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Delays or losses w/first class w/ delivery confirmation
Been noticing some weird stuff

 6:00 pm on Mar 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

For years I've offered customers a flat rate with my small widgets, using first class with a delivery confirmation (which means I have to use a thicker envelope). Lately I have been getting customers complaining about the tracking number showing that the package is stuck in some limbo, like a "sort facility," or it says "delivery status not updated." I'm wondering if other folks who use USPS for shipping have noticed a decline in the accuracy of first class delivery confirmations? I checked back several months, and I see this with first class but not with priority (only found one priority like this).

Also, if you have used first class before and switched to priority for shipping, did you notice a change in sales? I have resisted changing to flat rate priority because not many folks who sell these little widgets use it. Most don't even use delivery confirmation.

Please, no anti-post-office rants. I don't want to hear it. I am talking business here, not politics.



 6:24 pm on Mar 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

We use First-class w/tracking for any domestic shipment under 13 oz, and Priority w/tracking for domestic anything else. We have noticed an overall lag in FC shipments, compared to Priority. It started January 22nd.

It used to be that FC and Priority traveled on the same plane, landed at the same airport, and were delivered at the same time. FC was simply "Priority-light", with the same level of service, and a much-cheaper price.

Lately (since 1/22/12), we've seen Priority move ahead in the delivery queue, after landing at the airport. We've had FC packages sit for 3 days, literally 20 miles from their destination, while Priority packages arrive as promised.

Regarding your 2nd question, we used to offer Priority-only shipping for everything, before "discovering" first-class w/tracking. Once we began offering FC, our sales of smaller items (under 13 oz) increased dramatically. It's the opposite scenario from what you asked, but you can probably draw conclusions from it.

Finally, regarding Tracking, we use Tracking on every package (it's now free for everything except Parcel Post), except for First-Class International. FCI is tracked to the border, and that's it; scans stop. Funny thing... 95% of our non-receipt claims are with FCI. Why do you suppose that is? <sarcasm>


 8:06 pm on Mar 10, 2012 (gmt 0)

I haven't seen the lag yet, but I have asked people who work at our local post offices, and they did mention that when mail arrives at a facility, the priority packages are given, uh, "priority" when sorted at the different facilities.

So if there is a big stack of mail, then I guess they will do the P/M boxes first, followed by the fist class, and then parcel post last.

sorry I don't have better info for you.


 9:53 pm on Mar 11, 2012 (gmt 0)

I decided to go ahead and see how I do with a higher flat shipping rate that would get them priority mail. I will try it a week and then evaluate.


 2:15 am on Mar 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

I decided to go ahead and see how I do with a higher flat shipping rate that would get them priority mail.

Always check the weight on USPS Priority. The "flat rate" boxes are a great deal for heavier items, (anything up to 70LBS domestic and 20LBS intn'l), but if you actually weigh the package and it's only a few pounds you can still ship "Priority" and chances are it will costs less.


 12:33 pm on Mar 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have found that if it's in-state or a contiguous state, it is cheaper to ship plain priority, but everywhere else, it is cheaper to ship flat rate. I have been using the small flat rate boxes when I use flat rate, though. You are right that the bigger ones are generally no bargain unless the item is really heavy. A friend shipped me some railroad spikes in a flat rate box: worth it!


 4:24 pm on Mar 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have found that ...

I'm surprised. Our flat-rate volume accounts for maybe a couple percent of our Priority shipments (very heavy items only).

The Regional Rate "A" boxes account for +90% of our Priority shipments. They are cheaply-made, but we pack them well (kraft paper is cheap).

I give credit to the guy who invented the "flat-rate" concept. Whenever I go to the post office (maybe once a month), they are lined up to buy those flat-rate boxes. Who cares if the postage is double the regular Priority Rate. If it fits, it ships!


 8:01 pm on Mar 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

It does make things simpler. I was hoping they would be a good deal for international shipping, but the small flat rate priority box is SO small that it doesn't work for me. I put orders in a regular box and for a few dollars more than international priority, I can usually send it express.

So far I am seeing lots of people buying single widgets and paying that small flat rate priority shipping price. I didn't expect that.


 8:27 pm on Mar 12, 2012 (gmt 0)

Yeah, it's pretty funny how many people just assume the flat rate box actually always saves money, like they claim. In many cases, you'd actually be paying double. You'll notice they rarely stock the non flat rate boxes at offices, as well.


 6:09 am on Mar 13, 2012 (gmt 0)

I have found that if it's in-state or a contiguous state, it is cheaper to ship plain priority, but everywhere else, it is cheaper to ship flat rate.

That really boils down to how heavy it is, and how big it is.

Generally, the Small Flat Rate Boxes and the Flat Rate envelope / padded envelope are the cheapest, but don't hold much.

Next up would be Regional Rate Box A, which holds more and they only charge you as if it weighs two pounds, even though you can put something like 14 pounds in it. Can't ship international though, only domestic US. So if you ship close by it is around $5.65 or so, and then I think if you ship fa away (like Hawaii) it is a max of $9.85 or so.

After that I think it is medium flat rate box (around $10.80 or so), then large flat rate box (around $15 or so)

Then of course there is parcel post, which only saves a little bit of money unless the package starts to weigh over about four pounds or so. But parcel post service can be brutal. I've had packages take up to two weeks to get from California to New York.

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