Why You Should Keep a Working Scale

October 28 2017, 11:20am

Old scale

As someone who sell stuff occasionally online, I know how important it is to understand how much your item weighs. Sure, knowing the dimensions of a package is useful but weight, it seems, can dramatically increase and decrease shipping costs even more. As in my other post where I neglected to read the manual of a drill, taking shortcuts with weight resulted in a more costly option than intended. Here's why you should keep a good working scale.

One morning I woke up to notification that an item I had posted online was sold. I checked for payment then went about packaging it up nicely before getting it ready for a label. I went to get my scale and turned it on. Almost as quickly as it was on, it turned back off—the batteries had died.

As it is been a while since I shipped anything, I figured I could just use the stated weight of the item online plus a few ounces for the packaging. To make sure the recipient got the item in hand, I added shipping confirmation. I printed the label and had the shipment sent on its way later that day.

Unbeknownst to me, the package got left at the local office for a while. It wasn't until the buyer contacted me that I knew of the problem. After much back-and-forth with USPS, the package was finally found and sent on its way to the buyer. When it arrived though someone else at the office had refused it—it was being sent back to me.

A few more calls later, I found out that the package was refused because payment had to be made to make up the difference in shipping.

At this moment, I would've happily pay the difference out of simple error, but instead USPS acknowledges that its system isn't that sophisticated. The package is already on it's way back to my local post office.

The package gets sent back to my area and I receive notification to pay for the difference—or at least this is what I think. First thing in the morning, I go to the post office, hand them my slip, make payment, and halfway through just realized that the difference paid is for me to get the package back.

I still need to get the package to the buyer—or at least want to.

I end up having to clarify things with the manager of the post office out of shear confusion. He lets me know that they fulfilled their duty and that I need to pay again to have the package shipped to the buyer. I end up paying the same total for shipping due to being a few ounces off of their scale.

bear in a box

Though the package is now with the buyer, the whole experience left a bad taste in my mouth. Sometimes honest mistakes are made. Not everyone is out there to take advantage of systems in place. Moreover it's 2017. I'm a bit surprised that there isn't a way to rectify this very simple problem through USPS's system.

Thus, the reason for why you should keep a good skill in working condition. The scale that I have, the Ozeri Touch, has good reviews and has been pretty accurate in terms of lining up with carrier scales. I just wish that I had kept a few extra 2032 lithium batteries on hand to help prevent being off on weight.

An additional note, more USPS personnel are checking the actual weight of packages as many people are shipping for less and pocketing the difference. To combat this, you might want to tack on an additional ounce or two when shipping a package to deal with any scale calibration inconsistencies.

Have any shipping horror stories? what happened?