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META - Shipping USPS flat rate envelopes
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Mike H
META - Shipping USPS flat rate envelopes on 09/27/2012 16:40:49 MDT Print View

Hi all,

I'm curious how everyone is sending their packages via USPS. This is the second time in a row that someone has shipped me a jacket in a flat rate envelope, only to require me going into the post office and paying an extra $1.20! The person working there had a scowl and gave a semi-rude "this is a flat-rate envelope for shipping papers, not this." It's kind of annoying to say the least. For reference, this post office is in the state of Michigan if that matters at all.

Maybe someone can weigh in on this (pun intended)...

Kenneth Jacobs
(f8less) - F

Locale: Midwest
WTFudgesickle?! on 09/27/2012 16:47:47 MDT Print View

What happened to "If it fits, it ships!". You should just stand in front of them and endlessly repeat that every time they tell you differently. Then ask to see a manager. :O)

I call bait and switch on that one!

Edited by f8less on 09/27/2012 16:48:45 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: META - Shipping USPS flat rate envelopes on 09/27/2012 17:05:53 MDT Print View

From the USPS website, under restrictions:

Package contents must reasonably fit within the Flat Rate Box or Envelope.
Maximum weight is 70 lbs.
Can't include any hazardous materials.
What’s considered hazardous?
With few exceptions, cigarettes and smokeless tobacco shipments cannot be mailed.
See tobacco restrictions and guidelines ›
Packages being sent to a Military Post Office™ (APO/FPO/DPO) have specific restrictions regarding content, preparation and handling. Some Post Offices may not accept Priority Mail packages for APO/FPO/DPO locations.

That's it, those are the only restrictions. I agree with Ken, ask to see a manager and ask why there's an extra charge. My guess is he'll tell you the jacket is not reasonably fitting in the envelope, since the envelope is not staying flat. Still worth asking though, in a non-confrontational way.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: META - Shipping USPS flat rate envelopes on 09/27/2012 17:07:52 MDT Print View

So it's okay to send tobacco to military people?

Jim Leonard
(mxracer33x) - F

Locale: West Coast
Which "Envelope"? on 09/27/2012 17:12:43 MDT Print View

From my understanding the Flat "cardboard" flat rate envelopes cannot be distorted past 3/4". But if you use the Tyvek Flat envelopes its all good, but these arent flat rate. I think they use the 3/4" thick rule of thumb that was established for Parcel envelopes. Sometimes the sorters will charge you sometimes they wont.

I have had no problem shipping/receiving garments in the tyvek envelopes. Heck I even had a 20 oz thermarest sent to me that way and all was well.

Ben H.
(bzhayes) - F

Locale: So. California
Re: META - Shipping USPS flat rate envelopes on 09/27/2012 17:14:24 MDT Print View

They are the priority flat rate envelopes?

It sounds like they are treating them like media mail, but I have never heard of media mail flat rate envelopes.

If they are priority mail envelopes the only complaint they could have is if they don't reasonably fit the envelope. That is a vague, undefined rule for the flat rate envelopes:

Did the envelopes bust apart in transit or something? If they busted apart from stress then they have a legitimate complaint (with the person who sent it). Otherwise, you should call them on it. Like the poster above, THEY advertise, "if it fits, it ships." I guess maybe just not at the quoted price....

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: META - Shipping USPS flat rate envelopes on 09/27/2012 17:21:22 MDT Print View

For starters, did the envelope close within the normal folds, and was not enlarged or reconstructed in any way?

Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
I use USPS all the time, no problems on 09/27/2012 17:29:03 MDT Print View

I use USPS for my personal, personal business, and regular business use and never have had a problem. If it fits, it ships in the flat rate boxes. Now flat rate envelope, I can see them having an issue if someone stuffed something heavy in there and shipped it. The envelopes are intended for documents.


Locale: Somewhere out hiking!!!
Too thick??? on 09/27/2012 17:56:01 MDT Print View

I just tried to mail the LHG Solo piece that ur pole tips go in, in their cardboard envelope and the girl behind the counter tried to pass it thru a thickness "gauge" and it did not fit, so she would not accept it. I put it in the Tyvek version, problem solved... That was in NE PA...

Ben H.
(bzhayes) - F

Locale: So. California
Re: WTFudgesickle?! on 09/27/2012 18:07:52 MDT Print View

I have to agree with Ken's subject line. It sounds like they have an un-written rule that the thickness of the envelopes can not exceed 3/4". That doesn't sound like, "if it fits, it ships." If that is a rule they should state it somewhere.

Mike H
. on 09/27/2012 18:20:54 MDT Print View

I didn't actually pick up the package myself, my girlfriend was the one who got them. She didn't give me the most "detailed" explanation - ie the loft, weight, condition of the seams :) But she said the person behind the counter said: "Those envelopes are for documents, you cannot use them for whatever you have in there". She said they were very thick. The first time this happened was with a Montbell Thermawrap jacket and today it was a RAB Infinity Women's jacket. I guess having too much fill comes at a cost...

Well, the annoying part isn't the $1, but having to go into the post office to pick up. I find it hard to believe that I'm the first one to experience this, so possibly it could be the local post-office nickle and diming. The Monbell I got from Matt Allen took about 2 weeks to arrive upon payment, after it was returned to him by USPS the first time for "unknown" reasons. I'm guessing this was the problem...

Matt Allen
(zeroforhire) - MLife
... on 09/27/2012 19:59:14 MDT Print View

I remember selling you the mont bell... how did I ship it out the second time?

I almost always use the flat rate envelope and have never had a problem like this.


Mike H
. on 09/27/2012 20:24:46 MDT Print View

Yup, it was a flat rate envelope.

brian H
(B14) - M

Locale: Siskiyou Mtns
Re: . on 09/27/2012 21:12:24 MDT Print View

you neglected to address the main issue: whether the enveloped was bulging beyond its normal, standard size and shape.
this is the only time i have ever encountered the problem, when i have 'pushed the envelope' LOL, and pretty much abused the system.
i assume it was, from your tale, but you omitted this, in the original post...


Edited by B14 on 09/27/2012 21:15:28 MDT.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
For what it's worth... on 09/27/2012 21:26:10 MDT Print View

You might know that I sell the titanium Zia grills and Silly Stix. I routinely use the USPS Ready Post Utility Mailers ( 10.375' x 14.75" cardboard envelopes). The USPS has a plastic measuring card with slits in it. If my envelope is less than 1/2" thick there's a certain postage, if it is greater than that, the postage increases. Keep in mind that they also differentiate between parcels that are rigid (like mine) and those that aren't (like paper documents), which means that they can be auto-processed by machine or not (hence the price difference). Priority boxes & envelopes, and Express envelopes are completely different animals.

Edited by Zia-Grill-Guy on 09/27/2012 21:33:39 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: META - Shipping USPS flat rate envelopes on 09/27/2012 21:29:51 MDT Print View

I have received eBay shipments like that in the past, but nothing recent and no postage due fees.

Padded flat rate envelopes are handy for lumpy stuff, but I wouldn't try to get a jacket in one. Maybe a windshirt.

I think many people paint themselves in a corner by setting up a sale or auction without having a package in hand first and knowing the real shipping cost. Then they get the real cost and do something silly to try to save a few dollars.

Padding for delicate items can add significant weight and end up costing more than planned.

I bought some light poly bags to use for parcel post and first class parcel under 13oz. Once you cross the 13oz mark, the Priority Mail Tyvek envelopes are good for light garments. The stinker is an item just over 16oz---- you're going to pay the 2 pound rate and that is where people try to cut corners. Once you cross 3 pounds, the medium flat rate boxes come into play. The Priority Mail shoe boxes are good for garments and just a bit lighter than some of the other free boxes.

Parcel Post is best over Priority mail for large bulky stuff, time aside. UPS can be good for larger items; Office Depot is a good UPS agent with better pricing. I haven't checked in a long time, but FedEx Ground was better than UPS for borderline oversize items. You need to take the time to run the numbers and compare.

Good planning and packaging and accurate estimates are the key.

Chad Helmke
(the-gear-recycler) - MLife

Locale: High Rockies
So... on 09/27/2012 21:34:45 MDT Print View

I literally, ironically enough, just asked a postal employee this exact question yesterday. I was told that as long as it both fits and doesn't require copious amounts of tape to keep it closed, it will ship for the flat rate. The reason I asked is that I recently had an inquiry on a very packable jacket to be shipped to Taiwan and the difference between the flat rate envelope and a Tyvek envelope is around $20. Two employees concurred on this and even looked it up in their USPS ms-dos super computer they use at the counter. This was at the Golden, CO p.o. by the way.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: So... on 09/27/2012 21:51:31 MDT Print View

The padded flat rate envelope is the same cost to Taiwan and has a lot more volume.

drowning in spam
(leaftye) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Re: META - Shipping USPS flat rate envelopes on 09/27/2012 22:08:56 MDT Print View

I think many people paint themselves in a corner by setting up a sale or auction without having a package in hand first and knowing the real shipping cost. Then they get the real cost and do something silly to try to save a few dollars.

The thing is that the small flat rate boxes work great, although those have a limitation too. The PO doesn't like it if the flaps don't touch. I try to keep an assortment of boxes on hand when I'm going to ship things out. They're free, and they'll even deliver the boxes for free.

Chad Helmke
(the-gear-recycler) - MLife

Locale: High Rockies
Thanks Dale on 09/28/2012 06:20:15 MDT Print View

Appreciate it! I haven't seen the padded one at the local PO though. Guess I'll ask! Such smiling faces at the post office!