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tl;dr = I’m tired of USPS. /Why I Will Be Sticking to Flat Rate

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Warning: long rant.

I’m fed up with USPS. Every time I start shipping, say, more than 1 package every 3 months, there are problems. And since I’ve been shipping more like 3 packages a week lately, there are lots of problems.

Oh, first let me tell you about the fiasco that was getting the PO Box. I got it eventually, yeah… but it was a hassle.

First of all, some back story. Since we are a 1 car family, and my husband works all day, the times I can actually go to the post office are rare. There can be anywhere from a 5 minute, to a 45 minute window where my husband/the car is home and the post office is still open. I often don’t know how large that window is going to be – it’s affected by traffic, things going wrong at the last minute at my husband’s job, etc.

When I go grocery shopping, I keep the car, because it’s an all-day affair and I despise doing it on the weekends (because the stores are crowded and that usually means giving up doing something else). I don’t like keeping the car much (I have to get up early, take my husband to work, and then immediately start running around all day with increasingly restless kids in tow – first world problems, I know), but I like shopping on weekends even less, and there are some other things I need to do that can’t be done on weekends. So, when I do the grocery shopping, I plan everything out to get both the shopping and the other errands done in time to pick up my husband. Everything that requires forms to be filled out, I fill them out online ahead of time. Every stop is meticulously planned, accounting for their locations and times they are open.

So I signed up for a PO Box, and paid for it, planning to go to the post office on the next grocery shopping day to pick up the keys. The needed form was all printed out, everything was set… but AFTER all that, after signing up and PAYING, then I was sent an email… Oh, wait, you need to bring a mortgage, rent receipt, car loan, car insurance card, etc. in your name. All things that I either don’t have (own this house fully) or that when I was added on to them, was told there was no reason to send new cards with my name on them, that as long as my name was on there in their records, everything was fine.

But, okay, after some searching I found it is at the discretion of the cashier at USPS that looks at your documents. As long as they see that you are who you claim to be/live at the address you claim to live at, it should be fine. I had my driver’s licence, my marriage licence (which has our address on it), and the car insurance card with my husband’s name. To further prove my address, I took in a form 1099 with my name and address. I also had a health insurance card with both our names on it. There is no doubt that I either am me, or I have broken into the house of someone that looks exactly like me and stolen several documents from her and her husband.

But no, that wasn’t good enough. I could not have a PO Box because of the fact that I don’t have shit with my name on it. I don’t have shit with my name on it because I made wise choices. Because it would be stupid for me to continue to rent a separate place, to have gotten a loan for a second car I don’t need when mine kicked the bucket and I didn’t have an out-of-the-house job, to get a new place with a mortgage when this place is fine and who knows if we’d be able to afford a mortgage 10 years in the future (with food & etc. prices going up) etc. etc. Because places don’t want to spend the 0.50 cents to print out a new thing with my name on it too and mail it.

You know, when women got “equal rights” it seems they forgot that some women may choose to assimilate into her husband’s house, car, electric bill, etc. but still do things like get a PO Box, get a library card (yeah I had issues with that too) and use Xbox live. (We have the Xbox live family plan, and every time the terms are updated, despite the fact that my account is set to adult, I must have – according to them – my “parent” agree to the terms; what they mean is the main account, which is my husband. Despite the fact that my account is 5 or 6 years older than his – which is significant considering xbox live is 10.5 years old.) Women have the equal right to go into debt on their own, but those that choose not to do so are still treated like children. And actually, I’m pretty sure we have taken a step back in that respect, because in the past it was expected that the husband’s name would be on everything and the wife would still be using it, that the husband would be at work and that was why the wife was taking care of business in his stead.

And of course I can’t get anything switched over to my name to use as proof that I live here, because everything that would count as proof wants some other proof first! For a person just starting out in life, the only way to get any of this proof would be to go into debt!

Anyway, after being refused the PO Box, I asked how to get a refund. “Go online,” the lady said. Not very helpful, but okay, after I went home I looked into getting a refund, and it said there were no refunds on 3 month boxes. And I’d paid for a 3 month box. Which I was now being denied. AARRGG!! I sent an email asking what I could do. I eventually figured it out, that there was a roundabout way you could get a refund on a 3 month box within a certain time if you never picked up the keys, and did get a refund. A few days later I got a reply to my email, saying “You can get a refund if you go online. You can get it until 5pm today.” I got this email at 3pm. With no other explanation. No telling me WHERE to go online – I’m obviously online because I read the email, genius – with only 2 hours to go, and with them obviously saying that I was only going to get an unhelpful reply after a few days. If I hadn’t already figured out how to get a refund, I would have been livid.

Sigh. Anyway… I had to have my husband sign up for a PO Box instead. Or, well, I basically just switched our names on the form (because he was listed as an additional person getting mail there), and then he had to go up there during one of those small windows that he was home and the place was open. It was a pain, it was wasted time and gas, and once again I was treated like a child who has to have “her parent” come and sign.

So that was the PO Box. Now back to the shipping problems. I’ve had people argue with me that flat rate is not the cheapest way to ship. That weighing it is cheaper with light things like yarn, knitted/crocheted items, and charms. That the extra time is totally worth the savings.

Okay, I’m shipping out things like yarn, knitted/crocheted items, and charms – so I figured I’d give it a try. I figured I’d test it out with swaps first, because I don’t want to risk sold items being late.

So, I weighed the package I was sending out for that Adventure Time swap. I checked the scale first, weighing something that I knew the weight of. It was accurate. Then I added on an extra ounce just in case, and used the USPS shipping calculator. I decorated an envelope around the postage. Then I sent it off.

As it was just an envelope, and very light, and I could not find an option to schedule a pickup for only this type of envelope, I did not schedule a pickup. Now note, there are no drop off boxes in my neighborhood. (Heck, they have been removed from MOST neighborhoods that I know of – I haven’t seen one of those things in years.) You have to either schedule a pickup, or go to the post office. So I put the envelope in the mail box. And the mailman didn’t take it. He put some mail in the box around it, he clearly saw it, but did not take it.

Okay, fine. I had an order to send out the next day, which I scheduled a pickup for, and I was able to add an additional package on there without specifying what it was. So the Adventure Time package was picked up.

A few days later, it came back. It needed 1.27 more postage. $1.27?! For something this light, that was quite a difference. How could the shipping calculator be so far off? But okay, I added $1.27 more postage. It covered the picture a bit, which was annoying. I put it outside again. Again it took 2 days to actually be taken.

I was sending off something else for another swap a few days later, about the same weight, and the shipping calculator said the price was about the same – I put an extra $1.50 on there just in case.

A few days later the Adventure Time package came back AGAIN. It needed .21 more cents. Wtf? I put .45 more on. By now, it was costing me more than if I had just sent flat rate. The picture was quite covered now. But I just wanted this damn thing to get there.

So, weighing myself and using the shipping calculator just wasn’t going to work. I can not risk orders being weeks late like this. I can’t have people looking at the shipping calculator and thinking I am overcharging them because the damn thing says it costs less than it actually does. But I was going to go check the PO Box last week, and decided to give having them weigh it and tell me the different options a try. This obviously wasn’t a long-term option for stuff I’m selling, due to not knowing how often I’ll be able to go there, but I decided to see how much it would save me.

Because several people have insisted it’s cheaper.

So I went in there. Dropped off a few things that already had flat rate postage. Checked the PO Box. Then stood and waited for the damn cashier to come do her job. When she finally did, she told me that I could pay $25 for guaranteed Monday delivery or $6 something for probably Monday delivery. And “Oh, if you don’t want to use your own envelopes next time, if you use the flat rate envelopes you could save a few cents.”

I wanted to bang my head on the counter. Because if I had bought flat rate postage online, it would have saved me a whole dollar on the postage, and 0.14 on the envelopes. So 1.14 per package. That may not seem like much, but if I’m sending out 3 packages a week, that’s over $177 a year.

And then yesterday, that other package that I’d sent off during the Adventure Time fiasco came back to me. It was .85 short (?!?!) and “unclaimed”. And the package was just wrecked. It was soaked, so wet that the envelope literally fell apart in my hands when I picked it up. Some of the contents were messed up. The to address was unreadable. If the return address wasn’t a laminated address label, it would have been unreadable too. What bullshit. I’ve never seen the flat rate packaging get messed up.

I wish I could just use UPS instead. They’ve never lost a package, messed up a package, nor left something sitting there because they just didn’t feel like taking it… they’ve never forgotten to deliver something, not felt like coming back, and then claimed they tried to deliver it but couldn’t (like USPS has done to me before. While I was sitting by the door waiting for something that was already late… On a Saturday, and then waited until after the post office was closed to tell me, so I then had to wait until Monday.). But of course they can’t ship to PO boxes, and the UPS store is further away, and it would cost more.

So, to the people that were telling me weighing is cheaper: it’s not cheaper. Doesn’t matter if I do it or USPS does it, it’s not cheaper. It’s not easier. And it isn’t safer. Apparently I risk my stuff getting messed up and/or returned to me if I don’t use flat rate. And it’s really fucked up that the USPS doesn’t take care of my stuff nor give me an accurate rate unless I use flat rate, but what can I do. I have to get stuff shipped out, have it leave when it is suppose to leave, have it get it there when it is suppose to get there. So for now, I guess I’m sticking to flat rate.

Aaaand the recycling truck just came, I forgot to put out my trash & recycling while I was typing this :\

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