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  • April 18, 2017 11:17 AM | Marty (Administrator)

    I love talking on the radio.

    I don't do radio ads often, but when I do I always get a thrill going to the studio, sitting in the soundproof booth, and letting it rip. And every so often I get the opportunity to be interviewed on the radio. Today was one of those opportunities.

    The delightfully entertaining and amiable Lee Rayburn from Ithaca's own WHCU had me as a guest today on Morning Newswatch. He was curious about Collegetown, the neighborhood of Ithaca where my store, Uncle Marty's Shipping Office, is. You see, Collegetown has been under major redevelopment for two years now and it has dramatically affected vehicle traffic, pedestrian traffic, and consequently businesses … not the least of which my own.

    Now I'm an optimist (generally, with certain moody exceptions). And I fully acknowledge that the rose-colored glasses that I wear can sometimes get on people's nerves. But truly I see hope and a very bright future with all of the construction surrounding my business. Of course it hurts now and has been an absolute bear to deal with—full of frustration, hair-tearing-out moments, and complete bewilderment at some of the things that we've seen occur—but through it all, the end result will indeed be fabulous!

    So Lee and I talked about it. And I hope that our discussion will encourage more of the general public to visit our fine neighborhood and support our fine businesses during the redevelopment process that we're stuck in the middle of.

    I'm very grateful for the opportunity to speak freely and openly, no matter what the topic. Because nothing gets done if nothing gets said. And there's always a way to address a situation in a proactive, positive, professional, and solution-based manner, which has been my approach with this construction process and an attitude I hope to continue with. As a result, and by being involved and outreaching, I've been able to make some amazing connections with major developers, landlords, media, and local city and university officials. It's been quite the silver lining!

    We all have something to say. For some, it's sharing hope. For others, it's raising awareness. We have stories to tell, accusations to make, positions to defend, causes to rally for, jokes to jest, encouragement to give, love to extend, and new connections to foster.

    A good friend of mine gave me very good advice recently. He's a designer and was critiquing some new logo ideas I was toying around with. He said, "In design, it's not what you can add, but what you can take away." And I think the same editing mindset is appropriate with our spoken/written platforms. But when it's appropriate, timely, and might—just might—bring positive change, then why not speak up?

    Talk about it. It'll do you good.

    #WHCU #Ithaca #Collegetown #UncleMartysOffice #AskUncleMarty

    Check out the full interview here:


    Marty Johnson, AMBC Director of Marketing |

  • April 04, 2017 2:11 PM | Marty (Administrator)

    Dear Uncle Marty,

    Am I allowed to send anonymous packages when people don’t want their name to show on the return address?

    Under an assumed name, 

    Incongnito Ignacio

    Dear Ignacio,

    I’ve asked a few store owners and my fellow AMBC board members about this since receiving your question. The general consensus is that it’s OK to block out someone’s name or ship under a pseudonym for someone as long as you keep record of the actual shipper’s real name and contact information.

    Some stores make it a policy that they will ship anonymously, but if the recipient calls them asking who sent the package they will tell the recipient who the sender was.

    My policy at my store has been that the transaction must be under someone’s real name for security, safety, and accurate records. Then the shipment may be generated under a pseudonym as long as records connect it to an invoice reflecting the real shipper’s genuine information.

    But now that I’ve thought about this more, thanks to your question, I’m going to change my policy. From now on, my official policy is that I don’t ship anonymously. But here’s the catch: I’ll unofficially make an exception for known, trusted customers who I know are only removing their name because they’re nervous about the eBay buyer, want to surprise someone with a secret Santa gift, or are playing a harmless practical joke on their sister.

    Remember, you as the account holder are ultimately responsible for every package sent from your store. So don’t ship anonymously willy-nilly. And always, always, always make sure your records can trace every shipment back to a real person.

    This is my real name, 



    Marty Johnson, AMBC Director of Marketing |


    The original version of this Ask Uncle Marty letter was published in MBC Today Volume 19, Issue 2 (March/April 2017).

  • March 31, 2017 7:41 AM | Fahim (Administrator)
    In addition to late deliveries and other automated refund types, there are other parts of your UPS and FedEx invoices that deserve your attention.  Many people rarely go over an invoice; they usually have an automatic payment on file with the carrier and are just trying to get new customers in the door. This is what you should be doing after all, increasing clients and profits. 

    Going over your carrier invoices should be a part of your weekly duties. Has anyone ever shipped an unauthorized package on your account?  How many packages have not been delivered after 20 days in transit?  With Refund Retriever you can easily see this in your own personalized client interface. 

    This report can be used to view any package that has been picked up by a carrier over 20 days prior and has no delivery event.  The package is still in the FedEx or UPS system and further investigation is needed.

    For mail, parcel & business centers, all packages should originate from your store front. It’s always a good idea to make sure you are only charged for your shipments. Our third party package report shows shipments where the origin and destination are not from your address. These packages were not in his/her position at any time.

    If it’s in your third party package report, the package at no time went across your counter. This report can be filtered on the Refund Retriever interface by account number and time span.

    Why is it so important for mail, parcel & business centers to have a shipping audit system in place? We are no strangers to the mail and parcel industry! Refund Retriever was started in 2006 by Brian Gibbs in the back of his first business which was a mail and parcel store.  Brian used his own FedEx and UPS accounts to develop proprietary parcel invoice auditing software specializing in saving money on FedEx & UPS invoices. Since then we have been auditing FedEx and UPS invoices for mail and parcel centers and other businesses of all sizes. We are constantly updating our refund technology to provide our customers with the highest quality of service.

    No set up, monthly, or cancellation fees...The only time we ever charge you is when we successfully have a refund credit applied to your shipping account. Our fee is a percentage of successfully disputed and credited refunds. No refund, no charge!

    Wondering if there’s an AMBC special? Well... there is! Mention that you read our #FahimFix guest blog and get your first month of auditing on us and a 60/40 rate!

    Refund Retriever is an approved AMBC vendor and was recently awarded #18 Fastest Growing Aggie Owned Business

  • March 24, 2017 8:07 AM | Jeff (Administrator)

    For years, we received requests to ship cars: “How much to ship this car to Texas? How much for my truck? Can I fill it with my stuff and then ship? “ We learned that there are way too many ways for a customer to search for pricing online for it to be worth the time and expense for us to quote these. Usually, the quoted prices is met with, “Wow! You’re expensive! I got if for half that much online yesterday.”


    If you take the quoted prices and add on a decent mark up (25% isn't decent but I will use it), your retail rate is SO MUCH higher than what is available on the open market. Chances of winning this quote is near zero unless your customer has a money-is-no-object mentality and only wants to use you because they are familiar with you and trust you. If you make less, (and you shouldn’t), then you run the risk of making even less when the person wants to use a credit card to pay for it. Plus, you have the liability of someone's car until the car carrier picks it up.


    What we do now,  is refer the customer to the car carrier. We have a local company that handles national moves, if they don't have a truck, they do use a network of other trucks to find a load going that way. The carrier talks to the customer, they answer all the questions, they take all the heat for late deliveries, or any problems in route. The car carrier pays the credit card fees. The car carrier gets a new customer, our customer gets a referral to someone we trust. What do we get? We get referrals from the car carrier.


    Each time someone shows up to ship a car and they have personal items, (which are not allowed by most car carriers), they are told that they can't ship them. “Call Parcel Room. They can take care of it for you”. They have referred and we have shipped everything from small UPS/FedEx packages up to freight shipments. We even had a huge steel and concrete safe that was in a truck that couldn't stay in the vehicle so we shipped it separately.


    Some carriers will pay referral fees of $50.00 or $100.00 for a successful car shipment. My way of doing it gets me two to five customers a month from the car carrier. People we didn't send over there but they have items that can't be left in the car. The car carrier sends them to us. We have found that it is a far better return to get ongoing referrals rather than a onetime referral fee.


    We do the same thing for large household moves. If a shipment exceeds what I KNOW will be cost efficient for us, I look to a mover. We found a good (very good) local mover that we work with. What I do is I email the salesman: “We have a customer with xyz and they will need a quote. Please contact the customer to complete.”


    Two things happen at this point in time. We get a very happy customer, and we have a very happy moving company. The movers, in return, can pay $50.00 on a successful move, but we just ask them to send us customers that are too small for them. During the busy moving season we get 3-4 referrals a week. These customers ALWAYS tell me: “Xyz told me to call you for an estimate.” Now I know this is payback, I also know that they probably have been just quoted the minimum amount for summer season which is usually $2,000.00.


    This gives me a very good advantage to start. We know they are serious customers, we know that their budget it under $2,000.00, and we know they want to ship. They are not just kicking tires (usually).

    The two referral companies that we use give us a steady stream of sales and customers. We don't sell customers these services, we let them sell themselves. We did our research into each company we refer and we keep up on their reviews. We ask our customers: ”How did they do?” We are taking care of our customer “At Parcel Room, we make it go away”, and they love us for it.


    Thank you

    Jeff Ballantyne

    AMBC Freight

    Parcel Room

    PackFreight Network

    1465 Woodbury Ave

    Portsmouth NH 03801



  • March 23, 2017 9:12 AM | Jeff (Administrator)

    NMFC Changes are taking place April 15th, 2017

    NMFC = National Motor Freight Classification,  is the system that sets the description and class of everything shipped freight.   The description used to describe an item shipped sets the NMFC number, that number sets your freight class. The freight class sets the rate per pound you are charged.

    Paintings /pictures is just one of a few items that are changing; I have added the new to the list on the freight site look for a note in the description to see if it expires this year. Do not use an expired NMFC, the carrier will not care they will not adjust. If you are in doubt call the carrier and inquire (get the person's name), email me the item full description. There is no grace period, there is no "I didn't know" they don't care.

    At carriers discretion they can start using the new NMFC Number as of the 15th. In most cases stores have used Class 110 for their painting shipment. The new NFMC is density based, so accurate weights and measurement will be even more important.

    NMFC  056165-

    Paintings or pictures, posters NOI framed or unframed with or without glass in boxes, cartons or crates released to a value not to exceed $25.00 per pound. (Will expand on this at the end)

    Density of Less than 4 pound per cu foot - Class 300: 056165-01

    Density of 4 but less than 8 pounds per cu foot - Class 175: 056165-02

    Density of 8 pounds per cu foot or greater - Class 92.5: 056165-03

    The weight and dimensions need to include all packaging, all pallets, banding, strapping. You KNOW that they will be auditing packages and I have never seen it come out in the store's favor yet on an audit. So please double check your data prior to shipping.

    The AMBC Freight site does help you calculate the density you only need to fill in the weight and dimensions and it calculates and displays your cubic feet plus the density of the shipment. Be SURE you match and use the correct Class and density.

    In the NMFC description they use NOI which means Not Otherwise Indicated (no other listing for that specific product) and the release value is that you are agreeing to limit the carrier's liability to a MAXIMUM of $25.00 pound. The does not mean they will pay $25.00 per pound that is the MAXIMUM they will pay. In most cases carriers have not ever paid a claim on paintings, they always "determine" that the art falls within their scope of not covered. This is why I always recommend that you obtain 3rd party coverage and plan that the carrier's coverage will be minimal at best.

    Painting, art, pictures posters

    Rugs, carpets, floor coverings

    Mailing Machines

    Tables or stations for food preparation (commercial)


    Toilet Paper

    Household Kitchen utensils (when NOT shipping as personal effects)

    Baseball bats, softball, cricket other than hollow

    Thank you

    Jeff Ballantyne

    AMBC Freight

    Parcel Room

    PackFreight Network

    1465 Woodbury Ave

    Portsmouth NH 03801


    Think like a customer work like a professional.

  • March 21, 2017 12:03 PM | Marty (Administrator)

    I just made a kids' mailbox.

    It's a concept I've heard of before, but completely forgot about until Henry reminded us of it at the PostalMate regional training weekend a few weeks ago in New York.

    It's really quite a brilliant idea: put the key to one of your large mailboxes on a special key chain and fill that mailbox with toys and prizes for kids. Then, when someone brings their young pal into your store, give that kid the key and tell them that if they can figure out which mailbox it opens, they can have a prize from inside.

    Because I personally can't handle stuff falling all over the floor in chaos, I put a small box inside my kids' mailbox that the kids can pull out to discover prizes inside: sunglasses, temporary tattoos, rings, pencils, slap bracelets, American flags, puzzles, etc. You can fill yours with whatever you'd like, though stickers are always a winner.

    Kids' mailboxes keeps kids entertained and allows their grownups to focus on business at hand. The kids love it, the grownups love it, and it's a win-win across the board!

    Think about making one today. It takes like five minutes and makes a huge impression.

    #KidsMailbox #AMBC4ME #AskUncleMarty 


    Marty Johnson, AMBC Director of Marketing |

  • March 17, 2017 9:56 AM | Fahim (Administrator)

    Ten years ago, I ran an eCommerce site selling personalized leather gifts to businesses and individuals. I learned SEO from experts and got on the social media bandwagon very shortly after March 2007.

    I've studied many aspects of online checkout over the years, including Amazon, PayPal and guest checkouts. I've learned that having a guest checkout on one's website increases conversions and encourages people to buy more from your site without feeling "locked in" as a member. Translating this option into our business centers can provide a lot of insight and help us as store owners to give choice to our clients and guests.

    For example, when my wife & I designed and launched our 24 hour business center last year, we assumed that everyone would love to be a member and would opt-in to paying for the 24 hour security entrance, using the key-less entry system. However, 4 months into our new model and we had many people inquiring about mail and business services without wanting to pay for 24 hour access. In other words, they wanted to pickup their mail and parcels during our business hours.

    We, of course, agreed to this system and as a result of this flexibility, have noticed an increase in our mailbox clients and others who use just our package receiving services (without the option of 24 hour key-less entry). In other words, they want to "checkout as a guest" and not be a "member" and we are fine with that!

    Providing this flexibility to our incoming visitors allows us to extend our reach into the marketplace. So, we encourage the 24 hour access now and most guests opt for it; however, we are perfectly happy to provide the flexibility for someone who just wants to come by see us every time he or she has mail or parcels picked up.

    With gratitude and effervescence,

    Fahim Mojawalla, AMBC Director of Social Media
    Island Ship Center

    AMBC Certified Store

    10 Minutes from Niagara Falls, USA

    #SpaOfShipping #FahimFix #ExudeExcellence

    1879 Whitehaven Road
    Grand Island, NY 14072
    Phone: 716-773-6300
    Fax: 716-773-6350

  • March 09, 2017 1:06 PM | Jeff (Administrator)

    Best Practices.....

    Do you follow them, should you follow them? Why should you follow them?

    Best practices can set you, your staff and your business apart from the crowd. They can be simple, or extremely complex. They can cost you no money, a little money or the lack can cost you a  lot of money.

    One of the processes I have encouraged with freight shippers it to be completely transparent with the customer and (possibly more important) be transparent with the consignee. We handle freight shipments almost daily, some days we have 2 or 3 or even more freight shipments being picked up and processed.

    One rule is that the customer MUST be aware and participate in the arrangement of the delivery. Long gone are the days that we shipped and forgot about it. More and more we see deliveries that run into an issue that causes a delay, causes additional services (expensive services) being added to the shipment. As shipper we are protected very little to these additional fees. In most cases you are responsible for any fees incurred with the shipment and delivery.

    When we quote a freight job we always inquire about the delivery, what restrictions are there, what limitations, you can't just wait for the shipment to delivery or you can pay a hefty fee being added to the bill. When someone says it is commercial, I ALWAYS check on Google earth to verify that the address is commercial location. If a business, I ask for a contact name, a phone number and an email address.

    We look to see if the building has a loading dock or if it appears that it does not. Failure to properly set up a delivery can be expensive both in time, and money. It can also be expensive is customer costs, if ONLY you had asked for the answer. Shipping freight to a business and assuming it has a dock or forklift can cause the shipment to be delayed. If the carrier attempts the delivery and discovers that the business has no loading dock and requires a lift gate they have no choice but return to the terminal. At this point the carrier has to make arrangements to add the lift gate plus add a re-delivery fee to the invoice. This is going to add at least $120.00 to $150.00 to your invoice. And now the freight is being delayed at least one business day.

    We try to avoid all these (and other problems) by emailing our customer and the consignee in advance. We explain the services that have been arranged for, we ask for them to confirm any restrictions or limitations at delivery. We try to make sure that everyone is aware of the options, the costs and the repercussions. We try to force people to respond and confirm, that isn't always successful. In our email we describe the service that has been paid for or arranged. Your shipment will be delivered by ABC Freight, the scheduled day of delivery is next Wed/Thursday. The will deliver with a standard tractor trailer, so if you know your area doesn't allow them please let us know and tell the appointment clerk when they call. The carrier should contact you prior to deliver to set up a window for delivery. The carrier will deliver the pallet curbside. They will take it off the truck using a liftgate and place it curbside with their pallet jack, the do not have to take it further. They will not take it inside nor unpack it, you can make arrangement for this but we need to do so now to avoid delays and higher fees.

    Once the freight is delivered please take a minute to inspect the shipment (attached is a photo of the pallet as it left here) please make note of any dings, dents, tears or missing wrap. We package to protect the items but accidents do happen, we want you to be aware of the guidelines in advance so we can avoid possible problems in the future. Inspecting the package helps protect your coverage (if purchased) and helps keep the carriers liability in effect.

    There isn't a one size fits all letter you can create, you can create a rough draft and edit based on each customer. I used to send customers overnight letters with these details, now we email them. Sending a photo of the pallet (several if you can, send a progression of the palletizing so they see the process) does several things, it shows them what to expect. It gives you a photo to use during promotions. It also helps in the event of claims, it can even help with reweigh or class disputes. It can't hurt to have them.

    Happy freighting

    Jeff Ballantyne

    AMBC Freight
    PackFreight Network



    Jeff Ballantyne

    Parcel Room

    PackFreight Network

    1465 Woodbury Ave

    Portsmouth NH 03801


    Think like a customer work like a professional.

  • March 07, 2017 12:35 PM | Marty (Administrator)

    What a weekend!

    Fahim and I had the honor and privilege of attending another PostalMate regional training weekend, this time in a little place near and dear to both of us: New York City. PC Synergy, the makers of PostalMate, asked AMBC to participate in their events again this year … and when we say it was an "honor and a privilege" to attend, we really do mean it!

    The PostalMate team is a delightful lot. Rhonda, Karen, and Henry are a joy to be around, engage their audience like few others are able to, and their combined knowledge and experience are hard to top; they make software training fun! We were glad to join other vendor representatives who also presented, including iPostal1, Pacific Office, Anytime Mailbox, FotoZoomer, Supply Side, and RSA, who lead their RS BootCamp new owners training session on Saturday. It's a tremendous group--each one bringing something unique and game-changing--and indeed we love being a part of it.

    As a non-profit, member-owned industry advocacy, certification, and training organization, my fellow AMBC Board of Directors members and I love attending training events, industry summits, conventions, expos, and forums across the country. We go as volunteers and fellow store owners to share what AMBC has done for us personally and for the industry as a whole, to teach, to inspire, to raise the bar, and most of all to talk face-to-face with other store owners … sharing, learning, and growing together.

    This weekend, in addition to wearing our AMBC hats and talking with our friends and peers about AMBC's programs, news, and focus, Fahim and I were also asked to wear our business coach hats and teach a marketing and social media session. The PC Synergy team has been involved in plenty of #FahimFix social media seminars and Marketing with Marty™ marketing and image seminars in the past, and this weekend gave us the opportunity to collaborate, blend our cohesive messages, and co-teach brand new #FahimFix and Marketing with Marty™ creation: Get Social!

    Get Social! takes a new approach to how we think about social media. As Fahim often says and I often quote, "It's social media, people, not solicitation media!" Our aim through this class is to encourage businesses to take a community-minded approach through modern platforms with the goal to create a network of loyal advocates and friends of your business. And this can and will happen simply because you are involved in and a voice for your neighborhood, not because you're trying to sell something.

    We were thrilled to debut Get Social! this weekend, and look forward to sharing it and a number of our other classes with similar groups and upcoming industry events. In fact, Sarah, Fahim, and/or myself--along with our selfie sticks--are slated to be at five more PostalMate regional training weekends and four ShipRite regional training weekends this year, in addition to AMBC's own event near Niagara Falls in October. Look for one or more of us popping up in cities like Charlotte, Las Vegas, Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Orlando, Utica, Biloxi, Grand Island, and San Diego soon!

    #PostalMate17 #NYC #AMBC4ME #MembersHelpingMembers #FahimFix #AskUncleMarty #EmbracetheSelfieEmbracetheCommunity


    Marty Johnson, AMBC Director of Marketing |


    For more photos from the event, please visit

  • February 28, 2017 1:54 PM | Marty (Administrator)

    Prepare yourselves.

    AMBC's dynamic duo, Fahim and Uncle Marty, are teaming up and teeming with excitement to present our brand new class, Get Social!, at the PostalMate Regional Training Weekend this Sunday in New York. Our new seminar takes the concept of how we behave in social settings, among peers, and in our communities and applies it to social media strategies.

    There's nothing quite like getting together in a room with other small business owners to share ideas, information, and inspiration. But what is it we're actually doing when we're together? Sure, we're training. Sure, we're learning new techniques. And absolutely, we're discovering a myriad of new features in our software. But we're also building a community. We're discovering people in very similar situations to our own and creating bonds with them that will last a lifetime. We're making friends, sharing laughs, and bringing why we do what we do back into focus; we're sharpening our intentions.

    This societal concept is exactly what we'll communicate through Get Social! We want to guide our peers away from using social media platforms—those amazing, revolutionary, and free tools at our fingertips—to blatantly advertise and instead encourage their use for building a community and creating a genuine following of loyal advocates—not just customers, but dedicated clients and friends of your business.

    Though Fahim and I have collaborated on projects more times than we can count and work closely together as members of the AMBC Board of Directors, this will mark the first time a #FahimFix social media seminar and a Marketing with Marty™ marketing and image seminar officially team up to co-present a class. And we're pumped!

    We must thank PC Synergy and the PostalMate team in advance for inviting us to their regional events. We are honored to be able to share, thrilled to participate, and very grateful to glean from other presenters and attendees.

    If you're unable to attend this weekend's event, don't fret. We and the rest of the AMBC Board have a habit of popping up at events here, there, and everywhere, always ready to share fresh, timely content. So stay tuned!

    #AMBC4ME #PostalMate #FahimFix #AskUncleMarty #DynamicDuo #NewYorkNewYork


    Marty Johnson, AMBC Director of Marketing |

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