Is The USPS Ripping Us Off?

With the run-up to Christmas one would expect the US Post Office to be busy. For sometime now their website, though never brilliant, has helped to cut queuing times at the counter by providing basic services, including the ability to print postage labels and arrange shipment pick-up. For those of us with schedules to keep it can be a boon.

This week I needed to send a parcel to my father in the UK. Having already ordered and received the necessary USPS ‘Flat Rate Mailing Envelope’, I completed the packaging and began preparing to print out the shipping label/postage, only to be presented with a USPS webpage informing me my ability to print labels had been temporarily curtailed – that the ‘service was temporarily unavailable’.

The service has proved to be ‘temporarily unavailable’ for the last three days, with still no indication when it will be restored. My guess is it won’t be back until sometime in January, if at all.

Under the ‘service is temporarily unavailable’ notice is further information suggesting that those in need of this ‘temporarily unavailable service’ should avail themselves of the services of ‘one of our approved vendors’. It provides links to two private companies, Endicia.com and Stamps.com..

Both these companies will happily provide the software that will enable USPS consumers to print out their required shipping labels, complete with postage. The one drawback is that both will charge a monthly fee for this service. Endicia imposes $10 per month for their ‘basic’ service and requires that its customers purchase one of their printers for the purpose. Their software (surprise, surprise!) doesn’t function on a normal home printer.

Stamps.com will allow use of a home printer, but will charge $15 per month for their ‘basic’ service.

Suddenly, a free service provided by USPS is no longer available, at the busiest time of year, and the only option apart from a long trudge to the town post office is to sign up for one of two grossly overpriced alternatives.

The questions that spring nimbly to the forefront of the mind are:

1) How many board members of USPS are sitting on the boards of Endicia and Stamps.com, and

2) Is the federally-owned United States Postal Service complicit with two private companies in ripping off the American people?

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7 Replies to “Is The USPS Ripping Us Off?”

  1. You know, the same thought went through my mind, as I checked out the costs associated with using stamps.com or endicia. What a coincidence . . . . I use USPS.com for the convenience. I will use FEDEX before I shell out a monthly fee for something I will only use occasionally

  2. Hi RJ,
    As an Endicia employee, I wanted to let you know that Endicia allows you to print on almost any type of printer, including your basic inkjet or laserjet home printer. Our DYMO stamps software requires you to print on a DYMO printer. I hope that helps.

  3. Lorraine – my sentiments exactly. Endicia and Stamps.com may be fine for a big office mailing lots of letters daily, but for the private individual it’s a rip-off if USPS are going to permanently defer their free service in favor of these two companies.

    Ben – thank you for taking the trouble to respond. I note that you offer two services. The first is free of regular monthly payments but requires one of Endicia’s printers starting at around $140. The second allows the use of a home printer but requires a regular monthly payment of at least $10.
    Considering USPS has always provided a free service, charging only for the postage and allowing labels/postage to be printed on a standard computer printer, I consider it a rip-off if USPS are terminating this service in favor of your company or Stamps.Com.

  4. RJ — I work at the Postal Service and can assure you that there are no plans to discontinue this service. We are working around the clock to fix a technical glitch that has brought down the system and are hopeful that full functionality will be restored very soon. It doesn’t help that this is one of the busiest times of year for us and our customers — the options for customers to use Stamps.com and Endicia were a temporary fix to try to minimize the inconvenience for our customers. We’re working to get Click-N-Ship fully restored across the country as soon as possible.

  5. Mike – that’s good to know. Thanks for taking the trouble to get in touch. We appreciate all the hard efforts of the postal workers, especially at this time of year.

  6. In 10 short year a REGISTERED MAIL fee went from $3.50 to $10.80 yet the maximum international indemnity (sort of insurance) was raised only from $40 to $45 recently. That is a HUGE rip-off.

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