USPS Updates Postage Review System
The U.S. Postal Service is streamlining the way they check postage on shipments with a new automated system that detects overpayments and underpayments on postage.
The upgrade will:
- Align USPS with shipping and package carrier industry standards
- Reduce shipment delays and additional charges through awareness
- Improve the shipping experience for sellers and shoppers
If a postage discrepancy is detected, the USPS will automatically collect for underpaid postage, or refund for overpaid postage. This will create the best experience for buyers and sellers.
Sellers can use the tips on this page to pay the correct amount of postage the first time and avoid any shipment delays or postage due for sellers or buyers.
How Do Packages Get Inaccurately Priced?
Postage can be underpaid or overpaid for various reasons, and typically all postage discrepancies are either returned to the sender or delivered to the destination with postage due. These practices erode the quality of the customer experience.
Postage discrepancies usually occur when:
- Incorrect information was entered on your shipping label, such as package weight and dimensions
- Package weight and dimensions were not entered on the shipping label at all
- Priority Mail flat rate label was used with a non-Priority Mail flat rate box or envelope
- First Class postage was used on a package that weighed more than First Class service supports
How to Ensure Your Postage Is Accurate
One of the best ways to ensure you and your buyers have an easy shipping experience is by pricing your postage right the first time.
Follow these tips to make sure your postage is accurate.
- Weigh everything together. That includes the item and the box you plan to ship it in, along with any necessary packing materials.
- Round the weight up. USPS rounds up to the nearest ounce or pound depending on the shipping service you select*. For instance, a 2.01oz item will be rated as 3oz, and a 2lb 1oz item will be rated at 3lbs.
- Measure your package accurately. Measure the length, width, and height of the box used for shipping the item. After you enter your values, double-check them for accuracy before you print your label. Note that larger packages are subject to dimensional weight pricing (DIM) that takes both weight and volume into consideration.
Know Your Shipping Options
Selecting the right shipping service.
Once you know the weight and dimensions, it's time to select a shipping service.
Check which services are available by visiting the eBay shipping calculator. Once you enter the ZIP code you'll be mailing from, as well as the destination ZIP code, the shipping calculator will show you a list of available shipping services.
Choosing the right box.
You'll also need to make sure you're using the correct box. If you use a specialty shipping service, you’ll have to use a corresponding box. You would not a regular cardboard box or other self-purchased packaging. This may result in delayed shipping to your shopper.
For instance, you might decide to use one of the USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate shipping options. In that case, you will have to use a Priority Mail Flat Rate box or envelope. Similarly, Priority Mail boxes can only be used with Priority Mail shipping service. You can order free co-branded eBay-USPS Priority Mail boxes here.
More Shipping Resources
For more information on best practices when shipping from home, check out the following guides:
- How to ensure accurate USPS postage on your eBay items
- How to pack an item for shipment
- How to select the right shipping method
- How to ship bulky items
- eBay labels
- eHow to Save Money on Shipping (video)
- How to Calculate Shipping Costs (video)
For more information from USPS:
Frequently Asked Questions
Is automated postage due just a new way for USPS to generate more revenue?
No. USPS is making improvements to the process for collecting and refunding incorrectly paid postage. When package weights and dimensions are inaccurate, or incorrect packaging is used for various services, they are subject to a postage due process. That process at USPS has been manual in the past. The new improvements automate the postage due process.
Does the USPS actually weigh and measure every package?
Yes. Part of the problem has been that shippers have ‘guesstimated’ dimensions and weight and would underpay or overpay for postage. USPS has installed new technologies in their facilities, which automatically detect actual weight, dimensions, and packaging on parcel shipments.
Will USPS refund money if I overpay?
Yes, but the goal is to accurately weigh and measure all items before shipping so that adjustments aren’t needed. If you are owed a refund, your PayPal Account will be refunded, or your eBay account will be credited.
When I bring my package to the post office, will the associate at the counter measure weight and dimensions? Or will weight and DIM measurements come from a machine?
USPS has invested heavily in an automated, state-of-the-art mail processing network that is extensively tested. It is comparable to what is used across the shipping industry. The ultimate goal is that all measurements will be captured by this automated equipment. But you may still have some packages measured and weighed manually at a counter location.
How do I get charged?
The PayPal account you used for label printing on eBay labels, or your eBay invoice, will be used for collecting for any additional postage due, or providing any refunds due.
What happens if I don’t pay?
In the case where we are not able to collect any additional postage due, you may be blocked from future label printing.
I use other printing tools outside of eBay labels to print my shipping labels. What about them?
This is an industry-wide initiative with USPS, so the same rules apply for Stamps.com, Endicia, PayPal, and all other USPS postage printing platforms.
Will USPS still charge me over the counter or leave notice of postage due to the buyer after this program is in place?
No. The manual postage due will discontinue. USPS has implemented their automated system, which means all postage discrepancies will automatically be collected and refunded through eBay systems.
What if I feel the additional amount owed or refunded is incorrect?
We recommend to check the weight and dimensions on the package to ensure that the discrepancy identified is actually invalid. The tips on this page should help you validate that. If you still feel the discrepancy is incorrect, you may contact USPS to raise a dispute, which should take no more than 15 days to receive a reply.
- First Class Package Service rounds up to the next ounce
- Priority Mail, Media Mail, Parcel Select Ground, and Priority Mail Express round up to the next pound
- First Class Package International Service rounds up to the next ounce
- Priority Mail International and Priority Mail Express International round up to the next pound