Long lines at the Post Office? Here's a public service announcement

Long lines at the Post Office? Here's a public service announcement

I am about as anti walk into the post office as a person can be. I know that it’s like listening to a very old broken record, talking about the long lines, closed windows, slow workers, etc. One would think that the years of complaining may have sparked some interest in improving these things. Not a chance.

To compensate for my inordinate disdain for all things postal, I rent a Pitney Bowes postage machine. I bought a scale. In the past, I had an account to Stamps.com so I could print my postage at home. I’m that bad.

Today I began to shake a little as I had no choice but to go to the post office. I needed 100 post card stamps. I could have stood at my postage meter and stamped them one by one but weighed the time factor vs standing in line. I determined that it may take longer to use the meter. So I relented.

The parking lot was not that crowded. I felt optimistic. Then I went in and felt the usual nausea as I saw that there were around ten people in line and two people working at the counter. It may not have been that bad had the people in line not each had piles of boxes to ship. I waited 15 minutes to buy my stamps. While there, I decided it was time for my public service announcement. I am going to share my not so secret shipping and mailing secrets. This is going to help you, the consumer have less aggravation. Believe me.

1) This is only going to work if you have a computer and a printer. You’re in like Flynn if you do.

2) Purchase a cheap postage scale. Wal-Mart and Amazon have good ones.

3) Go to www.usps.com. Register for an online account. This will be good for larger envelopes, packages, etc. A little secret is that printing certain postage online is a bit cheaper than if you take it to the post office. Cool.

4) On the website you can request supplies. They’re free. Get yourself some flat rate boxes in assorted sizes. Get some clear packing tape. You will need lots of the clear packing tape. Did I mention clear packing tape?

5) If you are internet capable at all, you should be able to follow the instructions. Just remember once you print your shipping labels, you can tape it on the box with your clear packing tape.

6) Open an account at Stamps.com. Once you do that you can order sheets of labels to print your stamps. Any denomination. Any quantity. I always keep a list of postage rates by my scale for easy reference. You can print that at usps.com.

7) If you ship packages, even just rarely, open an account at myups.com. Coolest thing ever. All you need are boxes, a measuring tape, your regular bathroom scale and yes, clear packing tape. You don’t have to sign up for daily pick-ups or drop offs so there isn’t a fee to have the account. You only pay for what you ship. Now I am not TOTALLY lazy so I will prepare my box and drop it off at any place that ships UPS, like Office Depot for one example. You can schedule a pick up if you don’t want to leave your house. That’s not cheap, but sometimes it’s worth it.

8) You can also order free supplies from UPS. Not boxes but shipping labels and mailing pouches. And if you don’t get the mailing pouches make sure you have plenty of clear packing tape.

9) For other ways to ship you can open an account at Fedex who also will supply plenty of mailing boxes, pouches, labels, etc.

When I ship packages through the US postal service I leave a note in the mailbox for the mailman. He actually gets out of his truck and picks up the box or boxes on my doorstep. So to recap, sign up for all these websites, get your scale, and you quite possibly will never have to see the inside of a post office again.

And I don’t think they’ll notice at the post office, they’re usually all on break.

PS – Don’t forget the clear packing tape

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  • Hey, the usps.com account only works for Express or Priority Mail. If you use the Multi-Order Shipping feature of PayPal.com, you can print labels for First Class, Parcel Post, and Media Mail. Of course each label (I have a roll of 4 x 8 labels that I stick through the laser printer, has "Preferred service of EBay," but that's the price you pay for a much small fee than stamps.com

  • In reply to Mark McDermott:

    Thanks for the tip!!

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    You can ship ANY method via PayPal....it's also cheaper to purchase postage online - sometimes as much as $3. I buy my labels at OfficeMax or some other supply shop. Stamps.com is more expensive (in my experience) than using PayPal.

    Also - you can "schedule a pickup" via usps.com - if you have a "priority" item to ship (First Class counts as Priority) you can schedule a free pickup. It's REALLY easy. :)

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    In reply to angelbuttons77:

    Blah, didn't read through the above before posting. LOL. If I don't use labels - I cut the "eBay" part off the label, just to annoy eBay.... ;)

  • In reply to angelbuttons77:

    Appreciate the extra info!!

  • Oh boy. Don't even get me started about the post office.

  • I thought that ordering on line and directing the virtual merchant to ship to the eventual recipient avoided the need to use USPS, UPS, or FedEx. Used to have to find an FTD florist or the like to do that, but no longer. Even better when you put /aaa or /discover in the url.

    To the extent I need to buy stamps (and I haven't in a while), I just stick the credit card into the ATM-like stamp dispenser in the post office lobby.

  • One of the many things that kills me about the post office is that when there is a long line and only two windows operating you can usually hear a party going on in the back. They deserve to be obsolete.

  • In reply to Gary Lucido:

    That's why I can't go in there. I get too stressed and angry. Not worth it! It's interesting though how they defend themselves against the criticism yet are still as slow and inefficient as ever. I don't get it. Never will.

  • My favorite experience with the post office was when I mailed 100 thank you's after my bridal shower with my return address on the back and 1/2 of them got mailed TO me.

    When I brought them to post office on Dearborn (the unhappiest place on earth), I was told someone put them in the machine 'the wrong way.' Clearly.

    And, of course, they were rude and unapologetic but that's just par for the course.

    Thanks for the tips, Teppi!!

  • In reply to FernRonay:

    That's ridiculous but I'm not surprised. Hope your trips will be lessened now!

  • OK, so now I"m waiting to hear how you get round the Post Office when you have to purchase or renew a child's passport. That is true agony, as often, there is no separate line for passports. (Or, there is, but they forget to tell you until you've worked your way right up to the front.) Then they have to have child plus both parents, (or a notarized letter from absent parent), which means you can only really go on a Saturday.
    Then the special passport lady (usually unsmiling) goes through your paperwork, without giving away whether or not you're going to be rejected. If you've forgotten anything, or your photo isn't up to par, they just push the whole lot back at you. Last time (I'm blaming the anticipatory stress) I forgot to photocopy something. Instead of offering to nip into the back office to copy it for me, I had to gather everything up and go to a nearby Dominicks, photocopy everything and then wait in another line. Grr.

  • In reply to Expat in Chicago:

    We had a similar miserable experience when we went for our passports. The misery never ends :( And you're right, no smiling...ever!

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