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Thread: About those USPS flat-rate envelopes...

  1. #1
    Super Member Favorite Fabrics's Avatar
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    We had a USPS sales rep stop by on Tuesday, and I asked her to find out if really-stuffed envelopes are acceptable or not.

    And... she researched the issue, and could not find any place where the rules say that the envelope has to be less than a certain thickness to qualify for the flat-rate price.

    And you *can* tape over seams, and the flap closure, to reinforce those areas.

    Thought those of you who are using these envelopes to ship your materials might like to know what the official word is.

    Don't know how to advise you, though, if your own local Post Office is giving you grief about your envelopes. Other than to ask to talk to the PostMaster, armed ahead of time with all the definitions of what a Flat Rate Envelope is, printed off from their own website / Domestic Mail Manual (which is their "bible", so to speak).

    It's been my experience that being a polite and knowledgeable customer, it's possible to ask the right questions so that they may reassess their position.

  2. #2
    Moderator Jim's Gem's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info Nan!!!

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    Super Member Tink's Mom's Avatar
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    Thank you...at my branch, it depends on who takes it in...some will give you a hassle about anything.

  4. #4
    Super Member Rebecca VLQ's Avatar
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    From what I've been told the envelope must be able to close of its own accord (Like, you can't cut the flaps and retape them to make it work for you), and you may reinforce the seal with a single strip of tape, as long as it doesn't wrap around to the front.

    Now, Flat Rate BOXES also say you may reinforce the tabs and flaps, I've never seen anything about reinforcing the bottom flap on the FRE. Never had one bust, but it *is* a sealed opening, you know?

  5. #5
    Super Member Favorite Fabrics's Avatar
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    I don't think there is a bottom flap on the FRE... but there are sealed (small) flaps on the sides.

    We've had FREs returned to us from abroad (undeliverable, or unclaimed) and have never seen the side flaps give way, though frequently the corners and bottom edges are abraded away so that the package has some openings.

    Keep in mind, though that those packages have gone twice the distance they should have!

  6. #6
    Super Member Rebecca VLQ's Avatar
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    ^^^That's what I was thinking of...the side flaps!

    When I ship soap the corners get all chewed up, so I know exactly what you're talking about!

  7. #7
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    I'm a 'tape it everywhere' kinda gal. So far no problems at the PO counter.

  8. #8
    Super Member natalieg's Avatar
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    My postmistress says that it has to be able to close on it's own....you can tape it for extra security, but it must be closed all the way.

  9. #9
    Senior Member DebbyT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Favorite Fabrics
    I don't think there is a bottom flap on the FRE... but there are sealed (small) flaps on the sides.

    We've had FREs returned to us from abroad (undeliverable, or unclaimed) and have never seen the side flaps give way, though frequently the corners and bottom edges are abraded away so that the package has some openings.

    Keep in mind, though that those packages have gone twice the distance they should have!
    Definition of Priority Flat rate - If it fits it ships. There are assorted sizes from envelopes to parcels provided free from USPS. (If you over stuff, the contents are at risk.)

    Definition of Priority Lg envelope - 12" high X 15" wide and no thicker than 3/4". your own envelope, not rigid and even thichness, no lumps. Next step is a parcel.(What a deal with the FRE.)

    Side flaps on Priority FRE will give if they are exposed to moisture. This will happen with wet weather. It is impossible to shield hampers from rain when moving and not all facilities have covered docks. If the envelope is buldging I recommend plastic envelope/zip bag and tape to reinforce. This link may help - (Retired from the PO) http://www.usps.com/prices/first-class-mail-prices.htm

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    Our post ofice measures the thickness with a template if it does fit through easily they make you go to the next box.

  11. #11
    Senior Member quiltergirl80's Avatar
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    I have seen my post office take the boxes that are taped so they will close because they were so stuffed full. I was told that if there is a bulge in the box, you may have difficulty with an insurance claim.

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    Senior Member pjaco's Avatar
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    When I went to get my envelope for mailing, I was told they went up to $4.95 flat rate and that was for 13oz , if it is more, you will need more postage. Sent mine, hoping to find that she received it OK, had 18 blocks in it plus the envelope.

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    Super Member Favorite Fabrics's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pjaco
    When I went to get my envelope for mailing, I was told they went up to $4.95 flat rate and that was for 13oz , if it is more, you will need more postage. Sent mine, hoping to find that she received it OK, had 18 blocks in it plus the envelope.
    Hmmm... the weight limit for a flat rate envelope, sent anywhere in the US - is not 13oz., it is 70 POUNDS!

    Which of course makes me wonder... what could I possibly fit into that envelope that would come even close to weighing that much??

  14. #14
    Super Member Favorite Fabrics's Avatar
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    And, by the way... just Friday we got word from a customer in Texas that her envelope containing just 6 yards of fabric was delivered postage due.

    So that nice lady who told us that our envelopes were okay to send with 8 yards in them... she is going to be in touch with our customer's Post Office branch. I think I'm gonna let her fight this battle for me.

    And I will let you know what happens!

    Oh - and by the way - I had also called that local Post Office and was told that there is this memo circulating around various Post Offices showing pictures of what's acceptable and not acceptable for FRE's. Here's the link: http://www.theresellersforum.com/dawn/frp.pdf

    Ummm... ya just gotta love the precision which with this issue is being addressed... right?? (Yes that was sarcasm. Click on the link and see for yourself.)

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    Super Member ptquilts's Avatar
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    I heard that that memo has been, as Sarah would say, refudiated. It was meant for Critical Mail, not FRE. Anyway, we should all be using the new FR padded envelopes, much better for shipping fabric and books.

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    Super Member ghostrider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Favorite Fabrics
    Hmmm... the weight limit for a flat rate envelope, sent anywhere in the US - is not 13oz., it is 70 POUNDS!

    Which of course makes me wonder... what could I possibly fit into that envelope that would come even close to weighing that much??
    Gold, Nancy, pure gold! And that's just what you put in them every day!! ;-)

  17. #17
    Senior Member quilter41's Avatar
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    I just received a Priority envelope the other day with 3 spools of thread, a small notion, and a note that said $.65 due. I send things in a 3M envelope and it is half the price of Priority

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    Quote Originally Posted by mom-6
    I'm a 'tape it everywhere' kinda gal. So far no problems at the PO counter.
    During the last block swap, my post office rejected a return envelope that had tape over the stamps because they couldn't put the cancellation stamp directly over the postage.

  19. #19
    Power Poster Mariposa's Avatar
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    I had received my FRE back from a swap, and it was only held together along the top flap by 2 inches! Yep! Was a good thing it was all put into a baggie inside!

  20. #20
    tmg
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    That's why I ship most things by UPS. It doesn't cost much more with less hassle.

  21. #21
    Super Member gale's Avatar
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    My PO used to not take FREs if they had tape on the flap. So I printed and showed them the page at the USPS website that said the flap can be reinforced with tape and since then, no problems. If I ship UPS I have to drive about 30 min to drop it off. With the PO they will pick it up or if I have to take it, it's 3 minutes away.

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    Sometimes Flat rate boxes or envelpes are not cheaper. I just sent an envelope of papers and a wall hanging to my DH in a brown envelope and it cost me 2.49 sent priority. My DS sent me a gift in the 23.50 FR box because it would not fit in any smaller and the box was half empty. I am sure she could have sent it for less money is using another box. Po usually gives you the cheapest method which is usually priority.

  23. #23
    Super Member gale's Avatar
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    It wasn't priority if it was $2.49. The cheapest priority mail is around $5 now. If it's less than 13 oz it can go first class. Otherwise it's priority or parcel post (or media for books and stuff).

  24. #24
    Super Member Favorite Fabrics's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ptquilts
    I heard that that memo has been, as Sarah would say, refudiated. It was meant for Critical Mail, not FRE. Anyway, we should all be using the new FR padded envelopes, much better for shipping fabric and books.
    So... if it's already padded... USPS will expect it to be "fat"?

    How many yards will fit into a padded envelope?

  25. #25
    Super Member Favorite Fabrics's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghostrider
    Quote Originally Posted by Favorite Fabrics
    Hmmm... the weight limit for a flat rate envelope, sent anywhere in the US - is not 13oz., it is 70 POUNDS!

    Which of course makes me wonder... what could I possibly fit into that envelope that would come even close to weighing that much??
    Gold, Nancy, pure gold! And that's just what you put in them every day!! ;-)
    I'm a-wishing!!!

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