In these hard times, everyone is trying to cut corners and pinch pennies. The USPS has been advertising their Flat Rate shipping pretty heavily and, in some cases, it can be a great deal… But more often than not, you’ll end up overpaying for a service that isn’t even comparable to a traditional ground shipment.
The only time that Flat Rate Shipping is better than Ground shipping (via UPS or FedEx) is when the item you are shipping is very heavy and it is going VERY far or to a rural address. In most cases, the UPS or FedEx rate (which includes sophisticated tracking and $100 insurance coverage) is at or just above the price for USPS Flat Rate shipping and in some cases, you can pay the regular weight rate for Priority Mail shipping and STILL send it cheaper than the Flat Rate Shipping for the SAME exact service.
The small flat rate box measures 1 5/8″ x 5 3/8″ x 8 5/8″. That’s roughly the size of a VHS tape — not really large enough to hold much. It costs $4.90 to send the small flat rate box. In most cases, something that is small enough to fit in a box this size is also light enough to go First Class Mail rate! Depending on how far you’re sending your item, your First Class Transit Time and your Priority Transit Time may be about the same.
The medium flat rate box measures 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ x 11″. That’s just smaller than two packs of copy paper, stacked. Your rate on this box is $10.70 and, like all USPS Flat Rate shipments, does not include tracking or insurance. Is what you’re sending worth insuring? Think about it this way: How eager are you to provide proof of purchase price with receipts? How eager are you to go back out and repurchase this item? Typically, it’s only a few extra dollars to have the peace of mind that comes with sophisticated tracking and insurance!
The large flat rate box is the only box that is actually a decently sized box at 5 1/2″ x 12″ x 12″ and your rate for this box is $14.50… Again, this is a great price if you’re sending it a great distance or if it is VERY heavy. More often than not though, a package this size will not weigh more than ten pounds. For perspective, a ten pound package going to North Carolina will only cost you around $17.00 using UPS. This includes sophisticated tracking, insurance up to $100 in coverage and would arrive in about two days. It’s impossible to get the same service with the post office (we’ll talk about why later), but at their very best option, with delivery confirmation and insurance added, you will pay $16.75 total — that’s right — a savings of only $.25!
No Such Thing As Tracking
It’s true. The USPS offers several additional services (Delivery Confirmation, Certified Mail, Return Receipt, etc) but you will NEVER see the word tracking on their website when they discuss these services. Why is that? Because tracking implies that your parcel is followed from Point A all the way to Point B, with every stop noted. Each time a parcel changes hands with UPS or FedEx, it is scanned to leave a breadcrumb trail of the journey. If your package was last scanned via UPS or FedEx in Tuscon and then it doesn’t appear again, the carriers can put a trace on the package and follow their steps all the way down to the driver that was last recorded as the person in possession of the package!
With the post office, all of their services are worthless unless your item actually arrives. You can purchase a “Point A” receipt (Certificate of Mailing) for $1.15 but until it arrives at “Point B” there is nothing that anybody can tell you about the package. It cannot be traced. It cannot be found. The post office will simply tell you to, “Just wait six weeks and see if it arrives.” SIX WEEKS? Do you have six weeks just laying around that you’re willing to surrender to this kind of system?
Insurance is another factor that is often overlooked with the USPS.
Sure, you can purchase insurance with the USPS on your parcel and it even comes with Delivery Confirmation included. Sounds good, right? Well, that all depends on how much information you want to know about the package and how long you’re willing to wait. If your package NEVER arrives (gets lost in the mail, stolen, misrouted or misdelivered), right out of the gate, the post office will make you wait THREE WEEKS before you can even FILE the claim. So if you shipped something Flat Rate Priority on, say, November 18th with an estimated arrival date of Monday or Tuesday, November 23rd or 24th and it never arrived, you’d have to wait until December 9th to even FILE your claim with the USPS. And once you file the claim, the post office tells you that, “A properly completed and supported claim is usually paid within 30 days.” So, that present that you bought early and wrapped early and shipped early? That package that you insured? If something goes wrong, you won’t even see your money back on that claim for almost two months!
We offer insurance through our private insurance carrier, Shipsurance. There are some stipulations regarding insuring your package, namely that it is packed according to shipping standards to protect the contents. We can file a claim as soon as possible and typically, it takes anywhere from two to three weeks for our insurance to pay on the claim. At that point, we can give you a check and you can head out to replace the item that you sent. Let’s go back to our example, if you shipped with us using our insurance carrier, you should have a check for the claim by December 9th which gives you enough time to repurchase, rewrap, and send it again to get it in time for Christmas!
At Mail & Business, we do the research and we do the work to provide you with the best product at a competitive price! It’s not about upselling, it’s about educating… And education is the consumer’s best weapon!