While automated functions have made buying postage online easier and more readily available, there are pitfalls associated with the practice. Today we will look at how Click-N-Ship can assess postage due charges to your account after the fact and what you can do about it.
Things To Do, People To Please
The vast majority of items I mail these days were sold through the DependableFlame.com Ebay Store. The interface is pretty simple and I don’t really have any complaints about it. You get a discount off what you would normally pay if you walked into a brick and mortar post office and It’s all integrated nice and neat into the selling functions of the site and application.
Some times though I mail things that were not sold through Ebay. Not things that I have sold because I use Ebay to administrate the ten percent of the proceeds(minimum) of each listing to HDSA-Huntington’s Disease Society Of America. This is a cause that is very important to me, the disease having claimed my father in 2017.
I do however, often mail parts as personal favors and use Click-N-Ship at the United States Postal Service website for these purposes. I have been using this service for yrs because it saves much time over waiting in line and this way I know when I arrive at the post office that the package is ready to go, I just need to drop it off! That is assuming USPS Click-N-Ship bogus postage due charges don’t show up later.
Click & Ship At USPS.com
When I logged in last week though, to mail a couple Ronson gears to a viewer who had asked for them I was met by a digital impediment notifying me that I needed to clear up a “Postage Due” problem first. The package in question had originally required $5.30 to mail and now they were telling me I owed another ten dollars!
My first thought was that the USPS had rated up my package to a higher rate because someone had incorrectly perceived the lighters I was mailing to be dangerous. We have all heard the horror stories of the Royal Mail in the United Kingdom confiscating and destroying lighters from the mail. These were empty cases being mailed though and not technically lighters at all but I still thought someone could have deduced that they were going to the Zippo Repair Clinic and therefore had to be lighters and marked them up.
My worries were assuaged a little when I made the first phone call to the number that was listed on the details page of the transaction. Though I would come to find out later that particular operator led me astray and I still had another phone call to make, they did at least give me the reason for the postage due charge in the first place which was it had been weighed in automated processing at over two pounds and thus I was being charged the three pound rate.
Why So Late?
I knew that there was no way that package was over the seven ounces I had mailed it at and I had video to prove it. I doubted it would be necessary to prove my case but it was nice knowing I could anyhow.
I am aware that the United States Postal Service employs automated equipment to identify and assess these kind of postage due cases. I figured that my package was likely sharing the scale with another bigger package(or maybe a few small packages) when it was flagged and the equipment isn’t smart enough to know the difference.
And one other thing that really bothered me about the whole deal was the postage due was not charged against my account until four days after the package was delivered. Call me old-fashioned but it just seems that if you are going to hit my account with unexplained postage due charges you very well should have been aware of them before the package was delivered. It’s very fishy to me that a charge would show up on an account so long after the package was out of postal hands.
Is It Legit?
The US Postal Service can legitimately charge customers for packages that enter the mail stream with short paid postage. It is a real problem that some mailers try to game the system and not pay what their package legitimately requires for postage. I don’t blame the post office one bit for trying to recover that kind of legitimate revenue.
It is an interesting tactic though that the first notification I saw of this charge to my account warned of collections actions being taken if the charge was not cleared up. In light of how difficult it turned out to be to get the charge removed, I wonder if that aggressive stance is taken to bluff folks into paying out of fear even if they suspect the charge is bogus. I didn’t have any trouble finding my shopping cart where I could pay for the charge, I only had trouble finding an effective way to dispute it.
My package however, was not overweight and I knew that a mistake had been made and not by me. The answer finally arrived by way of the email response sent by USPS Customer Support letting me know they were not the proper avenue to address my dispute and should instead inquire with the APV Help Desk.
Jumping Through Hoops
From the “Dispute” button on the initial notification being non-functional to the musical chairs treatment I was given on the phone by the first operator, this transaction does not give me a great customer service vibe from the Post Office. My problem was eventually solved but only through my own diligence and not anything the Postal Service did to rectify the situation. In fact, there were many hurdles encountered that could have derailed this situation being handled properly.
The email from Customer Support detailed the options if I had questions about the postage due charge. The first was email which is what I was trying to avoid because I was having trouble locating an identification number that was one of six pieces of information being requested but didn’t seem to have been printed on the detailed receipt of the transaction that I’d run off. I didn’t want to waste my time answering five questions just so they could turn back around and ask for the sixth. Seemed futile.
The second option listed was a link to a page on the USPS website where they will educate you on how to assess your package and get the proper amount of postage on it for mailing. This information is not exhaustive and there were several other helpful links leading to related articles from that page. I would suggest mailers familiarize themselves with the information available there to have at least a basic understanding of what can be very complicated postal regulations.
The third item in the email was the pot of gold though. I thought the problem had been solved on the phone a day or two earlier but now had the right phone number for the person who could solve my dilemma. The nice lady who answered the phone at the APV(I’m guessing that acronym is for Automated Postage Verification but didn’t see that spelled out anywhere) Help Desk gathered my information rather quickly and patiently and within a couple days I noticed the charge had been removed from the shopping cart of my Click-N-Ship account.
Don’t waste your time trying to press the dispute button and I would question whether to even risk sending it all in an email that may or may not get filtered out as spam or some nonsense. Just call 1-844-819-5187 and someone on the other end of the line will take care of your problem.
Keep in mind there are legitimate postage due charges the USPS can assess for a variety of reasons so it is paramount to be educated on postal policies and regulations. If you legitimately owe the Postal Service money that is a different situation from being taken advantage of by automated equipment.
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