Can I pay the "postage due" on a package I sent a friend out of state?
December 1, 2019 11:18 PM   Subscribe

How can I pay the "postage due" on a letter I sent to a friend (apparently I did not add enough postage), and the letter is being held at her local Post Office. I have a QR code and 16 digit barcode number specific for the package. Details below. Thanks

I mailed a "standard-letter-sized," bubble-wrap thickness, envelope to a friend. I shipped via USPS, from TX to CO (Colorado).
I thought I had affixed more than sufficient postage.

I texted her this week, asking if she received it, and she sent me a hi-res pic of the note on her door left by USPS, saying the letter I sent was being held at her local CO post office for $2.xx in "postage due."

I have her phone pic of the modern "postage due" notice on her door, which has a legible "QR" code and unique barcode number she can use to schedule redelivery of the package to her home. But she would still need to be home at a specific time and have $$ to pay. :/

I want to know if there is any way I can possibly use the "QR" code, or unique barcode, to pay the remaining postage due online, using an card, so it is simply delivered to her with no postage due on her part.

I used what I thought was an accurate scale, measuring tape, and the postage rate calculator to determine postage, affixed a bunch of colourful postage stamps which I thought exceeded the recommended rate by around 10% extra, and dropped it in the blue mailbox.

So apparently I F#%@-ed Up when calculating the postage on my own.

She's an overly busy single mom, I sent the envelope with a few patches to sew on her kid's clothes, a fun sticker, that kind of stuff. It was supposed to make her life easier and brighter in a simple way.

Her life is crazy busy right now, I feel bad because my good intention is having the opposite of the intended effect! :(
I would be so happy to be able to pay the $2.xx postage due for her, and just have it left in her mailbox.

Can anyone offer any suggestions? I did quite a lot of reading on the USPS website and, to my surprise, couldn't find any info. Maybe this is another case of my tendency to notice details and totally miss the obvious.

Any USPS MeFites out there have any suggestions? Again, I have a hi-res photo she sent me of the "postage due" letter on her door, so I have a scannable QR code and unique barcode I can use if needed.

Thanks in advance!!

(I suppose next time I'll just take my little parcels into the PO and have them weighed.)

Here's a pic the notice she received, I censored the personally identifying information, but the pic should give some idea of the kind of detailed information I have on my uncensored copy of the pic. (sorry, I don't seem to be able to make the markup tools work, so I can't seem to make it click-able?)

Thanks again in advance for any help! :)
posted by ethical_caligula to Work & Money (6 answers total)
Call her local post office and ask for help. Maybe you can pay over the phone or something? Or they might have another idea.
posted by brainmouse at 11:28 PM on December 1, 2019 [1 favorite]

Seconding calling the post office where it's being held and asking for advice.

If I were her, though, I'd just go to the post office, pay the postage due, and retrieve the package there. If she does that, you could send her the balance due if you don't want her to be out of pocket.
posted by brianogilvie at 1:15 AM on December 2, 2019

Yes, call her local post office. The flip side of the notice lists the address of her local p.o. (example); use it to look up the local phone number. (The general 800 #, listed below that address on the notice, has long waits at this time of year.)

I'm not seeing a 'pay postage due online' option at the USPS site either, or in the q&a section at r/USPS. (All postage-due issues in the questions I skimmed involve smaller $ amounts / recipient leaving the $ in their mailbox for the mail carrier / recipient ignoring the postage-due requests until 10 to 14 days elapse; the mail item is returned to sender [provided there is a return address on the mail], who can pay the fee at that point. You could then re-mail your item -- which may cost more than the online calculator estimate due to the decal/sticker contents sliding around, bunching up, and adding a 'non-machinable surcharge' to the total. Or the envelope was plastic-coated.)

Maybe posting there will get a definitive answer from a postal employee with inside baseball? Good luck.
posted by Iris Gambol at 1:28 AM on December 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

You might be able to send stamps, which function as currency to the post office.
posted by theora55 at 6:19 AM on December 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Can you paypal or venmo or zelle the $2.xx directly to your friend?

Also, I talked to a postal clerk recently who advised going to the counter instead of calculating the rate yourself. He explained that different clerks will tally up the same package with different rates! If you pay at the counter, they will stamp the package as paid, and non-machinable if needed, then you will know for sure it should have enough postage.
posted by Pig Tail Orchestra at 7:11 AM on December 2, 2019 [1 favorite]

Some of this will really depend on how big the post office is. At my local post office, for example, you would call them and either send stamps or give them credit card details over the phone and they could send the item out for delivery. At a busy urban post office you will likely not get this level of service.

And in terms of your envelope, there is a good chance you sent it as some kind of a letter when it needed to be sent as a parcel? Parcels/packages are more expensive even though there's a pretty fine line (usually overall thickness/rigidity of the item and whether it's all one thickness or has lumps).

Worst case, the item will be returned to you and then you can just re-send it with the right postage.
posted by jessamyn at 9:29 AM on December 2, 2019

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