Pitney Bowes: The Pits

by Kit Cassingham

My office had used a Pitney Bowes postage machine to help us more efficiently handle our business mail. It worked well, though it did have the inconvenience of requiring a trip to the post office to refill the postage. Also, we were told that it was legally required that they "inspect" the machine twice a year -- presumably to ensure we had not tampered with it. It was definitely a bother to have the guy come by every six months, but it was better than standing in line at the post office every day.

When postage systems became available through the Internet, we shifted to one of those systems and cancelled our account with Pitney Bowes. One odd thing we suddenly realized was that the "inspector" hadn't shown up in quite awhile -- maybe a couple of years. But that didn't matter anymore: having cancelled our account meant Pitney Bowes had to retrieve their machine, and we'd be done with it once and for all. We had a home office, so we made it clear they needed to call first so that we would be there for them. We never heard from them, and the postage machine became a nuisance in the office because of the space it consumed.

A year later we moved our office. Sure enough, one of the things we had to pack up and move was the dusty postage meter. We had called Pitney Bowes a couple of times during that year; they always promised to come get the machine, but never did. At least they had stopped charging us for it!

By now, I was fed up with this big, old, clunky mechanical machine constantly getting in the way, so I decided to get aggressive about getting rid of it. I called again, and Pitney Bowes claimed to have tried to pick up the machine, but that nobody was at the office. I replied that they were supposed to call first, and clearly they hadn't. And if it's so important to ensure the machine hadn't been tampered with, why hadn't they bothered to check on it anytime in the past three years?! I forged ahead with the demand that they come get it -- now, please!

They asked me to confirm my address, but I decided to take the tack that if they didn't know where the office was that they would have to call first, so I refused to confirm or deny the address they had on record -- and told them why. OK, they said: they promised to pick it up by the end of the week, which of course meant that someone would be calling us to find out where the machine was. That was fine -- I could stand a few more days of the machine sitting by the door, waiting for them.

Of course nobody called, so Monday I called again. I told the clerk that I was going to call every day until the machine was gone. She promised me I'd hear from somebody that day. No one called. I called Tuesday, and we went through the same dance. By Wednesday she was so frustrated with the situation she told me she'd have her manager call me. Progress! Well, maybe not: the manager didn't call either.

By Thursday the poor gal was almost in tears. Heck: if she was this upset after just four days, imagine what we had been going through for well over a year! I told her if they didn't want the machine, I'd leave it on the curb for the garbage truck to take away. She said that we couldn't do that, it was "illegal"! I retorted that since they didn't know where the office was, they couldn't very well report us! She finally cracked and begged me to tell her what I "wanted". Ah, at last.

I said that I "wanted" the machine to be picked up that day. I would give the person who was coming for it my address when they were on their way, just to make sure they didn't try to claim nobody was in the office when they came for it. Simple! Yeah, well, it still took a couple of calls, but finally the Pitney Bowes manager called, and I was able to relay my problem. He took care of it: the delivery person was on his way within two hours. I finally had the machine out of my office, with only about 10 days of daily calling -- but over a year of waiting!

Pitney Bowes does still seem to be in business, which is hard to believe considering their lack of customer service. They left me in a difficult "Catch-22": it was supposedly illegal to throw the machine out, but they didn't seem to want the obsolete postage system any more than I did. So why did I have to deal with their inability to keep up with the times? I don't know if they ever did catch up, but I don't care: their leaving me to deal with the problem means I'll never do business with Pitney Bowes again.


Kit Cassingham is the founder of Environmentally Friendly Hotels, a directory of the top lodging properties with environmental practices, and ECOnomically Sound, a site promoting environmentalism in the hospitality industry.

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Marya in Philly - Interesting about your "meter limit." We discovered "over limit" charges a couple of months ago, but our heretofore unknown, undefined limit is $500. I'm sure there is a formula that will calculate an "over limit" fee for the majority of users. What a RIP!

Their accounting practices are fuzzy, at best.

I'm not sure if PB is allowed to change a lease unilaterally, but I would go over those terms with a fine-tooth comb or seek the help of an attorney to ditch the agreement. Be sure to read the "notice to cancel" terms if you decide to see it through, because it used to be 60? day notice required. I sent them several certified, return receipt letters of intent to cancel, and ignore anything else they may have tried to bill. I don't trust email's acceptance in court, so use snail mail and return receipt for all material notices to them.

I have FIVE open support cases, and since English is not support's primary language, am not surprised when my words are recorded inaccurately.

I absolutely HATE Pitney Bowes. I am actively searching for an attorney who can put these creeps in their place. Not only do they arbitrarily change their contract terms to bilk customers for new fees and charges, they fraudulently post online payments late so customers are hit with late fees and interest. Want proof? Try making an online payment one day before the due date. On planet earth, this constitutes an on-time payment, but not at Pitney Bowes. They will wait until after the due date, post your payment and add a $39.99 late fee and interest on the unpaid balance at the rate of 22% APR. And if you complain and file a claim for a correction, they will conveniently make the adjustment after the following months bill, so you get hit AGAIN for more late fees and interest on a balance you never owed and you have to file another claim on that bill: a lesson in vigorous futility. Thus has been ongoing my dealings with Pitney Bowes the last three months.

Just spent 20 minutes on phone with Pitney Bowes to ask about the the meter postage overage fee that was on my recent bill. I have not seen that before. It took 20 minutes for the customer service rep to find out that it is a charge for going over my $150/month postage limit. What???? Since when do I have a limit? She told me that they began that charge in 2014. If you use more than $150 in postage per month you will be charged a fee for postage overage. We just started mailing out large volumes so this is the first we've seen that charge. How can they start a new charge midway through our lease? What a slimy company. A way to get an additional $300+/year from customers who use more than $150/month in postage. Once this meter is off lease, we will begin using Stamps.com.

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