Pros: Great if you are mailing something weighing a pound or less.
Cons: Outrageous prices, no guarantee of 2-day delivery, extra fee for delivery confirmation.
You know, I used to love the United States Postal Service. I'd bounce into the post office with bundles of letters, mountains of boxes and piles of postcards. Yeah, me and the USPS had a great relationship until they decided to get greedy on me. I used to think that the USPS was the greatest thing since air conditioning, bagel slicers and no skid bath mats but no longer. The honeymoon is over and Im the angry housewife standing in the doorway with the rolling pin.
June 30, 2002 marked the date when my ongoing romance with the post office officially ended. That is when they raised the rates and stuck their hand into my pocket without even so much as a kiss on the cheek. If I would have known that I was going to get tag teamed on both the Priority Mail rate as well as distance to the destination - I would have stocked up on Astroglide. But still, on an almost daily basis, I see the naive and misinformed public stroll into the post office with their Priority Mail boxes not knowing that the rates were increased or that there is now a fee based on the distance between the shipping address and the destination address if over one pound. Thats when the fun ensues people throw fits, grab their boxes and leave and curse up a storm. I cant laugh because I was one of those people not too long ago.
What Is Priority Mail?
Priority Mail is one of the most popular shipping methods that people use when dealing with the United States Postal Service. In most cases your package would arrive at its destination within two to three working days. That doesnt sound too bad does it? It was the best bargain in town until June 30th of this year but now it is nothing more than an overpriced, unregulated dog with fleas. What happened? To justify the across the boards price increase the post office set forth to tell the people the same people that keep them employed that they just werent making any money. Read the statistics [providing you have an Adobe Acrobat reader] here http://www.usps.com/financials/_pdf/ap1202.pdf. I am thoroughly convinced that these reports are purposely misconstrued and overly complicated to convince the general public that they didnt turn a profit in the year 2000, 2001 and are on a downward spiral in 2002. Conspiracy theory? Wheres Mel Gibson when you need him?
In the past, before the price increase, my packages arrive within two to three days; now most of them seem to be taking three to four days. One very important factor to take into consideration is when you hit the post office. If you get there first thing in the morning or even before noon your package might get a jump start on its travel route and get there in the two day time frame but dont hold your breath. None of the postal employees can give me a solid straight answer about this mysterious time warp or when the best time of day to ship a package is. All the information I have received has been senseless jumble and unintelligible nonsense and no two pieces of information are ever the same.
Who This Really Hurts
You might not think that these increases hurt people but they do. Internet auction sites, home businesses, mail order companies and even Ma & Pa Kettle are all feeling this massive pinch on the behind and let me tell you it isnt the least bit enjoyable. I used to do a tremendous amount of bargain hunting at EBay but with these new wacky rates you never know what the amount of the shipment is [to the penny] until the package is mailed unless you are dealing with someone that has an accurate scale and knows how to use the USPS website. Sure you can still mail things Priority Mail but if they are over a pound you are going to get an additional charge for the distance between point A and point B.
Sound confusing? Let me give you a few examples of what I am talking about. Under the old shipping rates you could ship anything up to two pounds for a flat fee that started at $3.00 and steadily increased over time. Then in the summer of this year the Priority Rate was increased to $3.85 for one pound. Lets say I am sending a package to someone in New York here is the breakdown.
92159 [San Diego] to 11232 [Brooklyn]
I will be mailing three packages via United State Postal Service Priority Mail.
Box 1 2 pounds
Express Mail [Overnight Delivery] $17.85
Priority Mail [2 days] $ 5.75
Parcel Post [8 days] $4.49
Box 2 4 pounds
Express Mail [Overnight Delivery] $24.20
Priority Mail [2 days] $ 10.35
Parcel Post [8 days] $ 7.87
Box 3 5 pounds
Express Mail [Overnight Delivery] $27.30
Priority Mail [2 days] $ 12.15
Parcel Post [8 days] $ 9.43
I was almost dumbfounded when I saw the rates for Parcel Post service but I did fall off my chair when I saw the current prices for Priority Mail. Its no wonder so many of my Lego vendors have closed up shop or have eliminated the free shipping offers. How the hell is someone supposed to make a living doing mail order if the post office is dragging you over the coals?
You can calculate your own packages providing you know the exact weight at the following link: http://postcalc.usps.gov
Free Supplies Are They Really Free?
Remember that old saying nothing is free? Well, this is where the post office bends you over and takes aim. Yes, they will give you all the free boxes, shipping labels and Priority Mail tape you want. Yes, they will deliver it to your house. My, they certainly are a nice bunch, look at all these free boxes. Reminds me of the story about Little Red Riding Hood Gee Grandma, you sure do have a lot of Priority Mail boxes under your bed. Now, lets say you need to mail something but cant find a box that is suitable. Thats where that stockpile of USPS boxes come into play. They are sitting there, just waiting. You are pressed for time and need to get to the post office so you throw it in your free box and seal it with your free tape and slap on a free address label and head out the door. Now you have to mail your package Priority Mail since it has the logo all over the place. You have two choices, go buy a box and repackage your goods or pay the hefty price and chalk it up to experience.
Now, you tell me all those boxes, labels and tape were they really free? Someone has to foot the bill for them and if you think the post office is going to absorb that cost you are completely insane. Its passed on to you, Joe Q. Consumer.
Be Shipping Savvy
If you have something that you know is under a pound, then by all means ship it Priority Mail but if you are even a hair over a pound you will end up paying a few dollars more. Invest in a good solid scale, use light weight packing materials and keep your boxes as small as possible to get the best rates. Ive recently started to use air popped pop corn [no butter, no oil] to pack my shipments and its cheaper then styrofoam, weighs less than crumpled up newspaper and can be tossed out for the birds to eat or used for compost.
Be sure to take advantage of the alternatives to shipping Priority Mail. Media Mail is a great way to ship items that fall under this classification [video tapes, audio cassettes, sound recordings, manuscripts, CD-ROMs, computer discs, printed music, film, books etc] and for a fraction of the price. Be warned, it will take an average of eight days for your shipment to arrive so if you are in a hurry, this isnt the way to go. To see the complete list of items that fall under the Media Mail category visit the USPS website or stop by your local post office for a print out of what qualifies. If you are too busy or just dont want to deal with standing in line you can call the toll free number for more help  222-1811.
Can You Complain?
Sure, there are small survey cards available at every post office in the United States. Simply pick one up, voice your opinion, fill out all the necessary information and drop it in the mail or take it back to the post office. But wait a minute there Jack, stop and think about what you are doing and who you are dealing with. First off, the post office isnt exactly known for having the most stable employees. Secondly, you are filling out your personal information [same, address etc] with a complaint about the Priority Mail costs, service or a carrier complaint. Third, this information is supposed to be kept confidential but who can ensure that?
This is no joke and it has been said more than a few times in reference to these survey cards .
Postal Customer: I want to make a complaint about my mailman, he is always shoving my magazines into my mailbox and they are getting ripped up.
Postal Clerk: Here, fill out one of these cards and the Postmaster will address the situation.
Postal Customer: Will anything be done about it?
Postal Clerk: Yeah, chances are you wont receive any mail at all.
If you dont include your name and mailing address then the complaint isnt taken seriously. It will be dismissed as a bogus complaint and tossed in the trash. This will only make it harder when people do fill out the information since the Postmaster wont know if the grievance is valid or not.
The Bottom Line
Priority Mail used to be a great method of getting things from point A to point B in a fast, relatively inexpensive and safe manner. Now you have no guarantee of when packages will arrive and you are getting spanked in the process. The least they could have done was to offer free Delivery Confirmation on Priority Mail items over 2 pounds. As it stands you are getting tagged for .45 cents for this service something that the post office should be completely ashamed of!
The post office can cry and complain all they want about how email has taken a chunk out of their profit margin and how the high price of gasoline has put them on the verge of bankruptcy its all a bunch of bunk. Just like the electricity shortages in Southern California someone is making a profit off of the common man and I for one wont take it anymore. UPS and FedEx both offer ground shipping options and I fully intend to take advantage of their money saving shipping options from now on.
In the immortal words of Degeneration-X I got two words for ya . suck it!
As always, thanks for the visit
^V^ Freak ^V^
? 2002 Freak369
Please pardon my break from the Halloween reviews. Dont worry, the rest of the month is solely dedicated to the spookiest, creepiest and most demented reviews possible!