Post Office Madness

Comments   2   Date Arrow  December 3, 2004 at 11:54pm   User  by joel

As a few of you may know, Andi’s going on a mission trip in a few weeks to Croatia. And as such endeavors usually require, a few weeks ago she sent out support letters to fifty or sixty friends and family, who have generously responded and completely covered her trip. Praise God! So the other day she sat down and wrote out various thank-you notes and such and put them in the mail, save one because we ran out of stamps. The next day I had a few other errands to run, so I offered to stop by the post office to pick up some stamps and mail the last thank-you card. No problem, right?

“May I help you, sir?”

“Yes, I’d like to mail this, and buy some stamps.”

“Okay, let’s see…” (places the card on her little measuring chart) “…that will be 49 cents.”

“!…I beg your pardon? Isn’t it just 37 cents for a regular, First Class letter?”

“No, sir. You see, it’s too small.”

I was dumbfounded. She showed me the chart, and seemed a little unsure as the top-right corner was outside the target grey area by only a millimeter or two. She asked her co-worker over to check, who agreed that it looked too small. The chart measures “machinable” envelope size, and apparently if it’s outside of that range there’s a 12 cent surcharge because someone actually has to process it BY HAND! The horror, I tell you. Mind you, this was a ‘normal’ thank-you card, the kind you can buy in packs of 20 or 30 at the grocery store. I mentioned that we had just dropped a bunch in the mail the day before, and was informed that while they may be fine (“because it is very close”), they may on the other hand either be delivered ‘postage due’ or returned to us.

Delivered postage due. That’s real nice. A thank-you note, thanking the recipient for their generosity, just might be delivered informing them they’ll need to pony up another twelve cents if they want to be thanked properly.

I’m baffled by the confluence of idiotic ideas going on here. First of all, they’re going to charge a full third MORE than the usual price to deliver an item that’s two millimeters SMALLER than ‘normal’, whatever that is. Then, upon discovering that the appropriate amount of postage isn’t already affixed to the envelope, instead of returning it to the sender to rectify the situation they’ll DELIVER IT ANYWAY, and CHARGE THE RECIPIENT!!!

I did find documentation regarding the first idiocy on their website, which, in describing items incurring the surcharge in question, includes this gem:

The length divided by height is less than 1.3 or more than 2.5 (length is the dimension parallel to the address).

Nice. Lemme dig out a ruler and calculator. 😛


So anyway, I paid the 49 cents to mail the last one, though I confess I was tempted to ask if I could tape a piece of paper to the end instead to make it long enough. And when I left I was in one of those, “I’ll never use their services again!” type of moods. Rather unlikely, of course, and it didn’t last long anyway. But man, was I annoyed.

Tagged   Just Life


  • #1.   Stan Stone 12.09.2004

    How funny? Isn’t it just like a bureaucracy to find a new way to complicate things. It’s no wonder people still use the words “going postal” when referring to loosing touch with reality and going a little nuts. Great story.

  • #2.   Dad 12.19.2004

    Our’s got here fine. Or should I say, without the $0.12 fine.

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