Mailing books from home, cheaply.
June 8, 2006 1:41 PM   Subscribe

I mail stuff all the time, usually books, and have to go to our terrible post office (long waits, willfully obstructionist employees, etc.) to mail a book via media mail. Yet I can't just weigh it at home and put stamps on it because the Unabomber had to ruin things for everyone, so there is no anonymous mailing of anything over a lb. or so. Furthermore, the postal kiosk, available 24 hours, won't even print out the $4.05 postage for flat fee priority mailing, let alone media mail postage. Does anyone know if Zazzle stamps meet the postal requirements for non-anonymous mailing? If so, that would be great.
posted by craniac to Law & Government (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Don't blame the unabomber, the postal regs were changed after the 9/11 anthrax attacks, long after he'd gone to jail.

Why don't you just get to know your mailman so you can mail the packages from home?

From http://usps.com/aviationsecurity/welcome.htm :

Priority Mail envelopes or packages weighing 16 ounces or over with adhesive postage stamps cannot be deposited at unattended receptacles such as collection boxes and lobby drops. These mail pieces must be taken to your nearest Postal retail unit or may be given to your carrier if you are a known customer to him/her and have included your return address. See Deposit Information for Priority Mail.
posted by nomisxid at 2:00 PM on June 8, 2006


You know, you can always do this at Mailboxes, Etc., Postal Annex, and other simliar postal stores.

Also, does your post office have one of those machines in the entry way? I think you can send media mail via those, too. Not sure, though.
posted by SpecialK at 2:17 PM on June 8, 2006


I'll mail a non-essential package to a family member via our postal worker and see what happens. Thanks!
posted by craniac at 2:17 PM on June 8, 2006


many places such as Mailboxes etc will mail packages (I think), lines might be smaller, less surly personnel. If you have something akin to that nearby.
posted by edgeways at 2:18 PM on June 8, 2006


snap
posted by edgeways at 2:18 PM on June 8, 2006


Sadly, I've found my current postal carrier will studiously ignore packages I've prepped using Click-n-Ship and set out for him.
posted by adamrice at 2:46 PM on June 8, 2006


I just use Click 'n Ship:

https://sss-web.usps.com/cns/landing.do
http://www.usps.com/pickup/welcome.htm?from=global&page=schedulepickup

and schedule the carrier to pick up at my house. There's no charge as long as one of your packages is being sent Priority Mail or Express Mail. If you have media mail items, your carrier will take them at the same time.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 2:52 PM on June 8, 2006


Adam, you can schedule your carrier to come pick your packages up at your house and the PO will include it in his route. He can't ignore that. ;)
posted by LuckySeven~ at 2:55 PM on June 8, 2006


Also, does your post office have one of those machines in the entry way? I think you can send media mail via those, too. Not sure, though.

Annoyingly enough, no. Nor can you pay for media rate on the USPS click'n'ship page from what I've been able to find. Apparently, they want you to hand it to a human being so they can give you the spiel about how they have the right to open the item anywhere along it's delivery route, though most of them never mention it.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 3:09 PM on June 8, 2006


fuck, its
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 3:10 PM on June 8, 2006


Grammar shame.

As a highly paid teacher of English, let me encourage you to throw of the chains of puritanical grammar guilt.

Zazzle still sounds like the best method, if acceptable. The problem with official policies is that they're routinely ignored or routed around, as mentioned above.

Media mail is a money loser for the P.O., so it is discouraged.
posted by craniac at 3:30 PM on June 8, 2006


I send a lot of Ebay packages using Priority Mail. I print the postage at home, but drop the package in the automated kiosk.

I asked the clerk at the post office if that was ok, and he said, "as long as the package can be tracked back to you, it's not an issue, and that label identifies you, so it's ok."

This anecdote is not exactly authoritative, but it gets the the heart of their reasoning: if you send a bomb using click-it-and-ship-it methods, you're as good as caught.
posted by IvyMike at 3:39 PM on June 8, 2006


"Don't blame the unabomber, the postal regs were changed after the 9/11 anthrax attacks, long after he'd gone to jail."

Not true, though it's a common rumor. The rule requiring 16 oz and up packages to be sent non-anonymously was put into place in response to the Unabomber, and already existed in 1998 when I started my mail order business. (I remember discussing it in the PO when I was looking into getting a postage meter.)

I don't know about Zazzle stamps. Now, if you use stamps.com or a similar service, that is equivalent to getting a postage meter (you have to fill out the same application as a meter user) and so it's considered non-anonymous, like metered mail, and you don't have to hand it to a postal worker. (Occasionally you will get a misinformed postal worker who will give you trouble about this. I actually got in a public argument with one here in Seattle, who claimed that all packages had to be handed to her, period. Funny how I've been shipping metered packages for years without going through the clerk, and they never bounce back. Anyway, I went above her head to clarify that she was wrong. :) ) And if you have a meter, same thing. Whether Zazzle is equivalent to this, I don't know.
posted by litlnemo at 4:11 PM on June 8, 2006


if you send a bomb using click-it-and-ship-it methods, you're as good as caught.

Only if they catch the bomb before it goes off. After it goes off, I imagine they would have real difficulty determining who sent it.

Bombs are fairly rare, though -- as noted, it's more about anthrax and probably drugs and other things that don't destroy the package.
posted by kindall at 4:18 PM on June 8, 2006


If there's another post-office in a nearby small town, go there. The biggest city in my county (city has around 35,000 people) has an awful post office... the one in my town, same county, around 2000 people, is awesome... almost never any lines and they recognize me when I come in.
posted by IndigoRain at 4:54 PM on June 8, 2006


I send medium-sized books by media mail all the time (1-2 lb) that I just drop in a corner mailbox and they always deliver them. I probably have done this at least 20 times in the past couple years, from different boxes, and every single one has been delivered as normal. I am in DC where you would think they would care about stuff like this, but they don't.

I just wrap my books in brown paper (no box) so it's fairly obvious it's a book, and write on a return address. I use regular stamps, not metered labels, to avoid going to the post office. You can buy stamps in larger denominations to avoid having a lot of stamps on one package.

They might be more strict about this rule in different cities, but if I were you I would give it a shot and see what happens.
posted by clarissajoy at 6:15 PM on June 8, 2006


If you have a PayPal account they have a nifty way to print your own USPS postage and charge it to your PayPal account. Media Mail is included in the shipping options.
posted by Dr. Zira at 8:53 PM on June 8, 2006


Dr. Zira, stupid question: what size labels do I need to put in the printer with paypal shipping? Sorry, I can't see it on the page or in the FAQ anywhere, and it seems I'd have to go through with purchasing a label to get any more info.
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 1:02 PM on June 9, 2006


The labels come out to roughly 2.5 x 7.5. I usually use the labels that come 2 per 8 1/2 x 11 sheet.
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:10 PM on June 9, 2006


Thanks a-brazilian!
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 12:34 AM on June 10, 2006


Thanks for the excellent advice--the paypal link alone was worth the price of admission!
posted by craniac at 2:23 PM on June 12, 2006


« Older My freaky, lunging, barking beagle   |   Blackwater Cops, What you going to do? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.