How to Use USPS Signature Confirmation Effectively with eBay and Paypal

23 Apr

You may also be interested in these guides: The Limitations of USPS Delivery Confirmation and Can USPS Signature Confirmation Be Used to Ship to P.O. Box?

This article’s main points and concerns are:

Signature Confirmation is required on all transactions of $250 or more.

During transit, packages with Signature Confirmation act the same as those with Delivery Confirmation.

How to avoid buyers who prey on sellers unfamiliar with certain shipping technicalities.

Signature Confirmation represents a potential hassle to the buyer if they are not present to sign for the package.

Paypal has changed the way they decide disputes when the Signature Confirmation numbers says delivery was attempted.

Buyers must pick up packages held at the Post Office as soon as possible because they are not as well protected as they once were.

Read the entirety of this article by clicking the link below or the title above:

My most popular article so far has been The Limitations of USPS Delivery Confirmation so I thought I would follow it up with an article on USPS Signature Confirmation. When printing shipping labels online, the cost of Signature Confirmation is currently $1.95 on Priority Mail, Parcel Post, or Media Mail packages.  At a Post Office or other shipping retailer, the cost is $2.35.

According to the USPS website :

“Get all the benefits of Delivery Confirmation™ and more.  Signature Confirmation™ gives you an added level of security by requiring a signature from the person who accepts your package.

If you’re sending something important, you may want to be sure that it reaches not just the right address, but the right hands as well.  With Signature Confirmation, you can get confirmation of delivery – including date, time and location – and you can request to have a letter faxed or mailed to you with a copy of the recipient’s signature.”

The first paragraph of this statement is true.  When printing labels online, the Signature Confirmation label looks almost identical to the Delivery Confirmation label, and up until delivery, everything about it is the same.  Signature Confirmation is not a better form of “tracking” during shipment than Delivery Confirmation. Like with Delivery Confirmation, the number will likely not update until the item is delivered and signed for.

The second paragraph is more open to interpretation.  First, the mail carrier will likely have whoever opens the door sign for the package. It does not matter if it is the name on the package or not. In that respect, you can’t be certain that the package will reach “the right hands.”   I ran a test of Signature Confirmation by shipping a package from my business address to a friend’s Post Office box.  This is what the e-mailed copy of signature looks like:

As you can see, the “address of recipient” is missing the Post Office box number.  If this was an eBay transaction I would most likely win a Paypal dispute if the buyer said they did not receive the item, but nothing is guaranteed these days.  I was disappointed that the address did not include the Post Office box and the mail carrier wrote it so it is difficult to make out what it says. It was a remarkably fast turnaround from the time I requested the scan to when I received it. It only took a couple of hours to receive the email.  To request the copy of signature, simply input the Signature Confirmation number into USPS Track & Confirm and click “Go” as pictured below:
USPS Signature Confirmation Proof of Signature

So when should Signature Confirmation be used?

Paypal requires online verifiable “proof of delivery” for every item sold. In their User Agreement Paypal defines proof of delivery as:

11.6 What is “Proof of Delivery”?

Online documentation from a shipping company that includes all of the following:
• The date the item is delivered.
• The recipient’s address, showing at least the city/state or zip code (or international equivalent).
• Signature Confirmation for payments of $ 250 USD or more (see Foreign Currency Equivalents below).

The third bullet is extraordinarily important.  It means that for all transactions that exceed $250, Signature Confirmation must be purchased.  This includes items that sell for $240 with an additional shipping charge of $10, for a total of $250, or any other combination.  If the amount of the transaction is $250 or more, Signature Confirmation must be purchased. There are no exceptions.  Just as there are international buyers who prey on sellers who ship without tracking, there are domestic buyers who prey on sellers who are unfamiliar with what could be described as a technicality.  Do not, under any circumstances, ship an item to a buyer without Signature Confirmation if the transaction amount is $250 or more.  If you receive an email from a buyer who asks if it is possible to ship an item without signature confirmation, I would recommend immediately blocking them. Do so here: Managing bidders and buyers

The most common complaint with USPS Signature Confirmation, ironically, is that it requires a signature.  This may seem a bit counterintuitive, but many buyers will not be home to sign for the package when it is delivered.  This means the buyer will either have to sign the form that the mail carrier leaves and reschedule delivery over the phone or more likely wait in line at whatever Post Office the package is held at.  This unexpected hassle may cause some buyers to leave less than stellar Detailed Seller Ratings.  For this reason, if you are shipping with Signature Confirmation, you may want to explain the process to the buyer and give them a time period when the package is likely to arrive so they can make plans to receive it.  This also presents a potential problem if the buyer either refuses or is unable to pick up the package from the Post Office. If a buyer opens a dispute that they did not receive the item and the Signature Confirmation says that delivery was attempted, the seller may win the dispute.  This is contradictory to what has occurred in the past, where Paypal would grant most claims in the buyer’s favor in this situation.  It is impossible to guarantee what the Paypal computers will decide, but sellers now have a better opportunity to “win” Item Not Received disputes if the “tracking” says delivery was attempted.  Even so, the seller would likely not be protected in the case of a credit card charge back and may even have to pay to have the item reshipped depending on what the seller can work out with the buyer.  Buyers – if you receive a notice that you missed a package, I recommend picking it up as soon as possible to avoid having the item shipped back to the seller and risk losing the payment as well.

Signature Confirmation is another useful service provided by the United States Postal Service.  Like with Delivery Confirmation, it is not without its hang-ups.  Familiarize yourself with how Signature Confirmation works, so when you grill that cheese sandwich that looks like Mother Theresa you can ship it to the lucky buyer without the risk of losing a Paypal dispute.  Buyers – make sure you pick up any items at the Post Office because you are not as well protected as you used to be.

If you found this guide helpful, check out the site index by clicking here for 75+ more guides including how to get around eBay selling limits, enabling PayPal’s merchant rate to save money on fees, and raising your auction and fixed price visibility in best match search.

3 Responses to “How to Use USPS Signature Confirmation Effectively with eBay and Paypal”

  1. Watch Year One Online Free 20. Jun, 2009 at 12:58 pm #

    I can tell that this is not the first time you mention this topic. Why have you decided to touch it again?
    p.s. Year One is already on the Internet and you can watch it for free.

  2. Cliff 07. Mar, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

    In your whole artical, you do not make aany mention of the mailman/delivery person, leaving a package in your mail box that required Signature Confirmation, & he signed your name for the package because you were not home.
    With PayPal, I think you would end up on the loosing end of a dispute for Item Not delivered.

  3. Norman 21. Dec, 2012 at 5:05 am #

    I won an item on E-Bay that stated that standard shipping was the method of shipping. I requested specific information from the seller concerning the method of shipping. The seller informed me that it was USPS Priority mail with insurance and delivery confirmation. Since I am temporarily out of the coumtry I had it shipped to my name incare of a friend. The item was shipped by USPS Priority mail with insurance and delivery confirmation, and unknown to me “signature confirmatiopn.”

    Since I am out of the country there is no way that I could sign for delivery. Likewise because of the hours my friend works he is not available to go to the post office to evensee if they would deliver the item to him. The value of the item is less than $55.It was a golf club.

    Therefore I think that signature confirmation was not a good idea foe the seller to add—especially since the seller was aware it was not being shipped directly to me.

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