Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Stamps.com

Is Stamps.com a ripoff?

Well, if you use the regular service, without putting in a little time to get some offers and freebies from them, I'm going to have to say, yes, it is.

If you sign up on their website, the cheapest plan is $17.99/month and they send you the software and a starter kit, which basically includes a few sheets on which you can print postage. They also start you off with $5 worth of free postage. There is no charge for the first month.

Along with this, if you stay with them past the first month and let them charge your card once for $17.99, you can get a $25 Amazon gift card, a 5 lb. digital scale and an additional $10 worth of postage. Stay another month and you get an additional $10 worth of postage. Here's the page with the deals.

Ok. I'll play. I figured that even with the $18 monthly fee (which for me is tax deductible), I'd be ahead by $22 with just the Amazon g.c. and additional $5 + $10 in postage. $25+5+$10-$18=$22. So I went for it. Got the $5 in postage right away. As soon as I received the starter kit I printed out the free postage (very easily done, btw). I set a reminder in Outlook to alert me to when my credit card would be charged and as soon as that happened, I sent away the forms for the free scale, gift card and $10 in postage.

Now, Stamps.com claims that you can print the postage right on your envelopes, but since my printer basically eats envelopes, I really needed extra blank sticker sheets (called NetStamps) to print the stamps on. Stamps.com charges $3.99 for each set of five sheets! Another way to rip you off, imho. So I called Stamps.com and told them I wanted to cancel.

They are apparently ready and trained to counter cancellations. The customer service rep, who parenthetically, was so friendly and chatty I wanted to kill her, immediately offered to send me a free pack of NetStamps, waive next month's fee and reduce my monthly charge to $9.99.

"Really now?" I said. "And why wasn't I offered this $9.99 plan when I signed up?"

"Oh, we encourage everyone to use our $17.99 plan because it's the best one. You lose many features when you go to the $9.99 plan."

This is the purest form of b.s. in business. The CSR listed off the features that you lose, and they were stupid and unnecessary.

So I said, sure, I'd take my free month, go to $9.99, and happily accept the five free sheets of NetStamps.

I set my Outlook reminder up to let me know when my credit card would be charged so that I could call and cancel again before the charge goes through. Let's see what they will offer me next time.

Net haul:

  • $25 Amazon g.c.
  • $25 in postage
  • digital scale

Net cost:
  • $18 (tax deductible so really it's about $12)
  • About 10 minutes of my time on the phone

I can live with that. I've been Googling around and apparently this is sort of the way to go with Stamps.com.

If you'd like to try it out for yourself and make some free stuff, email me at theroadtaken613@gmail.com and I'll send you a reference code. If you sign up with the reference code, you get a slightly better sign up package with $45 worth of postage instead of $25, and I will get $20 worth of free postage if you stay through the trial period. Signing up this way also reduces your monthly damage fee from $18 to $16. Go figure.

Only do this if you are willing to make at least one phone call to them and will mark your calendar (Outlook works for me) with the date of the future cc charge. If not, I think you will get ripped off in a big way. This freebie is a bit of trouble, but you'll do well if you stay on it.

4 comments:

AJ said...

How many stamps a month do you use? I pay almost everything over the internet, including electric, health insurance, tzedaka, cell phone, internet, and my credit cards. The only thing I always write a check for which I have to mail is my rent. There is also usually 2 or 3 letters and maybe a birthday card, but I seriously think I only use maybe 4 stamps a month.

WebGirl said...

Good point AJ; I also live online, paying 90% of my bills etc. through the Internet. But there is always the odd occasion to use postage, especially if you are a consultant as I am now. I use maybe 6 stamps a month and bring the occasional package to the post office. This postage never expires and will always be usable.

I will almost certainly get off Stamps.com before they charge my credit card again. I would have never signed up for the service if not for the bonuses and freebies.

Anonymous said...

It sounds like you are just gaming the system and looking for freebies.

We use Stamps.com at my legal office and it works great.

WebGirl said...

I absolutely am just "gaming the system and looking for freebies." I see nothing wrong with it. Stamps.com is trying to lure me in with freebies and discounts and I am playing by their rules. As long as I don't do anything dishonest, like refer fake people, or take freebies that I'm not entitled to according to their rules, I don't see any ethical problem here. I'm sure the company is aware that many people are just going to join up to get the bonuses. It's the nature of the business.