USPS Cracks Down on Online-Generated Postage Dates

Like other small business owners, I’ve learned to expect three things from the United States Postal Service:

  1. A 5-15 minute wait in line
  2. Useless tracking information, and a complete lack of help when packages do get lost (about 1 in every 500!)
  3. Incompetence of approximately half of all postal employees (figure worsens when handed international packages…)

Even customers know better than to expect tracking information for USPS First Class and Priority Mail packages—this luxury only comes from UPS, FedEx, etc. The USPS cannot afford to replace their practically useless Delivery Confirmation service with an actual tracking system. Nor do they have the resources to develop an API that would allow businesses to automate shipments (like UPS/FedEx). There’s a single reason I stick with the USPS: Unmatched prices. However, the USPS is in financial trouble (and has been for years). Given the Great Recession, combined with ever increasing competition from alternative shipping carriers, I’d hoped that the USPS would finally step into the 21st Century, technologically. This has not been the case.

Last Monday, I stepped into a local post office and handed 6 postage-paid, domestic packages to the postal clerk. She looked over each, then stated, “These 5 cannot be shipped. They have the wrong date.”

As usual, I’d used PayPal’s Multi-Order Shipping tool to print out orders on Sunday evening. ‘The date is no problem,’ I said confidently. ‘I’ve been doing this for three years. The date is meaningless, but if you insist, I can mark out Sunday’s date  and write in today’s date by hand.’ I picked up the pen on the counter and proceeded to change 6/6/10 to 6/7/10 on each of the rejected packages.

“Let me get the postmaster,” she replied.

The postmaster stepped up and had made up her mind before even looking at my packages. She handed me a clearly unofficial document which read:

“Accepting packages that have stale ship dates on them could affect our delivery scores. This information from usps.com explains the correct process. The same policy would be in place for other pcpostage labels such as paypal, stamps.com, endicia.com, etc.

You must mail your item on the date that you selected for your Click-N-Ship label; this is known as the Ship Date. An electronic record is generated on that date indicating that your mail piece has been mailed. Packages shipped with labels that have incorrect Ship Dates will be returned to the sender and will not be eligible for a refund. If you are unable to use the label, you should request a refund within ten (10) days of the printed label and create another label with the correct Ship Date.

Your online label can be used only as it has been printed, without any alterations. If you find an error in your label, print a new label with the correct information and request a refund. Any mail piece which has a manually altered online label will be returned.”

I argued for another minute before leaving. As I made my way out, the poor postal clerk quietly told me that it was a “new policy” of “cracking down on Click-N-Ship labels”. Technically, nothing had changed; USPS’s shipping requirements have always stated that packages must be shipped on the day for which they are printed. While PayPal’s Multi-Order shipping system allows selection of the “Mailing Date”, it is obvious that labels postmarked on Sunday cannot possibly be shipped until Monday. For the past three years, postal employees and postmasters have told me, assuredly, that this was not a problem. And it hadn’t been, until last week.

PayPal Multi-Order Shipping "Mailing Date" Selection
Proper Selection of Mailing Date (PayPal)

Outraged, I drove home and immediately Google’d the document. Nothing came up, so I called 1-800-ASK-USPS to get to the bottom of the issue. I was told that it was indeed a recent change, and that I was correct: USPS made NO ANNOUNCEMENT WHATSOEVER of their changed policy. Why not? Well, it isn’t a change—they are suddenly enforcing a rule that has always been in effect. The guy further stated, “I don’t like the change either, and they really should have made an announcement.”

The next day, I went to a different local post office. None of the clerks had seen the unofficial document (although they were aware of the new policy), so I asked to speak with their postmaster. This fellow was quite helpful; he furnished the following e-mail printout, dated April 28, 2010:

Internal USPS E-Mail, Subject: FW: Stale pcPostage dates

After a lengthy discussion with the postmaster, a self-described “postal nerd”, it was clear that the USPS is just trying to survive. They’re losing money, customers are displeased with Delivery Confirmation, and of course, USPS also gets blamed when some businesses print out labels several days before actually dropping them off. Thus, the USPS has decided to reject all packages with “stale ship dates” in effort to improve public opinion.

I have several problems with this:

  1. Up until April 28, 2010, the USPS didn’t care when I dropped off my packages. USPS should have made an official announcement. Factoring in labor, my business lost over $200 last week due to USPS’s failure to communicate. More disturbingly, my customers experienced a 1 day delay in shipping—we pride ourselves on same-day shipments.
  2. USPS knows that labels printed online are rarely shipped the day they are marked. Anyone who has checked the Delivery Confirmation number of a freshly prepared shipment has seen this blurb from usps.com’s tracking system:

    Label/Receipt Number: #### #### #### #### #### ##
    Status: Electronic Shipping Info Received

    The U.S. Postal Service was electronically notified by the shipper on June ##, 2010 to expect your package for mailing. This does not indicate receipt by the USPS or the actual mailing date. Delivery status information will be provided if / when available. No further information is available for this item

    This statement has served its job well enough for years. Does USPS really expect to increase customer satisfaction by suddenly refusing their packages?

  3. USPS is built upon the principle that postage is as good as currency. A 44 cent stamp is worth always 44 cents, regardless of the day or the year. Until recently, USPS had maintained this perspective for postage printed online: Labels printed for $2.09 on Sunday were perfectly valid no matter the calendar date. But this is apparently no longer true. On very rare occasion, traffic has prevented me from making my daily post office visit in time. When this happens, I’d toss the packages into the drop-box instead. Now, I can no longer use drop-boxes after hours! I must cancel and re-print the shipping labels, then explain to customers why they have just received a shipment cancellation and 2nd shipment notice. And my poor accountant! All in all, this could cost my small business thousands of dollars in labor.

  4. Historically, USPS’s instructions mandated that online labels be used “only as it has been printed, without any alterations” because the digital barcode tells the postal system where the package is headed. A computer will ignore handwritten address changes on a digital label. The computer does not care when the label was printed. It only cares where the package is going. Hence, the “Electronic Shipping Info Received” statement cited above. In other words, USPS has deceptively manipulated an old policy in attempt to combat financial losses. Way to go, USPS.

In conclusion, USPS has made another poor choice and will continue to lose money and business. If they really wished to improve customer satisfaction, they would take example from UPS and FedEx: Customers want fine, friendly service, and REAL tracking information. Then this whole issue would be a moot point, since it would be clear when a package was physically accepted by the post office. But alas, the USPS is a federal entity and is not bound to the same expectations as a capitalistic business…

Anyway, fellow users of PayPal.com/Stamps.com/Endicia.com/Click-N-Ship should be aware that USPS has begun looking at the printed date on internet shipping labels, so you better get it right.

57 thoughts on “USPS Cracks Down on Online-Generated Postage Dates”

  1. Hello, I used to work at EnergyTin.com selling 5 hour energy. We used to have hundreds of packages whose labels we will print on Saturday or Sunday to be shipped of course on Monday.

    One day, we had some upgrades so we decided to drive our 200 packages to the postal store. Haha, guess what. The lady told us the same thing.
    After telling her who we were and that we give Usps $1500 in business everyday, she still didn’t not take our packages.

    Best solution: Call Usps and schedule a pick up.
    When they come, and after they look at the volume, they will take it without looking at the date, and directly to the sorting station. Problem solved.
    Second solution: when u print lables with multiorder shipping, just select a fwd date from the drop down menu.

    Cheers everyone. Lauren.

  2. When using the various shipping companies to print Click and Ship labels generate a “scan form” Form 5630. This form will be scanned when the parcels associated with it are presented to the post office. The scanning of this form essentially “starts the clock” It is also your receipt that the packages were shipped. Better yet use the scan form and “carrier pickup”. The use of this free service will generate an electonic message to the carrier unit that services your address. The carrier will stop and pickup the parcels and any other mail as long as there is at least one express or priority parcel in the bunch. (any first class item weighting more than 13 oz. is priority mail) They will scan the scan form as proof of presentation.
    This will “get back” your time going to the PO, waiting in line, returning and the gas and agravation of finding parking. All of this service will cost you NOTHING. Just a little planning to get the correct dates on the labels.

    1. Just a little planning to get the correct dates on the labels.

      Good information, but, I stand by my points above. Perhaps USPS should eliminate the date on shipping labels and rely on 5630 forms or parcel-by-parcel acceptance scanning. The postmaster at my local post office makes a point to “scan in” every single parcel which has a computer generated shipping label—even those tossed into drop boxes. My customers find this very helpful. However, this guy goes above and beyond. I’ve lived in several cities around the country; no other post office I’ve encountered operates in this fashion. However, mandatory parcel acceptance scanning would create more work the post office, so I don’t see this happening. They’d rather make more work for their customers. It is impossible to always plan perfectly.

  3. Honestly, USPS isn’t all that cheap anymore. If you ship a 1lb USPS Priority label via USPS.com then you can save a dollar or so over UPS or FedEx. The tracking sucks and it is pretty often when a Priority Mail shipment isn’t delivered within the 2-3 business day window. If you are sending something small and light then use USPS–as long as it isn’t an expensive item. The rest of the time go with a shipping carrier that knows something about moving around packages.

    1. That’s true for domestic packages, but UPS and FedEx can’t come close to USPS First Class International pricing.

  4. The post office returned a piece of mail to me that was one day off as well. What a bunch of noobs. I think I am switching my domestic packages to UPS and FedEx

  5. I am in charge of shipping with a friend of mines business we always use flat rate envelopes, and I print the labels and mail either the next day or the day after, every single time I have a problem and they won’t take my packages losing valuable business for me, I mail 15-30 packages a day, I have a simple solution its called FEDEX smart post, which is cheaper but takes a little longer, but I have no stupid problems like I do at the post office.

  6. I have sent two packages within the last month without knowing of this time limit. Customers have yet to receive them. One was over a month ago and one was a week ago and is still pending. Just had to fork out a large sum of money to refund the old one and have no clue where this item is. It was shipped Priority Flat Rate Envelope back in Sept. Aren’t they required to return this type of stuff back to the sender if their address is on it? I have checked everywhere including MRC out of Atlanta. Please, if anyone can help I would greatly appreciate it.

  7. Yes, the post office should have returned the packages to you. If you have delivery confirmation numbers, try bothering the postmaster. They usually can’t help, but on very rare occasion packages end up sitting in the post office…

  8. My post office almost denied 5 packages that were “dated” the day before. I nearly always print my labels online, place the packages in my mailbox, and my carrier takes them. But, when it snows a lot in winter, and the road to my house is too dangerous for my carrier (at her discretion), she may not deliver for days. By the time I finally figure out she’s not coming on a given day, it’s too late to get to the post office (closed) to mail myself. Imagine my surprise (and anger) when the lady behind the counter announced to me “we can’t take these 5 packages, they’re dated the day before”. Even though my carrier failed to pick up the packages on the day the labels were printed did not seem to matter.I guess I was “supposed” to have ESP to know that my carrier wasn’t coming that day. I demanded to speak with the PM, but he was “unavailable”. After 5 minutes of arguing she finally caved in and accepted, but feared being reprimanded for doing so. I plan to contact the PM General on this, but doubt it will do any good.

  9. 1/2/11 SEEMS I have had 3 packages not get deliverd. at a 90$ cost to me and it seems i will get a postage refund..(i think they keep my package) this is the ebay paypay print postage deal.. if i use stamps all is good.. have any of you had this happen ?

  10. I was researching something else when I saw your post. I’ve had similar problems in the past but the clerk would simply redate the packages, meaning she’d print out a postage sticker for $0.00 with that day’s date on it. The last time I had her do this was probably 8-9 months ago, so I don’t know if something has changed since then. Remember that if you pay via paypal, you can also void the postage for I think up to three days after you purchase it.

  11. Recently, two of my packages that I dropped in a drop-box the day after the labels were printed went missing. They weren’t sent back to my address. No one knows where they are. Fabulous. I’m trying to see if someone will eventually locate them and reroute them back to me and refund what I paid for postage.
    I’m not sure if you’d know the answer to this but…do you know if they would also refuse to ship a package that was dropped in the mail drop box AFTER 5:00PM (last pickup time) on the same date it had printed on the label???

  12. I have fudged the dates a few times by bringing in packages the day after, and in a couple cases two days after I have printed labels. I routinely drop packages in the after hours Automated Postal Center depositories due to my work schedule. I haven’t had problems so far, but I know others who have. If you print labels on PayPal or eBay you can easily void the labels. It is a pain to have to replace them though. The date shouldn’t matter.

  13. they did the same thing to me. printed a click and ship label on a saturday and bring it to the PO on monday, only for them to tell me that its not possible to mail because its ”postmarked” for saturday. What a crock! i had to drive 10 miles back home, spend 1/2 hr figuring out how to do a refund, re-pack my item, reprint the label so that the date was for the NEXT available day since i wouldnt be able to make it to the PO by 5pm. So i go there on monday and stand in a 20 minute line because its a monday and finally get it mailed. What really sux is that you are PAYING for the PRIVELEGE to do THEIR work for them by filling out all the info and affixing the label only for them to tell you that the date is off by only a FEW hours.

  14. Here we go,now this has happened to me today. I have shipped 1000′s of these 1st class packages and never heard anything about this until today. I normally have them picked up but today i tolk them in because i had an out of the U.S package that needed to be paid. When i pack and print 40 packages on Sunday or any day for that matter to get a carrier to pick up it has to be the next day that is the only way they will do this and even at that i have had to call and complain many time because they just did not pick them up and every time the post master will say oh the computers were down the carrier did not know and when they do show up the next day they do not leave a pick up slip of packages. I have never had the carrier even scan them on the day he picks them up always they next day. So how can this even work if i print postage on Monday have a pick up for Tuesday and the carrier does not scan them until Wednesday? The post office has made a crazy amount of money on my packages being mailed over 10 years worth and this is how they wanna do me ,come on and they wonder why the their operation is going down the drain.. really? Tick off in Nc

  15. HA! the best part about this BS is that when you go to void the shipment label and print a new one, the system asks you why with a drop down menu of “postage destroyed, changed mind, postage lost, or label did not print” – NO MENTION of “wrong date”

    So frustrating! I make made-to-order items and when they’ve already been waiting a week while I make their item, it’s really lame to have to tell them it’ll be an extra 2 days because I accidentally printed their postage the night before I went to the PO. (*I know you can change the ship date, but at the time didn’t realize this was an issue)

  16. The stupid thing is packages handed over the counter generate an “acceptance scan” on the delivery confirm/tracking history, so the USPS’s stale date excuse for delivery scores isn’t even valid. Ups doesn’t care when you actually use a printed label; You don’t use it, you don’t get billed.

  17. Dang, this just happened to me at the postal annex. The mailman was there to pick up the mail and told me that they had some big meeting today (two+ years after this post?), and they could no longer take labels that were printed a day ago. I like to print labels as purchases are made, so that I stay on top of things. I don’t want things piling up until morning. Crap.

    And since when does the post office care about its reputation? They are just pissing people off….again.

    Because every little bit helps,

    Carole Tee

  18. Today I printed a bunch of mailing labels and dropped off all the packages in the local mailbox. Lo and behold, the mail carrier never picked up from that box today. He just didn’t show up. So they won’t get shipped until Monday. I’m just waiting to see if this happens to me, even though it’s not my fault the mail carrier blew off his pickup.

  19. That’s the way it should be… Before even reading all of the article I was thinking to myself “well seeing as how people print labels and the costumer is awaiting shipment and continuely sees non-updated tracking information because they are printing labels and holding them several day before shipping”. I can’t blame them one bit… It makes the shipping business look good due to fast shipping and the postal service look bad due to the costumer not receiving their package until a week later on a priory delivery they already have tracking info for.

  20. To further my above comment… All of you that are butt sore over this it does go two ways… When I buy something and expect a priority delivery that’s what I want. Not for someone to print labels and hang o. To my package till its convenient for them to go to post office…. If your not going to ship priority then don’t offer it and start complaining about the problem you created.

  21. wow – unbelievable- i just called my PO and she said that her boss said mailing after the ship date was OKBUT NOT BEFORE! lol-makes no sense because it makes the delivery look late…. only in the gov….

  22. It has been a couple of years since your post and my post office doesn’t care what the date is. Let me ask you this, if you print late Saturday or Sunday and drop it off in their blue mailbox in the front of the post office does it get mailed out that day? Of course not. It gets mailed Monday. So why go to the counter where you get an issue. Just drop your mail in a box, or give it to your mailman that comes to your house. The mailmen on route never care about that stuff. It’s usually the ones standing behind the counter.

    The issue I run into a lot is that if I’m printing labels late at night and forget to set the date ahead, it won’t allow me to print a scan form for that day. I usually have 30-50 packages a day, so if I don’t have a scan form I have to take them to the post office and either hand them over the counter or dump them in the big slot on the wall inside the post office. If you give them to your mailman at your house, they are required to scan every single one of them before they get back to the post office. I would rather drive to the post office then piss off my mailman.

    1. Dropping a package with an “expired” date into a drop-box doesn’t always work in this city. Sometimes, yes. Other times, the package(s) will be returned to our office with a handwritten note. The postage cannot be refunded and must then be purchased again.

      In the past two years, we’ve moved to a fairly automated Endicia shipping system with barcode scanners and fancy ODBC integration to our orders database. After 5PM, Endicia automatically advances the postage date to the next business day. It’s not smart enough to recognize and skip holidays, but it catches most of our mistakes!

  23. I sell on eBay and have never had a problem with the dates. The other day my wife printed the labels for the parcels I needed to ship out. We use a stamps.com postal scale for small items. She made a mistake and printed a first class shipping label and put the weight at 12ozs. 2 days later the package was returned to us with a note that said the item weighed 12.6ozs. I found this to be perfectly fine b/c my wife made the mistake. She called the post office to see if we should void the label or just put a couple stamps on it. The post office told her to put a couple stamps on it and it will be fine. For some reason my wife felt the need to put 5 44cent stamps on it and put it in the mailbox. 2 days later the item was returned again. This time there was a sticker on the package stating something along the lines of it being a security issue to ship a first class package that weighs over 13ozs. I put the package on the scale and it weighed 12.6ozs. I had to go to the post office today for another item that needed to be shipped. We gave the returned package to the clerk who weighed the item and stated she did not understand why it was ever returned in the first place despite the weight being .6 of an ounce off. She was really confused when we told her it was returned a second time. She told us that you cannot put stamps on a package to make up for postage shortage but she basicaly said that someone had to be acting like a douche to return it the second time with a sticker claiming it weighed over 13ozs. She tried several methods to refund our label but was unsuccessful. She told us we should pull the stamps off and reuse them but when she found out we refused to take the item back home and delay shipping further she counted up the stamps we had on it and just let us put 5 more stamps on it rather than losing the label and stamps. She was very nice but it is apparent that some USPS workers are nit picking over minor issues and some are flat out lying. By the time she pulled off the notice stickers on the package the postal worker had put on it the package was 2 tenths of an ounce lighter also. In this case the postal service sent the item back twice with one time being ridiculous. This has to cost the USPS money. They also took so long to return the item that I can no longer void the label through eBay or PayPal.

  24. I’m a customer, I did a google search to find out what the truth is and the real rules with USPS about this is because I am having weird shipping problems with a company. I have ordered from 381 Candle Company thru my mother, and for two times now the shipping has been crazy and from reading on Facebook every body has the same problems, the printing labels. Apparently the company prints out their labels WAY WAY AHEAD of time which sends us a notification, and then they don’t even take them to the post office for days. In October my package had a label printed a whole week before it was even mailed out. So we were all blaming the post office but it wasn’t them. And now it’s November and the label got printed on the 3rd of the month and STILL not mailed out yet like a week later. This isn’t fair, it confuses people to have a notification and then be looking for mail that won’t arrive for another week at least. Yeah we are not buying from them again especially now we know that they weren’t even following the Us post office rules for shipping
    I really do understand if owners have to print out a day ahead if it’s a Sunday for example. But printing out days ahead and then letting people blame the post office isn’t right. So I am glad that the post office is going to inforce rules for businesses like that. But I am sorry if it is hurting honest business owners though.

  25. @B.A. VanVorten

    Companies send out shipping notifications when they print their labels, so it doesn’t matter what the date on the labels says. If the company you’re talking about prints their labels a week in advance then you will still receive your shipping notification a week before the package is actually shipped, regardless of the shipping date on the label. So, in reality, the date on the label being ‘correct’ doesn’t improve your scenario in any way.

  26. Wouldn’t it make sense for it to work this way: you pay for your postage and label online, the confirmation shows only that its been paid for. When you have the package picked up or you bring it to the post office they scan it accepted which proves the day it was sent. Every online package paid USPS automatically gets delivery confirmation and every USPS facility is supposed to scan it accepted when they receive it so how can it look bad on them if they in fact are scanning it the actual day it gets sent. Perhaps the postal service doesn’t want to become liable when they don’t scan!

  27. Ebay seller on the west coast sent a pre-stamped return envelope to me in the Midwest to return an item. I brought the envelope to the USPS clerk .. she says the postage is over a week old (RE: label issued Dec 7th … . date of return Dec 13th). It was not. It was less than a week old much less just including actual business days. I had to pay additional postage. Complained to the seller and the postal inspector. The postal inspector passed the buck. I received a letter from the USPS refusing a refund and explaining that two clerks had explained the increase in postage to me ( a lie … 1. we never discussed the increase for delivery confirmation which is free online, 2. only one clerk waited on me … the other two were busy with customer, 3. the seller had contacted the supervisor and the letter conflicts with the whole fairy tale they made up, 4. no mention in the letter or from the clerk that I could apply for a refund in ten days). Seller was able to get me a refund through his USPS office. But then again, our’s is the same USPS that was deceptively charging me for higher priced priority mail via confusion tactics. When I filed an official complaint the supervisor officially responded through the postal inspector that employee I accused did not work there. And how about the “postal” carrier in my Mom’s neighborhood that used his truck to block an ambulance in her driveway attempting to carry her to the hospital for a heart attack? The supervisor at the branch office where I registered the complaint said I was wrong, despite two paramedics that were witness to the whole “postal” incident. And who is that carriers in trucks are allowed to smoke in their vehicles? Not only a fire hazard but for a non-smoker I am getting second hand smoke permeating all my mail. And exactly how are USPS smokers given the same insurance rates as non-smokers? But what can you expect from an organization that back in October 2012 was reported to have defaulted $5.6 billion the second time in two months on a legally required payment into a fund for future retiree health care benefits. Shut ‘em all down … fire ‘em all!

  28. I ship 40-50 packages/envelopes a week with delivery confirmation. The print date is usually a day or two before I mail them. Never has anything been returned in the past 6 years! Don’t give your stuff to the morons at the counter, just mail it!

  29. I found this website after googling around for this topic. I ran into an issue with MLK day, not realizing that the USPS was closed as I had to work that day. Their website allowed me to select MLK day for the shipping date, but naturally, when I arrived at the post office to drop off the package, the door was locked.

    Not realizing that the shipping date was important (and figuring that, if they’re all closed on the 21st, then obviously the real ship date would be the 22nd), I took it to the post office the next day, skipped a 30-minute line, and dropped it off. The woman scans the postage and tells me that I need to remember to put the current date on it. I told her that I was here yesterday, but that they weren’t; she laughs.

    My tracking didn’t update for an unusually long time, and with some bad experiences with this post office in mind, I figured that they screwed me—that the woman just decided to take my package, implying that for *next time* I need to place the current date on it, but intended on rejecting my package anyway.

    To my surprise, after checking the tracking several more times, they did accept the package, and it moved on, hopefully with a successful delivery. I’ll be very careful about this next time because I certainly don’t want to delay, or worse, lose, a package over this silly issue.

    Thanks for this post because the USPS doesn’t advertise this info! At the very least, they need to take the holidays off of their drop down selection for shipping dates.

  30. Your outrage is a bit hilarious. You’re upset that the USPS is not letting you fake an earlier shipping date. As a customer of many mail-order services, I can tell you many business use this feature to fake the customer into thinking the item has been shipped before it has actually been shipped: choosing the date from your PC and clicking OK requires no effort; finally getting off your ass and bringing the package to the pick-up center does. I have experienced Lengthy periods lapsing between the two.

    1. If the tracking system showed accurate information this would not be an issue. UPS and Fedex don’t seem to have a problem. Their tracking doesn’t show as received until it has been scanned at pickup. This is just a case of some useless bureaucrat making a proclamation and all of the mindless underlings falling in line. Rather than attempting to be helpful solve the customer’s problem, the postal employees simply say this is government policy and deal with it. Our way of the highway. No wonder they are bankrupt.

  31. This is absolute insanity. And the post office and government in general wonders why citizens despise them. I printed about $30 worth of parcel labels around 11PM lastnight to send out today and the MF’ers refused to take them! Stale postage? This ain’t bread. Their instructions? Go online, void the postage and ask for a refund that might take 2 weeks. Effing ridiculous. They can kiss my arse. I handed the packages to a mailman down the street. If they were at all concerned about happy customers they would scrap this ludicrous policy.

  32. I run an online business, I print my labels with stamps.com and usually do a daily drive to the post office to drop off the packages, usually right before they close.
    A few times i was late by a few minutes and they closed, so i brought the packages the next day with no issues.

    Today i had two packages that were dated 3 days prior, as i didnt package the orders by mistake and as soon as i saw the orders just laying on my desk from a few days prior, i packaged them and took them to the post office.

    The lady at the counter for some odd reason starts to look closely at all packages (about 10 packages) and tells me that two have “stale labels” and she cannot accept them. so i reply that its no big deal, just scan them and take them, i have done this plenty of times before with no issues.
    To which she replies that she will not accept the “stale date labels” and that now that i admitted that i have done it before, she will take my business information from the label and REPORT ME!!!
    WTF is she talking about?? the labels are paid for, i am not scamming usps, what difference does it make what date the label was printed on?

    I laughed and told her let them come and arrest me.

    I asked for a supervisor, and she replied we are closing in 5 minutes and that the supervisor is not here.
    she started copying my return information from the labels so she can “report” me.
    and i took her name from the name badge.

    I will be filing a complaint against her, as this is not a way to treat a business customer that spends over $15000 a year with USPS! threatening against a paying customer with legal action for some stupid rule that usps has is not good business.
    no wonder USPS is broke, its stupid employees and policies like these that drive customers away.

    1. i just had this happen today – with an even more ludicrous incident.

      last week, i took in two packages i’d overlooked – from january. the clerk said the labels were not spoiled and were valid – so when i found yet another one today and took it in, i expected no problem.

      instead, i had two clerks inform me that the label were no longer vaild EVEN though i had purchased it. when i told them that last week, two were taken and i was told they were valid, they rushed to bring out their “supervisor”.

      this horrid woman stood holding my package and snidely telling me that the post office wouldn’t accept the package due to the date being old. i pointed out that the post office had my money and i wanted my package mailed. when she said flatly that the post office would NOT take my package, i was furious – reached the six inches to the box that she was refusing to take and snatched it back and walked out without saying a word.

      when i got to my car, i looked up to see her priss her butt out to the front of my car and start writing down my license plate number. i immediately asked her what she was doing and why was she recording my license plate. she refused to answer, turned her nose in the air and prissed back into the post office.

      i walked back in and demanded to know her name from the clerks. she then stuck her face out the door and said she would give it to me. i asked her AGAIN “why the hell were you writing down my license plate number!” [i was furious]. she pouted and said “don’t TALK to me with that language!

      i repeated again “WHY were you wrting down my license plate number!”

      she replied: you were rude!

      me: WHY were you writing down my LICENSE PLATE NUMBER!

      she: you SNATCHED that package and that was a THREAT!

      i looked at her and replied “BULLSHIT!”

      when she whined again that i wasn’t to use that language at her, i replied again, “that is BULLSHIt!” and walked out the door.

      and…

      called the post master and filed a complaint.

      i am waiting to hear back from them as the person who took the recorded complaint stated she was rude and unprofessional and had no business writing down anything to do with my vehicle.

      i am not letting this go – i have re-read every word from the post office this evening and there is not one single word stating these labels are “stale”, invalid, have an expiration date – not a single word.

      there IS a “flat rate box” that is now offered that has no “date” on it – the box is the postage – and that may be why they are playing these games.

      however, i will continue with this topic until there is a satisfactory resolution, EVEN if i have to take it to the postmaster general in d.c. – or higher.

  33. I have a package I need to send out via priority mail. I do not have scales, but I know the range that it weighs. If I print a label that is more than actual weight will the post office accept it? The PO always tells me one much higher price than online sites show me, so I feel like I am getting jipped when I let them calculate postage.

  34. I wanted to mail some things back home from vacation on St. Croix (and daughters wedding) I can’t print a label out more than 3 days in advance, and was hoping to print it out and take it with me. This makes no sense to me….postage should be postage, just like a stamp.

  35. Everyone should boycott the USPS until they either 1) go out of business, 2) become privatized (by either UPS or FedEx as both of them already transport over 60% of the US Mail) or 3) get their act together and start operating with a business mindset. Some questions that need serious answers: Why is USPS always out of money, why is USPS so inefficient, why is USPS the laughing stock of most other modernized countries postal services? Look at the Canadian, UK, French, Italian, or Greek postal services. They are ALL more efficient and cost productive (albeit they get less funds than the USPS so they need to be). The USPS is suppose to be the postal service FOR the United States. I am not anti-government, anti-establishment, anti-whatever. I have friends that are letter carriers, postal clerks, and sorters. I value their hard work. I just want what is right for America.

  36. Fantastic blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?
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  37. I’ve been lucky so far in that they have always accepted my “stale” labels – Sometimes as much as 4-5 days later. On the other hand – If you schedule a pickup and estimate the wrong number of packages by any amount the postal person may throw a fit. Real example: “My bosses are going to be pissed – the pickup said 20 packages and this is only 14 packages – they are going to want to know where the other 6 are?!?” I can’t imagine I’m the first to over estimate how many packages I’ll be sending. These were tiny 3oz packages – it’s not like they had to make special arrangements.

  38. Specifically:

    For PC Postage systems, a date correction or redate indicium includes only the actual date of deposit and the word “REDATE,” instead of a postage value. On letter-size mail, redate indicia must be placed on the nonaddress side at least 3/4 inch from the bottom edge of the mailpiece and not on an envelope flap. On flats or parcels, it must be placed next to the original indicium. The redate or date correction must not include the FIM or the two-dimensional barcode.

  39. If USPS is receiving bad reviews it’s because they ship painfully slow and tracking a package is pointless because they hardly update anything. A package that was in New York at 4am Friday morning will appear to be stuck there until the following Tuesday. There are times where the item was already delivered and the online tracking info STILL showed the item to be in another state or at the post office.

    Don’t delay packages further, that’ll make business worse. USPS blames in on competition? PFFT. USPS literally pushes their customers to their competition.

    1. It’s not about laziness. Many of these complaints are due to human or software error. Endicia and Stamps are built to automatically skip weekends, but they do not remind the user to skip business days which are postal holidays (i.e., Columbus Day). It’s quite easy to forget to set the next business day. In fact, I set the correct business day on Monday and the software reverted to the current business day during a reboot.

      Yes, everyone ideally should post a proper date on the package. But accidents and software glitches happen and this should not be an excuse for USPS to waste consumers’ time. UPS does not have this problem; tracking information shows when a package is accepted.

      Our local post offices have gathered some sense and now accept packages with a “stale” date. After all, USPS tracking should show the actual acceptance date.

  40. I don’t know if it’s just me or if perhaps everybody else encountering issues with your site.
    It appears as if some of the text on your content are
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    Appreciate it

  41. I see a lot of postings, but can someone tell me where is the official policy that states that it is illegal to mail a package with an older date, lets say, you print on a Saturday, or a night time or before a holiday. Is there an official page that states that the mail with a 1 to 2 day printed date is a crime or federal fraud? When the USPS delivers a day or two after ( now with the 2 day Priority mail delivery ), is that also a fraud? Please let me know the official page or policy. It is important to a lot of senders. Thank you

    1. i’ve been reading the usps website information on priority mail all night and cannot find a single word to that effect. this seems to be some rule that is being put into effect by managers at the local level to prevent being “dinged” for late deliveries on priority mail.

      IF these were express mail packages that qualify for refunds if not delivered on time, then i could see refusals as valid – but priority mail makes it very clear that there is NO guarantee on the time of delivery.

      i will continue to read every word on the usps site and print the pages – then will make sure that the powers that be (u.s. postmaster) either rewrites the requirements on the website OR orders the low level managers to take the damned packages!

  42. This just happened to me today. For years, I’ve had no problem, and today when I carry in two armfuls of packages that I printed out on Sunday, they refused to accept them. Obviously, There is no mail delivery on Sunday. I use Etsy to ship my packages and there is not way to change the date once I print the label . I am thoroughly fed up with USPS and I think I will be using Fed ex from now on.I called USPS customer service and although using the correct date is mandatory, she said that the clerk can easily print a postage of $0.00 and change the date. The clerks are just completely lazy and rude.

  43. This is nothing more than another money grab by our trusty Government. Hoping that for every one that gets a refund and reprints a label, another will simply pay for it “again” and go on their merry way. “Let me be clear” it can in no way be beneficial to USPS in terms of customer satisfaction, further delaying the shipment of packages and pissing people off even more. Bottom line, it’s just another example of why the Government needs to get out of everyone’s business, and STAY OUT, it’s bad for business.
    Cherio

  44. This is so unbelievably stupid, and probably could only happen with a large bureaucracy such as the USPS. Postage should be postage. Period. They should postmark a package, when received, with the received date, and accept the package as if it’s covered with stamps. If they want to hold you to some date, it should be, say, within 2 weeks to a month of the label’s printing. This back and forth with the USPS wastes everyone’s time and causes bad feelings all around. Sometimes in my darkest thoughts, I think that FedEx and/or UPS are paying off government officials to create some of the USPS’s looney rules.

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