Money is tight but I'll do the $16 if I have to
June 27, 2008 4:23 PM   Subscribe

Priority Mail or Express Mail? This Saturday I'll mail a flat envelope from NYC to a P.O. box in Bethesda, MD (20824); I want it to arrive by this Tuesday. Do I need to spring for Express Mail? Anecdotes welcome.
posted by lorimer to Work & Money (9 answers total)
Express Mail has a guarantee.

Priority Mail will probably get there, but there's no guarantee.
posted by kindall at 4:33 PM on June 27, 2008

Twice I sent objects to Greer SC, priority mail, and both times it took a month to get there. This may be specific to Greer; all post offices are different. But if it needs to be there Tuesday, I'd spend the money. If it would be nice if it got there Tuesday/Wednesday priority might be good enough. (Our local PO is so bad that apparently it's famous throughout the system. Life is a crapshoot.)
posted by unrepentanthippie at 4:39 PM on June 27, 2008


It will cost you the going rate for peace of mind and be worth it.

Even if it wouldn't go out until Monday they'd have it Tuesday.
posted by imjustsaying at 5:07 PM on June 27, 2008

Rats. I failed to note that it had to go to a PO Box. My apologies.

Express Mail.
posted by imjustsaying at 5:09 PM on June 27, 2008

Priority Mail is not guaranteed, but it will probably get there. If you want certainty, go with Express Mail. It will be guaranteed, and also less expensive than FedEx or UPS.
posted by Robert Angelo at 5:34 PM on June 27, 2008

Fourthing Express Mail, which has always been reliable for me. Priority Mail is very...variable in its results.
posted by thomas j wise at 6:29 PM on June 27, 2008

Best answer: It depends how badly you want it there by Tuesday. Chances are, NYC to Bethesda, it'll probably by Tuesday if you mail it early on Saturday. But it might not; I typically give Priority mail (which is basically just regular old First Class Mail for stuff bigger or heavier than the FCM maximum) three Post Office days after the day of mailing to arrive, unless it's truly local. I.e., if I was mailing on Saturday I'd tell the recipient to expect it sometime around Wednesday.

There are a lot of variables that can add or subtract a day. I think the biggest one is when the mail actually goes out from the PO you mail it at, to the sorting and distribution center. If you drop it off early enough so that it gets into the mailstream that day, you've effectively cut a day off. But if you mail it at the end of the day, it's lost a full day's time-in-transit.

Also, you can sometimes speed your mail up a little bit by taking it to the right Post Office (the one closest to the processing and distribution center, which are typically but not always near airports); some people claim that if you barcode your mail that it occasionally shaves some time off, but I've done lots of mail both ways and never noticed an appreciable difference. (If I'm printing labels I'll typically add the barcode, but it's mostly just as a courtesy since I don't do Bulk Rate of any type.)

tl;dr: Express Mail.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:26 PM on June 27, 2008

I've never had Priority Mail arrive in 3 days; always 2. Especially on the same side of the country. Try to drop your mail off at the distribution center. Print the postage online, too. Both of these things tend to make things go a little faster, in my experience. YMMV.
posted by fvox13 at 7:30 PM on June 27, 2008

If it weighs less than 13 ozs, sent it FIRST CLASS instead of Priority. Priority Mail is the EXACT SAME as FIRST CLASS as far as handeling is concerned.

I ship priority and first class all the time, and for the most part it's very fast and reliable. I've had packages go coast to coast in TWO days!!

Here's the other thing to keep in mind regarding express Mail, Fed-ex, UPS and the rest.
they DO NOT really guarantee that your package will be there on a certain day, all they guarentee is that if it's not there by a given day, you won't have to pay for the freight.

so if you are cool with the idea that if you pay $16 to get it there by tuesday, but if it doesn't get there until wed or thursday, you get your $16 back, why not just spend $2 to send it first class knowing it will probably get there tuesday, and could even be there monday!!
posted by Mr_Chips at 7:53 PM on June 27, 2008

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