Monday, February 7, 2011

USPS Shipping Issues

Over the past several years, we have shipped thousands of packages using USPS flat-rate priority envelopes. According to the printing on the actual envelope:

"Any amount of mailable material may be enclosed, as long as the envelope is not modified, and the contents are entirely confined within the envelope with the adhesive provided as the means of closure."

Using this envelope allows us to pay a flat shipping rate regardless of the actual weight of the package. This minimizes shipping costs, a savings which is passed on to our customers and which has allowed us to offer free or discounted shipping on most orders.

Unfortunately, some post offices may be changing their interpretation of "flat-rate" and redefining it to mean "flat." We have had a few reports already of certain post offices charging extra postage on flat-rate envelopes which are not completely "flat."

If you are charged extra postage on a package sent by us, please let us know and we will reimburse you. We intend to keep a tabs on how often this happens. If the incidence continues to increase and we are forced to change our shipping methods, this may affect pricing on our website.

We do apologize in advance to anybody who may be inconvenienced by this change. Our own post office has stated that it is perfectly acceptable to ship flat-rate envelopes that are not flat, so it is difficult to know which individual post offices will take a different stance.

So far, the zipcodes which have experienced this problem are:
  • MT - 59044
  • NC - 28532
  • WV - 25443
We will keep this list updated. If you live in one of these areas, please feel free to note that at Checkout when you order so that we send your package by a different method.


For your reference:

From the USPS Domestic Mail Manual -

Section 123 Prices and Eligibility
1.5 Flat Rate Envelopes and Boxes
Any amount of material (up to 70 pounds) may be mailed in a USPS-produced Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope or Flat Rate Box. When sealing a Flat Rate Envelope or Flat Rate Box, the container flaps must be able to close within the normal folds. Tape may be applied to the flaps and seams to reinforce the container, provided the design of the container is not enlarged by opening the sides and the container is not reconstructed in any way.

Section 223 Prices and Eligibility
http://pe.usps.gov/text/dmm300/223.htm

1.4.1 Flat Rate Envelopes-Price and Eligibility

There are two types of USPS-produced Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes: A paper envelope and a padded envelope (for commercial plus only). Each type of USPS-produced Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope is priced at a flat rate regardless of the actual weight (up to 70 pounds) of the mailpiece or domestic destination. See the Notice 123—Price List for applicable prices.

1.4.2 Sealing Flat Rate Envelopes
When sealing Flat Rate Envelopes, the container flaps must be able to close within the normal folds. Tape may be applied to the flaps and seams to reinforce the container; provided the design of the container is not enlarged by opening the sides and the container is not reconstructed in any way.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

good to know. Thx!

~.-* 7 *-.~ said...

MT 59044 is another one, we had trouble early in 2010, if you remember. I went to the postmaster and he was adamant about the flat thing as well. In fact, he was downright POed that the non-flat rate boxes were put in the flat rate envelope.
I've moved now, thank goodness, that PO was soooo difficult to deal with. But just a heads up that it is an issue there as well.

kamsnaps.com said...

Thank you! I was trying to remember who that package from last year went to!

Allison said...

My boyfriend was told by our local PO (90022, Los Angeles) when mailing some FRE's for me that since they weren't flat, they might be refused and sent back to me. Luckily there were no issues, but apparently, paying extra postage upon receipt might not be the only thing to look out for - the post office might refuse the package outright.

Angie said...

Crazy! Doesn't it cost them more money to ship it back across the country than to deliver it to the recipient in town?