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Collector and Trading Site for Neopost Web-Enabled Stamps

Introduction













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Overview (see Information Clearinghouse for detailed information)
















 

In June 2001, Neopost Online and Northrop Grumman Corporation introduced a self-service postage kiosk that is available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. It is assumed that six kiosks were originally deployed (the city of Baltimore has a kiosk with the serial number 6). These kiosks were not initially made available to the general public. Employees of both companies were used to perform consumer testing.

The self-service kiosk dispenses postage and offers the same convenience of regular stamps. The kiosk has undergone engineering testing for proper operation of the hardware and software. Testing has also been performed on producing the highest quality stamp sheet. Initially, a sheet with four stamps was dispensed. The adhesive stamp stocked changed. As did the selvage information and format on the sheets. The stamp design has also changed.

The United States Postage Service (USPS) gave approval on March 26, 2001 to perform kiosk testing (these are USPS approved stamps not prototype stamps). The kiosk was promoted as the "World's First Self-Service Kiosk for Online PC Postage". Neopost Online and Northrop Grumman Corporation was initially authorized to perform testing on the kiosk. The kiosk was originally identified as a "Simply Postage TM  Kiosk" (it is currently identified as a "Neopostage TM Kiosk").

It is assumed that the kiosk are still undergoing USPS approval (documents originally indicate a 2002 nation-wide deployment). The kiosks are to be deployed in high traffic public locations.   

Here is some information on how the stamp sheets are produced:

  1. The customer activates the kiosk by touching the screen.
  2. The customer selects the quantity of stamps.
  3. The customer is instructed to swipe a credit card.
  4. The kiosk logs on the centrally located database to get credit card authorization.
  5. The centrally located database provides approval and purchasing information back to the kiosk.
  6. The kiosk prints the purchasing and stamp information on continuous adhesive sheets dispensed from a roll.
  7. The adhesive sheets are guillotined from the roll and dispensed from the kiosk.
  8. The kiosks request if additional purchases are required. If no, the kiosk goes in a wait mode. If yes, the process restarts.
I have been fortunate in seeing maintenance being performed on the kiosk.  I have seen the kiosk boot up and can identify what operating system is being used. I have also seen the roll of adhesive labels as is sits in the kiosk. I have also seen kiosk information printed on the adhesive labels (used to print kiosk status information, not stamps).
 
The proprietary and secure self-adhesive labels have no monetary value, This eliminatines the need tocontrol and manage valuable preprinted stamp inventories.  Stamp value is assigned  to the labels by  printing the proper denomination and other purchasing information on it. A visible security device that can be seen on the sheet ( its  microprinting of the word "Neopost" next to the fluorescent bar). In addtion a fluoresent "N" can be seen over the eagle or flag design when the stamp is tilted at an appropriate angle or seen under a uv light.
 
Its is rumored that when the current stock of labels are depleted, that a new colorized version will be used. This colorization will provide a red, white and blue flag.
 
Changes in the operation of the kiosk occurred prior to and after the June 30, 2002 postage rate change (as it relates to the Baltimore kiosk). The kiosk is running an updated version of the software.  The software was design to be more user friendly (new Neopostage TM  logos,  Hispanic language option, and visually pleasing). 
 
In addition to printing First Class postage (37c), new features of the kiosk include the ability to print additional ounce postage (23c and 60c), Priority ($3.85)and Express Mail postage ($13.65), and postcard (23c) and international postage (50c, 60c, 70c, and 80c). All of these denominations come in sheets of ten stamps. Purchasing quantities vary from 1 stamp to 50 stamps.