USPS Package Pickups and Drop-Offs

April 21st, 2017 Comments off

Getting Packages to USPS

You may have seen warning notices posted on mailboxes that discuss the 13-ounce rule. Normally, if your mailpiece weighs over 13 ounces, you would not be able to drop it off in a mailbox, lobby mail slot, or blue collection box due to security policies.

However, the good news is that this rule does not apply to PC Postage users like Stamps.com customers. The security policies are met when you use Stamps.com. Being a Stamps.com customer means that you save time and have access to multiple drop-off options!

Scheduling free USPS pickups

With Stamps.com, it’s easy to schedule a free USPS pickup through your software. We recommend scheduling a pickup request in order to alert the Post Office and so the carrier can make appropriate preparations. The service is available for Priority Express Mail, Priority Mail, Priority Express Mail International, Priority Mail International and Global Express Guaranteed. Have a package at another mail class? Not to worry: as long as your pickup request includes at least one qualifying class, the mailpieces with non-qualifying mail classes will be picked up as well.

To schedule a USPS pickup, follow these steps in Stamps.com:

  • Click “USPS Pickup” from the “View History” menu on the left navigation bar.
  • Check the boxes next to the mailpieces that you want picked up.
  • Click the “Schedule Pickup” button.
  • Verify the information.
  • Click “Submit” and then print the pickup date/time and confirmation number that appears.
  • Click “Done” to return to the “USPS Pickup” screen.

SCAN form

If you need acceptance scans of your packages, we recommend using the Shipment Confirmation Acceptance Notice (SCAN) form feature. The SCAN form is designed to record package acceptance events in the USPS tracking database. The carrier just needs to scan a single barcode on the SCAN form to activate an acceptance event for all of the packages associated with the form. Just print a SCAN form after all of your shipping labels for the day have been printed. Then, schedule a free USPS pickup and make the powerful Stamps.com software work for you!

Dropping your packages off

If your packages have domestic shipping labels, you can drop them off at USPS collection locations without waiting in line. If the packages fit, you may drop them off at blue collection mailboxes and Post Office mail drop slots.  Some Post Offices may also have a designated spot on the counter for prepaid packages. If you have a large number of packages, you may be asked to bring them to a rear loading dock. Remember that each Post Office is different and may vary in terms of volume and staffing.

Categories: Shipping Tags:

How to Measure Irregularly Shaped Items

March 30th, 2017 Comments off

CRSDC-461_SM_Images_MeasuringIrregularItems_Blog

You’ve probably already realized that not every mailpiece is going to be a perfect cube or rectangle.  Sometimes an item you need to send is going to have an irregular shape: a fishing pole, a tire, a hatbox.  How do you measure irregularly shaped items so that you remain compliant with USPS regulations and add the correct amount of postage to every shipment? We can help!

You’ll probably run across the term of measurement known as girth. Critically, the total size of the package is the length plus the girth. Calculating the length and width of a package seems straightforward enough, but what about calculating its girth?

Girth

Girth is the distance around the thickest part of a parcel. For example, if you’re mailing a guitar case, this would be the measurement around the part of the box that contains the body of the guitar. Depending on the shape of your package, this will be calculated differently. Check out these illustrative examples here: http://pe.usps.com/text/dmm100/tips-measure-packages.htm

When calculating the girth of a square or rectangular package, use this method:

Girth = (2 x Height) + (2 x Width)

To calculate the girth of a triangular package, use this method:

Girth = Sum of the 3 sides of the triangular package

For tubes, the girth is the circumference of the tube (π x diameter). In this case, pi or “π” is 3.14. The diameter is the “circle,” the distance across the flat, circular side of the tube. Yikes! You didn’t think you’d have to worry about circumferences and diameters ever since you took geometry in high school.  Not to worry—you can also measure a tube’s girth with measuring tape.

Length, Width and Height

Length is the longest side of the parcel–if you have a fishing pole to send, this would be the length of the rod.

Width is the second longest side of the parcel—if you’re sending a shoe box, the side of the box that faces the heel seat or heel base.

Height is the “standing” side of the parcel—if you’re measuring a tire, lay it flat on the ground.  You can use a ruler to measure the tire’s height from the ground.

Check out this USPS resource regarding Physical Standards for Commercial Parcels: http://pe.usps.gov/cpim/ftp/manuals/qsg300/Q201e.pdf

Total Size Limits

When using the Stamps.com software, you may spot some size limit warnings in the mail class descriptions. A mailing rule to live by: every USPS mail class will have different limits in terms of total size. For international mail, the limitations regarding total size will vary by country and by class. Before printing your postage, we recommend verifying the limits for your country of destination here: http://pe.usps.com/text/imm/ab_001.htm

You may also want to keep in mind certain USPS surcharges (dimensional weight, balloon and oversized package surcharges) may apply to your package. Check out our helpful support article on this topic here: https://stamps.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/169/kw/Girth/session/L3RpbWUvMTQ5MDYyODk5NC9zaWQvX3V4eE9CZW4%3D

Categories: Shipping Tags:

How to Mail Unconventional Items with No Packaging

March 23rd, 2017 Comments off

CRSDC-449_SM_Images_MailingUnconventionalItems_Blog

Can you attach postage to a rose and send it with no packaging? How about a feather duster? Or a golf club? The answer is: the USPS would strongly recommend boxing or at least wrapping all of these items to prevent denting or scratching during transit. Regulations regarding certain items do apply, such as perishable Items—learn more here http://pe.usps.com/text/pub52/pub52c5_toc.htm.

USPS – Does every item need to be placed in a box to be shipped?

To test the limits of what one can mail with the USPS with no packaging, the Improbable Research Team (they’re the team who hold the Ig Nobel Prize Ceremonies) once conducted an experiment involving unwieldy, potentially suspicious, and disgusting items.

Almost two-thirds (64 percent) of the items were delivered successfully, as they had the correct amount of postage attached to them. However, for many of these items, USPS clerks did recommend wrapping them. An unboxed football arrived successfully after six days in transit. Strange items, such as a deer tibia, a large wheel of cheese, and a dead fish, did arrive but had to be picked up at the mail station. An attempt to mail a helium balloon failed at the originating Post Office, perhaps unsurprisingly.

Want to mail a coconut? The Post-a-Nut Program offered by the Hoolehua Post Office on the island of Molokaʻi in Hawaii allows you to mail a coconut to any location in the world. Just pay for the postage and the Hoolehua staff will provide you with a free coconut, art supplies with which to decorate your unique mailpiece, and an agricultural inspection stamp.

Using Stamps.com to mail unconventional items

If you need to mail a brick, a ship’s wheel, a Frisbee, an orange, or a pillow, we can help! As a fun gift, many people choose to paint flat stones and mail them with the correct amount of postage.

With Stamps.com, you can print stamps at various denominations with our flexible and handy NetStamps feature.

Need a shipping label with tracking? As a Stamps.com customer, you’ll receive the discounted online postage (Commercial Base) rate, so you’ll save money when you print postage with us! With Stamps.com, you can send First-Class Package Service with barcoded shipping labels as long as your package does not exceed 15.99 ounces (the maximum weight at the Post Office is 13 ounces if you pay retail prices). If you do decide to box your item up, we also allow you to easily order free USPS supplies like boxes and envelopes from the Stamps.com Store. Have fun!

Categories: Shipping Tags:

The Lowdown on Parcel Lockers

February 23rd, 2017 Comments off

CRSDC-402_SocialMedia_Images_Blog_ParcelLockers

You’re tracking a mailpiece and the status shows “Delivered/Parcel Locker.” What does that mean?  This could mean that your recipient is using a cluster box unit (CBU) or an outdoor parcel locker (OPL).

You’ve probably seen CBUs in your neighborhood, either in a free-standing, pedestal-mounted configuration outside of a building, or mounted on the wall of the lobby of an apartment complex. They may have decorative tops, or appear in a standard rectangular configuration. They could be arranged vertically or horizontally, have eight individual mailboxes, or maybe 16.

All of them accomplish the same thing: they provide centralized mail delivery for the USPS. And because they bring down costs and increase efficiency, cluster box units and parcel lockers are increasingly favored by the USPS over traditional door-to-door delivery.

Outdoor parcel lockers also come in different shapes, sizes, and configurations. Shared by tenants of a building, a USPS-approved OPL allows mailers to conveniently receive large packages from the USPS in a secure and locked receptacle. OPLs reduce the inefficiency that comes with multiple delivery attempts when a package doesn’t fit into a standard mailbox.

The Lowdown on Lockers

Keep in mind too that the delivery status of “Delivered/Parcel Locker” may change depending on the type of locker it is: the status could refer to a third-party locker service (e.g. “Delivered/Partner Parcel Locker”) or to an Amazon Parcel Locker, which allows Amazon.com customers to pick up (and also return) a package from a special location (such as a supermarket) after receiving an email alert and a special pickup code.

USPS gopost

Besides Amazon Lockers and third-party electronic package lockers, there is another alternative provided directly by the USPS: gopost self-service kiosk units. These are great for mailers who are out of town or who do not want packages directly shipped to their homes.

The gopost service is convenient: if you live in an apartment building, you can avoid having your large packages sitting outside your door or next to your mailbox for a long period of time. Gopost offers security and peace of mind

Even better, the gopost service can be used to ship packages. For example, you could also buy a gift for a loved one at a shopping center and ship it out via a gopost locker. This is a situation in which Stamps.com can help!

How does it work? If you want to mail a package via a locker, it needs to have prepaid postage with an embedded barcode. Stamps.com, as a PC Postage service, is your complete mailing and shipping solution, and using Stamps.com postage is a USPS-approved method of creating postage for a gopost locker!

Categories: Shipping Tags:

What you need to know about mailing plants

December 16th, 2016 Comments off

292298_SM_Stamps_Blog

You’re in Arizona and interested in sending a cactus to a friend in New York. Or you’re in Minnesota and want to send a Japanese maple to your mother in Oregon. Can you do this?

You can mail certain plants within the United States. However, keep in mind that when mailing plants, flowers, roots, seeds, and trees, there are rules governing how and if they can travel through the mailstream. It’s important to note that you, as the mailer, have the responsibility to ensure your mailing activity does not violate any law. USPS Publication 14 is a great place to start.

Threatened and Endangered Plants

One reasons regulations are in place is to protect threatened and endangered species. Not sure if what you want to mail is protected? Take a look at this database of endangered plants maintained by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some threatened and endangered plants of California, for example, include the Baja rose (Rosa minutifolia), Santa Inez goldenbanner (Thermopsis macrophylla), and the Yreka phlox (Phlox hirsuta).

Pests and Diseases

Rules are also in place to ensure that plant pests and diseases do not spread and wreak havoc to industries and ecosystems. Therefore, for domestic mail, some plants that may be infested by insects or sickened by plant diseases may be subject to quarantine. Further information can be found at this USPS resource.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) maintains a useful database of information on plant pests and diseases here: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/aphis/ourfocus/planthealth

It’s important to stay current to avoid penalties.  Read up on pests. The coconut rhinoceros beetle, for example, detected in Hawaii, can do serious damage to coconut trees, and also feeds on commercial crops such as bananas, sugarcane, papayas, and pineapples. Citrus diseases like Citrus Black Spot and Sweet Orange Scab can also do damage to commercially important crops and production.

Other Domestic Guidelines

Individual states may have restrictions as well, so it’s always good practice to check with local plant health divisions before you mail any plant. For example, citrus plants are prohibited from entering California from other U.S. states. Fresh flowers of jade vine and Mauna Loa from Hawaii cannot be imported into the U.S. mainland and Alaska.

 International Mail

For international mail, plants (along with seeds, plant materials, fruits and vegetables), are subject to the USPS prohibitions and restrictions as well as the quarantine regulations of the destination country. For example, you need a plant health certificate if you’re mailing plants, seeds, or bulbs to France, and the United Kingdom also requires an import permit issued for plant shipments. Individual country listings and restrictions can be reviewed here.

 Preparing your shipment

When packing plants, the USPS requires the use of strong waterproof material, such as waxed Kraft paper, to maintain the moisture in the plant roots, but also to secure your mailpiece against leakage and damage during transit. Thorny plants should be wrapped in puncture-proof paper, and the tops of plant bundles should also be wrapped and covered.

Categories: Shipping Tags:

Call us toll-free at 1-888-434-0055, Monday - Friday, 6 AM - 6 PM Pacific Time.