Are Shippers Weighing Packages Accurately?

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CHICAGO (CBS) – ‘Tis the season for shipping out holiday gifts, but how do you know if your packages are being weighed correctly? And what differences are there in shipping costs? CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker went out to get some answers.

We set out to make sure our most popular shippers were weighing our packages accurately. We weighed a small brown package on a scale checked out by Chicago inspectors. It came in at 5.6 pounds.

Then, we took it to three FedEx locations and three UPS stores. Every place we checked, it weighed the same as it did at CBS.

What was surprising was that the companies round up to the next pound to determine how much to charge customers.

“So if it’s 5.1 pounds, we would measure that as 6 pounds,” said Greg Stuhrenberg, a store manager with FedEx. “We do write 6 pounds, so we do try to communicate that as part of the process.”

UPS told us the same thing. But the rounding up policy is hard to find in writing.

We couldn’t find it at any of the FedEx or UPS stores, or in their brochures. After searching, we did find something on their websites.

“I didn’t know they were doing that,” said Varun Sharma, FedEx customer.

At two of the FedEx stores, we were quoted $14 for a 6-pound package. Online, the price came out to $13.30.

At UPS, the online price was $14.52 and about the same in the store.

There’s nothing illegal about rounding up, but some customers just don’t like it.

“That’s not nice, especially with people and the economy how it is, and people don’t have money right now,” said Macray Huff, FedEx customer. “They need to round down.”

We also took the package to four U.S. post offices where a spokesperson says all the scales in the system should record the same weight.

At three of them they did. But we discovered a minor problem at the office on Clark.

At the automated center, the package weighed 5 pounds, 9.8 ounces which equals our weight. But, when we took it to the counter, the clerk said it weighed 5 pounds, 9.5 ounces; just a few fractions of an ounce off.

“That’s surprising. I don’t know why that would be,” said Mark Reynolds, a spokesperson for United States Postal Service. “I would have to take a look at that and see what is actually happening there.”

The post office ended up being the cheapest option, at $12.02.

CBS 2 suggests that you weigh your package on the bathroom scale. Then look up the cost on the company’s website. That way you’ll have an idea of what you’re going to be charged before you take it in.

  • TD

    Are you seriously reporting on ounces that equal $0.30 – $0.50? There really is no other news to report? Let me know when a company is seriously ripping me off.

  • Toad

    How stupid are you?? Should everyone pay an extra percent of the overall rate for those people who come “close” to the minimum? Where should each company “break” the price-point? You can’t possibly be serious that there should be a fractional break point so that everyone is paying a quarter or eighth or sixteenth or ….. of a whole for their shipping??
    Can you not understand that every fraction enforced requires additional staff time to enforce which costs EVERYONE more money???
    What rock do you live under?Yes, times are tough – but the people who are truly suffering aren;t shippuing JACK this year. Go cover a story that helps all of them.

  • PK

    While I have always known that they round up to the next pound, the greater concern I have is that I have never seen an inspection sticker from the state certifying that the scale being used is accurate! I thought all scales used for commerce had to be inspected annually? I see them on all gas pumps, grocery register scales. I even have one on my 50+ year old scale we weigh bulk grass seed in. In fact there are only three types of scales I have never seen them on. Postage/shipping meters, propane dispensing pumps and I have never seen a scale in any medical office or hospital that has been inspected . . . kind of scary when you realize you could be seriously injured or even killed if they mess up your weight and give you the wrong amount of drugs.

    • Michael E. Hanson

      Not sure exactly where you do your shipping, but here in Idaho, the scales in The UPS Store do indeed have a state inspection sticker on them, and they are tested/inspected annually by the State Department of Agriculture.

  • Joe Abernathy

    I’ve got a molehill in my backyard. Perhaps WBBM could come out here and name it “Everest”.

  • sweil

    of course the post office is cheap..because the services they compare are NOT equal. usps does not include any tracking or declared value as part of their basic service. UPS includes automatic tracking and $100 of declared value with every box. Stop reporting only part of the facts and actually do a service to the people who watch your programming.

  • Kideo Cash

    It common math practice to round up the number based on the last digit used. like the gas pumps that gallons are 3 digit where the cost is 2 digit they used the 3 digit if 5 or more it round up the cost 1 cent

  • Kideo Cash

    Scales have to be offset by the tray weight – I seen it happen a lot at groceries stores too where they have reset the weight of the tray. then weight you food again

  • Barroso promises to go ahead with EU project bonds | Weight scales, Bathroom weight scales

    […] Are Shippers Weighing Packages Accurately? Tis the season for shipping out holiday gifts, but how do you know if your packages are being weighed correctly? And what differences are there in shipping costs? CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker went out to get some answers. Read more on CBS Chicago […]

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