strips: If dates appear on meter strips, they must reflect the current date of mailing with the exception of mail pieces entered after the day’s last scheduled collection from the Post Office or collection box (DMM 604.4.5.2). Note that stamps generated from APC machines show the date of SALE, NOT the date of mailing. The date of mailing need not match the date of sale. These stamps are live and need to go through the cancellation unit, or receive a date bump at the customer service counter.
Keep in mind you are educating your customers, not confronting them. If they ask for DMM provisions to prove your claim, provide them with your source, the online Postal Explorer, at pe.usps.gov. The DMM is available worldwide.
Shape, Size, and the Nonmachinable Surcharge
Richard P. Weiss, Retail Associate, Fox Chase Station
CEO and Writer, PostaleCareer.com
Since the implementation of rates based upon shape and size, in addition to weight, even the most experienced Retail Associates have inadvertently assessed improper postage, due to their confusion between divisions of Nonmachinable Letter rates and Large Envelope rates. They have also confused other processing category divisions. For example, wedding invitations have been mistakenly charged as Large Envelopes, rather than as nonmachinable letters, simply because their addresses were not parallel to their longest dimensions.
Mail pieces falling within 11 1/2″ in length, 6 1/8″ in height and less than 1/4″ in thickness and weigh less than 3.5 ounces fall within the Letter processing category, REGARDLESS OF THE ORIENTATION OR PLACEMENT OF THE DELIVERY ADDRESS on the mail piece (see DMM 603.1.1). Such letters are considered nonmachinable if their aspect ratios (length divided by height) fall below 1.3 or above 2.5. In the case of wedding invitations, these mail pieces are nonmachinable letters if their physical dimensions fall within the boundaries of the maximum letter size and weight but contain delivery addresses parallel to their shorter dimensions. Other characteristics, such as rigidity or unevenness of contents, may also warrant the Nonmachinable surcharge (see other physical characteristics for nonmachinable letters in DMM 201.2.0). Mail pieces exceeding any of the maximum dimensions of a letter but staying within 15″ in length, 12″ in height or 3/4″ in width fall into the Large Envelope (formerly Flat) processing category. Large Envelope mail pieces that are irregular in shape or that contain non-bendable inserts, or those exceeding any of the maximum dimensions of the Large Envelope processing category fall into the Parcel processing category and should be charged accordingly.
Care in adhering to DMM regulations regarding the proper assessment of surcharges and processing categories will protect postal revenue as well as provide our customers with accurate and reliable service.
New Postal Rates Shape Up
By Richard P. Weiss
Retail Associate, U.S. Postal Service
For the first time ever, the U.S. Postal Service has assigned postage rates for full-rate single-piece First Class mail pieces based upon their processing category. For large parcels, a new procedure for calculating a “dimensional weight” on Priority Mail packages as well as a change to the balloon rate assessed for both Parcel Post and Priority Mail packages has also been introduced. There have been no changes to regulations regarding nonmachinable and oversize surcharges on packages mailed at Parcel Post rates.
First Class Rates by Processing Category
Effective May 14, 2007, First Class postage for letters weighing one ounce or less increases from 39 cents to 41 cents. Postage assessed for each additional ounce decreases from 24 cents to 17 cents. However, after a letter exceeds 3.5 ounces, it crosses into the processing category of “large envelope,” or “flat.” Between 3.6 and 4 ounces, the postage for this mail piece now reflects the postage required for a 4 ounce large envelope. Unlike requirements in place before the rate change, rates now vary for First Class Mail pieces based on their processing category (Letter, Large Envelope, or Package). A letter weighing one ounce or less costs 41 cents, however a large envelope of the same weight costs 80 cents, and a package, $1.13. Within each processing category, each additional ounce requires 17 cents up to the maximum weight for First Class Mail, 13 ounces.
Nonmachinable Surcharge Assessment
A letter (weighing up to 3.5 ounces) that meets any of the nonmachinable characteristics described in DMM 101.1.2 is subject to an additional nonmachinable surcharge of 17 cents. This would bring a one ounce nonmachinable letter up to the two ounce rate of 58 cents, a three ounce letter would require 92 cents to mail (.75 plus a .17 surcharge). Characteristics that determine that a mail piece is nonmachinable include an aspect ratio (length divided by height) of less that 1.3 or greater than 2.5. Letters with an address parallel to the shorter dimension, letters covered with plastic, string, buttons or those containing pencils or other materials making the thickness uneven also fall into the nonmachinable category. However, unlike before the rate change when a nonmachinable surcharge was assessed for a one ounce letter exceeding the any of the maximum specifications for a letter (making it a flat), such a mail piece now requires postage for a one ounce (or less) large envelope (or flat) of 80 cents.
Category Dividing Lines
A letter becomes a large envelope when it exceeds 11 1/2 inches in length, 6 1/8 inches in height, or 1/4 inches in thickness. Under the new mail classification requirements, a letter also becomes a large envelope when it exceeds 3.5 ounces in weight.
A large envelope becomes a package when it exceeds any of the maximum dimensions for a large envelope: length: 15 inches, height: 12 inches, thickness: 3/4 inch. Large envelopes that are rigid, i.e. difficult or impossible to bend are also considered packages and charged accordingly. For example, an 8 1/2″ x 11″ envelope containing a license plate would require postage pertaining to the package processing category.
Priority Mail Surcharges
Balloon rates pertain to large Priority Mail parcels, as before the rate change; however they only apply to parcels mailed from local through zone 4 for packages that measure over 84″ up to 108″ in combined length and girth. Parcels subject to the balloon rate are assessed at the 20 pound rate, rather than the 15 pound rate that had been assessed before the rate change. Priority Mail packages mailed to zones 5 through 8 are assessed either by weight or by “dimensional weight,” whichever is greater. The Postal Service has added the concept of postage based on size rather than physical weight to more closely match the charges incurred by transportation companies that charge for shipping based on the physical space a parcel occupies rather than by its actual weight.
Calculating Dimensional Weight
Retail Associates utilizing the POS system will appreciate the help it provides in calculating dimensional weight. The system will prompt users to enter length, width and height figures, rounded to the nearest inch, on large Priority Mail packages destined to zones 5 through 8. POS will automatically determine the dimensional weight and use it to assess rates, but only if the dimensional weight exceeds the parcel’s physical weight. Those working with manual systems will need to perform calculations in order to obtain a dimensional weight and use the greater of either dimensional or physical weight to determine postage costs. For a parcel over one cubic foot (1728 cubic inches) sent to locations corresponding to zone 5 through 8, the number of cubic inches for the parcel, divided by 194, equals the “dimensional weight.” This formula attributes 194 cubic inches to one pound (or a density of about 8.9 pounds per cubic foot). To determine the dimensional weight of a parcel, multiply its length, width, and height (rounded up or down to the nearest inch measurment) to obtain its volume in cubic inches. Divide the result by 194 to find its dimensional weight. For irregularly shaped parcels, multiply its length, width (at its thickest point) and height (also at its thickest point) and multiply the result by .785. This adjustment factor takes into account that the parcel doesn’t take up as much space as a box with rectangular sides. Divide this result by 194 to determine its dimensional weight.
Parcel Post Surcharges
Large packages mailed at Parcel Post rates continue to require nonmachinable and balloon rate surcharges. Balloon rates still apply to packages weighing less than 20 pounds mailed at Parcel Post rates to all zones when they exceed 84 inches in combined length and girth, up to 108 inches. These surcharges now apply postage rates at the 20 pound rate, rather than the 15 pound rate assessed before the rate change. As before, parcels are also subject to nonmachinable surcharges if they exceed 34 inches in length, 17 inches in height, 17 inches in width, or weigh more than 35 pounds. Small parcels are subject to nonmachinable surcharges if they are less than 6 inches long, 1/4 inch thick, 3 inches high, or weigh less than 6 ounces. Packages shaped like cans, rolls, tubes, or wooden or metal boxes are also subject to nonmachinable surcharges. See DMM 101.7.2 for additional Parcel Post nonmachinable standards.
An oversize surcharge still applies to parcels over 108 inches but no more than 130 inches in combined length and girth, mailed at Parcel Post rates. The maximum size limit of 108 still applies for parcels mailed at Priority Mail Rates.
Postal customers need to know that the new Postal Service initiative to link postage costs to shape and size characteristics more accurately accounts for shipping and processing costs. Customers can save money on postage costs by mailing their items using the smallest processing category possible, i.e. folding a document to fit in a smaller envelope to pay lower costs by mailing the document as a letter rather than a flat. When mailing larger items or contents requiring larger capacity cartons, Postal customers can reduce or avoid size related surcharges by using the smallest box that will safety and securely accommodate their items.
The new rate structure more accurately reflects processing costs to collect, process, and deliver mail items of various shapes and sizes. By more accurately assessing processing costs based on mail piece dimensions, the Postal Service has taken the steps needed to reduce mail processing costs while continuing to offer customers affordable rates, unsurpassed value, and top notch service.
Counterfeit and Raised Postal Money Orders
By Richard P. Weiss
Retail Associate, Fox Chase Station
Counterfeit postal money orders continue to circulate, perpetuating havoc and hardship on unsuspecting victims. Con artists who, in many cases, reside overseas contact their victims via Internet chat rooms or other online meeting sites. They convince their targets that they have encountered problems cashing postal money orders in their country (Nigeria to a large extent) and need help to cash them. These thieves mail counterfeit money orders to their victims, telling them that they will share some of this money after the victims deposit the orders into their personal bank accounts and then wire most of the money back to the sender. In some cases, the con artists pose as “businesses” offering opportunities for those needing to work from home. Within a week after recipients deposit the money orders, their banks contact them to let them know that the money orders were counterfeit. The banks hold the depositors accountable and withdraw funds from their accounts to cover the amounts of the bogus money orders, sometimes amounting to thousands of dollars. Those who are fortunate enough to bring these worthless documents to their local Post Offices before wiring money to the sender find out that they were about to fall off a financial cliff.
Anyone accepting postal money orders, including postal personnel, bank tellers, and those receiving payment via postal money orders for products or services need to know how to identify a counterfeit money order. A genuine postal money order contains a repeating watermark of Benjamin Franklin that passes through an open oval area located on the left-hand side of the order. It also includes a security thread with the capital letters “USPS” running both forward and backward that becomes visible when the money order is held up to a light. On the newer series of money orders, these security strips appear as a shiny metallic silver, interweaving in and out of the paper. Held up to a light, the strip is solid, running from the top to the bottom of the money order. Under the same light, the same strip on a counterfeit will appear dotted because it is painted on the surface. On the older series, the thread will appear black with white lettering. On the front of the money order, denomination amounts appear in two separate locations. Serial numbers on sequentially printed orders increase in numeric order from 00 to 99, independent of the last digit which also increases from 0 to 8, and cycles back again to 0. Most counterfeiters miss this detail and print sequential serial numbers using the very last two digits. Discoloration of the denomination amount indicates erasure and alteration, flagging the likelihood of fraud. The maximum value for a domestic postal money order is $1,000 ($700 for an international money order).
In most cases, a counterfeit money order lacks either the watermark or the security thread found in a real document. However, there is a type of counterfeit money order that contains all of the security features of “real” ones, known as “raised” money orders. These fraudulent documents were originally authentic money orders that were printed on genuine postal stock by the Postal Service. They were issued for one amount but later altered to falsely indicate a higher amount. A real $10 money order, for example, was found to be altered, possibly chemically, to appear to be an $810 money order. These altered versions have become an increasing problem for the Postal Service since they contain the Benjamin Franklin Watermark, security threads, and other features that indicate a genuine article. Alterations are sometimes so professionally engineered that the changes do not cause discoloration around the denomination amounts. To make matters worse, serial numbers on these orders do not generally match those published in the “bad Domestic Money Order” list of the Postal Bulletin because counterfeiters obviously do not report money order serial numbers as “lost or stolen” after they have altered the denomination amounts on these documents.
In addition to matching serial numbers to the fraudulent money order listing contained in the bi-weekly Postal Bulletin, Retail Associates need to make sure that the spelled out denomination amount printed on a customer’s money order does not begin more than a couple of millimeters to the left of the word “amount:.” If the spelled out amount begins, for example, almost an inch to the left of “amount:” this clearly indicates that someone has added additional lettering to change the designated amount of the document. Spelled out amounts on fraudulently altered (raised) money orders begin to the left of the word amount because it’s much more difficult for the counterfeiter to erase and reprint the entire line of text in order to change the designated amount.
Postal personnel and others accepting postal money orders need to take all steps needed to verify the validity of these documents. They need to scrutinize any differences in either the font size or the type of lettering used in the spelled out amount, as added text may not match the exact style of the original text.
Additional steps in analyzing postal money orders could prevent a great deal of revenue loss for the Postal Service and help to reduce the likelihood of a scam perpetrated upon an unsuspecting victim.
Anyone who confirms that they have received a counterfeit postal money order should immediately contact their local U.S. Postal Inspection Service™ office or call the fraud hotline, Monday-Friday at 1-800-372-8347.
The Postal Service Delivers — and More
By Richard P. Weiss, Retail Associate, USPS Fox Chase Station, Philadelphia, PA 19111-9998, Founder/Writer, Postal991.com, the leading writing and marketing service for Postal Employees
The Postal Service offers many incredible values to its customers. They deliver over 206 billion pieces of mail each year to all US addresses, including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and Military bases (APO’S AND FPO’S). Here are just a few of the many services offered:
Express Mail Service
Starts at $16.25 for mail weighing up to 1/2 pound (higher weights qualify for this rate if mailed in a flat-rate envelope). Express mail is guaranteed for delivery by either 12 noon or 3 p.m. to many destinations. This service also includes tracking with signature confirmation service as well as $100.00 in insurance coverage. Express mail is also forwarded, if needed, and there are no additional charges for weekend, holiday, or residential deliveries.
Priority Mail Service
Starts at $4.60 for mail weighing up to one pound (higher weights qualify for this rate if mailed in a flat-rate envelope). Priority mail encompasses First-Class mail weighing over 13 ounces, although mailers may opt to mail lighter items at priority rates in order to expedite delivery time of their mail. Priority mail speeds letters and packages to their destinations within 2 to 3 days.
Flat Rate Priority Mail (Box)
Customers have the opportunity to mail their merchandise at a Flat Rate Priority Mail rate of $8.95, regardless of weight, provided their mailing contents fit in one of the two different shaped Priority Flat Rate boxes provided by the Postal Service.
First Class Mail
Customers most readily recognize First Class Mail as letters that they mail after applying a postage stamp. Mail weighing up to 13 ounces can mail at First Class rates, starting at just 41 cents.
Package Services Mail includes Bound Printed Matter (BPM), Library Mail, Media Mail, and Parcel Post/Parcel Select. These rates provide customers with a lower cost alternative to mailing at Express, Priority or First Class rates. Deliveries of parcels mailed at these rates usually take longer than those mailed at higher rates.
Besides merely delivering mail, the Postal Service offers services to track it. Delivery confirmation will let a sender know when their mail piece arrives at its destination (date and time of delivery) for only 65 cents (75 cents for mail sent at First-Class and Package Services rates). Signature Confirmation also gives the sender date and time of delivery information, but also gives the name of the recipient who signs for the mail piece. Certified and Registered Mail Services, available for letters and parcels sent at First-Class and Priority Mail rates, track letters and parcels and, like Signature Confirmation, require a signature upon receipt. A return receipt may be added to Certified and Registered Mail service; this is a card that will be signed by the recipient and sent back to the sender in order to verify the receipt of the mail. Registered Mail costs more than Certified Mail because of added security features. Registered Mail offers the most secure way to mail valuable items and documents.
Customers who mail items of value have the option of adding insurance to their mail to cover their items in case of loss or damage. Insurance coverage starts at $1.65.
Free Added Services
The Postal Service does not charge extra for weekend delivery or for delivery to a residence or Post Office Box. Additionally, unlike other carriers, there are no added “fuel” or other “surcharges.” When customers move and need their mail redirected to their new address, the Postal Service forwards their mail, free of charge, on Express Mail, Priority Mail and First Class Mail services. Customers may go online to USPS.com and request free “mail pickup” of their mail (they must have at least one piece of Priority Mail). They may also obtain free Delivery Confirmation on their Priority Mail pieces by generating address labels through the “Click and Ship” option found online.
Mailing Supplies — and More
Many Postal stations and offices offer mailing supplies as well as collectibles, including boxes, envelopes, bubble wrap, tape, pens, first day of issue commemorative stamps, electronic digital postal scales, pictures, postcards and more.
The Postal Service delivers more than just mail. Need a money order? Customers may purchase postal money orders for just $1.05 (up to $500, a $1.50 fee applies to money orders over $500 up to $1000). A Postal money order is one of the most secure ways of sending money through the mail. Additionally, customers may hold on to these money orders indefinitely: postal money orders never expire.
The Postal Service also offers Passport Services. Retail associates at many offices act as Passport Agents, helping customers to secure US Passports in order to allow them to travel abroad. The Postal Service also makes arrangements to send their employees to places of business to offer on-site Passport acceptance services.
The Postal Service delivers mail and a whole lot more. For more information on postal products and services, call 1-800-ASK-USPS or (800) 275-8777 or visit the Postal Service online at http://www.usps.com.
The Postal Service’s New Automated Postal Center
By Richard P. Weiss, Retail Associate, Fox Chase Station, Philadelphia, PA 19111
The Postal Service’s latest technological marvel, the Automated Postal Center (APC), allows customers to quickly and easily mail packages and purchase stamps without waiting in long lines. Nationwide, about 2,500 of these kiosks have been installed in Post Office lobbies; the Postal Service estimates that these on-screen, menu-driven machines handle about 80% of transactions that could be completed at full service windows. APCs allow customers to utilize Postal services and products even during non-business hours.
“Customers seem apprehensive at first, but once they use the APC and find out how simple it is, they love it,” said Kate Pembroke, Manager of the Fox Chase Post Office. “They take advantage of being able to avoid waiting in line in order to quickly mail their packages, and purchase stamps.”
Customers can use the APC to buy stamps, and/or weigh their letters, flats and parcels (up to 70 pounds), with or without completing a transaction. A receptacle next to the machine holds customers’ parcels securely after they add postage to their packages. APCs can generate stamps that include the amounts needed to cover fees for special services for customers’ mail pieces that they opt to mail at Express, Priority, First Class, or Parcel Post rates. Users can also print Express Mail and Certified Mail labels, add Delivery Confirmation and insurance (up to $200) to their mail, look up Postal Service, mailing and ZIP Code information, and generate a receipt for payment.
Fox Chase Postal Customer, Janice Mundy, appreciates the ease and convenience of the newly installed APC system. “It’s really quick and easy to use. I’m glad that I have the chance to weigh and mail my packages without waiting in line.”
The APC has some restrictions. Currently, the system does not provide mailing services for International mail, with the exception of letter mail. Additionally, the APC only accepts debit or credit cards for payment.
Despite some limitations, the APC provides a fast and easy way for Postal customers to buy stamps and mail packages — without the long wait in line.
Saving Money is Just a Mailing Away
By Richard P. Weiss
Anyone who has ever run a business or organization that regularly sends mailings to its members or customers understands how quickly postage costs add up. A 500-piece mailing, sent at First Class rates, for example, would cost $205, providing that each mailpiece weighs one ounce or less. The same mailing would cost $290 if the mailpieces weighed between 1.1 and two ounces!
Bulk rate discounts offer mailers the opportunity to cut a few additional corners and pocket the savings. The same 500 piece mailing would cost no more than $127.50 at Standard bulk rates, even if the mailpieces were to weigh more than an ounce. Additionally, for organizations that qualify as a non-profit entity under 501(c)3 of the tax code, the mailing would cost no more than $82.00!
Opening an Account:
Mailing at bulk rates requires an account with the Postal Service; you’ll need to contact the Business Mail Entry (BME) department serving your area. Call 800 275-8777 (800 ASK-USPS) to get the contact number of your local BME office. A member of the Business Mail Entry office will be able to give you all the information you will need to set up an account to begin saving on postage costs right away.
When you establish your mailing account, you will need to choose from three payment options. You may pay postage on your mailing using a permit imprint, meter, or precanceled stamp account.
1. Permit Imprint:
A permit imprint account is an advance deposit account, much like a bank account. You deposit money into this account; every time you send a mailing, the Postal Service deducts the postage directly from this account. This payment option saves time with preparing your mail, as there’s no need to apply stamps or meter strips to each piece of mail. Instead, your mail pieces will include indicia that are printed in the postage area, indicating the class of mail, the words “US Postage Paid,” the permit number, and the city and state of mailing. Permit numbers and the city/state designations may be replaced by the company name of the permit holder, if a company permit is approved by the Postal Service. Mail pieces within each permit imprint mailing must all be identical in weight.
2. Meter Account:
If you have access to a postage meter machine, you could opt to set up a meter account in which you affix meter strips to each piece of mail. If mail pieces within a mailing qualify for different rates, meter strips that reflect the lowest rate may be affixed to all of the pieces in your mailing. To pay for the additional postage owed, you affix a meter strip covering the difference directly to the mailing statement that you submit along with your mailing. All pieces in a metered bulk rate mailing must be of identical weight unless every piece is metered at the full rate claimed.
3. Precanceled Stamp Account:
Like a meter account, a precanceled stamp account involves affixing a fixed amount of postage (a precanceled stamp) to each mailpiece, and paying additional postage by attaching a meter strip to the mailing statement. Additionally, as with a permit mailing, all mailpieces must be of identical weight.
Standard bulk rates preclude mailing bills and anything containing personal correspondence. As a rule, contents mailed at Standard rates (formerly classified as Third Class Mail) must consist of printed material. Bills and personal handwritten correspondence must be mailed at First Class rates. Presorted First Class rates are lower than full-rate First Class rates, however Standard rates generate the biggest savings.
Reducing costs by mailing at discounted rates is one of the easiest and effective ways of reducing costs for your organization. Beginning with your first mailing, you will notice a dramatic saving in postage costs. Month after month, the money you will save on mailing costs can go to pay for other expenses to keep your group running in the black.
Once you have set up a bulk mailing account, you’re ready to prepare mailings to begin receiving mailing discounts. You can find out about how to presort your mailings as well as receive other information regarding bulk rate mailings through the Postal Service’s “Business Mail 101” website: http://www.usps.com/businessmail101/
To get started, and for more information on ways to save money on your newsletter mailings, call (800) 275-8777 (800 ASK USPS) and ask for the number for the local Business Mail Entry unit serving your area.
About the Author:
Rich’s 32 years with the Postal Service include several years as a Bulk Mail Technician working for the Business Mail Entry Acceptance Unit in Philadelphia. He currently works as a Business Service Network Representative and heads Postal eCareer Writing Services (www.postalecareer.com).