Tag Archives: Mail

Free shipping for the holiday

Courtesy: FedEx

Courtesy: FedEx

If your shopping isn’t complete, the shipping deadline for holiday items is approaching. As a last push to get you to shop, an estimated 2000 retailers will participate in Free Shipping Day on Monday, December 17.

The Free Shipping team put together a handy list of shipping deadlines by retailer. Some say standard shipping orders placed by December 20th will arrive in time for the holiday. The  majority list earlier dates including December 16th and 17th.

It’s amazing the differences in shipping when you order from different companies. Continue reading

Upgrading your Hotmail account to Outlook

Everyone laughs when I tell them I have a Hotmail account. Yes, it was the first email address I got years ago. Why change something that works and everyone already has? We don’t change our phone numbers anymore so why change my email address? While I’m not ready to change Hotmail is ready to change, but I’ll still get to keep my email address.

Hotmail is rolling out Outlook to users while still allowing you to keep your Hotmail address.  Unlike some other free services out there that automatically change your account, Hotmail hasn’t taken that step just yet. Right now, you have to click “Upgrade” under options to convert your account to an outlook format.

If you don’t like the new upgrade, you can switch back to the old Hotmail during this preview period.

The new look is a little bland and will take some getting used to for me as it doesn’t quite look like the Outlook I use at the office or the web version I use to log in at home.

The upgrade is advertised as a way to integrate social media. That way you can see your contacts updates when you log in to your email. Of course that means syncing your accounts which is something I try not to do too often. I like my privacy on various programs and often don’t snyc.

What’s interesting is that I didn’t sync my accounts or upload a profile pictures.  As you can see to the left, my profile is blank.

However, when you look at an email conversation you see a different story. My Facebook profile picture pops up. Same for my husband. It’s amazing how even when you try to be somewhat incognito online, these programs are smart enough to connect the dots.

A picture is not a big deal, and some might argue that it enhances your email experience. It just always makes me wonder what else these programs know about me.

The other features include access to more cloud space, and a calendar that actually resembles the old Hotmail look.

I’ve made the upgrade for now and will play around with it. For me, it’s a good excuse to clean up my Inbox because I know that hasn’t been done in years. I have emails from people I don’t even know who they are anymore.

If you want to change your Hotmail address to an outlook one, click here for the steps to take to do that.

Post Office wants small businesses to keep sending junk mail

Consumers often look for ways to get rid of all their junk mail. It not only reduces waste, but it also reduces your risk for identity theft. Those pre-approved credit card offers are a dream to a thief looking to steal your personal information. There are agencies that help consumers get rid of this unwanted mail. As those campaigns have grown side campaigns like Mail Moves America have kickstarted to stall the stop junk mail efforts. Now, the Post Office is directly appealing to small businesses to continue sending that mail.

The Post Office launched the web-based service, “Every Door Direct Mail.”  It’s a way to market to small businesses with a simple way to reach every address every time.  The Post Office campaign says for as little as $14.5 cents you can send mailers to everyone in a neighborhood. No need to know the names or addresses of the people living in that area.

“Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, and the Postal Service plays an important role in enabling their growth and commercial success,” said Paul Vogel, president and chief marketing/sales officer, U.S. Postal Service.  “We are providing a suite of mailing and shipping services tailored to the needs of small businesses to help them compete for customers and run their operations more efficiently.”

If you’d like to join the cause, there are sites like Mail Moves America that promotes the jobs associated with the direct mail industry. The companies say 3.5 million jobs are connected to direct mail, and that more than 300,000 small businesses depend on this type of advertising.

If you’d still like to get rid of that excess mail and stop the constant shredding, opt out for pre-approved credit cards and insurance offers. You can do this by calling 1-888-5-OPT-OUT or opt out online. You will need to give your social security number as it’s linked to your credit report.

The Direct Marketing Association, which coincidentally runs the “Mail Moves America” campaign along with businesses, also supports consumers with a Preference Service that allows you to get your name off lists for catalogs and the like. The catch here – it costs a $1 to opt out by mail.

The Postal Service is in desperate need of business as it faces closures. Will this be the lifeline that saves it or have too many people already dismissed excess mail as junk?

Related links you may like:
Steps you can take to protect your good name
10 consumer reports you should check

Waiting for a package? Don’t fall for the fake

Waiting on a package from someone? Don’t fall for a bogus email about a delivery or you could install a virus on your machine or have personal information stolen.

These types of phishing emails make the rounds. Often, legitimate companies like banks or even the IRS are targeted. The thieves use the legitimate businesses to get you to click on the link.

The United States Postal Service says the email claims to be from them, but it contains fraudulent information about an an attempted or intercepted delivery. The USPS says you’re told to click on a link to learn more. The USPS says the link will download a virus that can steal your personal information like your user name, password, and possibly more.

Before you click on a link, check the sender. The thieves are getting sophisticated so they’re doing better about faking the email address of the sender. Also, hover over any links. This is usually the best sign of a scam. When you hover, you’ll see the real web address the link will direct you to. Finally, most companies won’t have you verify information through an email link. There is tracking offered by the postal service, but you probably won’t get a package unless you ordered it.


USPS charges money to change your address

I went to the Post Office looking for a change of address packet, only to find the colorful flier to the left. I was surprised the Post Office was so advanced and accepting change of address requests online. I moved just a year ago, and could only fill out a paper form and mail it in.  Little did I know, the online form would cost me money.

You go through several screens of the online address change request before you realize there is a fee. It’s only $1, but it’s the principle of it. The Post Office says the fee is charged to your credit or debit card to verify you’re who you say you are, and prevent fraud. It matches the address you currently live in or the new one with the address on file with your credit card.

Why can’t the Post Office just put a $1 hold on your account to verify it’s legitimate? Hotels and gas stations do this to make sure you have enough money in your account. Maybe this wouldn’t make the banks too happy since there ultimately wouldn’t be a charge on your account, but there has to be a better way. Even better disclosure would work for me. The card you pick up at the post office says nothing about a $1 fee.

They say it’s to verify your request against the address on file with your credit or debit card. However, why can’t they just put a $1 hold on your account to verify it’s legit and then refund it?

You can also change your address on the phone, but it won’t save you the $1. The only way to avoid the $1 fee is to mail in a form that you print off online. It’s called Form PS 3575. Your local Post Office may have it, too, but good luck having someone find it for you. You can also ask your mailman to deliver the form to your address. Then you can deliver the form to the Post Office or mail it.

If fraud is a concern at USPS, why don’t they ask for your identification when y you try to change your address with the paper form? Why is it only online? If fraud is really the main concern, maybe everyone needs to be subjected to scrutiny not just the users who submit the form online. Maybe then I’d feel that my $1 really serves a purpose and isn’t just  way for USPS to make money off me and other movers.

What will the Post Office sell next?

If you’ve been to the Post Office lately, you’ve been greeted with an onslaught of questions. The postal clerk is now a salesman. They’re not just asking you if there’s anything liquid or hazardous in your package, they are asking you if you’d like stamps, delivery confirmation, or any other upgrades.

I feel bad for the clerks because they’re ignored and get a bunch of No’s from customers who really want to say “ENOUGH. Just mail my item.”

Now, the Post Office clerk will try to sell you a new item. Gift cards will go on sale at  2,000 Post Offices in May.  If your Post Office sells greeting cards now, you’ll likely get the gift cards. About a thousand more locations will get the cards in October just in time for the holidays.

The test will run two years and include open loop cards. This means you’ll see a bank logo like American Express or Visa. You won’t be able to buy a gift card for your particular store.  They will come in fixed and variable amounts. The fixed card will be sold for $25 or $50 and the variable amount will have a minimum of $26 on it or a maximum of $100. You can add value to the card in $1 increments.

The Postal Service doesn’t expect revenue to be more than $10,000,000 in any given year of this test. They’ll make money off the fees that are charged. For a $25 fixed card you’ll pay a $3.95 activation fee, $4.95 for a fixed $50 card, and $5.95 for a variable gift.

The Post Office is also raising the price of some services April 17th as it tries everything possible to remain in business.

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