Postal tips

Discussion in 'Items For Sale or Trade' started by Crow, Oct 16, 2003.

  1. Crow

    Crow Trust me

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    I did this a while ago but it is long gone so I figured I would give it another go.

    I work at the post office as a clerk, doing just about every job a clerk could possibly do so I have learned a lot of random tips that can help you with your toy purchases and sales.

    1. Insurance - These days it is VERY hard to get the USPS to pay out on any insurance claim over $50. Under $50 and they can make an in-office decision. If it is over, then the decision is out of the local PO's hands. In addition to this they almost never pay out on collectibles. They officially do NOT accept eBay printouts as proof of payment or value.

    So my suggestion is if you buy something expensive and get it insured, ask for a receipt from the seller to be included with the item that says the price paid, date, etc. Also if the package comes smashed, keep it. They will want to see the package when you try to make an insurance claim.

    Another note about insurance is DO NOT round the number off. Give the actual value. On the days I work the window I get tons of people when I ask if they want insurance go with $50 because that is the first price point before insurance goes up. Well guess what, if it gets damaged and they put in a claim and it was really worth say $35 they are not getting their money back. If it is worth $35 make sure you tell the clerk so.

    2. Delivery Confirmation - It is a confirmation of delivery, but that is it. It is not proof of anything really and is not signed for. Anybody can accept that package. I put delivery confirmation on things I sell or trade just to make the buyer feel better, but after learning the rules about it, if it doesn't get there you really have no recourse.

    3. Parcel Post - Parcel Post is the bane of anything fragile. You are much better off paying a little more and shipping something priority mail than parcel post. PP mail is treated like total crap. It is stuff in bags. The bags are thrown around. THey don't care whether the heavy stuff is on top or bottom. 95% of all smashed open packages I see are either Parcel Post or Media Mail (which is treated the same way and I will get to next).

    4. Media Mail - They are cracking down on people sending stuff Media Mail that isn't really. We can now ask you to open a package if we think you may be mailing something Media Mail that isn't. If you refuse, we can refuse to mail the package. It is also treated as badly as Parcel Post. Actually usually worse, since Media Mail is often heavy books, they tear through boxes when thrown around.

    5. Fragile stuff - If you have something that is fragile, please ask the clerk to stamp it as such. It DOES make a difference. Packages are literally thrown around when sorted. In fact they postal lingo for sorting packages is throwing or tossing parcels. The clerk will often stand near the container with the parcels in it throwing them into buggies that are assigned to each route. These buggies in my office can be anywhere from 2 to 15 or so feet from the clerk tossing the parcels. Fragile stuff (at least in my office) is taken out of the regular mail and carried by hand to the desk of the carrier who is to deliver it so it doesn't get smashed when tossed. Of course some carriers don't like this and go toss it themselves but there is nothing I can do about that.

    6. Registered mail - This really only applies if you are mailing something super valuable (in the thousands of dollars) because it is expensive to use but registered mail is the most safe and secure mail we have. It is signed for at every stop, kept separate in its own bags, which are locked and sealed, and people are actually held accountable if something happens to it (trust me this is rare in the post office!). It also has built in insurance.

    7. Dropping mail in boxes - First off, if you are mailing a package, do NOT just stick stamps on it and stick it in a mailbox. It WILL be mailed back to you due to new security measures. If you did it via meter mail that is fine, but actual stamps on packages must be handstamped by a clerk in the office. Packages over (I think) 14 ounces that have uncancelled stamps on them will be mailed back to the sender this is bad for another reason I will get to next. Also dropping big stuff in a mailbox is bad for 2 other reasons. The first one is if it is say priority mail and you stuck it in a mailbox, well mailboxes are for first class mail. If the clerk doesn't see it or doesn't bother to take it out, it gets sent to the first class sorting plant first and priority mail is done separate. This can cause delays in your mail. The second reason is it will just annoy the guy who empties the boxes. Hehe.

    8. Return to sender. Try to make sure you have enough postage on everything. If you get something sent back to you for lack of postage it can take a long long time. Remember that oddly shaped, oversized, and square envelopes require $.49 not $.37. The reason you don't want to get packages sent back to you return to sender is a lot of clerks are either too lazy or just don't know proper procedures for sending stuff back. This results in mail that is supposed to go back to the sender bouncing from post office to post office. Sometimes it will have actually been in the post office of where you originally sent it to multiple times (along with several others) before it gets sent back to you. I recently had a package at work that was return to sender. This was the end of the September. The parcel was originally mailed April 28.

    9. Don't send cash or anything else valuable in an envelope where they can easily tell what it is! There are a lot of thieves working for the USPS, despite the large penalties for stealing from mail. This is especially a problem at the large plants where mail is sorted. I have seen many torn open empty jewelry boxes and empty check envelopes in the mail. Also you cannot insure cash sent in the mail. Some people actually don't know this so I figured I would mention it.

    10. Express mail - If you send something overnight and it has a stated delivery time (usually the next day by noon or 3pm) and it doesn't get there on time, you can easily get your money back. Be sure to check online every time you send something express to make sure it got there on time. If it didn't, take all your receipts to the post office and get your money back. Even if it is 1 minute late you can get your money back. A LOT of express mail is late so it is good to always check.

    11. International mail - Never ever ever ever leave the country off international mail. Even if it is to a well known city like London you are taking a huge risk by not putting England on there. The above mentioned parcel that took 5 months to get back to the sender was a package to Australia on which the sender didn't put the country. As far as I could tell it never even made it out of the US and it still took 5 months to get back to the original sender.

    12. Tipping your letter carrier on Christmas is a good thing - While it is officially against postal policy for carriers to accept money not only do they do it, they expect it. I have seen countless conversations among carriers about how certain people don't give them their "whiteys" which is postal slang for Christmas tips. As a clerk I could care less about this since I work in the post office itself and I get nothing, despite sorting more mail in a day than many carriers combined, but the carriers do care. If you happen to have an evil bastard of a carrier, I wouldn't be surprised is your mail is often delayed or late because they don't like you. They should and would be fired for things like this, but it is very hard to prove. I was told a former carrier at my work was accused by multiple people on her route of outright threatening them "If you complain about me your checks just might get lost" and they were never able to prove anything against her.

    13. If you have a problem, the Postmaster is your friend...sort of. A lot of times you can ask to see or on the phone speak to the Postmaster of your city directly. Though the larger the city, the less likely you can see him. But in my experience PMs don't like complaints and are usually pretty good about trying to deal with them. The main reason is they are judged on complaints to the postal line so they generally want them dealt with before it gets to that point. Supervisors on the other hand, at least in my office, just want you to go away and leave them alone as quickly as possible.

    14. If you are sending something like a comic or artwork to a PO box make sure you have the clerk put "do not bend" on it! PO boxes are pretty small and large envelopes are folded in half to fit in them. If you mark something that can be creased "do not bend" then it will not be put in the box. Instead the customer will get a card telling them to pick up their mail at the window.

    15. Dogs - Carriers know if you have a dog. They keep track of customers that do. They also generally do not believe you even if you tell them your dog is friendly. So if your mail hasn't come yet, and you have a yard with access to your mailbox, make sure your dog is not outside when the mail comes or you run the risk of the carrier not delivering your mail that day. Despite the whole in rain and sleet etc. stuff, carriers are within their rights to not deliver mail to a house if they deem it a threat to themselves and dogs fall into this category.

    16. Priority Mail - The post office pushes priority mail and with good reason. It is where they make the most profit, but it is also the best deal. It is quicker and treated better than Parcel Post or Media mail and the supplies are 100% free. You can get priority tape, boxes, and labels for free at the post office (though we never have rolls of tape to give out at my office) and you can even order the stuff from the usps website for free. I am always surprised how few people seem to know this. The USPS really should play up the free materials thing I would think but they have never been good at advertising.

    17. Boxes - As I said above, Priority Mail boxes are free. This is important to remember if you need a box. Our office has a Postal Store that sells boxes, tape, and other things. These are very high priced items. I tell customers who try to buy either all of the time that it is almost always cheaper to send something priority mail with a free box, than buy a box and send it parcel post. Not to mention you also get to use the priority tape for free and get a free label to use. If you are not sure if it is cheaper, you can always ask the clerk to check. It doesn't take long with the new computer system.


    That's it for now. I will continue to add stuff as I think of it.
     
  2. getoninja

    getoninja 1# Porno Moderentor

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    u the same person that posted this back in 2002 (march/april) and was a sticky then it was deleted? anyways this should be sticky...like stuff like this
     
  3. omegasupreme

    omegasupreme G1's resides here!!

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    yes, i strongly agree, and thank you very much for posting this, I'm sure that it will benifit everyone. :thumb : and yes, it should be sticky.:) 
     
  4. Crow

    Crow Trust me

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    Yeah, that was me. I've been a clerk for 2 years now and I have learned some more stuff so I figured it was time to do this again.

     
  5. Obsidian

    Obsidian Well-Known Member

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    Good tips, for dealing with ANY postal service. My last package from the US arrived crushed to nearly half its original size. Thankfully the person who shipped it packed it really well, but I was damned unimpressed at the condition it arrived it.
     
  6. Gort

    Gort Klaatu barada nikto TFW2005 Supporter

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    Thanks for the info - great post!

    I used to get my NetFlix (DVD rentals through the mail) stolen all the time when I lived in the city. Now that I live in a small town, I have no problem. What's funny is that in the city I had a locked mail box and now it's just a box that anyone can open so it was obviously someone in the postal service.

    I tipped my post person during the holidays last year, but I'd never thought about it before; I know my parents never did.
     
  7. Elvin Pena

    Elvin Pena <b><font color=red>CyberCon is #1!</font></b> Veteran

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    This info is invaluable, thank you very much. :) 
     
  8. getoninja

    getoninja 1# Porno Moderentor

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    gots questions,

    why does the post office have very few clerks/cashiers. I mean it gets really busy and sometimes only 1-2 people workn up front with a line out the door.

    Media mail-thats mainly just for books, CDs, and why does it take so long, longer than parcel post.

    can we turn priority mail boxes inside out to use them for parcel post or other shipping services?

    think of more later
     
  9. Crow

    Crow Trust me

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    "why does the post office have very few clerks/cashiers. I mean it gets really busy and sometimes only 1-2 people workn up front with a line out the door."

    This depends on a lot of things. They may have the extra clerks in the back sorting mail if it is a particularly heavy day or people may call out sick. Since all regular fulltime employees have specific jobs they do, only some of them may be trained to work the window or willing to do so. It could also just be that your Postmaster puts more emphasis on getting the mail in the back sorted and delivered than having people at the window. My office is the opposite. Our PM freaks out if there are more than 3 people on line. Hell I was once sent to work the window when there were already 3 clerks up there (we only have 3 windows and computers!) so I ended up just standing around doing nothing for a while. Or you could just have lazy window clerks who wander off when they are supposed to be working. We have 2 people like that in my office. At any given time they could be anywhere. Hell I've seen one of them leave to go to a nearby CVS in the middle of the day!

    "Media mail-thats mainly just for books, CDs, and why does it take so long, longer than parcel post."

    This one is a lot easier. Media mail takes longer because it is of very low priority. Mail is sorted in order of higher priority to lowest. Express mail is done first, then first class and priority, then 3rd class and parcel post, and then media mail (which is generally in with the parcel post so a lot of the time it is sorted at the same time). All 1st and 2nd class mail must be delivered the day it arrives. Media Mail is 3rd class and doesn't have to go immediately. So if they are shorthanded, they can and will just leave it sitting there for a day or 2 while they catch up on other stuff. I also suspect they intentionally leave it sitting around in the plant to encourage people to use the more expensive services.

    "can we turn priority mail boxes inside out to use them for parcel post or other shipping services?"

    Yes, but not if the clerk you are dealing with is a dumbass. There is no rule against it as long as none of the priority mail words or colors are showing. This is because then it could be mistaken for priority and you'd get priority service at cheaper prices (or just get it sent back to you when someone realizes the fee was lower than priority price). But some clerks are jerks about it and if they see you do it will refuse to accept it. I would just do it at home before I got to the PO. Also if the post office you use sells boxes (ah ha! this reminds me of something I need to add to the list) they are more likely to be annoyed with you for doing this since then you are not buying their hideously overpriced boxes.
     
  10. KidDynamite

    KidDynamite don't know nothing Veteran

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    Fantastic stuff here, I'd love to see this stickied.
     
  11. Kranix2k

    Kranix2k Spare me this mockery!! TFW2005 Supporter

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    Question

    Crow,

    Do you have any information on the handling of international mail? What I mean is: how are packages handled going to other countries and what can a person do to make that kind of shipping run smoothly. Also, do you know how packages are handled in other countries? One of the postal clerks here in my town has said some things about countries like Italy and Great Britain that sound like a lot of complete slag to me.


    Thank you, BTW, for all the great info you've already posted.

    :ROCK
     
  12. Crow

    Crow Trust me

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    Re: Question

    I can only give general advice on international mail. Unfortunately I have no experience with how they ship that. It is handled at a plant. Best I can do is say to print clear and make sure you put the country on there. Don't forget the customs form.

    As for other countries, I have heard that we supposedly have the best postal system in the world. But if that is true then I don't want to see the post offices in other countries! Actually our system isn't too bad...just very inefficient. They spend a lot of money on needless steps and mail is often double or triple handled when it doesn't need to be.

     
  13. getoninja

    getoninja 1# Porno Moderentor

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    got an important questioned.

    how can one tell if a postal money order has been cashed or if there is a way to cancell it from being cashed. what can I do

    (I went to the post office and they siad they couldnt find out till 60days, I just mailed a $75.00 postal money order this past tuesday to a ebay seller which might trying to rip me off)
     
  14. Crow

    Crow Trust me

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    Well if you have the number and such you could report it stolen. We do keepa list of stolen money orders. I think they are entered in the computer but I'm not 100% sure on that one. The problem with that though is if the guy does cash it and gets arrested and he was legit you could get in trouble. I suggest emailing this address to ask what you can do. This is the USPS email addy for money order questions.

    HelpDesAccounting-St.LouisMO@email.usps.gov
     
  15. Napjr

    Napjr <b><font color=gold>Mr. Internet</font><br><font c Veteran

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    This thread of course deserves being sticked :D 
     
  16. CharlesHaley

    CharlesHaley Well-Known Member

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    Wow, these are great tips and its really considerate of you to answer all of these questions.

    I just hope someone from `ahem` another board doesn't email the postmaster general and bitch about it :lol 
     
  17. JetBrawn

    JetBrawn Intergalactic SUV

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    Just wanted to add that I've been quite impressed with the postal service lately. It's amazing to me that you can send anything anywhere in a matter of days or less. I'm sure that working for the postal service, you rarely get any compliments, but I'm impressed. I wonder how it could be with the inefficiencies removed!
     
  18. Mike

    Mike Banned

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    Thanks for posting this info :D 

    I always pack my stuff, super tight and lots of styrofoam and bubble wrap. then tape the thing shut, and wrap it so the bottem or top can't possibly come open. (go around the entire box like 10 times :p )

    If I can stand on the box without it being crushed, it should survive the trip.
     
  19. Crow

    Crow Trust me

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    Thanks. Postal clerks do tend to get all of the grief and little credit since all the complaints come straight to the window clerks (flashback to a guy blaming me for the fact that he didn't put a stamp on his letter....twice, and a lady who got upset at us because she didn't pay her PO box fee for a year and it was closed and her credit card bills ended up being late), and the clerks who always work in the back are rarely seen by the customers if at all.
     
  20. Choppaface

    Choppaface <font color="#FFFF00"><b><i>ToyArk.com webmaster</ Veteran

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    wow, nice to hear some info from the inside :D  :D 
    thanks man, you rock :D 
     

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