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Topic: Mailing with DC and MY PO ---Can one of PBS's Postal Employees here answer

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Subject: Mailing with DC and MY PO ---Can one of PBS's Postal Employees here answer
Date Posted: 6/28/2007 3:20 PM ET
Member Since: 1/14/2007
Posts: 16,826
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This morning my hubby took one book to mail with DC and the clerk at the PO refused to scan it.  This is the second time he had a problem with them, but convinced a different clerk to scan 4 books a couple of days ago, and he reluctantly did.  (I first started using DC last week).

Today, they told my hubby he had to have a "Form" to bring with the DC, but the clerk  didn't know what kind of form, nor did he know the name of it or where to get it.   All he said was to check online!!  He WOULD NOT scan the pkg.!    Very aggravating................

So. I took my book to a different postoffice (I have very many PO's where I live);  I had all the stamps on the pkg including the  18 cents for DC, and asked the clerk if she would scan the electronic delivery confirmation barcode. She said "no problem" !! .......... I asked her why the other post office refused to scan the pkg and she had no clue!!

Do individual Post Offices have different rules???

 

Date Posted: 6/28/2007 3:56 PM ET
Member Since: 5/16/2007
Posts: 245
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I only have one PO here.  I live in a very small town though.  If I buy my postage at the PO they scan it.  I was using paypal ship to pay for postage.  I asked the clerk to scan them to make sure they would scan.  She had an attitude about it.  They had no other customers at that time, but she made it sound like such an inconvenience.

I think I will go back to paying at the PO b/c I know for sure it gets scanned.  I thought a pkg got last last week.  My pkg from OH got to CA in 6 days.  The one I thought was lost took 9 to get two states away, IL.  So for peace of mind, I guess I will just pay at the PO so I know it is scanned for sure.

I don't know what the rules are, but they sure seem to be subjective! 

Date Posted: 6/28/2007 6:49 PM ET
Member Since: 5/1/2007
Posts: 6,559
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I ordered some of the delivery confirmation forms from the post office website recently.  The form is PS Form 152.  It has the delivery confirmation bar code and number on the left side that you attach to what is being mailed and the right side is a form to fill out and keep for your receipt.  I haven't had to use the form when I print the PBS label with DC.

I've never had delivery confirmation scanned when I mail something.  I've been told it's for scanning when it is delivered only.  I guess each post office decides their own rule regarding this.  :o(

Date Posted: 6/28/2007 7:32 PM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2005
Posts: 6,421
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No, each PO doesn't decide their own rules. DC is exactly that DELIVERY CONFIRMATION. All POs have been sent a notice telling them to stop wasting their time scanning DCs when they come in, and so most of them have. The problem comes in when PBS uses the DC for Quick Credits, which is expressly NOT what DC is for. Sure, it WORKS when it is scanned, but it doesn't always get scanned, and they don't have to. You can always hope they will, but by the rules and regulations that govern the Office of the Postal Service, they DO NOT HAVE TO.

How do you get them to do it at the counter, then? Sometimes it works to not put any postage on the package and go directly to the counter. They will then weigh the pkg and try to tell you that you owe them .75 if you want DC, but you know you only owe them an additional .18 for the Electronic DC. Some clerks don't know what electronic DC is, and you may have to help them learn it. Print the information from the USPS site on Electronic Delivery Confirmation and take it with you. That helps, sometimes.

Then, you have the next problem, they say, "Ok, we'll add the .18 to the postage, but I'm still not going to scan it, it will either get scanned on the route or at delivery like it's supposed to." In that case, there is nothing you can do. They are perfectly within their rules & regs to refuse to scan it. You just have to wait to see if it gets scanned early or at delivery. Hope that helps.

Date Posted: 6/28/2007 8:50 PM ET
Member Since: 7/18/2005
Posts: 209
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Sherry has pretty well explained it.  Postal employees are instructed not to scan it if you apply your own postage.  Here's why.

In order to make mailing and various services more convienent for customers and to cut down on lobby traffic they have developed various systems for them to do it from their homes and businesses.  This is the reason we have electronic DC plus many other services.

If you use electronic DC for Prioity Mail it is free and .18 for other classes of mail that qualify for DC.

Electronic DC, as well as labels can be generated and paid for by a number of ways.  Directly through the PO you can use Click n Ship or their Shipping Assistant.  Click n Ship is done through the web site and paid for with a credit card.  It is only good for Priority Mail.  With Shipping Assistant (a downloadable program that works with all classes of mail) you apply your own postage.

Through PayPal you can also generate labels and DC and pay for it with your PayPal account.  Many people selling stuff on Ebay use this to avoid going to the PO to mail their stuff although anyone with a PayPal account can do it, it doesn't have to be something sold on Ebay.

Many companies (DHL, one of our competitors, is one), mail order houses, and organizations (PBS being one of them) also make use of the electronic DC option.

As I said, one of the main goals of the PO is to cut down lobby traffic so they offer the discount (or free) on DC to keep you out of the lobby.  If you expect a clerk to scan one of these for you then it is defeating the purpose for offering the discount in the first place. 

Date Posted: 6/28/2007 10:45 PM ET
Member Since: 1/14/2007
Posts: 16,826
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Thanks very much for the explanation.  June

Date Posted: 6/29/2007 10:19 AM ET
Member Since: 1/14/2007
Posts: 16,826
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Hey Coffee (Steve).  another 2 questions if I may!!!

After thinking about your explanation about post offices not scanning PBS DC (one of mine did scan with no problem), and why; I understand what you are saying,  but, when a package weighs one pound or more, we HAVE to go to the window???  Isn't that so???   If that is the case, what's the problem about the scan?

Another question: I've never done this, but what if you use the USPS website for Click & Ship or Shipping Assistant, and the pkg weighs over one pound, do you still have to go to a PO window before sending it?  Obviously, we can't use PBS-DC though!

Many thanks for your replies and advise.

June

Date Posted: 6/29/2007 11:07 AM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2007
Posts: 8,139
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The thing that kills me is that, compared with most transactions at the PO counter, the clerk probably spends more time arguing about whether to scan the package than to actually scan it and send the customer on its way.

Sure, point out that you've been asked not to scan electronic DC any more, but just scan the package when you do so and get on with life. I'm sure the folks in line behind the person requesting the scan thought, "Good grief! Just scan the package so we can come up to the desk!"

Plus, AFAIC, if a person is willing to wait in a line in order to have something scanned, just go ahead and do it. It takes essentially no time to do so and is just polite customer service.

Date Posted: 6/29/2007 11:17 AM ET
Member Since: 12/21/2006
Posts: 315
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when a package weighs one pound or more, we HAVE to go to the window???  Isn't that so???

 

When a package weighs one pound or more, we have to make sure the package is trackable back to the sender.

So you can either go to the window, buy postage from the APC (which is trackable to your credit card and the camera on the APC), or buy postage online from paypal, stamps.com, and so on.

Date Posted: 6/29/2007 8:07 PM ET
Member Since: 7/18/2005
Posts: 209
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when a package weighs one pound or more, we HAVE to go to the window???  Isn't that so???

In my office we are usually so busy we just have our Click n Ship/PayPal/ect. customers set them on the counter.  They don't have to stand in line or add to the line or wait time for other customers.

Date Posted: 6/29/2007 8:17 PM ET
Member Since: 7/18/2005
Posts: 209
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I understand where you are coming from Jane but it isn't as simple as that except for maybe in a small office.  Once a customer has been told we can't scan it that should be the end of it.  Over a period of time (it's been a few years now) the request is minimal.

Plus, AFAIC, if a person is willing to wait in a line in order to have something scanned, just go ahead and do it. It takes essentially no time to do so and is just polite customer service.

I've explained why we won't do it.  It's also unfair to our other customers if we do.  You are expecting the discount without holding up your end of the deal to get the discount and that's not fair at all, is it?

There is another aspect to this that many customers don't take into consideration when dealing with window clerks.  We don't always agree with a policy but if we aren't willing to follow it the PO, where I work at least, is quite willing to find someone who is and in the meantime get out of paying my pention when I retire because I won't be working there anymore.

Risking my employment, and my retirement in two years, for someone who wants something without paying for it isn't worth it to me.

 

Date Posted: 6/30/2007 8:54 PM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2006
Posts: 1,691
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It never crossed my mind that the discount on electronic DC was to cut down on lobby traffic, which makes sense. 

I always thought the discount was to cut paperwork and printing / filling out forms.  I know that was the big factor for me when I started using electronic DC.  I would forget where I put those green forms when I needed them only to come across them the next day when I didn't.

Date Posted: 6/30/2007 9:21 PM ET
Member Since: 5/12/2007
Posts: 2,755
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Yeah I still go to the PO for all my book packages because the labels can be wrong, and I like the DC because it is a discount, so I'm going to use it no matter what (and I know it may be to cut down traffic for those like me who have been known to bring in 30 things at a time.....but still those labels can be wrong and I like to know that my DC has been scanned because it has happened before even at the counter where they did an oops and didn't scan the code, so I go to watch and make sure)

Date Posted: 6/30/2007 10:55 PM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2007
Posts: 8,139
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Steve, you know that I think you're a saint for coming on this forum to explain your side of the postal service, so PLEASE know that I'm not attacking you personally when I go after the postal service policy here.

The main issue that I have with this policy is the following: The #1 image problem that the postal service has is its face-to-face customer service. What this policy does is it puts you, the postal employee, in the position of perpetuating the bad customer service stereotype by forcing you to refuse a simple customer service that takes a fraction of a second.

The postal worker can quote policy until he's blue in the face, but the customer is going to see a postal employee not doing his job. You say that the postal worker should refuse the request, and that should be the end of it, but that's not the way good customer service works. We've all seen the "squeaky wheel get the grease" at pretty much any business. Any other store or company would accommodate a simple request like this without hesitation, and the USPS should as well. They may offer the DC at a discount in an attempt to decrease foot traffic in the lobby, and I'd imagine that it's very effective even without anyone knowing about this policy. But there's no logical reason to have a rule that forces employees to refuse to scan the package that a waiting customer has in-hand when they're standing in front of you.

The few people who want it scanned at delivery to the post office need (for whatever reason) proof that the package is in the mail. They've still saved the postal clerk the effort of doing all the by-hand paperwork by doing the label electronically in advance.

Bottom line is that even if the customer prints everything at home and gets a discount for the DC, the time for the transaction in the post office is much shorter. If I purchase DC through PBS and go to the post office to buy the postage, adding the scan is essentially no impact on the time it takes to do the transaction.

Plus, when I go to the FAQ at the USPS site, it does NOT say that you cannot get your package scanned upon drop-off. It says "Electronic Delivery Confirmation (including Click-N-Ship®) may (but is not required to) include the date and time of when it was picked up or accepted for shipment." In other words, it does not say that you will be denied your request to scan at your local post office at the time of delivery. It should clearly state that post office workers will not scan the package at your request if that is what the policy actually is. The way the FAQ reads, the postal worker can decide at her whim whether to scan or not. When reading about electronic DC on the USPS web site, there is nothing there that says that you cannot ask for service at the counter. If that is actually the policy in practice, then it should say so.

So, while I understand your need to follow policy (trust me, I don't want to get you fired!), this policy is one of the most ridiculous ones I've ever heard of. Perhaps I'll write a letter to the Postmaster General and explain why.

Date Posted: 7/1/2007 11:31 AM ET
Member Since: 7/18/2005
Posts: 209
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Steve, you know that I think you're a saint for coming on this forum to explain your side of the postal service, so PLEASE know that I'm not attacking you personally when I go after the postal service policy here.

Thank you, and I understand it's not a personal attack.  I have to remind myself of this many times each day  at work :-)

The main issue that I have with this policy is the following: The #1 image problem that the postal service has is its face-to-face customer service.

The image problem will vary with the customer's individual experiance and the attitude and behavior of the clerk they deal with.  Nationwide surveys dissagree with this, our CSI (customer satisfaction index) is very high.  The greatest number of complaints I deal with are over delivery issues, not something that a customer wants me to do that I can't.  But like I said, this will vary with individual experiance.  I've worked with clerks that if I were the customer I'd be on the phone in a heart beat to complain about.  In fact I've tried getting customers to do that.  Most of them are quite willing to complain to me ( I can do nothing about it) about another clerk but when I try getting them to make a call they back down.  The most common response I get is something like, "That's OK, I just thought someone should know about it" or "I don't want to get anyone in trouble".

Even a supervisor/station manager/postmaster can do nothing about it unless there is a record of complaints by customers. 

What this policy does is it puts you, the postal employee, in the position of perpetuating the bad customer service stereotype by forcing you to refuse a simple customer service that takes a fraction of a second.

Actually it takes much longer then a fraction of a second.  Our systems are POS (point of service) which is the modern terminology for cash register.  No matter what we do on the system it treats it like a sale.  Here's what a clerk has to do to comply with a request to scan a package with electronic DC and postage already applied:

Place the item on the scale and key in the ZIP code.  The system will scan a ZIP code database and show the city for that code.  Then it offers a ton of options that have to be responded to.  First is "what is being mailed?"

The clerk touches the appropriate place on the screen.  In the case of MM they then have to go to another screen under that since Parcel Post services don't come up.  Then select media mail, then go through two more screens of additional services.  In this case touch "delivery confirmation".  Two more screens will come up reminding the clerk to offer additional services, like insurance.  The system will then prompt the clerk to scan the DC barcode.  Then another screen to verify the scanner picked up the numbers correctly, then another screen to get to the applying postage screen with all it's options.

The clerk will then touch "postage not needed" or "postage applied".  The system then asks how much postage is applied so it can calculate how much more if any needs to be applied.  If none then another prompt asks if the clerk wants a "0" meter strip printed, requireing another response from the clerk.

If you are mailing something other then Media Mail there can be other responses needed including the dementions of the package depending on weight and destination. 

Keep in mind this is being done on a system that is very old, very slow, and in a lot of the cases running software was wasn't designed to run on it in the first place (a lot of POs are running NCR POS software on IBM POS systems) something that isn't the customer's or clerk's fault.  I get to look at an hour glass after each and every response I put into the system. 

This process can take up to a minute, even longer on some of the older systems, and that is for each and every book that's being mailed.  In the mean time the line is getting longer and other customers are getting upset as their wait time increases.  Sometimes good customer service means thinking about the whole line, not just the customer standing in front of you.  This is especially true when that customer isn't supposed to be standing in front of you in the first place and in fact has been given a discount so they don't have to and won't.

Something else that comes into play here that as far as I know is unique to PBS.  When one of our members is doing this it is for instant credit on the books they are mailing which from a Postal Service perspective isn't the purpose of DC. It was never intended to give proof of mailing, there are other services for that, and this is how the average customer uses it.   Some Ebayers will request the same thing (actually far more because there are far more people selling stuff on Ebay then swapping books through PBS) and that would really cause a log jam if we did it for them.  I'm sure if you think about it you will realize that the PO can't make exceptions for PBS and not for others.

Bottom line is that even if the customer prints everything at home and gets a discount for the DC, the time for the transaction in the post office is much shorter. If I purchase DC through PBS and go to the post office to buy the postage, adding the scan is essentially no impact on the time it takes to do the transaction.

I hope you now understand that there is no difference in time for the transaction.  Even if you don't get electronic DC but come into the PO and use one of the DC forms to get it the time need for the transaction is the same.

The solution for PBS members who want the DC scanned into the PO's system at the counter is print out the PBS label with DC and take it to the PO and let the clerk apply the postage.  You still get the discount. This obviously is counter productive to what the PO is trying to accomplish with the discount but as long as they offer it use it.  The clerk will just get additional confirmation of something they realized a long time ago, the PO can do some things in a very screwy way that doesn't make sense  :-)

In case you are wondering what I would do if a PBS member comes into my PO and ask me to scan a pre-paid DC PBS label, I'll plead the 5th.  :-)  OK, if it were just one or two I would do it as long as my supervisor isn't standing there but I would also explain why I can't do it in the future.  I'll add that I wait on several PBS members (it was a customer that got me here in the first place) and none of them have ever asked me to do this if they've prepaid the postage.

I hope this makes some of this more clear and shifts your perspective a bit so you can see it from our and other customer's perspective.  That's not always an easy thing to do and perhaps this will end up as one of those things where we have to agree to disagree.

As I said at the start of this post, I don't take it personal and I realize from your perspective this is an issue as it no doubt is for other members which is why I've put a little bit more time into answering it then I probably normally would. 

Date Posted: 7/1/2007 12:14 PM ET
Member Since: 12/21/2006
Posts: 315
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What are the services that can provide proof-that-it-was-mailed? I can't think of anything that is JUST that; certified you get proof of delivery, same with signature confirmation.

Date Posted: 7/1/2007 1:17 PM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2005
Posts: 6,421
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A Certificate of Mailing is for proof of mailing. It costs an additiona $1.05:

"When you need to verify that you’ve sent a letter or package - purchase a Certificate of Mailing.

A Certificate of Mailing is a receipt that provides evidence of the date that your mail was presented to the Postal Service™ for mailing. It can only be purchased at the time of mailing. And don’t lose it! It’s the only official record available.
"

 

Date Posted: 7/1/2007 7:21 PM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2007
Posts: 8,139
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In case you are wondering what I would do if a PBS member comes into my PO and ask me to scan a pre-paid DC PBS label, I'll plead the 5th.  :-)

I can see it now... folks start showing up at the PO in trenchcoats with their PBS packages hidden underneath, and sliding them under the counter for scanning! :-)

Thanks for the info regarding the transactions. But I still think the policy is rather silly. It sounds like the #1 problem is the antiquated system for determining the postage, actually.

The info on the USPS web site undermines your description of the policy. If I were in your shoes, I'd dig that page up and print it out and show it to a manager. It reads like it's up to the person at the counter to decide whether or not to scan the package.

Date Posted: 7/2/2007 12:10 AM ET
Member Since: 12/21/2006
Posts: 315
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Sherry: How insanely overpriced and Byzantine. No wonder people are misusing DC to fake their way into the same functionality!

Date Posted: 7/2/2007 12:23 AM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2005
Posts: 6,421
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Yeah, and another thing to consider, Jane. You may only go to the PO with 1, 2, or even 10 books, if you are thinking it should always be done. Tomorrow, I will go to the PO with nearly 30 pkgs. And I know when Debra (MsMarque) joined, she had 50 on her first trip! Imagine if she and I went to the PO together with that many books. How would you feel if you were a non-PBS member standing behind us? Even if it only took 20 seconds per book, that's gonna be one whale of a wait period.

Do I have 30 pkgs at once all the time? No, but probably once a month I have 20 or so, and some of the Top 25 traders probably do every week or more, and their PO would literally hate them, and try to ban them if they wanted all their PBS-DCs scanned at the counter! hahahaha I can just see it now!

"Clerk goes Postal, scanning too many DC Packages!" hahahahaha I know, Steve, poor joke :)

Date Posted: 7/2/2007 8:07 AM ET
Member Since: 1/11/2007
Posts: 211
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If you buy the DC and the PO does not scan it at the office, can you still follow the DC tracking in the USPS website?
Date Posted: 7/2/2007 9:49 AM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2007
Posts: 8,139
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Once it's been scanned someplace along the line, you can track it on the web site.

I dropped off a PayPal postage package, and it wasn't scanned until it reached the Dallas sorting office. Once it was scanned, I could track it from there, though it's a matter of when it happens to be scanned along the way.

Date Posted: 7/2/2007 11:30 AM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2007
Posts: 2,024
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I am wondering why it is scanned on the way then. That doesnīt make any sense except they are covering their butts for whatever reason. I donīt believe the scanning in different stations is a favor for the customer. :-S
Date Posted: 7/2/2007 8:20 PM ET
Member Since: 7/18/2005
Posts: 209
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So if I've got this right we should hand scan everything that comes in with DC and postage prepaid, right?  Counting the sometimes close to a hundred packages a day we get from Ebayers, businesses (you've seen the commercials aimed at them right?), and the thousands of letters our county sends out using it, we could hire another clerk just to do the scanning.  From a business standpoint that would sure justify the discount we offer to not do it.

The purpose of the Cirtificate of Mailing is a less expensive alternative to Certified if the customer doesn't need proof of delivery.  It is a legal document and will stand up in a court of law.  The only other services that will are Ceritified and Registered but each is used for a different purpose.  Significant discounts are available on COM if you are mailing more then three, quite common for the businesses and organizations that use them.

Kirstin, they get scanned along the way if they pass through automated sorting equipment equiped with scanners.  Not all sorting equipment is.  No one is actually hand scanning millions of pieces of mail along the way unless it's Express Mail.

And since delivery confirmation is just that, confirmation of delivery, there are no butts to cover.  Remember it is PBS (and only PBS as far as I've seen) that is using it for purposes other then what it was intended and most of the time it works OK but don't blame the PO when it doesn't.  The PO doesn't offer or suggest or advertise or promote it for anything other then confimation of delivery.

I need to go now, a local men's clothing store has a special going.  If I buy two suits and a shirt they will give me 50% off on a second shirt and through in a tie.  I'm going to buy one suit and a sport coat and insist on the special anyway.  After all it would be poor customer service for them not to give it to me, right?

Date Posted: 7/3/2007 12:32 AM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2005
Posts: 6,421
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Gotta hand it to you, Steve, you are good! hahahahaha too funny. I would hope that is a 2-pointer in any book!

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