Is It Legal For Mailers To Markup Postage?

Mailers Marking-Up PostageUSPS

Today I’m going to bring up a very interesting point: Paying postage and postage mark-up. I noticed in Google Analytics today, that someone had searched the phrase: “is it legal for a mailer to put a mark-up on postage”.

I love Google Analytics and the various Webmaster tools. They give insight into what people want to know. I then, in return, can draft the content that is needed in the world.

Seeing how one of my pages got the traffic for the search result, and how I have never written on this subject, I can tell by default that there is a need for this information to be published. Writing this article is the least I can do for all those curios business owners out there.


Google Analytics Screenshot







I know there’s at least one, and I let that soul down by not having that content he needed! So just for you, visitor to my site that I wasn’t able to help, here is my redemption article!


Can Printers And Mailers Mark-Up Postage

Yes, printers and mailers can markup postage. In-fact, there are many mailing service providers who will quote campaigns as a whole with postage included. There are also MSP’s that will quote a “per piece cost” with postage included.

WindowBooks makes a software that makes mention of the ability to mark-up postage, and I stumbled upon it way back in the day, when I was curious about the concept of postage markup. I do not remember the product, but it was written within their owners manual.

I myself have marked-up postage in ’round-about’ ways – I myself have marked-up postage, or more-so not granted discounts.

Example: I have 5 different 3-digit 811 trays from 5 different mailings. I could all ship them PMOD to Alamosa to claim the SCF-811 entry-level discount. This might earn a savings of under $10 per tray. Each of those savings belongs to a different mail-owner.

The savings is too small to markup and invoice for, so the options are to throw the optimization out the window because it “doesn’t make sense”, or to pocket a $30 savings for me as the MSP, while optimizing the delivery-dates for the mail-owners free of charge.


Read Also: Optimizing Bayfield & Ignacio Postage 

Case studies some of these exact maneuvers in the 3D-811.


In that above example, am I marking up postage? Yes, and no. I’m pocketing the savings, but the client will notice optimized in-house dates for the 3D-811 records.

For those who are concerned about postage and receiving the rates they deserve, this brings up another huge issue:


Is The Mailer Fully Optimizing Postage?

Now we’ve talked about whether the postage is being marked-up, let’s focus on what might be the bigger issue: Is everything that can be done, being done to fully optimize the postage for the mailing?

Direct mail and postage optimization are some advanced concepts. All mailers have what is called “presort software”. This software does exactly what the name implies; It sorts the mail prior to production. During the presort, an algorithm processes a bunch of parameters.

The only problem with the presort is that parameters can be tweaked. Many presort technicians are nothing more than “button pushers” that know how to go through the presort process while staying compliant with postal regulation. These “button pushers” will not even know what sort parameters might be tweaked, or how to analyze data for these potentials.

Here are some sort optimizations the average button-pusher might not recognize:

  1. Lists eligible for enhanced carrier route rates
  2. Mailer might not practice PMOD
  3. Some SCF’s duel as DDU’s
  4. STD-PC claiming SCF mails out less than FCM-PC
  5. Advanced tactic for above point; segment the non-entry from the SCF on postcard runs and claim both FCM on non-entry and SCF on local
  6. Piggybacking mailings on PMOD/PVDS is efficiency. The ability to expedite jobs to accommodate these optimization increases the chance for these opportunities.

So, as you can see, business owner concerned about their postage rates, Maybe there are more questions outside of postage-markup that should be asked.


How Do I Know If My Postage Is Marked-Up?

This is assuming that the mailer is using their permit. If you’ve got your own mailing permit, this is not a problem.


Request Postage Statement Copy – All presort software generates a postage statement. The first step to making sure postage has not been marked-up.


Request PostalOne! Confirmation – The next step is to request the PostalOne! confirmation. PostalOne! is the system that USPS business-mail acceptance uses to process mailings. If the mailing is accepted electronically from the printer, it is done so through the PostalOne! platform. If the mailing is submitted hardcopy, the mail-acceptance clerk will enter it into the system via PostalOne! during the acceptance of the mailing.


Compare both versions

By comparing both versions, you can make sure no “funny-business” is occurring. Make sure to at least get the PostalOne! confirmation. That is the final report.

And if the mailing is marked-up slightly, talk to the printer about it. Look at my original example and realize that sometimes optimizations cannot be marked-up. In that case, who would you like to pocket the money; The Postal Service, or your business partner?

A $5 optimization cannot be invoiced for, plain and simple. But if your mail-service provider is searching lists for those $5 optimizations, you know that the due-diligence is being placed into the presort. See my above list of things button-pushers overlook. When you partner with a savvy MSP who’s doing these tweaks, you know that the bigger optimizations (that you will realize) will not be overlooked.

That right there is much more valuable than the pocketed $5.


Interested in knowing more about how postage is calculated?

Read: Using The USPS Direct Mail Postage Calculator