Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Mail Box Love or How to Ship and Recieve Packages without Mishaps

I do a lot of shipping PLUS I get a lot of packages delivered to my house.  I have never had a lost package that I have shipped.  On the other hand, I've had about 7 or so packages not arrive in my mail box.  Most were from Asia and were probably in very little packets which are very easy to get lost along the way.

So when we did the mail box spruce up I added a super large mail box to accommodate small and medium packages.  I've found that if you make it as easy as possible for your postal worker you will get the best service possible.  Think about it.  If someone made your job more difficult, would you go out of your way to help them?  Probably not.

The USPS delivered 155.4 billion pieces of mail last year.  That's a lot of pieces so it's not out of the question that a piece gets misplaced here and there.  Heck, I lose my keys between the garage and the foyer.

Over the years, the postal clerks and carriers have given me some very useful tips to make sure my packages arrive safely and in a timely manner and here they are.......

First class and Priority ship together so don't waste your money on Priority if your package can ship using first class (<13 ozs="" p="">
If you print your own labels do not downsize them or print them lightly.  The postal clerks need to scan the packages you drop off before they are placed in the bin for shipping.  It is not uncommon for the bar code to not scan properly.  When this happens they have to enter the bar code manually.  If the print is small the bar code may be entered incorrectly resulting in no tracking.  BTW tracking is now free for both Priority and first class.  During busy periods such as holiday shipping periods, your package may be tossed aside until they have time to enter it manually.  Think of how many bar codes can be scanned in the amount of time it takes to manually enter a teeny tiny bar code.

The post master of one branch told me that they had a whole box of pre printed shipping/postage labels that would not scan.  When they investigated further they found they were all from one online seller who had downsized the label and printed them very lightly.  They were able to contact the seller and tell him/her to come and get the packages and print them correctly.  It was during the holidays and they were very busy so I really do not blame them.

If you hand address your packages or even just envelopes always PRINT if your cursive is iffy and make sure the zip code is large.  Packages move along on conveyor belts and are read by electronic eyes that read the address.  The zip code is used until the package or letter arrive at the final post office.  It is only then that the actual address is read.  So make that zip code large and clearly printed so it moves along without a hiccup.

I always hand address my parcels and always PRINT. If you want to make sure the address is formatted correctly just run it through Google Maps.  This really helps me when shipping internationally.

When shipping to Canada PRINT the zip code using the correct upper and lower case letters.  They use mostly lower case letters and the zip code may look like this.......1eb 3y5l  The country you are shipping to should also be PRINTED and LARGE.

If you ship to Brazil, it is Brasil down there.  I found that out from a buyer when I asked if the address format was correct.

When shipping to countries that are notorious for lost and stolen packages ALWAYS  use a box and tape the dickens out of the box.

When filling out customs forms NEVER LIE.  Even if the buyer asks you to enter it as a gift or to enter a lower value.  The European Union countries have a very high VAT (value added tax) that they must pay before picking up their package.  In the UK they add an 8 pound tax just for processing on top of the VAT which I think is around 20%.  YIKES!  It is not the seller's responsibility to pay this as this is a tax imposed by their country on their citizens to encourage them to buy from within their own country.

When filling out the custom form be as general as you can be to thwart any would be thieves from snatching your package.  When I send vintage watches, even if they are made of precious metal, I enter pre owned watch and then the actual value.  No need to catch the eye of a bad guy looking for the word GOLD even if it is gold filled.

Now that you know how I get my packages sent without any problems this is how I get my packages delivered to me without any hiccups.

Most important is to have your mail box clearly marked with the address.  Sure your regular carrier knows your address but with mail delivery being a 6 day a week schedule, you are more than likely to have at the very least a substitute carrier for one day.  I have found that whenever I have received a package that was not meant for me it was always a sub carrier.  I had a run of getting a neighbor's meds delivered to my mail box.  After the second time I wrote directly on the package that it was delivered to the wrong address and then placed it back into the mail box.  My regular carrier found it and came to the door.  I explained what was happening and he said it was a sub and he would take care of it.  End of problem.

I never hand deliver a neighbor's mail unless I know that neighbor.  Once I sent my husband down the street to deliver a misdelivered package.  The neighbor was not known to us.  He did not want to open his door but finally opened it enough to grab the package.  As R was walking away the guy started yelling at him wanting to know why he had his package.  Basically accusing him of stealing, so we leave the delivery of mail to the postal carriers.  Some people are extra paranoid and as they say 'no good deed goes unpunished'.

To help the substitute carrier, write the address not only on the outside of the door of the mailbox but also on the inside.  Once the carrier pulls up to your mailbox, he or she can no longer see the address on the side of the box or post.  I use the small reflective numbers for the outside of the door.  My local hardware sells them for 49 cents each.

On the inside I use a paint pencil to write the number. Why don't I use paint pencil on the outside of the door?  Here in the north, snowplows throw snow going at least 50 mph.  It basically sandblasts paint off your mail box, post, and any painted numbers. That is why I went with a PVC/vinyl mail box post and a powder coated mail box.  My numbers are also reflective.  I had a house that had applied numbers to the post.  Every spring I had to repaint the numbers because the paint was blasted off and it was down to raw aluminum.

It also never hurts to say 'thank you' when your carrier brings a package to your door.  It's common courtesy but some people think because they are doing a job and being paid for it, it doesn't deserve a 'thank you'.  I can't imagine sitting in that cold truck and drudging through the snow during the winter. Which brings me to snow removal.  If your mail is delivered at the curb make sure the snow is cleared away so the carrier can drive up to the mail box.  If your mail is delivered to your door make sure your side walks are clear of snow and ice.

We wanted our postal carriers to know that we appreciate them taking good care of us so we added this little note inside the mail box.