View Full Version : US Postal Disservice

December 11th, 2008, 08:50 AM
Well this has only come up three times (from searching here using 'stamps.com'), but it has always peeved me that the United States Postal Service has invited MSWindows-only private companies to sell postage printing services. In other words stamps.com and endicia.com (the only two I know of) have a real animosity toward any kind of operating system which is not owned (or subsidized) by Bill Gates.

Stamps.com never responded to my request asking if they might ever have a Linux version--that's while I was still their customer. And when I switched to Endicia and asked them the same question, they were outright obnoxious in their response; "We do not now, nor will we ever offer a Linux version of our product."

So I switched to using the Postal Service website to print postage. They have (had) a perfectly serviceable website for printing special postage (like priority- or express-mail) and for ordering regular old peel and stick stamps for face value. And the Postal Service did it without a lot of cumbersome fees, credit checks, and monthly 'membership' charges.


USPS_Shipping_Services@usps.com <USPS_Shipping_Services@usps.com> Wed, Dec 10, 2008 at 3:55 AM
To: ---me---@gmail.com

The Postal Service website, usps.com, continues to experience intermittent interruptions to services. We apologize for the inconvenience this is causing, especially at what is one of the busiest times of the year for families and business owners.

As a valued Click-N-Ship customer, we wanted to provide you with two solutions to help you ship now while we continue to work around the clock to resolve the situation.

* Open an online account with Endicia or Stamps.com, PC Postage vendors and Postal Service partners. You will qualify for a FREE, 30-day trial period, while enjoying all the benefits of printing postage and labels from your home or office. Please click here for information and to create a new account: "http://www.endicia.com/SignUp/" OR here: http://www.stamps.com/postage-online/how-it-works/

The Postal Service free package pickup service is still available and can be accessed through the website. Once you print your postage using either Endicia or Stamps.com, click over to www.usps.com/pickup and schedule the package pickup. Please remember that packages will be picked up during the next day's regularly scheduled delivery.

Please continue to check the website for service updates or call 1-800-ASK-USPS for additional information.

Thank you again for your trusting us with your business and please accept our apologies for the disruption to our internet services.

Scam, if you ask me. And right at the start of the holiday shipping season. As I said today in a letter to my congressman,

What better time to drive acceptance of a new product or service than when people are stressed and in need. This is lousy negativity-based marketing, and the United States Postal Service is complicit.

I said a lot more about the US Postal Services statutory Universal Service Obligation, and blah blah blah...

My point is that there has never been a Linux-oriented service for printing postage. There was however an OS-neutral web-based service for printing postage (usps.com) which worked well, didn't gouge, and was effective. Probably a little too effective.

This 'intermittent interruptions to services' is a load of crap. The site, https://sss-web.usps.com/cns/landing.do has been down all day, without any intermittent-ness, and just now came up with the following, 'you can waste your time if you want to' kind of warning:
Click-N-Ship customers still may encounter problems. Your credit card will not be charged if a label is not printed.

And if the usps.com website is experiencing difficulties, why should it be so easy to schedule a pickup on the same site having so much difficulty?
The Postal Service free package pickup service is still available and can be accessed through the website. Once you print your postage using either Endicia or Stamps.com, click over to www.usps.com/pickup and schedule the package pickup.
--excerpt from the above e-mail

It all leaves me incredulous.

Somebody owed somebody something, and was in a position to contrive some 'difficulty' in the operation of the USPS ClickNShip service. As a result, droves of people who would have used the US Postal Service website for, um, postal service, will now have to pay more and get less from one of these two companies.

As a Linux user, I am annoyed. Hell, as a citizen I am annoyed! There are few enough services available to Linux users--Nokia won't make a Linux PCSuite, Canon refuses to support Linux with their software, and on and on--and yet here was one service which worked perfectly with Linux, and it is now gone. For printing postage on a Linux machine, the web-based ClickNShip service was the *only* option.

Feel free to take an option away if there are several. But if you take away the only option available, then that should raise some ire, or at least a whimper of complaint from Linux users. And I have heard none.

You want a system with convenient functions? Or you just want an exotic peice of esoterica, useful for computer scientists and bored loners. That may be a little extreme, but it is holy-grail objective of the DRM-crazed lot who would outlaw open source software. Hell, in this case they won't even let you pay them exorbitant amounts to use their service (I personally wouldn't pay them a cent even if I had a Windows machine).

It may not be that Linux users constitute a cognizable minority class for equal protection, but if we do not make a sound, then more and more of what is now OS-neutral functionality will disappear from the web to become OS-biased, privately licensed and totally exclusionary of Linux systems.

I shouldn't end this without some suggestion for what can be done. Write a reply. Say what you think. Then write (believe it or not) to your congressman and senator. And tell the world (or at least everyone in the US) that the US Postal Service should continue to serve, at cost, with ease of use, and become even more accessible electronically, not less.

December 11th, 2008, 11:21 AM
I agree entirely. The US postal service is a government service, and as such should appeal to the People. The People - be they Windows, Mac, Linux, Solaris or BSD user - should be able to access the functions of a service they pay taxes for. There is no reason why every modern, currently maintained OS cannot be supported.

January 21st, 2009, 10:15 PM
I must confess that I was one of those frustrated enough to try stamps.com. What a mistake!! I acted quickly withount much thinking as my packages were already late. I failed to notice that this was a software solution, not a website like USPS. Fudge! Ok, I said, I'll cancel and keep the stupid scale (which they charge $10 for standard shipping). Cancelling was a real hassle and the woman on the phone kept trying to switch me to the tech support people to see how I could fix "my Linux" so that it could work with their software. After having to be rude on the phone she agreed to cancel the account. I later received the digital scale... shoot! I guess I also failed to read that it only works with their software. Now... they advertise everywhere that if you cancel you get to keep the scale; but they do not tell you that the scale only works with their software. I even loaded the software on a Windows computer to see if I could use the scale but apparently you need to have an active account to get into the software. Wow! Does anyone know a way to make this scale work on Linux?

January 1st, 2010, 05:01 PM
If you goto tools-> addons, and *disable* Adobe, it works!

January 1st, 2010, 05:20 PM
^lol. i love simple solutions.

January 1st, 2010, 07:03 PM
Offtopic: Does anyone else find it weird that the slowest and cheapest class of mail is called 'First Class'?

January 1st, 2010, 07:05 PM
Offtopic: Does anyone else find it weird that the slowest and cheapest class of mail is called 'First Class'?

I'm guessing you guys don't have second class post then :p

I agree that a browser based selection would be better but there is nothing stopping you getting them offline

April 15th, 2010, 06:19 PM
If you use paypal, you can print postage through them in your browser. It's a java app and works excellently on Linux.

January 13th, 2012, 04:58 AM
Stamps.com stinks. When they increased their rate I tried to quit. I paid the outstanding bill by phone. They still sent a collection agency after me, saying I did not pay. I paid the collecti0on agency, who never notified Stamps.com (so they say). It turns out that the operater never processed my payment. Iwrote to the Better Business Bureau. Stamps.com responded by saying they would be benevolent and forgive the debt - which had been paid to the collection agency. I have the canceled check. I threw away $50.00 worth of their unprinted stamps and they never refunded the $49.00 of credit I had with them. What a rip off.:mad::mad:

January 13th, 2012, 05:00 AM
If you don't use more than $16.00 per month in stamps, they are just ripping you off at Stamps.com

January 13th, 2012, 05:04 AM
Back to sleep thread. Thread closed.