Priority Mail vs. Parcel Post Discussion

galiumMarch 10, 2007

I'd like some feed back from members concerning why Priority Mail is mandatory for some swaps. Other than the time element what is the difference? Parcel Post is much less expensive.

I mailed two boxes today. One I sent was heavier by far, yet it cost less to send it. I sent it Parcel Post with a DC#. I saved $4.00. So it takes a few extra days. It has a tracking number so I know where it is. You can get a DC# on anything that is at least 1/4" thick. I would feel responsible for any box of mine that went missing whether it be Priority or not.

Last spring I started trading plants. All of the plants I received were mailed Parcel Post. Not one died and they were in excellent condition.

Thanks for your input.


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earthlydelights(6 pushing 7)

mariann, i use whatever seems to work for what's in the box. it seems of late even paying priority some packages still take 4 or 5 days.

if i have perishables or plants, i use priority. if it doesn't really matter, i'll use parcel post. i play around with postage rates before i go to the post office. i have never printed it from home and did the pick up, because it's always a few days behind in the delivery.

if flat rate is the way to go, i use that.

i always see that confirmation is mandatory, but i guess that's just a precaution. i learned the hard way that you can't use it on an envelope. had i thought about it, or the clerk been more intune, i should have used certified mail. confirmation gives you an opportunity to track, does not in any way guarantee anything.

i for the most part use post office supplies/boxes, so i don't have the option to say parcel post when it is in a priority box - their rule, which makes sense.

it should be your option, it's your dollar. just so you are accountable for it.


    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 6:43PM
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beth_b_kodiak(zone 5a)

Maryanne, if a priority box is the right size but you want to use it for parcel post... carefully undo the seam. Turn it inside out and retape it. You have a plain unmarked box to ship however you like.
If it is in a priority box (right side out with all their pre-printed messages) it will be shipped priority because they only glance at the box not at what you paid or whatever.
true that a lot of the time priority does not save much time. Sometimes it does but the extra postage is not a guarantee.
I love the flat rate boxes and feel like I can stuff them full and get a bargain. Just need to watch the size/shape of what you buy to send.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 8:30PM
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moonphase(z7 Ga)

The flat rate boxes are $8and some odd cents and priority is only a dollor plus more,so if it is fragile,etc,I send priority just to get it there faster,Thanks for the tip on turning the box inside out,(would have never thought of that)even though for most I send,they are too small but for plants,and some things,they will work fine.

    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 11:02PM
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I am surprised to hear that there is such a large discrepancy between priority and parcel post for most people. I have found very little difference, never more than a dollar but that may be because of where I am from. There is an old Maine saying "you can't get there from here" because there are alot of place that applies to even in the state. But I think my broader answer would be the growth of this website. In the beginning, there was no priority mail or delivery confirmations or one rate boxes but it was the same people on the site day in and day out. Now I cannot even imagine how many people visit here each day. There did not used to be forums, I think the first one was for Winter Sowing wasn't it? Anyways, my feeling is that you send the box however you can afford without compromising the contents. This is all supposed to be fun!!! diene

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 6:55PM
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being a hostess in an ongoing swap here is my take on the PO -

I sent the box out - to go less than a 5 hour drive from my home. It took 10 days. I did send priority and used a delivery confirmation. When I went to the PO to find out where it was I was told that

A - I had to wait 14 business days to trace package
B - Priority doesn't mean it gets priority over any other mail- it can take up to 14 business days to get there and be considered on time.
C - you can not track your package only watch to see when they claim it gets there.
D - they make you pay an outrageous fee for a perceived service.

So sending it parcel post makes the most sense $$ wise and as long as it is sent with a DC ( I think this is a token of good faith ) you are getting the same service as you would with priority mail. So save the $$ -

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 11:03PM
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I've had a parcel post pkg. take almost a couple weeks to get to me. Thankfully it was iris and they survived. Had it been other plants, no way would they have lived. The box sent cost like $3.90 or so, and the priority box would of cost $4.05. I've never had a priority box take more than 3 days(maybe 4 during holiday time) to arrive and I've mailed quite a few pkgs.
A larger package that contains just swap stuff and no plants with a considerable price difference, I could see sending parcel post.
I do think one thing that helps pkgs. get delivered quicker is writing the zip clearly, large, and below the other info, not in the same line as the city and state.
And of course sometimes weird things happen to pkgs. no matter what you do like the bubble envelope that was all sticky and inside of a plastic bag that came to me. It had been mailed non-sticky,lol, over a month earlier!

    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 11:27PM
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Beth & everyone- be VERY careful if you decide to turn a priority box inside's a favorite trick of many an eBayer, and many POs are starting to 'recognize' their own boxes, and will actually charge you the Priority Rate and make you send it Priority. Basically it's because of the courtesy service for those using Priority, and that many people have abused it.

So anyway, that aside, I agree with the OP on the principle, although my preference would be to send plants Priority just because. But I haven't traded a plant yet, I don't think.
I don't make Priority a mandatory thing in my RRs, but sometimes it just works out that it's less expensive. I do, however, make the DC mandatory, and appreciate that most seem to be on the same page with this recently.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 8:22AM
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klickitat(zone 7b GA)

Have to say that the one irritation I have with the P.O. is when I go in to mail a box, they ask, "Would you like tracking with this package?" Well, it's NOT a TRACKING # they sell... just delivery confirmation. That doesn't sell it for me. And, for heavy or large boxes, I prefer to ship UPS. They have true tracking with free insurance under $100. As long as my swap partner is ok with UPS, that is. The only unfortunate part is UPS costs a little more and charges extra for rural delivery.

Guess I'm a little irritated with the P.O. right now because they lost a payment I sent out recently and now have to go through the process of cancelling and hoping it didn't get into the wrong hands.

There's just no winning no matter what you choose.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 9:54AM
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I have a digital scale I bought for $15 and generally use the click & ship to print my labels from home, pay for it online, then request free carrier pick up. (They don't offer parcel post as an option on the website, but with my scale I can calculate the difference.)
When you purchase the priority mail from the usps website, it includes free delivery confirmation - they also now have a "scan form" which you can print & place with the package for the carrier to scan, then leave for you. This ensures the package is accounted for & tracked. I know we've all had the problem of the package not getting actually scanned into their system till the day it is delivered! Not with the new scan form! With the carrier pickup, the package is picked up right at my FRONT DOOR!!!

I've generally found priority is within $1 of parcel post cost, plus, doing this from their website, I get del conf free. As an added bonus, I don't have to go wait in those horrible lines at the PO or deal with people.

Like Remy, I've only had one or two packages take up to 5 days with Priority over a holiday, and that's simply because we are in the boonies. Maybe I've just been lucky, but I do a great deal of shipping this way - selling & buying stuff on ebay or swapping packages and plants.

And seeing as they will deliver the mailing supplies to my door for free - why do I want to get dressed, drive to the PO, wait in line and deal with a clerk who may grow fangs, just to "save" a dollar or less? I deal with people all day at work & don't want to do it on my time, so unless it's going to save me more than $2 (with the del conf), no thanks to the PO, and to parcel post.

On the other hand, I will and do use Media mail - big difference there!! Takes longer, but much cheaper for books. Just have to keep enough stamps on hand to pay for it - love it that the grocery store & ATMs now have stamps for sale!!!

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 2:34PM
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klickitat(zone 7b GA)

Ok. Today I went to the P.O. and shipped a box Priority since it only cost an extra 90 cents to ship over Parcel Post. Then I went to UPS and shipped someone else's box and it cost $2 less. They were the same size, around the same weight, but I didn't check with the first girl if UPS was ok with her. She also lives a few states further away which would probably have resulted in higher costs.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2007 at 3:36PM
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susandonb(NC 7)

I was told by the mail store I have been using that I can't get a confirmation # on priority shipping? That didnt sound right. I think I am going to start using the PO again, its just that this mail store is right next to my work place so it is very convenient.
Susan in NC

    Bookmark   March 13, 2007 at 8:57PM
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That's ridiculous.

Go to these pages, print them out and bring it to them:

Then if they still don't believe you stand there and tell them to call 1-800-ASK-USPS and have them verify.

Then tell the manager they need better training.


    Bookmark   March 15, 2007 at 11:09PM
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