Shipping Warning! The USPS Strikes Again!

Like many small businesses including indie authors and publishers, we rely upon the USPS’ online shipping services to print labels for our shipments. I’ve been especially pleased with using Priority Mail to send books out when time is important.  Well, no longer.

On Friday, I printed three mailing labels Priority Mail, for mailing after the long weekend.  The Post Office was closed on Monday, so I shipped them out Tuesday, from our POst Office counter. All three were returned to me today, labelled Return to Sender: Bad Meter Date.  When I explained to my regular clerk that they were closed Monday, he said it didn’t matter, they could no longer pass through a package with a printed label except on the actual date shown on the label.

What The ????

I called Washington DC — an amazing excercise in  futility.  It seems that despite my packages being run through for years, no matter the date on the label, the Postmaster General, John Potter has determined — within the last coiup0le of weeks was the date I got, that they will no longer accept packages for Priority Mail shipping unless the label is printed the actual day the item is presented.  He is concerned about the Post Office’s reputation.

What The ????

It seems that some people unfairly ask for refunds of postage when the label date indicates an earlier shipping date than the actual shipping date. My mention of the fact the office was closed Monday did no good, nor my mention of the fact that each package is scanned into the system and the scan date is the date that the package is entered into the system, not the printed label date. No matter, my pre-paid postage is dead.

So. If I understad this properly, the USPS Postmaster General John Potter has, in the interest of maintaining the repuytation of the POstral Service, determined that without so much as an online warning, they willo make shipping for their regular business customers, as inconvenient as possible, thereby improving their glowing reputation.  Sounds just like Washington DC, doesn’t it?

The USPS has put a loty of money — taxpayer money I might add — over the past few years into marketing their services for business shippers.  They stressed the convenience of what they offer in all their TV advertising.  Yet, this decision.

To put my own troub les into perspective, my local Postmaster told me to watch where he went, as he slid to the back, behind their counter.  He called out — "we’ve got a lot of regular busi8ness shippers now," and motioned towards a huge laundry dolly. Wheeled canvas, about four feet on a side and filled two feet above the top with Postal Priority Packages. 

"These are from one shipper," he explained,"They were all returned because he printed the lables on Friday, and presented them after the Holiday on Tuesday.  I’m sure he’s not going to be happy."

I’m sure.  So remember, if you can’t take the time to go to the post office to deliver your package today, don’t print the label, or it will come bouncing back.  Even if it’s a PO Holiday. Call them, instead, for a pick-up.  This will help their bottom line about as much as the PR nightmare this new ruling will create among the business customers the Postal Service has been working to attract for so long.

Oh, by the way, if you think this is a hare-brained new regulation — you can always write John Potter:

US Postmaster General

US Postal Service

475 Lenfant Plaza SW

Washington, DC 20260