For the last year and a half I’ve been making my own mailing envelopes for Etsy orders containing one or two cards. I use a 80 lb 100% recycled card stock that I score at one inch and fold up at 6.125 inches. I screenprint my return address and a bit of branding on the card stock and sewing up the sides to make a light weight, sturdy envelope that keeps cards in pristine condition.
When I was deciding whether to buy or make my mailing envelopes, I looked at a couple different factors: their weight, how well they would protect the cards, if they were recycled, and if the postal service would require the use of a package rate. My goal was to keep my postage costs down and thus those of my Etsy clients.
After doing the research I decided that I’d make my envelopes and while making them I checked USPS’s website for mailing requirements for the different “shapes” of mail. Those shapes are postcard, letter, large envelope, package, and large package. The lowest rates are applied to postcards, letters, and large envelopes so I made sure that one or two cards in an envelope would fit into those categories (orders containing 3 or more cards are mailed in a recycled or upcycled box).
Reading the guidelines on usps.com I determined that my mailing envelopes for orders of a single card would qualify as a 2 oz letter and cost $.61 to mail or as a 2 oz letter containing a rigid object costing $.81 to mail. As a precaution I’ve sent nearly every order in this category with $.81 of postage and never had a piece returned to me for postage due.
Lately I’ve been taking another look at my packaging and the cost of postage and have made three trips to the post office to have orders weighed to determine exactly what amount of postage to include on my mailings.
During each of the three visits I’ve gotten three different answers for orders that contain: one card, an invoice, a business card, and a small gift tag.
At the first visit the clerk determined that I should be paying $.64 (this cost corresponds to a rigid letter 1 oz or less).
During the second visit, the same clerk told me I should be using a $.61 stamp (this cost corresponds to a 2 oz, non rigid letter).
Today a different clerk first calculated the price of a single card to be $1.05 (this cost corresponds to a 2 oz large envelope).
During today’s visit, when I explained that I was trying to determine a standard rate for my mailings, had done online research, and concluded that I should be paying $.81 because the envelope fell within the size regulations for a letter, but contained a rigid object. The clerk remeasured, felt the envelope, said she did not consider it rigid, and the ascertained the proper postage to be $.61.
So there you have it. Two of the four times I was told the postage should be $.61. Fifty percent does not a majority make. I think I’ll go in again and see if I can’t get a tie breaker.