Is Stamps.com a Scam?

Category: Reference

I hear radio ads for Stamps.com, promising the ability to print postage stamps at home, and $100 in bonuses. Is Stamps.com internet postage legit, or a scam?

Stamps.com Internet Postage

What's the Deal With Stamps.com?

Stamps.com is an Internet postage service that's heavily advertised on talk radio and other media, offering you the convenience of printing your own postage, and bypassing long lines at the Post Office. They also promise a $100 bonus which includes free postage and a digital scale, just for signing up as a new customer. Can this Internet postage service do everything it promises and make your life easier? Do they really give you the $100 bonus?

I signed up for the service and found out the good, bad and the ugly. So let's take a look at the claims that Stamps.com makes, and see if they deliver...

Printing Postage From Your PC?

Yes, you really can print postage using your own computer and printer. The Stamps.com software lets you print postage directly on envelopes, or on special sheets of "peel and stick" paper. You can print First Class or post card stamps, Priority or Express mail postage, or any specific amount, based on the size and weight of your package. I have to admit that's pretty cool, and the obvious advantages here (aside from the coolness factor of seeing real US postage stamps rolling out of your printer) are that you save gas, money, time. You don't have to drive to the Post Office, or wait in long lines. I say less time spent in government offices is a good thing.

Stamps.com will also turn your photos, or your business logo into postage. They make this possible with a customizable interface on the site that lets you choose a picture, manipulate it to your desire, add border colors, then purchase for a fee.

Save Money and Look More Professional?

The Stamps.com website claims that you will save at least "80% compared to a postage meter." I'm assuming they're referring to the cost of buying and operating your own postage meter. I've never done that, so I'll take them at their word.

Other advertised features are that your mailings will look more professional, and that you'll never overpay for postage again. This must refer to the feature in the software that lets you print addresses and postage directly on your own envelopes. Yes, I suppose that's a professional look, and a desirable thing if you run a small business. And I'll admit to occasionally putting an extra stamp on overstuffed envelopes, just in case they're over the weight limit. But with the free digital scale and the software, you can figure out exactly how much postage you'll need for a large or overweight mailing.

However... I had some problems relating to those last two points. First, I never got the digital scale they promised. It's only been two months, so maybe it'll eventually arrive. Or maybe not. And the software would not print correctly on my HP OfficeJet Pro printer. For some reason, the postage wanted to print in the wrong spot (half off the page) and after an hour of fiddling with the options, I gave up.

No Hidden Fees?

I do have a gripe here. If you go to the Stamps.com website, then click on the Signup button, it's fairly easy to miss the fact that there is a 4-week trial period, and a monthly fee of $17.99 to use the Stamps.com service after the trial period. And that does NOT mean you get $17.99 in postage to use each month. That fee is just for the "convenience" of printing your own stamps. So you're saving the Post Office money by using your own stamps and ink. And presumably it reduces labor costs, because all those Stamps.com customers won't be showing up and making the lines at the Post Office even longer. But you still have to pay $17.99 a month for convenience?

I'll grant that this service fee wasn't exactly hidden in the small print. But I'm sure a lot of people miss it in their haste to sign up and get the free scale and $45 free postage. I'm usually pretty good about scanning for gotchas, but I'll admit this one slipped by me. I didn't find out about the $17.99 monthly fee until I saw it on my credit card 4 weeks later.

$100 Signup Bonus?

But what about the "$100 Signup Bonus"? They're pretty clear on the website that the breakdown of this is as follows: $45 in free postage, a $50 digital scale, and a $5 supplies kit. I could quibble over the actual value of the digital scale, but let's just assume it's a deal. However, they are NOT clear on WHEN you get the free postage. Upon signup, you get $5 instant free postage. If you want, you can print your $5 worth of stamps, cancel the service, and walk away.

But how do you get the other $40 in free postage? There's the rub. When your free supplies kit arrives, it comes with four post cards. Each one is a voucher for $10 in free postage. And AFTER the 4 week trial period is over, you can send in one voucher per month. But of course you'll be charged that $17.99 monthly service fee. So your $40 in free postage will actually COST you $31.96. I did not see this mentioned anywhere on the Stamps.com website, so a pox on them for not being upfront about this.

How to Cancel Stamps.com

Cancelling your Stamps.com membership cannot be accomplished using the software, or by email. After poking around in the Help screens, I learned that it must be done by calling Customer Support at 1-888-434-0055. I called, and after waiting on hold for just a minute or two, I was connected to a very polite rep. She asked why I wanted to cancel, and mentioned some of the benefits of remaining as a customer. I said no thanks. She then informed me that I was eligible for a "Basic Account" at a reduced rate of $9.99 a month, and that she would waive my regular service fee for 1 month.

That's classic "customer retention" stuff that you'll get if you try to cancel a credit card, an AOL account or many other services. If you still want to cancel at that point, just keep saying no, and they'll reluctantly do it.

So Is Stamps.com a Scam?

If you look on the web, you can find people who love the Stamps.com service, and those who hate it. I found complaints from people in online forums who said they had to wait on hold forever when trying to reach customer support. Other claimed that they were still getting billed after cancelling their accounts.

So I headed over to the Better Business Bureau website. They actually rated the site with an A, but of the 30+ users who commented, most were negative and Stamps.com only received one star out of five. But keep in mind that very few people visit the BBB website with the intention of writing glowing reviews. The "A" rating implies that the company is operating in a trustworthy manner and has made a good faith effort to resolve any complaints.

Although I am disappointed by the scant mention of the monthly service fee at signup time, and the lack of clarity regarding the "free postage," I can't go so far as to declare Stamps.com a scam. The software does work as advertised, and if you run a small business that does a lot of mailings, the convenience of not having to go to the Post Office could make it worthwhile. There are also discounts, such as 10% on insurance, up to 10% on Express and Priority mail locally, up to 8% international rates, and free USPS supplies. But I doubt that most people using it for personal household stuff would consider it a good deal.

What's your opinion? Have you tried Stamps.com? Tell me what you think by posting a comment below...

 
Ask Your Computer or Internet Question

  (Enter your question in the box above.)

It's Guaranteed to Make You Smarter...

AskBob Updates: Boost your Internet IQ & solve computer problems.
Get your FREE Subscription!


Email:

Check out other articles in this category:



Link to this article from your site or blog. Just copy and paste from this box:

This article was posted by on 23 Sep 2009


For Fun: Buy Bob a Snickers.

Prev Article:
What Is Silverlight And Do I Need It?

The Top Twenty
Next Article:
What Does System Restore Do?

Most recent comments on "Is Stamps.com a Scam?"

(See all 122 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

john
20 Apr 2015

Stamps.com is definitely not a scam. I have used their service for 5 years for my online ecommerce business and have nothing but high praises for their service.

Here is a Stamps.com review: http://rijalda.com/stamps-com-review/


Posted by:

ben
20 Apr 2015

I agree the way and who stamp.com is marketing makes it a scam to this group of individuals. The marketing is sent to individuals who do not need the typical services of stamps.com.

For companies that use PB they are a good alterantive. It is better than paying $40+ a month for a 48 month to 96 (yes really) lease! And that does not include postage. However PB does save you time and gives you some discounts. But you need to be spending $500 a month in postage to see a $ savings.

PB would market the same way to companies who's spend rate would never jusify having their machines. So stamps.com is just the new PB scam when they market to wrong market.

For bigger spenders it is a good option verse PB.


Posted by:

Eric
20 Apr 2015

I personally love the service. I'm a small business owner and Stamps.com integrates with ebay, amazon and zencart. Basically, every time I make a sale, Stamps.com imports everything for me. All I have to do it print it. Plus the postage is cheaper then using Paypal or the Post Office directly. For me the monthly fee gets absorbed by the lower cost for postage along with the convenience. It literally saves hours of time hand typing in addresses every month, not to mention the long lines at the post office.

The only scam I see is people trying to get a free handout from the company. They are indeed a business trying to make money to stay in business. There are no hidden fees here. To use their service you pay a monthly fee without other hidden fees!

At tax time you can access the whole years expenses and fees easily on their website. Just another reason I love the service.

Their insurance option is truly hassle free! I used to assume the USPS and their included insurance with Priority Mail International and Express Mail International was sufficient, but I was wrong. The tracking on a package sent to Brazil was "Stolen" and the tracking showed it like that. USPS would not refund the shipping cost or cover it under their included insurance without mounds of paperwork and phone calls. I eventually gave up! Now I only use Stamps.com insurance which is cheap and hassle free when shipping to "Suspect" countries like Brazil.


Posted by:

Al
09 May 2015

I got the mailer from stamps.com, and gave it a shot late at night before researching it. I was able to print out the free demo stamps, and then ordered the free digital scale. They charged $11.99 for shipping the free scale, and I received it a couple of business days later.

After seeing all the bad reviews, I figured I better call in to cancel before the free trial was up. My phone number matched the number in their system, so I got into their automated cancellation system. After a couple of offers, I was able to cancel, and got the confirmation emails. If I get any charges from them, I have the evidence that I cancelled and can dispute them with the credit card company.

I imagine their business model is built on people missing the $15.99 membership fee, and the cost of the scale is probably built into the shipping charge.

I suppose if I didn't live one block from a major post office this would be more useful, but I hardly use any postage anymore, and can order stamps from Amazon, so this isn't for me.


Posted by:

Coln
31 May 2015

If you want a REFUND, after calling in select OPTION 4 on your phone. You can press the four as soon as the automated system says "for accounts press 1". This will get you to a person who can refund you your fees.

You can CANCEL ONLINE in many cases by going through "My Account" or "Manage Account" when logged in. You might have to do it through "change of service" link after clicking manage account.

You can cancel via email as well. Just write a very strongly worded one threatening to report them to the attorney general or better business bureau. They might make you verify a security question and your physical address in a follow up email.

If you have to call in and select the regular cancellation option, tell the agent "I just cancelled through your automated system, and it said I might be billed again. I don't want to pay another fee." The agent will cancel your account and waive your fee. At most you'll have to appeal to their good nature to waive the fee or ask for a supervisor.

Feel fre to update your article with my information if you would lik


Posted by:

Ron Dvorak
03 Jun 2015

Why hasn't anyone mentioned that you can print postage for free at usps.com?

Does anyone know what features, if any, stamps.com offers that usps.com doesn't?


Posted by:

Serena
15 Aug 2015

I never recalled seeing anything about the monthly fee either and after I remarried and changed my bank card and got a new pin I got notified by Stamps.Com that they couldn't withdraw the fee out of my acct. This is almost 3 years after signing up. For awhile I got paper bank statements and do not recall seeing any payments to them or I would have canceled immediately. I didn't even use the site every month. I found out that I can print postage using Paypal without having to go through eBay.


Posted by:

s.a.
30 Nov 2015

Ive never heard of this company until today when I received an email telling me my free kit was in the mail and since I did not order a kit since Ive never heard of them so I don't know how they got my name and address so Im pretty pissed and I immediately forwarded their email to the usps postal inspectors scam alert. I hope they put their ass in jail.


Posted by:

Jason
12 Jan 2016

Their business practices may not be the most ethical, but it's not a scam. I've used stamps.com for over a year and it makes it very convenient for those who run multiple online businesses like myself, because it processes all of my orders at once and I can print labels for all of my items at the same time (orders from various eBay accounts, amazon, and websites for example). The software works nicely for the most part, and the monthly fee is worth it for me. However, for people who don't run multiple online businesses, it may not be worth the monthly cost. Stamps.com should not market to the average person who doesn't need to print hundreds of labels a week, but they do and that's where they get their reputation as a scam.


Posted by:

Fred
26 Jan 2016

It's not TECHNICALLY a scam, but they are happy to charge you for a service you don't use forever. And when you try to cancel, I had to hold for 18 MINUTES to get someone on the phone - so they make it as difficult as possible. If they were an ethical business, they would have two options: (1) the option to cancel their service online, and (2) a free service that charges a small convenience fee for usage - such as $0.50 to print postage (which I would pay in the holidays!). BUT they don't offer that, because they want to bill you monthly for a service you don't us. Near Scam, if you ask me.


Posted by:

Gary Bruce
27 Jan 2016

Unless you rent a postage meter (another item from the dinosaur era, Stamps.com is a money pit. USPS, PayPal, eBay and even Amazon offer free postage printing services (just pay the USPS postage rates) for their sellers. And since the USPS snuck in the back-door rate increase last week (eliminating the savings for printing your own postage), there is NO savings in using stamps.com. If you, as a small business (not talking about utility companies here) have so much postage you need to farm it out, you can realize real saving by printing your mailings carrier sorted and having a local service affix the postage. Stamps.com may not be a bonefied scam, but their days as a worthwhile service are past. Buggy whips are dead.long live the buggy whip.


Posted by:

David Nichols
14 Mar 2016

Felt totally scammed when i got my credit card bill and saw the $15.99 charge. They did cancel it finally after trying to retain me with their BS other services, etc.....Never saw the monthly service fee disclaimer, so it is strategically placed to miss it. That to me is a scam!


Posted by:

Sincronicity
08 Apr 2016

I didn't feel it was a scam. Yes, I may have missed the mentioning of a monthly fee. It did give me the impression that you installed the software and the only time you had a charge was when you actually used the service of purchasing stamps or package mailing. Since I don't use the post office that much because of auto electronic payments, etc...it doesn't benefit me to keep stamps.com.


Posted by:

Joe
25 Apr 2016

I knew it was going to cost $16 per month for the service after the trial period of one month ended. I decided to try it anyway. I did not know there was also a basic plan at the time. I received the scale within ten days. Everything worked great except I called to cancel because of the monthly fee being too high for me. The phone call to cancel was not answered by a live person, however it would have been easy to cancel though I decided to accept the basic plan offered at $6 per month. So far I am happy with stamps.com.


Posted by:

Sunnie Dringenberg
01 Jun 2016

I am very disappointed with this site. I too got started with the free weeks. Loved the idea of printing out stamps at home and all worked very well until I found out about the service charge. I ordered new sheets to print stamps on last week. They were not expensive and I got 5 sheets for $4.95. I only use postage occasionally now, so I didn't need to get a lot of sheets. Got them today. I went on the site, signed in with my user ID and password and I could not find anywhere to print my stamps. So, I saw I could upgrade my account and that is where I saw I would be charged $15.99 a month. So, I called them. I too was put on hold for a few minutes. A very nice gentleman helped me. But he was the wrong department. I asked if I couldn't just put money on my account and print a sheet as I needed stamps, like I did before. He couldn't answer my question so transferred me to another person. That person said, no, they do not do the prepay anymore, I have to pay $15.99 a month to print stamps. I asked her why they would send me the papers to print stamps when I can't. I also asked her why they are keeping my $1.87 that is a balance on my account if I cannot print stamps. Anyway, I cancelled my account and will have to just go to the post office or order them from the post office. So disappointed though. I liked printing my stamps.


Posted by:

Tauffy
06 Sep 2016

The site has been nothing but a scam in my experience. I initially cancelled the account over a year ago, only to find out a few months later that they were charging my account. After contacting customer support about it, I was informed that I had never made an attempt to close my account before and so I closed the account a second time. Now I receive harassing phone calls, emails and letters from them claiming I owe them money for an account I closed because my debit card changed.


Posted by:

Coleman
26 Nov 2016

I am a former letter carrier of 25 years. This stamps.com service is not for the ordinary household. It is for businesses and even then it's not a good deal. Only if you are in a big city and going to the post office (or local UPS store) or other mailer is a big hassle and far away. There are people who do not want contact with other people and for them not having to go to the post office and interact with people is wonderful....but for the well adjusted person, stamps.com is pretty much a scam....just legal enough to be legal but ordinary people would call it a scam and be correct. And it will cost you more than save you in almost all cases. Stay away.


Posted by:

Joseph Glenn Parker
04 Mar 2017

Did not make it clear that there was a monthly charge. When I got my first bill after using 1 time it was for $47 and I only bought 2 or 3 dollars in postage. When I called to complain that I had not received any bills till I had 3 service charges racked up I was told that there was nothing that could be done and I had to pay In addition I never recieved the free scale I was supposed to recieve. I immediately closed my account.


Posted by:

Rick Christensen
16 Mar 2017

I had been wondering about both the utility and the ethics of stamps.com, initially inclined to favor it because of how it is marketed all over the USPS website (in fact, it might well have been a subdivision of USPS, given the way it is so comfortably situated there).

After minimal Googling, I found out what is going on, with all of these reviews here being very helpful. I'm not sure what the definition of "scam" is in any sort of legal context, but with all of the little tricks (e.g., barely detectable notification of the $15.99 monthly fee) they seem to engage in as routine business practice, I would say that "scam" is well justified.

I will not be dealing with these folks.


Posted by:

david
21 May 2017

Stamps.com is a scam by my definition. I made what I thought was a standalone purchase of $5, and about a few weeks to a month later, I see the recurring 15.99 (or so) charge! If it was in the fine print, the print was pretty sneaky. Especially when you're just going on there to buy a single-item shipping.

More and more companies do this sort of thing.


There's more reader feedback... See all 122 comments for this article.

Post your Comments, Questions or Suggestions

*     *     (* = Required field)

    (Your email address will not be published)
(you may use HTML tags for style)

YES... spelling, punctuation, grammar and proper use of UPPER/lower case are important! And please limit your remarks to 3-4 paragraphs. If you want to see your comment posted, pay attention to these items.

All comments are previewed, and may be edited before posting.

NOTE: Please, post comments on this article ONLY.
If you want to ask a question click here.

Free Tech Support -- Ask Bob Rankin
RSS   Add to My Yahoo!   Feedburner Feed
Subscribe to AskBobRankin Updates: Free Newsletter
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved
Privacy Policy -- See my profile on Google.
[an error occurred while processing this directive]


Article information: AskBobRankin -- Is Stamps.com a Scam? (Posted: 23 Sep 2009)
Source: http://askbobrankin.com/is_stampscom_a_scam.html
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved