Plug into the post office

Now you can purchase postage over the Internet

If you hate waiting on long lines at your local post office, then Stamps.com may be your answer. You can use this Internet postage service to buy stamps for first-class, priority and express mail, all from the comfort of your home or office. “By using the Internet to deliver postage, we have transformed a centuries-old product requiring proprietary machines into a simple service, available 24 hours a day from any PC,” says Stamps.com CEO John Payne. “Our customers find Stamps.com Internet postage fast, easy and cost-effective.”

To make the connection, you need a personal computer with at least Windows 95 or Windows NT 4.0, a laser or ink-jet printer and an Internet connection. After downloading Stamps.com’s free software and opening an account, you can begin printing professional-looking Internet postage immediately and enjoy unlimited desktop access 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Once you log on to www.stamps.com, you can print Internet postage directly on labels or envelopes with just a click in the toolbar prompt.

Stamps.com offers two monthly pricing plans: the Personal Service Plan and the Business Service Plan. The Personal Service Plan is recommended for lighter volume users who send 75 letters or fewer a month. Under this option, customers can use up to $25 worth of postage for a flat-rate convenience fee of just $1.99 per month or $19.99 annually. However, customers are charged a 15% convenience fee for any postage used over $25. The alternative Business Service Plan is for the high-volume small office and home office users who account for the $44 billion spent by the U.S. Postal Service’s stamp and postage-meter users. Under this option, customers are charged a 10% monthly convenience fee when postage is used. No special hardware is required and customers aren’t charged monthly reset fees and maintenance charges. Because the plan runs from month to month, users can cancel at any time and no matter how much postage they use, the convenience fee will never exceed $19.99 per month.

Weighing packages is easy too. Customers can either use their own scale and enter the weight of their package or go to Stamps.com’s online store to purchase a digital 10-pound scale that hooks up to the back of their PC. The scale integrates with the software to transmit the weight of the package and then the postage is calculated. Once the mail is stamped, users can drop the package in any mailbox, give it to their regular postal carrier, call to arrange a pickup or take the package to the post office. The site also allows users to track, insure, register or certify mail.

Stamps.com, based in Santa Monica, California, has partnered with America Online (AOL), Office Depot, Quicken.com and MySoftware Co. to provide Internet postage service to an even greater customer base. Payne says, “We have a portfolio of strategic relationships with leading partners and we are aggressively building an infrastructure for a world-class brand with legendary customer service.”

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