• on Jan 10th, 2011 in Finances: Cost & Revenue | 6 comments
    Postage Meters are printing machines or systems for home or office that print postage directly onto mailpieces, or onto an approved label, for mailing. Customers can request refunds on meter mail for a variety of reasons. For example, customers can request refunds when meter mail postage is printed for the wrong denomination, mail is damaged before it is delivered to the Postal Service, or postage is printed but not mailed. For customers to receive a refund, they must take their unused meter mail postage along with the Postal Service Form 3533, (Application for Refund of Fees, Products and Withdrawal of Customer Accounts),to their local post office to request the refund. Once postal employees receive a refund request, they process the request manually by counting each piece of metered postage in question to verify the refund amount. The Postal Service charges a 10 percent fee (up to $350) for each refund processed. If the 10 percent fee is greater than $350, the Postal Service charges the customer a flat fee of $35 an hour to process the refund. Once the local postal employee verifies the refund amount, the post office either issues a no-fee money order (if the refund is less than $500) or forwards the supporting documentation to a disbursement center for refund payment. In Fiscal Year 2010, the Postal Service refunded customers more than $21 million for spoiled and unused meter mail postage. If all associated mailpieces were metered at the First-ClassTM 44-cent stamp rate that would mean postal employees manually counted 47.7 million mailpieces to verify meter mail refunds. The topic is hosted by the Office of Audit Field Financial – West team.
  • on Dec 13th, 2010 in Finances: Cost & Revenue | 35 comments
      The Postal Service does not receive tax dollars to sustain its operations, but relies on accurate postage payments for support. While the vast majority of the Postal Service’s customers pay the full cost of mailing, revenue loss, otherwise known as revenue leakage, can occur when individual or business customers don’t pay the appropriate postage for their mailings. Postage may be paid in a number of ways. Customers can buy stamps at a customer service window and apply them to letters and packages as they need them, which can sometimes lead to underpayment of postage. Business customers can pay through meter or permit accounts. Business Mail Entry Units make sure that the correct postage has been affixed or claimed when discounts are claimed. Online sellers can use PC Postage and Click-N-Ship® postage with free carrier pick-up, eliminating the hassle of taking their goods to the Post Office to be weighed and shipped. Of course, this could lead to mistakes in mailings sent out under the wrong, and cheaper, mailing class for which the goods do not apply, such as mailing a set of skis as media mail. Because of its dire financial situation, it’s now more important than ever for the Postal Service to protect the revenue it is due whether it comes in from the post office window, meters, online postage accounts, or from permit accounts. Now is the time to share your thoughts and help the agency get back in the black. What are the best ways to protect Postal Service revenue? Enter your comments below. The Office of Audit Sales and Service team is hosting this topic.
  • on Nov 2nd, 2010 in Ideas Worth Exploring | 7 comments
    In a world where speed is everything, a new product is becoming popular that takes it s-l-o-w. It’s called Future Mail. In China, several companies are offering to deliver mail as slowly as you want, — even weeks, months, or years into the future. No time machine necessary! Some customers are using Future Mail to send letters to their future selves, others use it to be sure their anniversary, birthday, or holiday greetings will arrive exactly on time. Future Mail customers simply fill out, address their cards, letters, or packages, and specify the date they want them delivered. These new companies will make it happen. One can even purchase gifts and flowers to be sent in the future. When signing up for the service, customers are assessed a fee depending on how long the company has to hold on to the deliverables. Customers must also provide current contact information, in case their item is undeliverable in the future. Once the letter or package is handed over, the company tucks it away in a safe place until the date selected comes around. Though some customers have concerns about what happens to their packages if the companies fail, the service continues to catch on. This unique service may prove to be a new revenue stream for the U.S. Postal Service. Do you think there will be a market for Future Mail here? This topic is hosted by the OIG’s Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

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