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.

128 Replies to “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 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.

  6. 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…

  7. 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.

  8. 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 ?

  9. 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???

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. 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)

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. 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….

  19. 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!

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. @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.

  23. 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!

  24. 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!

  25. 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!

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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!

  34. 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.

  35. 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

  36. 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.

  37. Dude, you’re not being truthful to your ebay customers. You can’t print a label on eBay to show your customer you are going to mail it out the same day and not mail it in fact until the next day. The post office is correct…you are putting the blame on them for taking one extra day when it is you who do not put it in the same day. Further I understand why you are doing this because eBay give sellers discounts & preferential treatment (to include priority search listings) when they get items out very quickly. You can’t scam the system to show eBay you have uploaded tracking and say it is going out the same day and then not mail it out until the next day.

    You’re caught dude admit it.

    Yours Truly,
    A trusted 100% SATISFACTION ebay seller for 15 years with 900 feedback!

    1. Wow, you have a whole 900 feedback in 15 years and want to be a douche and act like you actually have a business? Hahahaha…. For anyone REAL business person who sells online, it is common, in fact, dare I say it, the majority of the time true that with warehouse processing that items are not picked up by USPS/UPS/FEDEX until the following “business day.”

    2. Its a SUNDAY that she printed the labels…There is NO SHIPPING on Sunday. Well at least no pickup.

      Look it it like this. I print out labels on Thursday afternoon and some times I dont even see a scan for 24 hours.

      Or I print out a label on Thursday at 11pm and drop it off on Friday at 9am.

      That is NOT being untruthful.

    3. What a pile of crap… What if the eBay user purchased the item at 7pm when the post office is closed ?

      The seller is getting the package ready to be mailed first thing next morning.. What’s wrong with that ?!

      If I’m paying for a shipping label.. Or buying a postage it should be my decision when to use it.. I paid for it!

    4. You are so right . The article I just read of his is wrong stale dates have always been a problem with the postal services. That letter was nothing more than a heads up that offices need to be enforcing it . Shame on the author of this blog for attemping to mislead people !

      1. I agree with both perspectives. Keep in mind this story was shared 6 years ago, and much has changed in that time from USPS, PayPal, eBay, etc. Unexcused stale shipping dates are a problem for everyone involved.

        The point at the time of writing, if I recall, was poor communication between USPS and its customers. USPS has improved tremendously since 2010! Honest shipping performance is clearly a merchant’s responsibility. From what I can see (shipping 500 packages/month), USPS tracking systems have grown sufficiently reliable that stale shipping dates are no longer a USPS concern.

    5. Seriously? That’s not lying. Sunday is not a business day. I am also a seller with 100% feedback with a 430 score over 7 years. Buyer’s expect USPS (not FedEx or UPS) packages to be shipped on business days because they know ALL post offices are closed on Sundays and the only company USPS delivers packages for on Sundays is Amazon. I buy and sell on eBay. It’s better to drop off packages in person on the next business day especially during the holidays when “same day” drop off in a official mailbox may mean the customer may not ever actually get their package because theft is high during that time of year and FYI even if I print a label on Sunday evening and mark the date for Monday the eBay customer will still get a shipped notification on Sunday immediately after the label is printed. I don’t understand why you think printing the shipping label is tricking the customer when it’s an automatic notification. Also, the post office counts business days as well so if the package is to arrive in 2 business days it will still arrive during the estimated delivery time-frame.

      If 15 different customers pay for their orders on Sunday and I prepared them and print all of the labels that day around 5pm I hope none of my customers are dense enough think there is a possibility that their package got physically shipped on a Sunday night.

      Even if I print labels on a weekday and the customer pays at around 5pm, again I hope they have enough common sense to know it’s not getting shipped that day even if I print the label 15 minutes after receiving the payment. No post offices are open. Most are closed by 4:30pm.

      I’ll even add another. If my customer lives in California and knows the package is being shipped from the east coast and they pay at 2pm their time (5pm EST) AGAIN, I hope they have enough common sense to know the package will not be physically shipped the same day.

      It’s commons sense. Not lying or getting “caught” doing anything wrong. Simple common sense.

  38. Im disabled and can’t get to the post office so I order small flat rate boxes and print my labels. I leave the boxes in my mailbox to be pick up by our daily courier. If he doesn’t show Im out the postage. On a fixed income so this sucks and btw they NEVER answer the phone when you call.

    1. You simply CANCEL the postage you paid for, and wait 3 weeks for a USPS refund. OF course you have to purchase a second label for the package for the next day.

  39. I been selling on Ebay for a while and now have an online boutique, I have over 200 orders sometimes and I have to print my labels ahead and then package afterwards. It takes me 3 to 4 days to package because I have other things to deal with (Kids, etc.) But I get my things together and done and ship it out asap. Today my husband dropped off 200 plus orders at the Post office and the lady said we couldn’t be shipping out packages that are 3 days late on the date. He explained that we have been doing it for a year and half and never knew it was wrong to do so. So I called customer service immediately after that to confirm and what I was told was that if I printed out a label and did not ship on that day but waited three days it would be rejected. I asked if it was rejected would I get my refund and the lady said yes I would and all I have to do is go back on my click N ship account and change the date. I have no clue how to do that after you have already paid for the postage. I am currently using ship station right now and I don’t see the option where you can choose the delivery date. I think USPS will definitely lose a lot of business over this new change. It’s ridiculous, because refund takes over 2-3 weeks yet we have to purchase a new label right away. I even had missing packages that disappeared during delivery and had to refund my customers but could not get a refund from USPS because the item was only first class.

    1. BRK is a doosh, and probobaly is a federal employee..the po deserves to just go , all the inept workers loose there jobs.these polocies are rediculois for the small business , no real business would make this new rule, impossible for Elle above with 200 packages..only the goverment ideotics would make more problems instead of fixing a problem.Pathetic

    2. Hey, change your procedure then and dont print labels first. Print them WHEN YOUR READY TO SHIP and not before.

      Dont blame others for your ineffective procedures.

        1. Cant you just change the date? I do. It is at the bottom of the shipping page. If everyone keeps doing the “stale date” expect prices to keep going up. It does effect their numbers. Numbers always somewhere effects money.

        2. Then print the labels on the day you will go to the post office.

          And don’t be rude to people who are trying to help you.

      1. You’re an idiot. The label date makes no difference. All
        customers are notified that a label has been created but has not yet shipped. Why should someone change their procedure to accommodate the post office supposed “customer service”. There is absolutely no good reason for the date the label is created to matter or whether your planned shipping date changes just for some fantasy the post office has created. If they scan their packages the customer knows when it’s shipped and where it is.

  40. Wow…Your complaining about the USPS not being good communicator while you are LYING to your buyers and not shipping on the day that you said you would…YOU cost your company $200, not the USPS…

    TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN ACTIONS.

    1. People like you have to be trolling, that or you work for USPS. One day later is no big deal. Sometimes I accidentally forget to change the date to the next day when printing. Who cares?

    2. You’re an idiot who cannot read.

      You can print a label on Saturday night or Sunday, and not have it picked up until Monday.

      If the post office doesn’t want stale dates then they shouldn’t allow postage to be printed on weekends. They partner with ebay on this, but of course, one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing

      1. Weekends or after hours.

        I just printed two labels at 100 pm and noticed they had today date. Ill drop them off tomorrow morning hopefully with no problems. My local postal employees are cool so hopefully they wont notice the date.

    3. You’re an idiot. The label date makes no difference. All
      customers are notified that a label has been created but has not yet shipped. Why should someone change their procedure to accommodate the post office supposed “customer service”. There is absolutely no good reason for the date the label is created to matter or whether your planned shipping changes just for some fantasy the post office has created. If they scan their packages the customer knows when it’s shipped and where it is.

  41. Yes, they’re now enforcing the stale shipping date here in NY, too.
    So, how does that work for priority pick-ups?
    We have to print out the label first, then have it picked up the next day. Are they going to reject it or break their own rules?
    Secondly, first class mail may have seen a reduction, but first class packages have picked up the baton on that one. Plenty of income being produced for package services. Still in the red? pfft.
    Thirdly, why are we not being given a receipt for prepaid dropped off packages any longer? What proof do I have that the post office received it, yet along delivered it?
    (I’ve had plenty of packages evaporate within the postal system, luckily, some of them were insured.)
    I want a receipt. I waited in line to drop them off and I want proof.
    Lastly, why does it take the post office up to 21 days to issue a refund for a canceled label? It sure didn’t take them 21 days to debit my a/c. Decrease the waiting time for a refund.
    Until I think of more, (or things change) I remain,
    Disgruntled,
    Eileen

    1. Eileen,
      If your pick up (or drop off) date is the next day, then you need to post-date your labels to match. Your shipping software should have an option to select the postmark date you want used when you print. (It’s the same as if you used a physical postage meter, which the USPS has always been strict about.)

      As for a receipt, just ask the postal clerk for an origin scan when you drop the package off. This will record the drop-off in online tracking, which serves as proof of mailing. It also keeps your customers happy, since it guarantees online tracking will show _something_ before delivery. (The USPS has been getting much better at providing tracking en-route, but I’ve found it varies based on where you’re mailing to.) I’ve never had a clerk refuse to do an origin scan when asked nicely.

      Alternatively, if you have a lot of packages, your shipping software should be able to create a SCAN form, containing all of your packages under a single barcode. The post office is required to scan and postmark this form, if you have it. (Sadly, you can’t create a SCAN form using the USPS website. You need third-party software for this.)

      As for why refunds take so long: My theory is it’s precisely because the USPS is inconsistent about scanning packages, so they need to wait a while to make sure the package doesn’t show up somewhere in the system before they issue the refund. Three weeks is long enough for even the slowest packages to get delivered.

  42. Well here is a problem. I am trying to get a visa application shipped out and in order to get my visa back I have to send with my application a prepaid package with my address on it for the return. HOW am I suppose to buy a prepaid envelope with USPS when I have no idea when the consulate is going to be shipping it back to me and USPS will ONLY accept it on the designated ship date? Also, you can only choose a ship date online which is 4 days out? Lame.

    1. Leah,
      Just use stamps. They don’t have an expiration date.

      Alternatively, if you need an odd-denomination label, just use the APC machine in the post office’s lobby. The postage labels generated by those are treated as stamps rather than meters, so they don’t expire.

    2. I have the same problem. I need to send a prepaid package to someone to place the item in and mail it. I will place a label on it with no idea what date the package will be mailed. It’s ridiculous for someone to tell u to put stamps on it. BECAUSE THE LABEL DATE MAKES NO DIFFERENCE!! If USPS scans their packages (does their job properly) everyone knows when the package is shipped. And to b quite honest I have been very satisfied with the post office but I don’t send packages daily or in large numbers

  43. This, as well as refusing packages where the shipping zip is for a near by post office, is NOT official policy. When you are presented with memos, or worse yet, an article in the postal bulletin, just say “show me where this is stated in the DMM”. If it is not in the DMM, they cannot enforce it. In fact, when they have the DMM out, have them refer to part 604 section 4.5.1. Then say “In your face!”

    1. Also, if the customer satisfaction rating system is flawed in that it rates the performance based on the print date, the proper solution is to FIX the rating system, not to create an unofficial policy that effectively decreases customer satisfaction. Whoever drafted that memo should be FIRED along with half the staff of the bulletin.

    2. Thanks much Rob for that solid info… I read the DMM for the regulation you mention – wow, PC printed postage has an exception for the correction required on other labels – no date correction required.

  44. Glad I came across this article. I also have this problem with my local post office, I dropped off my packages same day of shipping and they are now charging customer for Shipping. Postal manager never scanned my items.

  45. @Leah When dealing with a SSE (Self Stamped Envelope), the stamp does not have a date on them. You can ask your postal employee that you want a stamped envelope when you cash out, it is a normal stamp.
    As for the rest of you, it does not take that much time to change a date on the postage before you print it. If some one buys your product on a Saturday after 4pm and you know Monday is a holiday change the date so that it says Tuesday delivery date.
    Quit being lazy and lie about your delivery time, for now tracking with USPS tells the customer exactly when you took it to the post office. You can post your policy that you are the next day shipper, print out a lable and same day and then sit on it of a few days does not mean that you shipped the next day. I know that you would not like that to happen to you or your business if your supplier said next day shipping but does not ship it until three days later and at a cheaper postage than that to which you paid for.
    Be honest with yourself and your customers and you too could help the post office with their mailing edicate.

    1. I disagree. It should just be when you scanned the item in the post office, simple as that – since they should have a record of when they scanned it anyway, especially if you get a receipt. If you are not a full time seller and have to get to work in the morning, it is better to prepare a package the night before. Or maybe you thought you could make it that day, but something important came up. They want you to get a refund, and print out a new label….all extra and unnecessary paperwork/labor that costs both parties time and money. If they scan it, there is a record of when the package was brought in for shipment – so no one is fooling anyone.

      I never leave my packages at the counter anymore, I always get a receipt. I asked my local USPS to scan and give a receipt for my prepaid package, and they said they dont give receipts for prepaid packages. One of my packages was never scanned and disappeared off the face of the earth. I have no recourse because I have nothing to prove I even dropped it off. I now go to another location, which offers to print a receipt for my prepaid packages every time I go. Interesting….

      1. Forgot to add, USPS take 15-21 days to refund your money for a voided label “if the request is approved”. Sometime items you have to go to the post office and fill out a request form there. No wonder USPS is losing money.

    2. You are a complete idiot. It’s not your problem to fix what the usps lacks. No one is lying. Seriously? Go in and change the date if a holiday is coming up? People have a business to run or a life to live. I’m happy you have so much free time to accommodate the post office.

  46. Great article! This just happened to me today 🙁 they stated it can’t be accepted in the post office, they give a “grace” period of 1 day and then you’re on your own. However, she did inform me that it can be placed in a USPS Dropbox with a late date. I’m not going to chance it though. Now I have to waste paper… Harm the evmt, rip off the label in hopes it doesn’t ruin the package.. Which I’m sure they’d love so that I’d have to purchase a new one. Yippie!

    Thanks again. Your post enlightened me more than they have

  47. All my packages get shipped on the ship date or maybe a day or two early or late. My PO doesn’t care. In the origin ZIP I always put the ZIP of my NDC as it is 20 mins from my PO. I get an earlier tracking update at the NDC or the plant than from the PO.

  48. I have had so many problems with click and ship. I sent out an average of 425 packages every month and twice that in November and December. I have problems with payments no matter the browser. I have problems with getting that many scanned in at the local post office, so they are in limbo until they are scanned somewhere. Getting a refund is like pulling teeth. i am printing labels from 1-5pm4-5 days a week. Sometimes after a few hours the delivery date changes even though it will still say 2 day priority. I have no problem with that as long as my clients get the product on the date I started with. Sometimes I will print labels and the pre shipment info will be sent to the post office 24 hours later. Reluctantly it is still cheaper than the other carriers for now. If I get anymore customer complaints, I will consider going back to UPS.

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