Print Postage Label - What Paypal should tell you!

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When I originally wrote this guide I hadn't actually had a chance to visit my post office with a package that was Special Delivery. Since then I've realised how useless this service actually is.

Posting your item

Probably the most important thing to note (and frankly Paypal and eBay should be making 500 times clearer in their "online postage" system) is that if you have anything that's got to be sent parcel, recorded or special delivery, you must take it to the post office... (see below).

The only indication of this little fact is the information provided on the pop-up window with your postage sample and the "Print Label" button. It's point number 5 which says...

  • If you have purchased a tracked product (Special Delivery, Signed For, Airsure) please take the item to your local Post Office® for acceptance. If you have purchased extra compensation, for Special Delivery or Airsure products, then a compensation receipt will also print with your label. Please take this, with your item, to the Post Office® as proof of your compensation purchase.
     
  • If you have purchased a non tracked product (1st class, Standard Parcels, Airmail Small Packets) please put the item into a Pillar Box (if it will fit) or take it to your local Post Office®. For these products a certificate of posting is also provided. The certificate of posting will be needed in the rare occasion that you need to make a claim for loss or damage to an item, and is provided as an optional form. The form needs to be authenticated by presenting to a Post Office® with your item when posting it.

No amount of looking through the terms & conditions or instructions from ebay will find you this anywhere else (unless by some miracle I missed it). So, ebay, if you're listening, sort out your documentation... this is 101 basic information. When you say "post" something, that can mean anything from shoving a letter in a post box to visiting the post office but more often than not it's taken to mean the former.


Using the Post Box & Proof of Postage

Let's be honest this is a no-brainer but when it comes to postage this bit applies:

The certificate of posting will be needed in the rare occasion that you need to make a claim for loss or damage to an item, and is provided as an optional form. The form needs to be authenticated by presenting to a Post Office® with your item when posting it.

In a nutshell if you print off the proof of postage and then mail your item in the post-box rather than taking it to the post-office (and getting your proof of postage stamped) your proof of postage is quite useless and if anything goes wrong with it getting lost, etc... you have no grounds for a claim.

Sending recorded, special delivery, packets, etc..

If you choose "Special Delivery" or any kind of "Recorded" postal service you cannot just print off the sticker, apply it to the letter and stick it in the post... (even though it does say you must "post" your item by end of next working day).

Instead here's what happens:
  1. Fill out the form online and pay your fee
  2. Print and stick the label on your package(s)
  3. Locate your nearest post office and visit it by end of the next working day
  4. The counter staff will then have to:
    • Weigh each package (again!)
    • Input all the data regarding destination into their system manually
    • Stick the same labels on as usual
    • Print off a receipt with tracking number (so you can track it)
In reality about the only benefit to this system is that you don't have to fill out the little form at the counter (which admittedly is useful) but otherwise they will check all your package weights, tell you what you should have paid because your scales at home don't work properly and you end up wondering why you didn't just go to the post office in the first place.

Instead, why not...

To be honest, instead of using this service I would give some serious thought to visiting your post office in advance, picking up a bunch of the little forms (you normally fill out for your required postal rate), take them home and then fill them out in the comfort of your home. That way you get to go through the whole routine with the added benefit of:
  • Knowing the parcel weights are right
  • You've not underpaid or overpaid
  • Not wasted your time or paid more than you need to with PayPals system.
  • Not annoying the 400 people waiting in line because you filled out the forms already :-)




At the end of the day the reason the new online service is a waste of time is mainly down to the total lack of integration between the post office counters network and their online service so for that you can't really blame PayPal, but as far as actual information goes, PayPal could do a lot to remove any confusion and actually tell people how to use the service properly.

Documentation: because some people actually do read the manual!
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