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#1
Old 12-11-2012, 06:50 PM
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Postage Due - How does it work?

I received a christmas card where apparently the one stamp on the envelope didn't quite cut it because there was also a red stamp on the front that said postage due and handwritten beside it was '45¢'.

It was delivered into my mailbox anyway. Is the post-office still expecting the .45 from me or did they decide to just not bother?
#2
Old 12-11-2012, 06:59 PM
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Years ago the postman would ask for the extra postage when the letter was delivered. Today they usually just return to sender.

You were real lucky.

I recall when I was a kid that the postman rang the bell and wanted an extra quarter or maybe 30 cents of postage on a package. Mom gave him his change and commented later how silly it was. The postman's time was worth more than that quarter. Imagine if he had to ring ten different doorbells on his route. A lot of time for a couple bucks of postage.

Last edited by aceplace57; 12-11-2012 at 07:02 PM.
#3
Old 12-11-2012, 07:05 PM
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Makes sense!

I was actually home and could have given him/her the 45 cents. Didn't ring the doorbell, so I guess they decided their time was worth more than that after all.
#4
Old 12-11-2012, 07:08 PM
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Here's what the USPS says:
Quote:
How is ‘Postage Due’ Domestic Mail handled?

Throughout its journey, mail may be periodically checked to ensure it has proper postage. If a mailpiece does not have proper postage, it may be returned or delivered according to the following scenarios:
• If the item is without postage, or it appears postage fell off; it is endorsed "Returned for Postage Mail" and sent to the return address on the mailpiece.

Please Note: The USPS®u makes a special effort when the mail piece has the appearance of a greeting card. Rather than being routed to the Mail Recovery Center because of no postage or below minimum size, greeting cards without a return address will generally be delivered with postage due during the month of December. (This is for domestic First-Class Mail® only. Foreign greeting cards without postage go back to the mailer for proper postage.)
• If the item is short paid, it will be delivered postage due and the letter carrier will endorse it to show the amount of the postage due.
• The recipient must pay incash for postage due mail before the mail is delivered
• Depending on location, letter carriers may or may not be able to collect Postage Due directly from a customer or a customer's mailbox; for further information on how to pay for the Postage Due, please contact your Local Post Office facility
• Rural carriers are not required to go to the door with a postage due letter. Policy stipulates that rural carriers go only as far as the mailbox and blow the horn. The recipient must come out to the mailbox to pay and receive the letter.

Note: If the shortpaid item cannot be delivered as addressed (including if the recipient refuses to pay for and accept it), it is endorsed "Returned for Additional Postage" and sent to the return address on the mailpiece.

A returned shortpaid mailpiece can have the necessary additional postage affixed (leaving the "postage due" message intact) to the original piece and does not have to be placed in a new envelope or wrapper.
• If an item is returned because of no postage or insufficient postage and one of the following is the case:
• No return address is shown; or
• The delivery and return addresses are identical; or
• The delivery and return addresses are different, but for the same person or organization; then

the mailpiece is treated as dead mail and goes to the Mail Recovery Center in Atlanta, GA. (For additional information on the Mail Recovery Center, go to the USPS Mail Recovery Center (MRC) FAQ)
At least a couple of times, I've had something delivered to me with insufficient postage. The mailman stuck a little envelope in my mailbox in which I was supposed to enclose the amount that was still owed, to leave it for him the next day.
#5
Old 12-11-2012, 07:12 PM
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Aha!

Quote:
Please Note: The USPS®u makes a special effort when the mail piece has the appearance of a greeting card. Rather than being routed to the Mail Recovery Center because of no postage or below minimum size, greeting cards without a return address will generally be delivered with postage due during the month of December.
#6
Old 12-11-2012, 07:14 PM
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They are still hoping you will pay the extra 45 cents though. But, as aceplace notes, the postman's time is more valuable. It is really just on the honor system. However, if most people just don't pay the amount due, then the post office will be more inclined to just return to sender.
At Fort Benning, when basic trainees receive mail marked "postage due", they also receive a litte paper envelope to put the change in. They are supposed to put the money in the envelope and drop in any mail box. It is basically a courtesy extended by the post office. If most people didn't pay it, though, I'm sure they would stop doing it.
Sounds like you did not get an envelope to put the due postage into. If I were you, the next time I mailed a letter I would put 45 cents extra postage on it.
#7
Old 12-11-2012, 07:23 PM
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No envelope. Plus, it's a locked mailbox with no obvious way way to 'send mail' or give things to the mail carrier. I'll go with your extra postage next time idea.
#8
Old 12-11-2012, 07:27 PM
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My sister-in-law's father was a postman. He never bothered collecting it, just paid it out his own pocket.

History: For some reason, not known to me, the original post office collected from the receiver, not the sender. But the receiver could refuse and the mail was, I think, then destroyed. But the receiver got to look at the envelope first and often the message was a color-coded reply or order or something. Finally, some genius at the post office decided to encourage pre-paid postage and halved the rate to encourage this. Forward 100 years or so and now pre-paid was the standard. Postage due was a throwback to the old system and you had to pay twice the missing postage.
#9
Old 12-11-2012, 07:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hari Seldon View Post
My sister-in-law's father was a postman. He never bothered collecting it, just paid it out his own pocket.
In the olden days of ye olde post office carriers did pay for all postage dues out of their pocket and then had to scramble to collect it. I resented this when I was a temp and never had the same route twice. If possible I left it for the next day. I was never sure what was official policy and what was just long-standing practice, though.

Quote:
History: For some reason, not known to me, the original post office collected from the receiver, not the sender. But the receiver could refuse and the mail was, I think, then destroyed. But the receiver got to look at the envelope first and often the message was a color-coded reply or order or something. Finally, some genius at the post office decided to encourage pre-paid postage and halved the rate to encourage this. Forward 100 years or so and now pre-paid was the standard. Postage due was a throwback to the old system and you had to pay twice the missing postage.
Way, way back in British history postage was paid by the recipient. By back I mean like 17th century back. That changed 100 years later, true, but we're still talking about the 1700s. I don't think that was ever true in a system with actual official postage stamps, and that would include the U.S.

Of course people always spent time trying to figure out how to scam the system. That's why stamps started bing cancelled. And even after. Putting tape over the stamp so that the cancellation didn't stick was popular in my college years. Eight cents meant something in those days!
#10
Old 12-11-2012, 08:45 PM
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Here in the UK I recently had a card pushed through the door by the postman indicating that I had an item of mail with postage due. The card had space to stick stamps on to make up the total due (the shortfall of postage plus £1 "handling fee") and then mail it back to the sorting office at which point they would free up the item to be delivered. A lot of administrative palaver (and needless to say it turned out to be junk mail). Presumably the reason is that posties can't be trusted to collect cash.

Last edited by Colophon; 12-11-2012 at 08:46 PM.
#11
Old 12-11-2012, 08:59 PM
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Does the PO know how much value a letter carrier has to collect that day? How do they ever keep track?
#12
Old 12-11-2012, 09:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Folly View Post
I received a christmas card where apparently the one stamp on the envelope didn't quite cut it because there was also a red stamp on the front that said postage due and handwritten beside it was '45¢'.

It was delivered into my mailbox anyway. Is the post-office still expecting the .45 from me or did they decide to just not bother?
You'd totally be in the spirit of giving by going to the post office and paying that 45c.
#13
Old 12-11-2012, 11:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colophon View Post
Here in the UK I recently had a card pushed through the door by the postman indicating that I had an item of mail with postage due. The card had space to stick stamps on to make up the total due (the shortfall of postage plus £1 "handling fee") and then mail it back to the sorting office at which point they would free up the item to be delivered. A lot of administrative palaver (and needless to say it turned out to be junk mail). Presumably the reason is that posties can't be trusted to collect cash.
In Spain they leave you the same form that's used to let you know you missed a delivery of registered mail, indicating that the item is "payment due" and when can you go pick it up at the post office. This is the same whether it's something with insufficient postage, an item sent COD, or even a service to be paid via the postal system (magazine subscriptions used to do this).
#14
Old 12-11-2012, 11:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Folly View Post
No envelope. Plus, it's a locked mailbox with no obvious way way to 'send mail' or give things to the mail carrier. I'll go with your extra postage next time idea.
Or, from the link above: "for further information on how to pay for the Postage Due, please contact your Local Post Office facility."
#15
Old 12-12-2012, 08:46 AM
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I'm a retired letter carrier. We always had to sign for postage due items in the morning, then pay for them to be cleared in the afternoon. It was up to us to decide where that money came from. I routinely paid for Mother's Day and Christmas cards out of my own pocket, collected for other items or left a notice and returned the item to the clearance clerk at the end of the day. I believe the patron had about ten days to pick it up at the office, or they could leave the money in the box and I'd bring it back at the next possible delivery.
Sometimes postage due items slip through without being caught. If I found something like that in my mail I'd just deliver it.
#16
Old 12-12-2012, 08:48 AM
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We also had the option of leaving the item at the office and delivering a notice to the customer instead. Very few carriers ever did that.
#17
Old 12-12-2012, 05:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hi Medlo View Post
We also had the option of leaving the item at the office and delivering a notice to the customer instead. Very few carriers ever did that.
This happened to me a few years ago. The letter in question was a lengthy recounting of fees charged and money paid to a particular doctor whose patient I had been for a long time. The third-party billing outfit wasn't competent enough to provide adequate postage, but somehow they managed to lease office quarters in tony Newport Beach, mere steps from the ocean.

And the documents? You guessed it--PDFs of old fashioned text-based printouts. No way to convert to Excel so I could try to match charges against the money paid out.
#18
Old 12-12-2012, 06:07 PM
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It's Christmas time anyhow. Leave some cookies in the box for the mailman.

We used to give our mailman something (candy, cookies etc.) every year. We'd usually see him out delivering and wait until he got to our house. That was years ago. These days it seems like there's a different mailman every week or two. Never get to know them anymore.
#19
Old 12-12-2012, 06:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spectre of Pithecanthropus View Post
And the documents? You guessed it--PDFs of old fashioned text-based printouts. No way to convert to Excel so I could try to match charges against the money paid out.
There are lots of programs that will convert pdf's to text. Search for that online. There are even free services that will do it for some pages.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Thudlow Boink View Post
At least a couple of times, I've had something delivered to me with insufficient postage. The mailman stuck a little envelope in my mailbox in which I was supposed to enclose the amount that was still owed, to leave it for him the next day.
I've had this same thing several times.
It's really not according to USPO regulations (they're supposed to collect the money before delivering the item), but it's done as a courtesy by your mail carrier. So I always put the money in it, and leave it for them the next day. I want them to keep doing me that courtesy!

It probably depends somewhat on the address, too. I've lived here for over 30 years; in a rental house with frequently changing tenants, the mail carrier might be less likely to do that.

Last edited by [email protected]; 12-12-2012 at 06:45 PM.
#20
Old 12-12-2012, 06:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
It's Christmas time anyhow. Leave some cookies in the box for the mailman.

We used to give our mailman something (candy, cookies etc.) every year. We'd usually see him out delivering and wait until he got to our house. That was years ago. These days it seems like there's a different mailman every week or two. Never get to know them anymore.
We like our normal guy. We occasionally run into him out in the neighborhood and he recognizes us.

I normally leave a five and some home made sweets for him in the mail box, but last year on the day I left it, we had a different carrier. We saw him pick it up and he said thank you.....but it felt weird saying "That's not for you! That's for the other guy!"
#21
Old 12-12-2012, 07:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hari Seldon View Post
My sister-in-law's father was a postman. He never bothered collecting it, just paid it out his own pocket.

History: For some reason, not known to me, the original post office collected from the receiver, not the sender. But the receiver could refuse and the mail was, I think, then destroyed. But the receiver got to look at the envelope first and often the message was a color-coded reply or order or something. Finally, some genius at the post office decided to encourage pre-paid postage and halved the rate to encourage this. Forward 100 years or so and now pre-paid was the standard. Postage due was a throwback to the old system and you had to pay twice the missing postage.
The genius in question.

The other big innovation in Hill's postal reforms was uniform postage. Before that time, it was calculated at the post office by distance. Postmasters would, for each letter, have to look up the distance between origin and destination and annotate the postage due. That's a lot of time and work. The "postage refused" dodge you mentioned (coded message on outside of envelope) meant that much of that effort was wasted calculating postage that would never be collected.
#22
Old 12-13-2012, 02:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bear_Nenno View Post
If I were you, the next time I mailed a letter I would put 45 cents extra postage on it.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Folly View Post
I'll go with your extra postage next time idea.
These are jokes, right? If the letter carrier had to pay the 45¢ out of his pocket, 45¢ in stamps affixed to an envelope isn't going to do him much good, is it?

It doesn't even really help the Post Office. No more than throwing the extra stamp in the trash, anyway. Even if they keep track of things like postage due letters and letters with overpostage, there's no way they could connect the two in your case and figure out that you really did pay the postage due.
#23
Old 12-13-2012, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Alan Smithee View Post
These are jokes, right?
You picked up on these posts as jokes? Not the posts where I should spend 20-30 dollars worth of my own time to go to the post office to try to pay them the .45.
Heh.
#24
Old 12-13-2012, 01:23 PM
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I've been thinking about it a little more. We've only been here a couple of months and don't know our mail carrier, but I'm going to tape an envelope to the mailbox with $10 and a Happy Holidays note.
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