USPS Shipping Rate Increase Goes Into Effect January 17, 2016

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By Paul Johnson, President Complete Mailing Solutions

The USPS will increase rates on their shipping services, including First-Class Package and Priority Mail rates, which will go into effect Sunday, January 17, 2016. The increase does not impact First Class Mail letter rates.

The average shipping service price increase is 9.5%, while Priority Mail specifically will experience a 9.8% increase. Priority Mail Express products will see the highest rate increase of 15.6%.
Other changes to note:

• The USPS will offer a 10:30 am Priority Mail Express delivery request for a $5 fee.
• The maximum weight for First Class Parcel Service will increase from 13 ozs. to 15.999 ozs. Presort discounts have been eliminated. An IMpB label is required on these packages or a 20¢ surcharge will be incurred.
• The Priority Mail Express flat rate box has been eliminated.
• Parcel Select® Nonpresort will be renamed “Parcel Select Ground™”
• Standard Post® will be renamed “Retail Ground™. Mailing requirements will remain unchanged.

The following is an overview of the pricing change:

Service 2015 Rate 2016 Rate
Priority Mail (Retail) $5.75 $6.45
Priority Mail (Commercial Base) $5.05 $5.75
Priority Mail Express (Retail) $19.99 $22.95
Priority Mail Express (Commercial Base) $18.11 $20.66

Also of note is that the USPS is significantly increasing Commercial Plus rates (discounts to highest volume users) to align them more closely with Commercial Base Pricing (discounts to users of authorized postage payment methods). The USPS has stated their long term goal is to eliminate Commercial Plus Pricing and consolidate to only one set of commercial discounted rates sometime in 2017.

In spite of this increase, mail machine users will continue to enjoy lower mailing rates versus over-the-counter retail rates. However, each USPS rate change has a significant impact on your mail that can be costly if not implemented correctly.

Contact CMS immediately to discuss what you can do to offset these increases and improve deliverability of your mail at a lower rate.

Remember, rates change Jan 17th!!!
The Postal Service will observe the Martin Luther King Jr Birthday on Monday Jan 18th; find all USPS Holidays here

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Purloined Packages On The Rise

By Paul Johnson, President Complete Mailing Solutions

I watched the news the other night and saw a video of a woman stealing packages off an unsuspecting homeowner’s front porch. Apparently this was not the first – or last – time she had done this. What chutzpah!

I also watched as apartment dwellers in a major city were complaining they were not able to get their packages from Amazon because there was no room in the apartment’s mailroom for them. Now what?

One of my neighbors told me he saw a couple stealing packages off front porches in our subdivision. They got into a car with the license plate covered up. He followed them but lost them. He found out they crashed into a fence and were caught. That’s one for the good guys!

Unfortunately, these are signs of our times. With the proliferation of online shopping, many mailrooms are overflowing with boxes – to the point that they are unable to accommodate the volume. In fact, mailrooms in many colleges, apartment buildings and other locations are starting to limit or not accept package deliveries. Conversely, consumers in housing developments are often not at home when packages arrive, either requiring a shipper to make multiple attempts to deliver or leaving a package unattended on a doorstep, vulnerable to theft. It’s only going to get worse.

To the rescue: Self-Service Parcel Terminals

parcel lockers
Popular overseas, Self-Service Parcel Terminals are free standing lockers that provide safety and convenience for both shippers and consumers. The terminals are operational 24/7, allowing customers to pick up items at their convenience and shippers can leave parcels in a safe, secure location, eliminating the need for multiple delivery attempts and liability due to theft.

Here’s how they work:

  1. Customers place and order and select the most convenient Parcel Terminal for delivery.
  2. Once the package is delivered, the customer is either emailed or texted a unique code that allows them access.
  3. The customer enters the code on the touchscreen, the code is authenticated and the locker opens allowing retrieval of the package.

Self-service parcel terminals offer a number of benefits:

  • Convenience – customers select the nearest location to pick up their package
  • Accessibility – the terminals are available 24/7
  • Safety – access codes are sent directly to the customer
  • Security – parcels are contained under lock and key, not exposed on a doorstep
  • Time Savings – customers retrieve packages when they choose

Self-Service Parcel Terminals have been around for a decade, most notably Great Britain, Germany, Denmark, Latvia and Poland. We think they solve a need here in the States and would encourage quick adoption.

What do you think?

Ever had a package stolen off your porch? Would you use a self-service parcel terminal? See any downsides to it? Give us your thoughts!

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6 Tips on Avoiding Being Scammed By Mail Machine Supplies Pirates

By Paul Johnson, President Complete Mailing Solutions

Everyone loves to reduce business expenses but often what seems to be a good deal turns out to be a nightmare. We get customer calls regularly that they have received supplies that don’t work in equipment and arrived with a high-priced invoice and an 800 # with voicemail. Scammers are everywhere and mail machine supplies are no exception.

Here are 6 tips to avoid being scammed by companies that are offering seemingly significant savings on postage machine supplies. A reputable company will not have any problem meeting these minimum standards.

  1. Verify the quality of the product you’re paying for. We’ve been contacted by customers who were offered “new”, less expensive ink cartridges only to find out they were either a refilled cartridge or a non-OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) cartridge. Refilled and non-OEM cartridges typically do not perform as well, can cause damage through leaking ink and could void your warranty and maintenance agreement. The most common complaint we get is that they impression looks “pink” and may not be accepted by the USPS. They typically have shorter life expectancy. Using OEM ink cartridges saves money in the long run by eliminating damage to your mail machine.
  1. Verify complete company/contact information. The salesperson should be willing to provide their name, company name, address, phone, web address before you make any commitment. Get a phone # and tell the caller you will call them right back. Most scammers will be reluctant for you to do this and will tell you they will call you back in a few minutes. This is a red flag!
    Other things to look for:

    • Only a PO Box is provided rather than a street address
    • You cannot validate their website
    • Bad reviews on sites such as Yelp
    • The company is not a current/approved vendor

    All of these should be areas of concern.

  1. Ask questions. It is vital to understand how sales are handled and what will happen if you are not satisfied or there is a problem:
    • Who do you contact if there is a problem?
    • What is the return policy and how can merchandise be returned if there is an issue (e.g., damaged or incorrect products)? There should be a minimum of 30 days to return your supplies. Typically, shipping expenses are the responsibility of the purchaser. Beware if you are provided with a PO Box to return your supplies.
    • How long are supplies warrantied? You should expect 30 to 60 days.
    • Will returns be reimbursed in cash, credit or replacement product only? Be careful of being trapped into a “product only” reimbursement policy. If the performance or quality is poor, having it replaced and dealing with on-going issues is just throwing money down the drain.

    Know what you are getting into, before you have no recourse!

  1. Contact known, trusted resources. Contact your original mail machine manufacturer or local authorized dealer to see if they are aware of the company contacting you. Quite often they are aware of the scams that are being perpetrated and can provide helpful information that will keep you out of trouble. This one step can make all the difference in saving you significant time and money that you thought you would be saving.
  1. Don’t disclose too much information upfront. Disclosing what make/model of equipment you have may have unforeseen consequences. Sometimes providing this information can be enough to generate an order you didn’t intend. We’ve seen supplies show up referencing a name as a verbal purchase order for supplies, even though the person said “no thanks”. Do your due diligence before you supply this information.
  1. Question the need to “buy now”. Disreputable companies will attempt to pressure you into making a purchase immediately. Blindly making a pressured purchase will often result on greater expense down the road when you find out the product wasn’t as advertised or is of inferior quality.

Being on the alert for potential scams and being armed with the right questions and information will save you both time and money in the long run.

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