by Nick Anis
Postage stamps has joined the growing list of tasks you
can handle over the Web. Back in 1996, The United States Post Office
began experimenting with selling postage through websites. One of
the firms that joined the USPS' Information Based Program (IBIP) was Stamps.com.
Stamps.com offers a
software-only web-based service that's convenient, easy-to-use service,
and relatively cost-effective for purchasing and printing postage over the
Internet. You can purchase and print on demand First Class, Priority, and
Express Mail postage for U.S. addresses. Registered Mail, Delivery
confirmation, Package Tracking, and Return Receipt services are also
supported. Most ink jet and laser printers can be used to print and
address directly onto envelopes and labels. The monthly service
ranges from $1.99 to $19.99; from $0 to 19.99 per month = $1.99, from $20
to $199.99 per month = 20%, and from $200 and up = $20 per month maximum.
The software you will need can be downloaded FREE from
the Stamps.com website. The Stamps.com
software will also be built-in to the next release of Netscape Navigator,
and is available for download from Netscape's Netcenter and AOL.com.
According to Chris Hylen, senior vice president of
marketing, there are over 100,000 customers using Stamps.com as of this
February. The company defines a customer as someone who has
installed its Internet Postage software and who has an active, licensed
U.S. Postal Service account, funded with postage, and tied to a credit
card or checking account number for billing purposes. As the pioneer
Internet Postage service, Stamps.com
does not require the purchase of an additional hardware device, such as a
meter, electronic vault or dongle.
Although it is not required to use the service, Stamps.com
offers a (4 pound capacity) digital postage scale for $29.95 or a (10
pound capacity) digital postal scale that interfaces with a PC for $59.95
- which are offered at about a 60% discount from their suggested list
To get started with Stamps.com
all you need is an online connection, computer and printer. The
company is even giving new customers $20 of free postage (see http://www.Stamps.com).
Using the Stamps.com
service, which only takes a few minutes to setup, you can have immediate
access to purchase and print postage right on your PC desktop. The
service even verifies and corrects your address and adds 4 digit zip code
suffixes on the fly. When you use the software it will give you the
option of adding the address (and any corrections) to your pc-based
address book. Stamps.com
also provides a library of graphics that can optionally be placed on your
envelopes and labels. Stamps.com
has toll-free technical support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a
works with directly with Microsoft Word 97, 98, Microsoft Office 2000,
Lotus Word Pro 97, 98, 2000, Corel Word Perfect 8.0, 2000, and Microsoft
Outlook 97/98, Microsoft Outlook Express, Sysmantec ACT! 4.0/2000, Lotus
Organizer 5.0/6.0, and Windows Address. Import and export options
are also supported for a variety programs and platforms. A range of
Avery labels are supported for printing labels for packages and manila
envelopes. Postal regulations require postage on letter and legal
size envelopes to printed directly on the envelopes, or to be printed on
Avery florescent white labels (available from Stamps.com
at about the same cost as regular Avery labels).
you sign up for the service you are issued a user name and password.
The service used the same level of encryption as the US Pentagon so you
shouldn't have to worry about someone using up your postage. If you
forget your password you can have your password reset and emailed to your
registered email address, which is the standard way Internet-based
services handle that problem).
February also marks the widespread kick-off of the Stamps.com
partnership with AOL, a $56 million marketing and distribution agreement
signed by the companies in the fourth quarter of 1999. Stamps.com
is launching interactive advertising across all the AOL brands - the AOL
network, AOL.com, Netscape,
CompuServe, and Spinner.com - with
dynamic targeting to Digital City customers in Atlanta, Los Angeles, New
York, San Francisco and Seattle.
For technical support, pre-sales questions, or to sign
up for the service you can call 888-434-0555 or point your browser to http://www.getstamps.com.
# # #
Nick Anis is a food, wine, and travel
and technology writer with over 24 books in print published by
McGraw-Hill, Random House, Bantam, Ziff-Davis, Tab, and others. Nick's
articles have appeared in The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, West Coast
Media, The Family Publications Group, The Weekly News, and Travel-Watch.
His beats include food, travel, snow and waters sports, entertainment,
family recreation, consumer electronics, home improvement, and automotive.
He is responsible for the Restaurant Row Ethnic Dining Guide, co-published
by the Long Beach Press Telegram. Nick is an
accomplished downhill skier, PADI certified SCUBA diver, and when he's not
sitting on his butt goofing off, enjoys a variety of active recreation
including tennis, riding motorcycles, ATVs, wave runners, snow machines,
horses, skeet and trap shooting he's also taken a stab at riding camels,
donkeys, elephants, ostriches, lamas, dolphins, Reindeer, bulls,
mechanical bulls, and buffalo. Nick is a member (A
Secretary/Treasurer) of the International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers
Association (IFWTWA), a member of the North American Snow Sports
Journalist Association (NASJA), Computer Press Association, The Writer's
Guild, and listed in Books in Print, Media Map, and Press Access.
You can reach Nick at Editor@Travel-Watch.com.