I just returned from a baffling time at the local post office, trying to mail a Priority Mail Flat Rate envelope
using the self-serve kiosk.
The essential problem here is that there appear to be three different labeling options:
1. An area on the envelope itself with "To" and "From" areas marked
2. A "Priority Mail" address label, also with "To" and "From" areas, available in a stack right next to the envelopes
3. The barcoded label that comes from the kiosk, which has only a "To" area
It should be noted that there is no commonality among these -- each has a distinct size, shape, style and color. The only indication that they might be interchangeable alternatives is that they represent the same information (well, except for the barcoded label). Needless to say, my past experience with the post office did not leave me inclined to believe I could leave out some paperwork just because it was redundant.
To top it all off, there's yet another type of sticker, available on rolls, which simply says "Priority Mail." I gave up on trying to divine the intent behind that one.
I finally just put the barcoded label (with only a "To" address) on the address area of the envelope (turning it sideways so it didn't cover any of the other markings on the envelope).
I can guess as to the purpose of some of this, but my guesses don't make complete sense -- for example, the "Priority Mail" sticker looks like it's for non-USPS boxes, but I thought the whole point of the flat rate system is that it uses a set of standardized boxes.
Can anybody lay out the system here? And ideally explain why an option heavily advertised on simplicity leaves so much arbitrarily vague? (Other than "USPS is opaque and bureaucratic" -- they do a really good job on a lot of their other processes.)