Learning about USPS Priority Boxes

Discussion in 'Open Discussion' started by WT21, Dec 15, 2016.

  1. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    story deleted -- thread needs to die

    summary -- I went to the post office and learned that you can't re-use priority flat rate boxes for standard shipping.

    Nothing to see here.
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2016
    • Funny Funny x 5
  2. Aegon

    Aegon Mu-43 Veteran

    342
    Nov 3, 2011
    Portland, OR
    My post office sells non-flat rate boxes. Flat rate boxes are "free", in part, because the price is part of the flat rate, so using a "free" flat-rate box for metered mail is some petty form of theft.

    I shipped a heavy metal vice in a flat rate box. Still $15. It cuts both ways, so I follow the rules and use regular boxes for shipping small and light stuff.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  3. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Live and learn, am I right??
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2016
    • Agree Agree x 3
  4. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2013
    Philly
    Steve
    I don't really see your beef. They are robots anyway. You can't reason with them. I've had First class turned down for being 13.1 oz.... .1oz over. (that problem is solved dropping it in a mail box instead of the desk). You can't use a flat rate priority box and ship first class either...kinda the same thing...they also printed on the insides of the box so you can't assemble them inside out as a plain box. I save boxes for shipping to reduce costs. Drove my ex mad, but works great for me.

    That brings me to a better USPS trick. If you can ship your box inside a flat rate envelope or Flat rate padded envelope, it's significantly cheaper to ship...and most lenses will fit except for the pro ones. Also, Flat rate boxes are a rip off unless you are sending something heavy long distances.

    For a while I (unknowingly) got away with using the Tyvek envelops as flat rate envelopes (with box inside) for flat rate price, til they had a special meeting and caught on. I didn't realize I was doing it wrong at the time. Tyvek are weight/metered. I thought they were legal flat rate, but those are the cardboard ones for documents, but you can still fit small boxes in the regular flat rate...it's all silly really.

    What pisses me off is in the past year they jacked up regular First class. I can buy something on ebay from China that ships for basically pennies through USPS, but if I want to ship a small envelope (padded) to someone one town over, it's a minimum $2.60, where it was about $.89 a few yrs back.

    Another Glitch....ebay/Paypal allows you to meter First class mail up to 16oz, but USPS limits it to 13oz or it has to be priority mail (God knows why). You can get away with it in a drop box, but taking to the store will get rejected every time. Not sure why they haven't changed that.
     
    • Like Like x 2
  5. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2013
    Philly
    Steve
    Next time just use an amazon or other plain box. Problem solved. (or use my trick in last post)
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  6. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    yeah, that. lesson learned.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Leighgion

    Leighgion Mu-43 Regular

    187
    Aug 1, 2012
    Madrid, Spain
    Leigh L Pang
    I used to work for the Post Office.

    Aegon is quite right. An essential part of the terms of the free flat rate box is that you pay the flat rate. It's not illegal, and perhaps not technically theft, but is a violation of the USPS's terms to use their flat rate boxes and try to pay less, so they're fully in their rights to charge you the flat rate or refuse to accept the package.

    Whether or not it makes sense in the larger scheme of sustainability et al is another discussion, but there's no point in trying to have this argument. Next time, just don't use a flat rate box unless you want the flat rate.
     
    • Agree Agree x 6
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Leighgion

    Leighgion Mu-43 Regular

    187
    Aug 1, 2012
    Madrid, Spain
    Leigh L Pang
    Just to throw in a little word for my former employer, the argument for Flat Rate is consistency and ease of use, especially for businesses that need to regularly mail stuff. It is not, nor is it sold as, the best possible deal for sending stuff economically, but there are many cases where the certain knowledge of all the boxes you need free and a fixed postage rate is very attractive as it makes logistics and expenses much easier to juggle. For individuals, it's a good deal when you have something small but really heavy or if you want some tracking info, but don't want to pay for UPS or FedEx's level of service.

    I always dreaded that flat rate box that was packed with heavy machine parts, that almost inevitably would start to destroy the box and fall out because somebody thought cardboard boxes were impregnable. Got one of those every month or so.
     
    • Agree Agree x 4
    • Like Like x 1
    • Wow Wow x 1
  9. DanS

    DanS Mu-43 Top Veteran

    898
    Mar 8, 2016
    Central IL
    The machinists have found a workaround for that issue, jump to 26m 24s. :biggrin:
     
    • Funny Funny x 1
  10. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Legend Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    So the lesson here is, unless you are shipping anvils or small engines, avoid flat rate boxes :)
     
  11. barry13

    barry13 Super Moderator; Photon Wrangler Subscribing Member

    Mar 7, 2014
    Southern California
    Barry

    My dad had a large set of Facom wrenches I need to sell; I will probably need to do something like that.
     
  12. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    What irritates me is that once a flat-rate box is used flat-rate as it was meant it becomes trash. Why not allow it to be re-used as flat-rate or whatever paying full price? Seems like a win-win. The USPS doesn't have to pay for a new box nor does the shipper.
    I hate robots unless they can clean my house.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
  13. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    What do you think "flat rate" means?

    What kind of terrible business model would have a flat rate that only applies when it saves you money?
     
    • Funny Funny x 1
  14. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    The larger ones you definitely can as they are regular boxes. But, yes, the smallest boxes and envelopes to self-destruct when you open them.
     
  15. PacNWMike

    PacNWMike Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 5, 2014
    Salish Sea
    Actually that is the business model. Use a FR box when it saves you money.
    No, you can't re-use any FR box for anything other than FR as per UPPS regs. Even after it has been used for its intended purpose and the USPS has recuped their expense. And I wasn't talking about physical destruction of the box. If it gets torn up I dispose.
     
  16. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    Ya I don't see your beef here either. A flat rate box is a box that charges a flat rate. Pretty simple and self explanatory.

    Depends on what you are shipping. First class/Priority mail rates get expensive pretty fast once you get over 13 oz. So always a good idea to weigh what you plan to ship to get an idea of the weight and use their (USPS) online shipping cost tool to find out how much it will cost to ship in a standard box. Many times stuff will fit in a medium flat rate box which is heavy enough that the flat rate box is cheaper. Especially smaller heavier stuff with lots of accessories such as a camera body with batteries, charger, power cords, etc.

    P.S. I believe Fedex also has flat rate boxes. Not sure about UPS.
     
  17. ahinesdesign

    ahinesdesign Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    530
    Dec 6, 2011
    NC, USA
    Aaron
    Used to be able to assemble the flat rate boxes inside out to get the lower rates, but they caught on at some point and now print stuff on both sides...

    Like everyone else has said, flat rate is unbeatable for very heavy shipments, but otherwise you are better off with a plain box or other packaging.
     
  18. tkbslc

    tkbslc Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    That's how informed people would use it, but that's not how a profitable flat rate business model works.

    In the part I quoted you said "Why not allow it to be re-used as flat-rate or whatever paying full price?"
    You definitely CAN use most of them again as flat-rate, so that's what I was responding to.
     
  19. skellington

    skellington Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    304
    Mar 4, 2013
    Atlanta, GA
    Keith
    The post office has a couple of other oddly named flat rates that they will deliver to you that make more sense than the usual priority mail pricing / sizes.
     
  20. jyc860923

    jyc860923 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Feb 28, 2012
    Shenyang, China
    贾一川
    Totally understand that. To those people, the procedure is to be followed not to be debated about, which is why we say some kinds of job just don't require any creativity at all. You cover the flat rate box mark however you can and sir, you CAN do that.
     
    • Funny Funny x 1