Almost every day this past week I’ve printed — and paid the postage for — a mailing label by using usps.com. After getting my package ready, I request Carrier Pickup online and leave the package at my front door for my letter carrier to pick up the next day.
Mailing packages and other holiday greetings is easy when you know about the many services the Postal Service offers its customers.
For example — there are only three steps to make mailing packages easy and efficient.
First, choose a box. Make sure it’s strong enough to handle everything you’re going to put inside and big enough to allow extra room for packing materials. If you’re reusing a box, make sure any old labels or markings are covered up.
Many Post Offices sell Ready-Post boxes and envelopes or you can use free Express Mail and Priority Mail boxes, envelopes and tubes. You can order free shipping materials at usps.com, and they will be delivered to your home or office free, or pick them up at your local Post Office.
Next, when packing the box, protect its contents by using shredded or crumpled up newspaper, bubble wrap or packing peanuts. Whatever you use, make sure and pack it nice and tight. Close the box and give it a little shake to see if you can hear anything moving around. If the contents don’t seem secure, add more packing material.
If sending any battery-powered devices, always remove the batteries. For vases, bowls, glasses, mugs and pretty much anything that is hollow and possibly breakable, fill with packing material to avoid damage.
Use only clear, brown or reinforced packing tape. Masking, paper or cellophane tapes are not recommended. String is out too.
Shipping your package is as easy as logging onto usps.com to print postage and request your letter or rural carrier to pick up the package from your home or business.
First-time user? Registering takes only a few minutes.
The address in your profile is automatically inserted as the return address. Add the package weight or use one of the many Priority Mail Flat Rate boxes and there’s no need to worry about what the package weights. “If it fits, it ships.”
If you want to insure the package for more than $5,000, however, you must go to your local Post Office.
Another way the Postal Service has made it easy to make all kinds of transactions is its Automated Postal Centers (APC).
As much as I almost always use usps.com for all my shipping needs, to order stamps and to look up ZIP Codes, my son says he appreciates the convenience of the APC especially since it’s available for use even when the Post Office is closed.
The self-service kiosks are similar to a bank ATM and offer a quick and easy way to purchase stamps or mail packages without waiting in line at the Post Office. They’re also bilingual — English and Spanish.
By using a debit or credit cards, you can buy stamps; weigh, calculate and purchase postage in any amount for items weighing up to 70 lbs.; use Express Mail, Priority Mail and First-Class Mail services for letters up to 3.5 oz., large envelopes and packages up to 13 oz., and Parcel Post packages up to 70 lbs. or less.; purchase Insurance, Delivery Confirmation, Certified Mail and Return Receipt; and look up ZIP Codes and get additional mailing information.
Mailing packages, letters and greeting is as much a holiday tradition in my home as putting up the Christmas tree. Don’t think of it as a chore, think of it as an easy way to reach out to all your friends and family members this holiday season.