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Don't Need to Go Postal

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 2 5


Recently I had 3 packages to ship (from Colorado). One went to Washington state, another to Hawaii, and a third to New Zealand. I knew I didn’t want to go postal trying to figure out the cheapest way to send each package, so I actually stopped by the local post office and asked some questions. Of course, there was a line of people waiting and I didn’t really understand the short answer given by the busy USPS customer service man, but I acted like I did. I chose 2 domestic/international flat rate boxes and a priority mail envelope (hard, cardboard envelope - not padded) for my various weighted and sized senders. Then I returned home to pack away and present anew at the post office, hoping I was smart in my packing.

The priority mail envelope, and 1 flat rate box were perfect. So, my Washington and Hawaii packages were inexpensive and off to be delivered within the week. However, my New Zealand box was under 4 pounds and going to cost $40.00 plus! Yikes. I knew that the only choice is via air because I have been mailing out of country for quite some years now, but there was something about the under 4 pound deal that should have been cheaper. Much to my chagrin, I should have used a regular first class mailer to get the rate (for under 4 pounds to ...NZ) of only $31.00! Remember, I wasn’t going postal about this slight mishap, instead I was determined to get the fix then and there.

Luckily the USPS contact (postal worker) was extremely patient and forgiving with me, she even asked another worker to handle the growing line of clients. Maybe it was because I explained that I am a Grandma had a grandchild out of country. My daughter had just wanted me to send her a DVD she had ordered in the states, but I couldn’t just send that, noooo, I had to get the granddaughter some goodies. Thus the box to NZ rather than a small padded envelope. The postal worker pointed out the correct package to use and allowed me to get it, and open the other packed box, and repackage the works, fill out the correct international shipping form, and was rather pleasant the whole time. She chatted about her grandchildren who lived in another state and she was oh, so accommodating. Lucky for me that I chose not to go postal!

I have further explored the ins and outs of the USPS shipping boxes and USPS shipping costs  offered, so I will attempt to pass on what I have learned just in case you might be postal challenged, too. I must say that it is confusing to see the Express Mail, Priority Mail and First Class Mail products readily available, yet the differences are not clear. It actually took the postal worker awhile to figure out what was what, but she had her little computer in front of her to figure it out.

First Class Mail International
This is a terrific service, the least expensive way to ship postcards to packages up to 4 pounds (64 ounces). Of course, it is governed by weight and destination. For instance, my NZ package at 64 ounces cost $31.61, but if it was sent to Albania it would cost $32.45. The same package to Canada or Hong Kong would have cost $17.46, and to Mexico a mere $28.03. Don’t ask me why, the countries are in groups and somehow the shipping costs are figured out. I’m thinking that NZ is so very faraway that it is in such a high cost group - but then again, Albania cost is higher. I’m not sure it would be safe for me to pursue this reasoning further since it is already beginning to not make sense. So, I shall add that are dimensional rules to follow for each of the package choices available. Like the large envelopes (flats) that I quoted prices for above, cannot be more than 12” H X 15” L X ¾” thick.  I guess that’s why it’s great that the products are readily available to choose from. Also, the extra service of registered mail without insurance is available. Of course, you can use your own packing devices, but be sure to follow the guidelines in order to get the deal.

Priority Mail International
This is where it gets dicey pricey. The 4 pound rate is much higher, and the countries are grouped differently than First Class international. However, I did notice that the flat rate options are okay, mainly $13.95 for all countries besides Mexico and Canada ($11.95) up to the dimensions of 9 ¼” X 6 ¼” X 1 !5C”. Then the flat rate prices zoom. There is a weight limit for each sized box and envelope to check. Online tracking and discounts are also available for some of the PMI products.

Priority Mail Domestic
This is how I mailed my 2 packages in the states. They really are fast, within 2 days in most cases. The different flat rate envelopes (padded, not padded, etc.) and boxes (small, medium, large) range from $4.95 - $12.95 according to size. The weight can be up to 70 pounds and the price is the same no matter the distance. That is a nice feature, especially mailing to Hawaii!

Express Mail
Express mail service is the fastest (mostly overnight) shipping from the USPS. $100.00 worth of insurance is included, and a guaranteed delivery time is part of the gig. There are Express mail commercial rates, and Express mail international rates and rules. Yet another service offered is Global Express.

I gleamed the information for this article from the United States Postal Service (USPS) website. I highly suggest it before you start looking for a box or envelope to use for your mailing choice. The offerings are many and a bit confusing to figure out, but nothing to go postal over!



Jul 11, 2011 6:15pm
I've also been unclear about the rates and different classes. This has been very helpful to me. Thanks for sharing.
Jul 11, 2011 6:32pm
You are welcome :)
Jul 21, 2011 4:04am
I am interested in all things postal, especially USPS. A very nice article, well written and informative too.
Jul 21, 2011 4:01pm
Thanks Tom. I still have to review the rates and rules before shipping, but getting some of it down on paper helps!
Sep 10, 2011 11:50pm
Since I am postal challenged, I try to order online, and have it shipped for me. Good article, thanks for sharing.
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