We’ve all gotten them — those handy return envelopes that say, “No Postage Necessary if Mailed in the United States.” Sometimes they’re included with a bill. Sometimes they’re included in a solicitation for donations. In the latter case, there’s often a note that says if you affix a stamp, you’ll be helping the organization. But did you ever wonder how exactly putting a stamp on the return envelope results in more money for the organization?
The answer is the organization, which pays the U.S. Postal Service for “No Postage Necessary” envelopes before the mailing, can submit the ones with stamps and ask for a refund. The Postal Service assesses the amount of the refund and then destroys the envelope.
The timely processing of refunds was the topic of a recent audit. We looked at the Washington, D.C., Main Office Window (MOW), the postal facility which processes the most refunds of this type in the nation. We found 26 percent of refunds over $1,000 took longer than the Postal Service’s policy of processing within 60 days from submission.
Why did it take so long? It all comes down to timely — or in this case, untimely — destruction. This MOW doesn’t have its own industrial shredder and relies on the Government Mail Annex to destroy mail pieces and complete the pertinent form before issuing the refund.
The Postal Service said it isn’t feasible at this time to install an industrial shredder at the D.C. MOW, but it will take other steps, such as managing and logging dispatches better, to increase timeliness of refunds.
Have you ever had to request a refund from the Postal Service? If so, was it processed in a timely manner?