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A few questions for you and anyone else who may know:
1) I was going to be using USPS for international shipments. Do they have a pickup service or is that organization still so archaic that you have to walk it to the post office and stand in line with the guy who is just there to buy a stamp?
2) What do you use for domestic? I know UPS and FedEx have pickup services.
I think doing it in-house will save me a ton of cash, and packing up boxes is a piece of cake, but Im not sure how Id get them out my front door, literally.
Better yet, if you do regular shipments and the USPS works your neighbourhood daily, talk to the driver about him cruising your street each day and set-up a signal for him to stop for a pickup... use a bright colored paper in a window as the signal.
I don't know if this works in major urban areas but it does in our neck of the woods.
Their daily pickups make them much more attractive than UPS who wants $5/day to pickup in our area. I'm sure UPS would waive some of that fee if we had more volume with them. Most items we ship weigh less than a pound so USPS is also cheaper. For the heavy items we started using the USPS flat rate boxes. The downside to the USPS is the lack of reliable tracking.
For domestic shipments, especially small items where UPS and FedEx are too expensive, the USPS is excellent. We ship nearly all our orders via USPS, either first class, parcel post or priority mail. Postage is handled through stamps.com and is pretty much hassle-free.
A big benefit of using priority mail is that the USPS provides boxes in a lot of different sizes for free. Plus they've recently started a "flat rate" priority mail service -- there are two or 3 different sized boxes that all cost $7.70 or so, regardless of weight or destination. So it can be faster and cheaper than UPS/FedEx in many cases.
You can either give your packages to your local letter carrier or call for a pickup. Either way it's supposed to be free. We still drop things off at the post office daily becaue usually don't have the packages ready when the letter carrier comes around. There's no need to stand in line at the post office when you're packages are already weighed and labeled - just dump them on the counter and leave (which *always* raises the eyebrows of the poor schmucks stuck in line...)
For the larger packages, we have a UPS account but no daily pickup. Instead, there's a UPS Store about 3 blocks away where we can drop off the pre-labeled packages. Saves the cost for the daily pickup service, which would be a waste since we don't ship UPS every day.
I don't worry much about having to drop things off - the mileage is a business expense, so it works out in the long run. Some days it's a bit of a chore to lug all those packages to the PO, but we've been doing it so long that it really doesn't seem like a big deal.
They are also experts in International.
Sometimes its good to be the quasi new kid on the block and hungry to boot. :)
Just go to the USPS web site, and click on SCHEDULE A PICKUP on the top of the page to see what your options are.
BTW pendanticist - USPS has run ads on TV about picking up packages, but you won't see those on PBS so change the channel :)
*USPS will do free pick-ups of DOMESTIC packages that already have postage applied *in some areas* if they're going Priority or Express Mail. (Mine isn't one of them, unfortunately).
*They also have a service that's $12.50 per pick-up (also not available in all areas). Postage must already be applied. They'll pick up parcel post, priority mail, express mail, Global Express Guaranteed, and Global Express Mail. They’ll only pick up the Global Express if you have a corporate account, though. Otherwise, you will need to take the package to the PO. They won't pick up International air or surface mail.
You’ll also have to take the package to the PO if you require insurance, unless you create the label with USPS’s Click N Ship.
While you can go onto the website and schedule a pickup that can be inconvenient for those of us who ship every day - adding an unnecceasry step.
Here's how to arrange a daily pickup;
Call or goto local post office and get the location of the area 'plant' ask for a phone number.
Call the plant and ask for the sales/account rep; go over your volume and needs and they will set it up with your local postmaster or arrange for a large mail truck to come pick up if your volume justifies it.
FYI if you do over $1m a year they'll make custom imprinted boxes for you as well. -That's $1m in USPS postage of course - not sales. :)
Carrier Pickup is free. Requests must be received by 2:00 AM CST for next day pickup. They will accept all domestic and international packages. Remember your packages need all the paperwork filled out ahead of time and correctly dated for the pick-up date.
[edited by: lorax at 1:54 pm (utc) on Feb. 9, 2005]
From the Additional Packages page:
Please note: Carriers can only accept international packages – including mail to APO and FPO addresses – that:
Have a return address that matches the pickup location; Have a properly completed Customs Declaration form attached.