Receiving Mail at a Brand-New Address

May 19th, 2017 Comments off

A brand-new housing development is going up. Houses have sprung up in once-vacant lots. A line of trees has been planted along unused avenues. Parks and playgrounds have been created. Water, phone, gas, and electric services have been installed. You’re almost ready to move in. Wondering how you will get your mail?

Even before construction is completed, postal representatives have already met with builders, developers or construction site managers. For example, the USPS has veto power over a new street name proposed by developers. A new name has to facilitate access for the USPS, as well as for public services such as police and fire. A new “Sunshine Avenue” may cause confusion and misdeliveries for the USPS if a Sunshine Avenue already exists in the same city.

Postal representatives meet with developers and review site plans. Important issues under consideration include:

  • How far is the new neighborhood from older, well-developed areas?
  • How close is the nearest Post Office?
  • How big are the lot sizes?
  • How close are the lots to the roads?

The postal representatives’ goal is to provide mailing services that comply with USPS standards and regulations. And before mail can even be picked up and delivered, the USPS needs to understand the entire infrastructure that goes into the essential functioning of a new neighborhood, including street signs, house numbers, completed walkways, and finalized rights-of-way and turnouts.

Developers are tasked with installing USPS-approved mail receptacles or door slots. Based on the local characteristics of a new development, the USPS has sole discretion in determining which delivery method is the most appropriate for the new subdivision:

  • door-to-door delivery
  • curbside delivery
  • sidewalk delivery
  • central delivery (i.e. delivery to a cluster box unit or outdoor parcel locker)

After the dust of construction settles, the USPS begins serving the new community, with the goal of providing consistent, timely and safe service.

Updating your address with Stamps.com

Have you moved in and set up your laptop? Great! If you have a Stamps.com account, you can easily update your mailing addresses.

The Postal Meter Address is the address registered with the USPS and is used for determining your postage rates.

To update it:

  1. Log in to the Stamps.com software and click on “My Account” on the left side of the screen.
  2. Go to “PC Postage Account” and select “Postal Meter Address.”
  3. Edit your address and click “Save” to finalize the change.
  4. Just a heads-up: you will also need to update your information in both the Meter Contact Information section (under “PC Postage Account”) and under the My Profile section (under “My Information”).

To change your Shipping Address:

  1. Log in to the Stamps.com software and click on “My Account” on the left side of the screen.
  2. Go to “PC Postage Account” and select “Shipping Addresses.”
  3. Edit an existing address or add a new one, and click “Save” to finalize the change.

To change your Billing Address:

  1. Log in to the Stamps.com software and click on “My Account” on the left hand of the screen.
  2. Go to “PC Postage Account” and select “Default Payment Methods.”
  3. Edit this address, and click “Save” to finalize the change.
Categories: Shipping Tags:

Dogs and USPS Pickups

May 12th, 2017 Comments off

There’s nothing better than coming home to your beloved Beagle or Golden Retriever. Dogs are great friends and companions, and can help reduce stress and anxiety. With Stamps.com, you can avoid lines at the Post Office and spend more time with your canine companion!

Free Pickups

One of the great features integrated with the Stamps.com platform is the ability to request free USPS pickups. The service is available for Priority Express Mail, Priority Mail, Priority Express Mail International, Priority Mail International and Global Express Guaranteed. In the Stamps.com software, click “USPS Pickup” from the “View History” menu on the left navigation bar to start the process.

As long as your pickup request includes at least one qualifying class, mailpieces with non-qualifying mail classes can be picked up as well. You can enter any special instructions for your carrier and also specify the package location, such as Front Door, Back Door, or Knock on Door/Ring Bell.

To ensure that the process of USPS package pickups goes smoothly, be sure to have your packages ready for the carrier. It’s also important to ensure that there is safe and unobstructed access to the packages so that the carrier can complete the service for you.

Pet Pointers  

Whether or not you’re requesting free USPS pickups, there are things you can do to keep pets and humans safe and happy when a postal carrier visits your home or office. The USPS has deployed various public service campaigns and educational initiatives to provide safety tips for dog owners—learn more here.

A couple helpful tips include:

  • If you need to open your front door in order to accept mail or packages from a postal carrier, place your dog in another room and close that door before opening your front door.
  • Restrain your dog with a leash in order to maintain a safe distance from the postal carrier.
  • Do not allow your children to take items from a postal carrier in the presence of your family dog, who may think it’s an aggressive gesture when the postal carrier hands something to the child.

Pet Postage

Did you know you can put a pic of your favorite pup on postage with our Custom NetStamps product?  After you upload a photo via our easy-to-use postage creator tool, you can order Custom NetStamps in various quantities!  With your Custom NetStamps, you can add postage amounts to your sheets, either one at a time or on a full sheet.

Categories: Shipping Tags:

Sealing Envelopes and Packages

May 5th, 2017 Comments off

CRSDC-503-sealing-envelopes_blog

You may not give much thought to the act of sealing up an envelope or package, but that doesn’t mean it’s a trivial step in the mailing or shipping process. We’ve created this FAQ to answer all the questions you may have about sealing shipments before handing them over to the USPS.

What’s the right way to seal a box?

According to USPS, you should tape the opening of your box and reinforce all seams with tape that is 2 inches wide.

What kind of material should I use to seal a box?

You’ve got a few options—USPS says you should use clear or brown packaging tape, reinforced packing tape, or paper tape.

Packaging tape—plastic, pressure-sensitive tape is easy to use, readily available, and versatile. It easily adheres to multiple surfaces, so can use it to seal boxes as well as poly mailers.

Reinforced packing tape—this tape contains fibers that make it stronger and a good option for heavier shipments.

Paper tape—also known as kraft tape, uses a water-activated tape dispenser (water is what helps bond the tape to the boxes). Paper tape sticks to cardboard but doesn’t adhere to poly mailers or other non-paper surfaces.

Is there anything I can’t use to seal a box?

You should refrain from using twine, cord or string—these materials can get caught in the mail processing equipment. You should also avoid using masking or cellophane tape, as they’re not strong enough for this purpose.

Can I use extra tape to reinforce an overly full USPS envelope or box?

When sealing Priority Mail® or Priority Mail Express® Flat Rate boxes and envelopes, the container flaps must be able to close within their normal folds, according to this USPS publication. You can use tape on the flaps and seams to reinforce the envelope or box, but you cannot reconstruct the packaging in any way.

How much tape is TOO much tape?

When using a Flat Rate Envelope or Flat Rate Box, using tape as a reinforcement on the seams and flaps is OK in order to keep the item from breaking open during transit. Encasing a box or envelope is NOT OK. No matter what packaging you use to ship, using too much tape can cost you in more ways than one—first, you’re using up your supplies faster than necessary, plus the extra weight from excessive tape could push you up to a higher weight category.

Can I use tape to affix a shipping label?

Anyone shipping with a PC Postage label (we’re talking about you, Stamps.com customers!) can use extra tape to properly attach a printed label to an envelope or box. However, you should avoid covering the barcodes on a USPS label, as the tape creates a glare that can make it hard for barcode scanners, thus messing up your tracking. Sick of taping labels to packages? Visit the Stamps.com Store to order adhesive labels.

 

Categories: Shipping Tags:

Priority Mail Flat Rate Best Practices

April 28th, 2017 Comments off

CRSDC-497_prioritymail_blog

Compliance with USPS rules and regulations is an important aspect of being a successful seller and shipper. One rule to definitely keep in mind is that Priority Mail Flat Rate® Boxes must be used with Priority Mail Flat Rate postage. For example, if you have a Medium Flat Rate Box handy, remember that only a shipping label for a Medium Flat Rate Box can be affixed to it! You cannot apply Small Flat Rate Box pricing onto a Medium Flat Rate Box. You cannot apply Flat Rate Envelope pricing to a Legal Flat Rate Envelope, which has a separate pricing structure and is a separate and distinct mailpiece.

The box or envelope you use indicates to the USPS what service you are using. As always, if you are using a barcoded shipping label with Stamps.com, you will receive the discounted Commercial Base rate.

To summarize:

  • Priority Mail Flat Rate prices can only be used with USPS-produced Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes and Envelopes. The pricing category (Envelope, Legal, Padded, Small, Medium, Large) must match the Priority Mail Flat Rate mailpiece.
  • Priority Mail Express Flat Rate prices can only be used with USPS-produced Priority Mail Express Flat Rate Envelopes. The pricing category (Envelope, Legal, Padded) must match the Priority Mail Express Flat Rate mailpiece.
  • As stated by USPS, “Priority Mail Express packaging provided by the USPS must be used only for Priority Mail Express. Regardless of how the packaging is reconfigured or how markings may be obliterated, any material mailed in USPS-provided Priority Mail Express packaging is charged the appropriate Priority Mail Express price.”

A second caveat: Do not use non-Flat Rate postage on Flat Rate pieces

The opposite is also true. For example, if you use a Priority Mail Flat Rate Box or Envelope, you would not be able to apply a non-Priority Mail Flat Rate label to it. A good rule of thumb: not all Priority Mail is the same, and keep in mind that in addition to Priority Mail Flat Rate pricing there  are also Priority Mail zone/weight-based rates. Tyvek envelopes like the Priority Mail Tyvek Envelope are not Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes and do not have their own flat rate mailpiece category in the Stamps.com software—you would select “Large Envelope/Flat” as your mailpiece.

Why is this important?

You definitely want to avoid a scenario in which your recipient or customer has to pay to make up the difference between a Flat Rate service and the postage that was affixed on the mailpiece, or a surcharge that represents the difference between a zone/weight-based rate and the price of a Flat Rate mailpiece.

Avoid postage-due markups! When the USPS receives a shortpaid mailpiece with Commercial Base pricing, it is obligated to charge the difference between the Commercial Base price and the full retail price of that item.

Affixing the wrong postage to a mailpiece may also generate negative seller reviews or cause delays in shipment, as the local Post Office may hold the piece until the surcharge is paid. The good news is that Stamps.com is here to help prevent those pitfalls by making it easy to restock your USPS shipping supplies. To order free USPS packaging, log into your software and click on “Online Store,” which appears beneath “Buy Supplies.”  Click on the “Free USPS Supplies” tab and order the right box or envelope for your mailing needs today!

 

Categories: Shipping Tags:

USPS Package Pickups and Drop-Offs

April 21st, 2017 Comments off

Getting Packages to USPS

You may have seen warning notices posted on mailboxes that discuss the 13-ounce rule. Normally, if your mailpiece weighs over 13 ounces, you would not be able to drop it off in a mailbox, lobby mail slot, or blue collection box due to security policies.

However, the good news is that this rule does not apply to PC Postage users like Stamps.com customers. The security policies are met when you use Stamps.com. Being a Stamps.com customer means that you save time and have access to multiple drop-off options!

Scheduling free USPS pickups

With Stamps.com, it’s easy to schedule a free USPS pickup through your software. We recommend scheduling a pickup request in order to alert the Post Office and so the carrier can make appropriate preparations. The service is available for Priority Express Mail, Priority Mail, Priority Express Mail International, Priority Mail International and Global Express Guaranteed. Have a package at another mail class? Not to worry: as long as your pickup request includes at least one qualifying class, the mailpieces with non-qualifying mail classes will be picked up as well.

To schedule a USPS pickup, follow these steps in Stamps.com:

  • Click “USPS Pickup” from the “View History” menu on the left navigation bar.
  • Check the boxes next to the mailpieces that you want picked up.
  • Click the “Schedule Pickup” button.
  • Verify the information.
  • Click “Submit” and then print the pickup date/time and confirmation number that appears.
  • Click “Done” to return to the “USPS Pickup” screen.

SCAN form

If you need acceptance scans of your packages, we recommend using the Shipment Confirmation Acceptance Notice (SCAN) form feature. The SCAN form is designed to record package acceptance events in the USPS tracking database. The carrier just needs to scan a single barcode on the SCAN form to activate an acceptance event for all of the packages associated with the form. Just print a SCAN form after all of your shipping labels for the day have been printed. Then, schedule a free USPS pickup and make the powerful Stamps.com software work for you!

Dropping your packages off

If your packages have domestic shipping labels, you can drop them off at USPS collection locations without waiting in line. If the packages fit, you may drop them off at blue collection mailboxes and Post Office mail drop slots.  Some Post Offices may also have a designated spot on the counter for prepaid packages. If you have a large number of packages, you may be asked to bring them to a rear loading dock. Remember that each Post Office is different and may vary in terms of volume and staffing.

Categories: Shipping Tags:

Call us toll-free at 1-888-434-0055, Monday - Friday, 6 AM - 6 PM Pacific Time.