- 10 years ago
- Wedding: May 2007
I just posted this as a response in Miss CreamPuff’s entry on her DIY calligraphy and USPS nightmares. Not sure if it took (I didn’t see my entry appear), and thought maybe it’d be more helpful in the boards anyway.
I sympathize with the "postal daughter" who expressed concern that people were hating on the USPS; I did work with some VERY NICE people at the P.O., but having worked professionally with the system (not in it, but with it), I know that it is very very very very frustrating, and that there is a general lack of understanding at the retail clerk level of the rules. Honestly, no one could ever know them all, there are just too freakin’ many, and unfortunately, as someone else noted, it’s the arrival post office that decides if you followed the rules and put the right postage…so even if your PO said something was OK, it could get to its destination where someone else knows different or more or fewer rules, and they could decide you didn’t do it right and now there’s postage due.
So…here goes! Hope this helps at least a few people.
As hard and jaw-clenchingly frustrating it is to deal with the USPS for your wedding invitations, at least it’s only once in a lifetime. Maybe more if you have kids. Try doing it for specialized business needs — there are even *more* rules, which even fewer people know, and which they then come to audit you on…it was probably the 2nd strongest reason for me to quit my last job!Some resources that may help:http://pe.usps.com/mpdesign/notice3a.htm — this is the template that a previous poster mentioned (the real thing has the fancy 1/4" slot to slide stuff through to see if it fits — you could make your own out of cardboard); it shows you exactly what dimensions qualify for first-class postage. I’m sure there’s a way to print it life-size, but you’ll have to tinker with it. It demonstrates why square envelopes get dinged with the extra postage — the upper corner will never fall into that gray shaded area. (Yes, it really hasn’t been updated since 1997 — all the measurements are still valid.)
If your invite doesn’t fit within the four corner brackets, it can’t go Letter First Class (you might still qualify for FLATS First Class).
If it doesn’t fall in the grey shaded area, you have to pay the "non-standard surcharge"(currently 20 cents).
If you are above 3.5, but below 13 ounces (and not more than 1/4" thick), ask for the FIRST CLASS FLATS rate — you DO NOT have to pay Priority or Parcel rates as long as you are within the standards for Flats. (Definition for "Flats": http://pe.usps.gov/text/dmm300/101.htm#wp1002686)Also, this is a service that is meant for business mailers. I honestly do not know what their reaction would be to helping a regular "retail" customer, but these people are specifically trained to know what the rules and standards are, and are better qualified to give you that info than a regular clerk: http://pe.usps.com/mpdesign/mpdfr_mda_intro.asp
It probably doesn’t hurt to ask if they would help you. Stress that you want to abide by postal regulations, and could really use some help in understanding them. Especially if you’ve gotten 3 different answers already.