Automated Postal Center
CVP Postage

Stampsjoann (click here)
Coming soon to a PO near you.. a new Automated Postal Center (APC) one of 2,500 scheduled to be deployed in 2004.

(Click image for a close up of the APC machine)
Thanks to David Eeles for the great photos of the APC installed in Columbus, Ohio on April 28, 2004.

The APC machines take only credit or debit cards and can print 1-5 stamps per transaction with values of 1¢ through  $99.99.  I have verified that the Royal Oak, Michigan machine does print 1¢ stamps but not the $99.99 :)  One swipe of a card allows up to ten transactions with the receipt printing when the transactions are finished.

The machines are quite user friendly; one reads the printed screen and chooses options. Some of the programmed choices are First Class , Priority, Express, and International. After choosing one of those, for example International, another screen appears to give choices of 1) Canada 2) Mexico 3) all other countries. There is also a small key pad and plug-in for the sight-impaired.

Following are examples of the stamps from the APC installed on April 19, 2004 in Merrifield Virginia.  
While a date of sale is imprinted, these are stamps, not meters, as they can be used at any time from any location.

A used example ...

(Click image for 300 dpi scan)

A mint stamp from a purchase of five 37¢ stamps with each stamp on an individual backing...

(Click image for 300 dpi scan)
For a 600 dpi scan of the mint stamp click <here>

Unknown to me until today (May 5th) there were two APC machines installed in the Greater Detroit area on Tuesday, April 27th.  Additional installations are scheduled over the next several months with a Grand Opening set for May 25th in both Royal Oak and Southfield.  The machine in Royal Oak had a postal employee stationed near the machine who was encouraging the use of the machine and offering assistance.

From the employee in charge of the installation of these machines I learned several interesting tidbits.
1) The printers are made by Pitney Bowes and the software is IBM's. The machines are based on regular ATM technology slightly modified to weigh items and print/dispense stamps. The predecessors of the APCs were the  IBM/Neopost machines tested earlier in Central Florida, New York City, and the Washington DC area; however, the stamps printed by the test machines resembled PVIs (Postage Validation Imprints) while the format of the new stamps is completely different.

2) The machines take a photo of the user when the credit or debit card is inserted. This identifies the user should there be a need: Priority mail weighing over 16 ounces, card theft, damage to the machine, or some other reason.  These photos will "expire" as space for newer pictures is needed - perhaps in 60 to 90 days.

3) One problem with the new installations is the users can't figure out how to deposit their mail in the large receptacle next to the machine. The employee reported a couple of bruised fingers by early users. Looking at the sign posted in David's picture (above and above link), I guess Columbus has discovered the same problem. In Royal Oak and Columbus there are mail slots for stamped letters and metered mail nearby.

The Royal Oak facility did have the following handout available....

(Click image for a 300 dpi scan)

And a printed receipt from Royal Oak, Michigan...

(Click image for 300 dpi scan)

The APC machines print five "types" of postage; First Class; Priority Mail; Parcel Post and International Mail.  The scan below shows the different types each valued at 1¢.

(Click image for 300 dpi scan)

The receipt for the above five types which shows how the buyer was able to obtain the 1¢ values.

(Click image for 300 dpi scan)

Updated May 24, 2004

I welcome additional information on APC machines and usages.

CVP Postage

Stampsjoann (click here)