Posted by Alex Jackson on July 28, 2017
Now I am guessing you are not using something that resembles the scales of justice or your bathroom scale (which is never right!) to weigh your packages for the shipping labels but just how accurate is your scale? This question is about to become even more important next month for online sellers. Starting August 1st USPS will initiate its automated package verification system that will determine if proper postage has been paid meaning any insufficient payments will be billed back via your postage provider (ebay, stamps.com) as well as credits being issued for overpayments. Now before you panic there are some definite pluses to this provided you are following the rules and doing your due diligence weighing and measuring your packages. For one, if you make a mistake on the weight or dimensions you don’t have to worry about it being returned to sender insufficient postage and showing up on your doorstep. It will get delivered and you will just be billed for the difference. Plus, the promise of a refund for overpayment seems like a fair tradeoff for the unexpected occasional charge.
Now why is the USPS doing this? Well for starters the USPS is constantly in the red and eagerly looking for new ways to generate revenue. In their defense there are a lot of shenanigans going on; sellers rounding down weights, guesstimating package dimensions and generally just abusing the system with no regard to how it hurts the honest sellers who end up footing the bill with increased rates. So what can you do to avoid this problem? Well for starters make sure your scale is accurate, know the dimensions of your packing materials and follow the USPS rules. Have an item with a fractional ounce? Always round up to the next ounce. If you are not already doing this, weigh your item when listing if possible with the packaging if not run some tests know what your packaging weighs and how much this adds to the items total weight. Most importantly understand the USPS guidelines for packages, understand your shipping options and follow the rules. You may be surprised but a little research can actually save you some money! For example, are you using priority regional boxes instead of priority flat rate for those small items shipping short distances? It’s the same service but cheaper in many cases.
Now you will have recourse in the event of an inaccurate overcharge you will have the option to appeal the decision and your case will be reviewed with a simple yay or nay which is expected to take 2 to 5 business days. Still worried? Well consider this, you have to assume there will be a limited degree of leeway here after all they want us printing these labels to save time, effort and money. The last thing they want is for these small business owners standing back in line at their regional post offices. This system is targeting the worst of the worst offenders not the honest sellers who follow the rules already.