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August 31, 2006 11:32 AM   Subscribe

I sent a letter domestically in the mail (USPS) one cent short on postage. Will it get there?
posted by thirteenkiller to Work & Money (18 answers total)
Probably not. It'll probably be returned to you.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 11:41 AM on August 31, 2006

I get mail all the time short on postage with a USPS ink stamp on it saying, "You owe $.06" or something like that.
posted by MarkAnd at 11:46 AM on August 31, 2006

It will probably just slow down processing-- that claim could sit for quite a while until somebody in the mailroom goes down to the post office to pay the penny and pick up the letter.
posted by InfidelZombie at 11:53 AM on August 31, 2006

From the USPS website:

What happens to 'postage due' Domestic mail?

Throughout its journey mail may be periodically checked to ensure it has proper postage. If a mail piece does not have proper postage, it may be returned or delivered according to the following scenarios:

* If the item is without postage, or it appears postage fell off, it is endorsed "Returned for Postage Mail" and sent to the return address on the mailpiece.

* If the item is short paid , it will be delivered postage due and the carrier will endorse it to show the amount of the postage due.
o The recipient must pay in cash for postage due mail before the mail is delivered.
o Depending on location, carriers may or may not be able to collect Postage Due directly from a customer or a customer's mailbox; for further information on how to pay for the Postage Due, please contact your Local Post Officeâ„¢ facility.
o Rural Carriers are not required to go to the door with a postage due letter. Policy stipulates that Rural Carriers go only as far as the mailbox and blow the horn. The recipient must come out to the mailbox to pay and receive the letter.
o Note: If the short paid item cannot be delivered as addressed (including if the recipient refuses to pay for and accept it), it is endorsed "Returned for Additional Postage" and sent to the return address on the mailpiece.

* If an item is returned because of no postage or insufficient postage and one of the following is the case:
o No return address is shown
o The delivery and return addresses are identical
posted by MarkAnd at 11:53 AM on August 31, 2006

I bet it gets delivered with no problem.
posted by MarkAnd at 11:56 AM on August 31, 2006

The post office is full of good and generally overworked people. There's a good chance this will get there ok--i think it's harder to return a letter than to send it on its way, unless it's going from maine to hawaii or something. they could return it to sender though.
posted by shownomercy at 12:29 PM on August 31, 2006

I got a letter once that was short $.12 in postage. The mailman left it in the mailbox with a note that it was short postage and a little envelope to leave cash payment in the mailbox for him.

I'm betting your letter will get delivered no problem.
posted by geeky at 12:53 PM on August 31, 2006

I sent mail with old stamps for about a month recently, when the postage rates went up by $0.01. None of them came back to me, though I imagine they're flexible during that switchover period.
posted by waldo at 1:50 PM on August 31, 2006

Wow, the USPS is a stickler, apparently. The Canada Post rule is that you have to get within three cents of proper postage. Which means that after they raise postage a penny, they won't sell you anymore stamps at the old denomination, but there's nothing stopping you from using the ones you have.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:13 PM on August 31, 2006

I have on more than one occasion sent items that I had good reason to believe I totally forgot to put a stamp on. They went through no problem.
posted by Rock Steady at 3:50 PM on August 31, 2006

I've gotten letters in the U.S. over the years that had insufficient postage, which were stamped Postage Due but no one actually bothered to collect the three cents or whatever it was.
posted by grouse at 3:53 PM on August 31, 2006

It really depends. When I lived in Japan, my dad sent me a Christmas card one year and he forgot to put ANY postage on it AT ALL.

I got it 2 days after he sent it from California.

So, you never know. :)
posted by drstein at 4:16 PM on August 31, 2006

Just make sure you never mix up the sender and recipient addresses and then forget to put a stamp on the envelope, because then the USPS would accidently send the letter to the recipient for lack of postage. And that would be stealing.
posted by popechunk at 5:40 PM on August 31, 2006

I can't actually imagine that working all that well. The post office knows where mail is coming from and going to. A letter that shows up in the From New York to LA bag with an LA return address and no postage is going to look mightily suspicious.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:36 PM on August 31, 2006

We don't have this problem in the UK - for letters, we have first and second class stamps that simply have '1st' or '2nd' printed in the corner, so it's quite possible to buy a lot of stamps just before a price increase and be able to use them after the increase.
posted by altolinguistic at 1:54 AM on September 1, 2006

Altolinguistic - there are stamps like that available here also.
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:20 AM on September 1, 2006

thirteenkiller: In the U.S., All nondenominated postage and makeup rate stamps, including official mail stamps, are valid at the original rates of issue.

As opposed to the UK where the nondenominated stamps are advertised as being a "fixed rate price, even if the postage rate changes."
posted by grouse at 11:21 AM on September 1, 2006

Update: It got there, but it took two weeks.
posted by thirteenkiller at 10:34 AM on October 11, 2006

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