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Pitney Bowes: The Pits - Comments

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I remember a time about 10 years ago when we started getting lots of info from Pitney Bowes about the new postage machines and that every company had to have one. We kept getting flyers and letters offering a free 90 day trial with a 1 year commitment of the machine. And every time I got an offer I would call up and ask what was the monthly service charge after the 90 days was up.

The customer service person would put me on hold for a few minutes and then report "I don't know yet" or "I think it will be $19.95 a month, but I'm not sure. Your're still getting the first 3 months free though. Do you want to sign up and get machine?"

We went with the Ascom instead of Pitney Bowes.

Not suprisingly, your experience is not unusual. We rented a desk top inserter from Pitney Bowes that we soon learned was not adequate for the size stock we use.

Of course they were only too happy to write us a new lease on a brand new bigger (more expensive) machine. The installer came to our office and put it together then took a look at our stock and said, "this won't work". Sure enough the new machine wouldn't take an envelope less than 8 inches wide, and ours are 7 inches.

Another visit from sales later and we were expecting the deliver of yet another machine, this time a bigger one that comes in 4 big pieces. In the meantime I still have the original inserter plus the new one they shipped.

Finally the new inserter arrives via freight in 4 big boxes which we help unload. A day later another truck shows up with another box. A week later another box shows up. When another shipment showed up the NEXT week I refused delivery.

Finally the latest machine gets put together and of course there are two boxes left over. They sat (with the two original machines) in our office for 6 months before we could get someone to come get them.

One amusing tidbit I learned when I worked at Pitney Bowes many years ago is that Postal Meters are technically money printing devices (since they print stamps) and that would explain why (partially) that it needed to be inspected and couldn't be just thrown away.


I understand that completely. So why did they fall down on their responsibility to actually DO the required inspections, and virtually abandoned "money-printing" machinery? That's part of the point of the story.... -rc

We just got a Pitney Bowes machine in our office for the free "90 day trial" another commenter mentioned. It isn't the one in the brochure either. We had to call to get it set up because supposedly you had to "mail in" your first payment! Maybe that is so you use up the 90 days without being able to use the machine. When I asked what happened to the machine they promised, the lady couldn't tell me. She said she could transfer me to someone, but we got disconnected. We were able to secure postage in the machine immediately with her help though, and I was thankful for that.

We still didn't have anyone call us with the offer for the other machine that was supposed to come to the office though. I will pass this on to our office partner and see if we really want to keep this machine with a company that does business like this. I don't want the headaches!

My uncle had a similar experience with a cable company in Long Island. After he decided to switch to satellite service, he canceled the cable account and was told that a service tech would come to get the cable box. Of course nobody showed up for weeks, then months, and he was told he couldn't simply throw it out, since the cable box was the property of the cable company.

He finally solved the problem by having an attorney friend of his help him draw up a document explaining that he would begin charging the cable company for renting out part of his home to store their property. They would be charged starting one week from the date his "return receipt" from the post office was received.

The cable company picked up the box the same day his got his return receipt in the mail.

These stories and more are why I call Pitney Bowes "The Evil Empire of Postage." At the last place I worked they talked my boss into a huge mailing machine that came with a computer and a lease. I did the math at the end of the lease and figured out we'd paid $10,000 for a $2,000 computer, not to mention an exhorbitant service contract ($450 a year). I cancelled the service contract, did most of the repairs myself, and the one time in 4 years I had to have a technician out, it was $150. A huge net savings.

Where I work now, PB talked someone else into a new meter (before I got there). Promised training has never materialized, reports cannot be printed, and no one can program the darn thing to do what it's supposed to do. We're still writing down our departmental postage on a list, to be transferred to a spread sheet.

Be afraid! Be very afraid!

You don't need a lawyer and you don't have to beg a company to come and get its stuff out of your home or office. A certified letter stating that their property will be treated as abandoned if arrangements are not made to retrieve it before MM/DD/YY suffices. Thirty days from the date you canceled your contract with the firm is sufficient in most States.

I worked for Pitney Bowes in Toronto for several years. During that time we watched the sales territories grow smaller, and the service territories grow larger. It became so difficult for the sales reps to make quota that some actually resorted to forging orders in order to get the trip to Hawaii as their reward.

After I left PB, I received a letter from their personnel department which began, "You are in a unique position to comment..." I wish I had a copy of the letter I sent in reply. It outlined a number of situations which had plagued me and my fellow workers. Many involving ambitious managament determined to climb to the top of the ladder regardless of whose fingers got stepped on in the process. I watched a number of employees grow restless as they approached their 10th anniversary and got vestment in the pension plan. Then they were off to greener pastures.

PB had a profit sharing plan which was based on a portion of the net profit of PB Canada. The bonus for each worker was calculated as a percentage of salary for each quarter. It had dropped to about 2.5% during a period in which we had all worked under increasing loads, when gossip came from head office that a Vice-President had been let go and there had been some irregularities in the data processing department. The next quarter the profit sharing was almost 15%! Was it a coincidence? Or was it just the delayed reward for our hard work?

Because the USPS "monitors" these postage machines, all you had to do was bring the machine into the local post office (preferably the one that matches the zip code on the meter stamp) and surrender it to the postmaster with an explanation.

I assure you that the local Pitney Bowes manager would have a lot of explaining to do, and you would have been done with the machine as well.

When I finally kicked out the folks who were renting a house I own, I found it full of junk that they abandoned. Sorting through it, I found a Pitney Bowes postage machine. I called the 800 number on the machine and eventually (in a few calls) received a box, packing materials and pre-paid shipping to send it back to them. They seemed quite happy to get it back and I received $50 for my trouble.

I don't know what Pitney Bowes did to the folks who abandoned the postage meter, though.


Probably nothing, considering they had to abandon a house to get rid of the damned thing! ;-) -rc

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