Maybe you never heard of them, maybe you have never used them, but they are becoming more and more a viable alternative to the traditional full-service counter. Their numbers have been increasing more and more over the year, as the postal service is trying to encourage the use of the USPS self service kiosk.
Thus, today we can speak about more than 3000 USPS self-service kiosks spread across the country. Out of those 3000, most of them are non-stop and function during all hours of the day. Also, if you decide to use one of these machines, there will be no extra charges or fees compared to the full-service counter experience.
Why USPS Self Service Kiosk?
USPS self service kiosks, also known as The Automated Postal Center (APC) are basically intended to encourage the clients to focus less on the full-service counter. The main reason behind that is to reduce lines and, probably, in the future, to reduce the required personnel needed in order for interactions. These kiosks are usually placed inside Post Office lobbies and they do provide customers with what is starting (USPS upgraded all its kiosks in 2018, but more on that later) to be a more and more convenient and advantageous alternative to the full-service counter experience that we are all so used to.
These kiosks can provide patrons today with a wide array of postal products, various services that were before exclusive to the full-service counter experience, and also valuable information in case such is needed.
User friendly interface
The users can interact with the self-service kiosks via touch screen and PIN pad. There, the customers can weigh and rate letters, flats, and parcels up to and including 70 pounds. The customers can receive dispense variable rate postage in any denomination they require (from those that are available) for various services, including but not limited to: Express, Priority, First Class, International (in this particular case, only if the weight is under 1lb), and Parcel Post Mail.
The customers are also provided the opportunity to purchase and activate Delivery Confirmation, Signature Confirmation, Insurance, Certified, and Return Receipt services. In these kiosks, you are also permitted to print your Express Mail forms and to perform ZIP Code lookup if you so desire.
In order to use these machines, you will have to have access to a debit, credit, or EBT card, since these are the only available methods of payment for the time being. The machines are also capable of generating a receipt.
The Big Upgrade on USPS Self Service Kiosk
As we saw earlier, these kiosks were upgraded in the fall of 2018, in order to offer the clients an even more complete experience and in order to facilitate even more the operations they choose to perform there. After these upgrades, more and more people are starting to use these machines in order to perform operations that were previously performed at the counter of postal office, thus making overcrowding and waiting in lines less and less of a problem.
Improved Features on the Upgraded Kiosk
In these upgrades, various new services and features were added to the self-service kiosks. Some of the most important ones include:
New and advanced technology
It is capable of measuring the exact weight of the mail piece that the customer is trying to send. This is done with a new generations of scales that are more sensitive than ever before. The customer just has to place the mail peace on the scale and the exact weight of it will appear on the screen in front of him.
Only one output bin
In order to simplify things even further, in every kiosk now there is just one output bin. This is used for postage and it has multiple labels that illuminate and flash at the very moment when an item is dispensed, thus informing the client that the operation was successful.
Blue light and scanner installed
Over the monitor screen inside the kiosk, a blue light has been placed. That light goes on and alerts customers in the event that there exists an alert on that respective kiosk.
In every single kiosk, there now exists a scanner. This device facilitates and allows the direct and very easy to understand method of sale of retail products and any and all Ready Post items.
Kiosk fitted with camera
Each kiosk has also been fitted with a camera. This allows employees to interact directly with users and to use the information provided by them in order to transmit pictures to the help desk, thus being able to solve problems much faster and with much more diligence.
Things to Keep In Mind Using the Self-Service Kiosk
If you do decide to start using self-service kiosks, there are a few things you have to keep in mind:
No special handling packages
The first of them is that you are not allowed to mail packages that require and need special handling. That includes but is not limited to fragile packages, packages that require a special mode of transportation and others like that. These can’t be mailed at a self-service kiosk. If you are not clear on what constitutes a special package, you can find more information online or you can ask somebody at a post office.
Specific size and weight limit
Also, because of the space limitations of the kiosks, you are not allowed to mail packages that are over a certain size or that weigh more than a certain amount. As a rule of thumb, you are unable to mail anything with a dimension of more than 12” for some machines, and up to 15” for others.
Usually, if the machines are located inside a post office, you should find a sign near the machines that informs you what these limitations are and if not, as stated before, you should be able to easily find out this information by asking one of the post employees.
The USPS self service kiosk are clearly becoming more and more of an option and you should give them a go and at least try and see how they fare and how they compare to the full-counter experience you have been used in the past. You might find out that you are pleasantly surprised!