So, what is HipStamp to do about new USPS rates?

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  • "Stamps.com will continue to offer this service thanks to our partnerships."

    Is their partnership with the UPU? How can they create a partnership to skirt UPU regulations?
  • According to USPS who I am assuming is the partner:

    "Commercial mailers may continue to mail “goods of nominal value” in First-Class Package International® Service packages (small packets), International Priority Airmail® (IPA®) service packages (small packets) and International Surface Airlift® (ISAL®) service packages (small packets)"

    So if you use stamps.com your "package" has two addresses - one to a postal facility and the second address of the
    buyer.
  • And right below the rate chart they state:

    "If you have any issues using this service, please call us at 877-782-6739":

    Not exactly an encouraging statement -
  • I'm really confused by this Stamps.com thing... I agree with the questions, how can they skirt UPU rules? How can they offer a service using USPS that breaks these rules? This is so surreal.
  • Oh, and did anybody find what the penalties are for "getting caught" using First Class Mail to send goods of nominal value? Is it as simple as forfeiture of the goods, or are there criminal penalties? Or are you going to be put on the Interpol naughty list for UPU violations?
  • edited January 2018 0 LikesVote Down
    That's what I've wondered, too, Doug -- how can Stamps.com offer this?


    https://www.hipstamp.com/store/the-philatarium/
  • edited January 2018 1 LikesVote Down
    My own speculation is that USPS didn't *have* to implement the UPU regulation this way, by forcing any merchandise into a minimum 8-oz package. That they could've allowed business flats -- or perhaps even letters -- to be used, with a customs declaration. But that they chose not to. (There are probably not that many people who send small, thin, flat, lightweight merchandise -- stamps, postcards, sports cards ... ?)

    https://www.hipstamp.com/store/the-philatarium/
  • Exactly, Dave. That was my suspicion/speculation, also.
  • Dave,

    As to how they are able to do so has to due with the classification.

    Under Postal regs this is what they show for commercial mail

    230d Quick Service Guide
    Commercial - First-Class Mail Nonautomation Flats
    Physical Standards (201)

    Maximum weight: 13 ounces.

    For an overview of the physical standards for commercial flats, see Quick Service Guide 201c.

    Prices and Fees (233.1.0)

    For a complete list of commercial First-Class Mail prices, see Notice 123–Price List.

    Annual presort mailing fee applies.

    Content (233.2.0)

    First-Class Mail is required for personal correspondence, handwritten or typewritten material, and bills or statements of account. It may also be used for any mailable item, including advertisements and lightweight merchandise.

    Eligibility Standards (233.3.0)

    Mailings of 500 or more addressed pieces, sorted and marked as described below. All pieces must fit within flat-size processing category (201).

    Each piece must include a complete delivery address with correct ZIP Code or ZIP+4 Code.

    Addresses on all pieces must be updated within 95 days before mailing through a USPS-approved address update tool (e.g., ACS, NCOALink, or the appropriate ancillary service endorsement under 507.1.0). For an overview of the First-Class Mail Move Update standards, see Quick Service Guide 602a.

    A certified process (233.3.5) must be used within 12 months before mailing to ensure accuracy of 5-digit ZIP Codes.

    Pieces that are rigid, nonrectangular, or not uniformly thick must be prepared as parcels and pay parcel prices (283.1.2).

    Mailers can apply Repositionable Notes. See 202.7.0.


    So what it sounds like is that Stamps.com is basically a clearing house which gets the benefits of a commercial mailer due to the amount of mail they deal with and they get part of the price breaks due to the fact it's more automated then a single person or small business sending one or 2 items themselves. Basically it comes down to the fact that the seller is doing more of the work as opposed to a postal employee having to stand at the counter entering in all the information and what ever other type of handling they have to do along the line.















  • Yesterday, went to a local post office to mail something and since no line, asked the clerk to show me the smallest international first class package. He asked what I was mailing and told him usually less than one oz. of stamps. Said I had just learned of the new UPU requirements. He said not to worry if package less than, I think, 1/2 inch no one is going to bother with it since a normal size letter. While that may be true, when it arrives on foreign shores, its fate is certainly unknown. So, I have a customer's $ 1.49 order to Germany with $1.15 of US postage sitting on my desk...What to do?
  • Jeri,

    You were asking this

    I saw this from Stamps.com early this morning and called to speak with them. Later I was going to post about this and show the chart and could not find it. No matter what I typed in I could not get this info to show up. - strange.

    So now we have to decide if we do enough international selling to justify the $15.99 per month fee (basic program). Another monthly fee we would have to pay coupled with Hipstamps, Paypal, etc.

    The break over point on the cost if you are currently charging $15 internationally and were to be able to drop it to about $7.50 is about 18 orders per month. That's figuring in the 8% hipstamp charge for the shipping charge and the Paypal fees. (About 12% total) and also figuring in that you would have to get the labels and larger size envelopes.
    At the 12% figure your cost to ship for the fees alone is $1.80 at the moment and if you were able to drop the postage to half that's .90 per order.
  • Thanks, Michael. I should send you my taxes :)
  • I think Canada Post has been saying for some years now that US & International mail can only contain "letters". I have been mailing stamps from Canada and just pop the stamps into a #10 envelope and send them on their merry way. The odd time that I mailed something at the counter the clerk might have grumbled about the contents but they would send the letter. Most of my mail is franked at home with stamps and dropped off in a mail box and I have had no returns or complaints from Canada Post,
  • Up until now I have been more than happy to put 1 or 2 dollars with the customer's postage to send out a nice order.
    To do it right now I would have to shell out a minimum of 6 or 7 dollars to happily accept the order. Not good business.
    Nor is it good business to ignore the postal service and just send it first class with no customs form - not good business at all. The only alternative is to type 116 country names into HipStamp postage setup and assign a fair (to me and the customer) shipping amount. Groan!!!

    wc
  • edited January 2018 0 LikesVote Down
    Dennis, many US Post Offices could care less about a letter being mailed with a few nominal value stamps inside. We are not really worried about that. What concerns US sellers is once it reaches the foreign country. This happened partly because of UPU complaints that US wasn't contributing their fair share. So, I think US mail will be examined much closer now in the International community.
  • And there are many US Post Offices that DO care and go out of their way to question what is included in mailings to foreign countries. It all depends where you live and how close alternative offices might be.
  • The change is not in using or not using customs forms. They have always been required on First Class "Letters" that contain merchandise. Those who were sending product in a first class envelope with no customs forms were not skirting USPS rules, rather they were "cheating???" the country the product was being sent to out of potential duty fees.
    Continuing to do so not only skirts USPS rules (and revenue) but also affects the receiving country.
    There ARE rules in place for some mailers - which is what Stamps.com is taking advantage of - much like the packet mail program from China.
    Seems to me it is best to bite the bullet so you don't have to worry about Interpol, UPU, or Postal Inspectors knocking on your door. Charge a realistic postage amount and sleep at night.
  • I don't think this thread is about "skirting" or "cheating" or customs forms - it's about the insane price because the European Community wants more MONEY and perhaps rightly so. But I think there could have been some middle ground here - some kind of International Large envelope - Not an 8 oz package.

    Previously,to this new ruling, whenever I received a small order (a handful of stamps - nominal value) which would fit nicely in a "First Class Letter" size, I have been told by the postmaster at my PO I do not need a customs form. It doesn't fit on a First Class letter, anyway. If I received a larger order or a high dollar amount, I always used a larger - 6 x 9 envelope with a Customs Form. He explained that I am a known mailer of known goods and Customs does not want to bother with these types of nominal fee transactions. Who am I to argue with the Postmaster! His rules not mine.

    So, my point was, because of these high fees the foreign country will now receive a portion of, US mail will be more closely watched in the International Community.
  • This was supposed to get at the large international, commercial mailers...and as usual, it's the small fry that bear the brunt of unintended consequences from such changes. I agree, Jeri, there needs to be something for the regular person to ship international. I met with a friend today who said that he had just put together a "care package" for his daughter who lives in The Netherlands. He said it was a small box, slightly larger than a shoe box. It cost him over $100 to mail it to her.
  • Time to invest in teleportation research companies.... or something like Wonkavision?
  • edited January 2018 2 LikesVote Down
    OK, so we become importers/exporters now. We set up key members in key countries to act as distribution centers. We take foreign orders and ship them to the domestic HipShip Center, which combines all orders for a period of time and ships the package of individually-addressed mailings (stampless) to the HipShip Center in the destination country. That HipShip Center applies the postage and mails it domestically to the final destination. Insurance and customs fees are paid for by HipShip, but supported by membership fees or some other mechanism. Domestic postage and any special services are charged direct to the applicable seller (or buyer for that matter).

    I'm just having fun with this... I just like "HipShip"
  • I was going to put up another giveaway. But, I got to thinking that in my history of doing giveaways from StampWants to HipStamp, all my winners have been outside the US. So much for that idea.
  • Jeri,

    You said this Thanks, Michael. I should send you my taxes

    I don't even do my own taxes (That's what accountants are for) LOL
  • There is another angle regarding the origin of these UPU changes and it suggests the US was fully in favor of the changes.

    The story is that all of these changes relate to the international illegal drug trade. Apparently, this trade via the mail services is growing rapidly and it sounds like all of these changes are intended to remove all illegal drug trafficking from first class mail and thereby make it somewhat easier for the postal services and customs authorities to narrow the types of mail that might require inspections and thereby achieve better results with the limited resources they have available. That's the theory as I understand it. I also suspect the rate increases are largely designed to offset the growing cost of the drug interdiction efforts.

    I have no idea how the authorities intend to improve the interdiction of the illegal drugs now that these changes are in place. I don't know why they expect these changes to effect significant improvements in their abilities to reduce drug trafficking via the mail services. Maybe they're all frustrated and just grasping at straws, hoping that these changes will help them deal with a growing problem.

    This story sounds legitimate. If it is, then the blame falls not on USPS or US Customs or UPU, but on the drug traffickers.
  • Back to the original question... what is HipStamp doing in response to this whole mess,.. might I recommend one thing?

    Stop charging fees on shipping charges! This is driving up cost and making shipping/handling charges more exorbitant as a result.

    That still just irks the heck out of me, and now it's 10 times worse.
  • A couple of other things.

    First How about at least an email to the sellers to inform them of the USPS changes? (Seeing as the USPS dropped the ball on this and did NOT inform too many people and the sellers can figure out what they need to do so they don't end up with sticker shock.)

    Second. With the shipping now being at the rate it is how is Hipstamp going to deal with cancelled orders? Will our fees be refunded to us should that be the case?

    Third If not an email how about a banner somewhere informing the buyers of the changes so they don't end up with sticker shock?

    Four Including on that banner also informing the buyers that some of the sellers will work with them to COMBINE orders into one shipment so they can order more over a longer period of time and only have to pay 1 shipping charge.





  • Jeri said

    No, but thanks for the offer. I doubt we will be using $9.50 worth of postage on our shipments - easier to print out a label & customs form all at once via Paypal or other mailing entity.

    I still use those type of stamps on shipments. (The international really like getting the higher value stamps on their packages)
  • Just as a word of warning from an ex-postal worker,it's a whole lot easier to check an envelope to see if an envelope has an enclosure or not without ever opening the envelope.

    Try this. Take and package a few shipments like you would normally do in # 10 envelope. After you get done,take those envelopes and tap them on the short side twice and once along the length. Run the envelopes through your fingers and see if you feel any type of variation between the thickness of the envelope ANYWHERE along the envelope if so I know you have an enclosure in the envelope. (And remember because they handle far more envelopes then you ever will they will know at a smaller amount of items then you will) Because they have gone to correspondence only in first class letters and flats there can be almost NO VARIATION in any part of the thickness in the envelope at all.
  • Gee, if postal workers were only as exacting in all areas of their craft ....just saying
  • It seems to me that the operative question is "what am I going to do?". All the complaining and placing of blame does no good. The reality is the overseas postage rate is now between $9.50 and $13.64. As for me, I have adjusted my mailing rates (seemed wise), warned all my customers via email of the increase and sat back and tried to decide what to do since overseas sales represent about 25% of my sales. To be honest, many of my overseas customers have responded in that they are sad for my plight, don;t blame me, but confessed they must limit their purchases from the US now.

    At the same time I have received some orders from customers who seem to be willing to pay the outlandish shipping.
    So....I remain hopeful. "Because that's the way it is and there ain't nothing we can do about it.| (Barney Miller)

    wc
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