Longs adds own charge for parcels
I mailed a package at Longs Drug Store in Kaneohe via U.S. mail to the mainland as "priority mail." It weighed 8 pounds 7 ounces. My charge was $19.75. It seemed high but I paid. When I got home, I looked at the USPS Web site and found that the charge should have been $17.50. I called Longs and was told there was a surcharge. There was no sign posted about a surcharge. I could have gone across the street to the post office and used the self-service mailing and saved the extra cost. Why didn't Longs give me a choice by posting a sign?
Answer: Next time you have any question about product availability or pricing, bring it immediately to the attention of the store manager, said Bob Ingersoll, Longs' Hawaii District manager.
"We are confident that doing so will lead to a fast and satisfactory resolution," he said.
In this case, he apologized for your experience and said Longs will address the issue of posting a sign at its mailing centers -- available in Hawaii only at Longs in the Kaneohe Bay Shopping Center and in Lihue, Kauai.
Longs' mailing centers run on the same premise as any other retail mailing service, such as the UPS Store, FedEx Kinko's or any number of other businesses, he said. It offers the services not only of the USPS, but of UPS and FedEx, as well.
Customers "have a choice of which one they want" and "can compare the rates right there," Ingersoll said.
However, he acknowledged there aren't any signs pointing out a surcharge on USPS rates, and "we will address that." It's now a matter of figuring out what the signs will say.
Ingersoll said that the mailing center has been operating for five years, "and this is really the first complaint that we've encountered."
Meanwhile, apparently there is some confusion as to what people can be charged for mailing a letter or parcel via the Postal Service.
A private business "can charge their customers any type of handling fee they want; we have nothing to do with that," explained Nancy Wong, retail manager for the U.S. Postal Service in Honolulu.
The outlet in Longs is providing mailing services much as the UPS Stores or Mail Boxes Etc. do, she said, and is not under any obligation to stick to rates set by the federal government for delivery by the USPS.
The Postal Service's concern is whether proper postage is used in mailing any item, she said.
Most private mailing businesses "do have a service fee, and those are not contract postal units," Wong said.
Contract postal stations are basically official USPS stations and can be identified by their USPS signs. They also have a cancellation device provided by the Postal Service, and "they provide almost all the services that any post office would provide," Wong said.
However, they do not offer the services of their competitors, such as FedEx or UPS, she said.
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