Jay Cross
Jay Cross

New blog
Links & more

Subscribe with Bloglines
Enter your email address to subscribe to Internet Time Blog.

Stamps.com - a cautionary tail
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
I feel that I am being wronged by Stamps.com. The amount at stake is trivial - $150 and change, but I don't like feeling cheated nor do I think companies should be rewarded for putting legal minutiae ahead of basic fairness.
The issue in a nutshell:
Stamps.com: "To avoid being charged, simply cancel your account before the trial ends."

Jay: You don't mention that you can expect a thirty-minute wait on hold when you try to cancel. Or that there is no way to cancel by email or snail-mail. This is scurilous. (I never used their service, was one business day late in cancelling, and the
y refuse to close my account...and want to charge me $150+ for the year.)
To my delight, I discovered that Stamps.com is a public company. Hmmm. Where should I start?

I have the names of all of their officers and directors, but it might be more entertaining to begin with the Better Business Bureau, NASDAQ, and the S.E.C. Or I could write the top brass at their partners (Microsoft, NCR, Office Depot, CompUSA, Earthlink, Vendio, Xerox, Dymo, Peachtree, and Elibrium) to complain of unfair business practices. I could call Ernst & Young, their accountants, questioning the legitimacy of recognizing revenue for services never rendered. Or, and this might be best of all, it's not difficult to contact the Postmaster General. I'd probably do it through my Senators and Representative since their requests have a somewhat higher priority than mine. Food for thought.

This evening I sent my third request to cancel this "service" and the bill for twelve months of nothing. I'll give Stamps.com a day to respond. I predict fireworks ahead.

If you've experienced similar treatment from these guys, leave a comment or drop me a note.

Color coding: my email, email from stamps.com
The email thus far:

Subject: Your account no. 223 8907

To: resolution@stamps.com

On March 14, 2005, a representative of Stamps.com called me and offered a 30-day free trial of your service. He said all I would need to do to cancel the service was call you at 888-434-0055. He failed to mention that no one answers that line without a 30-minute wait.

Today I called, waited my 30 minutes, and spoke with someone named Brandy. I explained that I had never used your service and wanted to cancel. She said that since I was three days beyond the free trial period, I would have to pay for the first year's service, that is, 12 months at $15.99. I said this was absurd. She said she had no authority to change anything. I asked if she had a supervisor.

After a few minutes, Lawrence picked up on the "supervisor line." He told me rules are rules. I said I was appealing to his sense of fairness. I never used the service. It's difficult to cancel the service. He said he had to follow policy. Was there someone else I could speak with? No, there is no one else to speak with.

I told Lawrence I write magazine articles and that thousands of people read my blogs. I would write this up. I think Lawrence took this as a threat. I said that all I would do is tell the truth. Did he think it fair and reasonable to charge someone more than a hundred dollars for a service they never used? He thought so. Maybe I'll take a poll.

I request that you close my Stamps.com account, no. 223 8907. I have not used your service and am closing the account because I do not intend to.


Jay Cross
Designer | Writer | Speaker | Ambassador | Marketer | Coach
510.528.3105 cell & office http://jaycross.com

each of us is alone in the universe
so is everyone else

e. e. cummings

Dear Mr. Cross,

Please note that our fees are not usage-based, but based on whether a customer has access to an active and available account.

After reviewing your Stamps.com account, we have determined that we will not be able to accommodate your request for a cancellation of your contract with us.

As explicitly stated in the Service Agreement, you are subject to a $15.99 fee per month during a one year term.

As reiterated in the Welcome E-mail that was sent on the day you opened the account, we allow you a 29-day trial period to cancel in order to avoid the charging of any fees.

In your case, customers signing up for the Monthly Lease Plan are given these Termination Terms prior to registration:

"Term Service Plan. If you terminate your term service plan before the end of your term, you will be required to pay an early termination fee equal to your monthly billing fee multiplied by the number of months remaining on your term. No early termination fee is charged if you terminate a term service plan in accordance with any applicable No Risk Trial time period. After the expiration of your term service plan, the terms relating to the monthly service plans apply."

We feel that 29 days is ample time to evaluate the service and cancel an account should Stamps.com not meet your current needs during that specified trial period.

While the service fees billed to your account are valid per the Stamps.com Terms & Conditions, we hope you will use your Stamps.com account for the full year.


Office of the President Stamps.com Postage Group

To OTP, Stamps.com

I wrote you about fairness, not the specifics of your contract. Your website states,

"Can I cancel anytime? Absolutely. You can cancel your membership simply by contacting Stamps.com Customer Support. There are no cancellation fees and no commitments. To avoid being charged after your trial, simply cancel your account before the trial ends."

You don't mention that you can expect a thirty-minute wait on hold when you try to cancel. Or that there is no way to cancel by email or snail-mail. This is scurilous.

Once again, I request that you close my Stamps.com account, no. 223 8907. I have not used your service and am closing the account because I do not intend to use it.


Dear Mr. Cross,

We have thoroughly researched your account and have comprehensively
communicated our policies as well as all possible courses of action
available with regard to this issue. The absolute resolution to this
matter has been reached and explained in detail in our previous
correspondence. There are no further avenues of action available on our
part with regard to this issue.

If you have any additional information regarding this matter that was
not previously presented or if you have a different issue you would like
us to address, please let us know so we may be of assistance.


The Resolutions Group
Stamps.com PC Postage

May 3, 2005. Notices the CFO is an HBS grad and sent him a pointer to this page.


Blogger Harold Jarche said...

Scurilous, indeed! Markets are conversations, and you have just started one ;-)

4:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you pay by credit card? You can dispute the charge through your credit card company, which with its long-term relationship with you will be more sympathetic to your case.

If they reverse the charge, you not only get your money back, you increase the 'charge-back' rate for stamps.com, which can increase their costs in the future.

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am currently having a similar problem with them, although on a smaller scale. I am only on the hook for 2 months worth of service. I was unable to cancel before my 28 days were up due to excessie hold times. Not only did they charge me for the second month, but also for the first "free" month. If you read the fine print this is stated, but it is cetainly not clear form their promotional material. Why on earth would they penalize customers who want to continue the service by making them pay for their free trial period? I have never come across a "free trial" with these conditions before. This reeks of a scam to me.

8:10 PM  
Blogger jay said...

See my post a few days later. I received a full refund and an explanation that Stamps.com couldn't hire fast enough to maintain their service. Whatever. As a pubic company, the names and address for officers is available from SEC filings. Do what you must.

8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jay, thanks for the update. I did get a response that offered to meet me halfway and refund one month of service so I would only be on the hook for $15.99. I'm not entirely satisfied with this, but I feel like I've wasted enough time on them and I'm going to cut my losses and run.

2:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

smae thing happened to me. I signed up for service on November 6, ordered stamps on november 11, and found out on november 12 that i had to purchase more stuff to use the stamps appropriately. I called immediately on the 12th to cancel and get a refund, and they denied me, and then said that I had to wait four to six weeks for them to mail me a check because the post office already had my money.

I told them they were insane. so then ended up giving me free stamps to print the value of my purchase and use them. In a fury I hung up, received the stamps, printed them, and mailed them, erased their software from my computer, and six months later find out they have been charging me $15.99 a month for absolutly nothing.

I too had to wait at least 1/2 hour to talk to someone, first guy could not find my account, next girl refused to refund me, third girl refused to fund me ask for supervisor, was told they would just tell me the same thing, sent an email, was told the same thing, sent an email to the complaint line where they told they were willing to refund me because the original call ended so hastily and they were not able to fully explain the procedure for closing my account.

I say they are all full of it. they see an inactive account for six months they should make it right. I spent the better part of 1 1/2 hours talking, yelling and insulting their phone reps. Like I told them, as front line phone reps, they cannot be proud of the work they are forced to do each day.

I was about to launch an all out assault on stamps.com, much like the one you described, until they finally agreed to refund. I am still waiting for the refund, but it has only been three days.

good luck to me.

4:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am writing to you so that you can refund me my $95.94 your company charged me for unauthorize
payment on my account. I have never used stamps. com and didn't
know that the registration went though because my computer froze up and i never finished the processing of stamps.com on my computer therefore i want my refund. account no: 2284985

11:09 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

About Us | Contact Us | Home |

Powered by Blogger

Copyright 2005, Internet Time Group, Berkeley, California