I live in a busy city neighborhood where the PO has cut down on clerks, every day is literally like the Christmas holiday rush (I’m not kidding), and just recently they’ve cut down on the hours its open, too! Since I don’t have hours of time to wait, naturally I want to avoid the Post Office like the plague.
I used to use Stamps.com, and know about Endica.com, but I’ve since figured out ways to get around paying for these services without having to step one foot into the Post Office.
Here are the things I’ve come up with to avoid Post Office hassles:
A) SAVE TIME and $ with Domestic First Class, Priority, Parcel Post, Media Mail, & Priority International:
1. If you use Paypal already you probably know that you can print shipping labels right from your transaction page, but you may not know that your transaction doesn’t have to go through Paypal at all in order to print your shipping through Paypal. Here is the PP Click-and-Ship backdoor link:
2. If you do not have a Paypal account, you can always use the USPS Website click-and-ship page:
(both methods above have DISCOUNTED postage rates, FREE or DISCOUNTED Delivery Confirmation depending on which method you ship—shipping rates are actually HIGHER at the Post Office!)
B) First Class LETTER Rate, Domestic & International
Unless you use a metered service, it seems there is no way to send flats via electronically printed mail. For these I often just weigh and get an estimate; http://postcalc.usps.gov/ then affix stamps and send. It’s cheaper than First Class Parcel Rate.
The caveat is letter rate does not permit Delivery Confirmation. If I MUST have DC I eat the extra few cents and print out the label as a First Class PARCEL through USPS or Paypal (above). For International Flats you must send as a PARCEL (below) or go to the PO. Remember that letter rate requires that the flat can bend, so no cardboard.
C) The Secret Way to Print First Class International without using Pay-Per-Month metered mail services:
First Class International, unfortunately, does not print from either of the methods mentioned above. Here’s what I do:
1. Buy a bunch of stamps in various dollar and cents denominations from http://www.usps.com/ which are delivered to you by mail
2. Download Shipping assistant from http://www.usps.com/shippingassistant/
3. Mac users can now use Shipping Assistant, too! (Thanks, Knotworkshop, for the info!): http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/productivity_tools/sendituspsshippingapplication.html
4. Once you have the Shipping Assistant program, you can print your label. NO EXTRA CUSTOMS FORM NECESSARY! Everything prints on ONE simple page, with the shipping amount indicated.
5. You will have to choose an Exemption/Exclusion Legend for exported goods, which is located at the bottom of Customs Information. Use the “Select” button to view the choices. Any shipments valued over $2,500 require an export license.
6. DON’T FORGET to affix the postage stamps to your label, as it prints without postage attached. I use a calculator to help me figure this out and always DOUBLE CHECK.
7. You may want to insure your First Class International packages through http://www.shipsurance.com/ or http://www.u-pic.com/ First Class international packages are not trackable or covered under Paypal’s Seller Protection and you want to be sure you are covered.
8. First-Class Mail International allows cards, letters, large envelopes (flats), and packages (small packets) under 4 lbs. Over 4 lbs and you must bump up to Priority.
Check out even more tips about saving money and avoiding the Post Office HERE!
Giving important Etsy forum threads written by the Etsy community a second look, so Etsy sellers can Read, Learn, and Apply! Find more Etsy Tips Here!