In the summer of 2015 USPS introduced what they are calling a “special handling fee”. When customers pay this fee the package will not be shipped along with all the other packages. No conveyor belts of 50 pounds packages dropping 20 feet onto your coffee mug, which is a good thing. However, the special handling comes with a lofty price tag, $10.40 per package. The high rate of this fee makes it an unlikely option for most online sellers. No matter how fragile an item is I am sure you can adequately protect it with traditional shipping supplies and it won’t cost near $10 to do so. This service is targeted towards the casual shipper not the professional.
Here is the major problem with this new fee, it is getting applied incorrectly. After doing some research I noticed many posts about people getting charged the special handling fee when they added a fragile sticker to their package. This problem is much worse when using the free USPS “Fragile Special Handling” stickers. The USPS website states that the special handling only occurs when the additional fee is paid for. Imagine how mad your customer would be if they received a notice from USPS telling them they needed to pay an additional $10 in order to receive their item. That is a negative feedback waiting to happen. The other option is that the item may be returned to sender for insufficient postage. The fact is adding a fragile sticker to a package is not supposed to trigger the special handling. Special handling is only to be applied when the customer pays for the fee. It gets applied to your package because of the lack of training and knowledge of postal workers. This problem has increased dramatically with the reduction of post offices and the reduction of hours these offices are open. What was once a full time position with a professionally trained worker is not a part time position equivalent to that of a Wal-Mart greeter.
I have long believed that fragile stickers served only one purpose and that is to appease buyers. They serve no purpose precisely because they were handled just like every other package, getting thrown around and being dropped off conveyor belt cliffs. Despite the lack of functional purpose they did serve a symbolic purpose. A buyer loves to see a fragile sticker it gives their item a sense of worth and a feeling that it was well cared for. Any potential value you place in that is largely thrown out the window when you consider the potential for a $10 special handling fee or the item being returned to you only because you applied that little red sticker.
Package your items correctly, ditch the fragile stickers and avoid that awful special handling fee.
For more information on the special handling fee check out this USPS link.