Why I Use Internet Postage
By Daniel Coolidge
It seems odd to me that so many of the people I have asked have told me they either do not use or have never heard of Internet postage. Let me enlighten you: it is not just printing stamps at home!
Some years back, the U.S. Postal Service contracted with a variety of service providers to allow them to support their customers in printing postage on their own computers. These vendors (Stamps.com, Endicia, and the old stand-by, Pitney Bowes) now all now offer a range of services starting at $10 per month. Click-n-Ship is offered by the postal service, but only for priority mail and packages.
Now, I am a small firm practitioner—two lawyers, and no secretaries or paralegals. So whatever we do, we have to do it ourselves. One of our offices (we have two) is above a UPS store, so mailing is a once-a-day walk downstairs. The other office is out in the boondocks (my office), and the nearest post office a few miles away. That’s where Internet postage comes in. I ship packages, many priority mail flat rate envelopes, and letters and certified mail. I average about eight pieces a day—most of my correspondence is by email.
With Internet postage (I use Stamps.com for historical reasons), I never have to go to the post office. Ever. The lone requirement is Internet access, but I guess that’s implied in the name “Internet Postage,” eh?
I can print stamps, I can print postage on envelopes (customized with my firm’s logo), I can print shipping labels with postage, and I even received a free postage scale when I signed up, so I know what amount of postage to put on my packages.
I can do this from any of the computers in my office—it’s not limited to just one. (You might ask why a lawyer practicing alone in an office needs more than one computer. I have five. Don’t ask. I’m in therapy.)
I can print everything but the stamps on ordinary paper, or can choose (as I do) to print on special shipping labels that come pregummed. Internet Stamps (they have no date as metered mail does) must be printed on serialized stamp sheets—a minor cost and used only infrequently.) I get free delivery confirmation, I can insure my mail if I so desire, and I receive a detailed report of my postage usage (and to whom sent) exportable to a spreadsheet. This feature makes it really easy to bill back postage to clients.
Yet another advantage is automatic address correction. It will add Zip+4 numbers, identify invalid addresses, and in many cases even suggest corrected addresses. I can automatically import addresses from a variety of applications (including Palm desktop and Outlook, among others) or generic interchange forms such as comma delimited files to which your office software will likely export.
A single trip to the post office takes me about thirty minutes. The $15 a month I spend on Internet postage service is well worth the saved time to me. And I suppose if I were really parsimonious, I could buy sheets of stamps at the post office and use the free Click-n’-Ship service from the postal service for everything else. But I’d lose the one-stop shopping convenience I have, the record keeping, the ease of use, and the really cool looking metered mail with my firm logo on it. I’m going to stay with Internet postage.