Hand Stamping at the Post Office

dian57March 13, 2005

The invitations for my my son's wedding were mailed yesterday. I had taken them a few weeks ago to the post office on my way to work (not my local branch), for the weight. This particular branch didn't have enough 60 cent stamps for all of them so I bought them at a larger office.

The woman who worked the counter where I had them weighed was a woman I have known casually for over 25 years though the kids' Little League and Boy Scouts. She told me the local office wouldn't hand stamp, but her office would and I should bring them back to her office (not her, particularly). Now I wish she had said, "I'll do you a favor, but keep it between us because I'm really not supposed to."

Yesterday, with a canvas tote full of stamped invitations with a sealing wax imprint of a dragonfly on the back, FDIL and I went to her post office. She wasn't there but the two women that were, told us NO post offices are allowed to hand-stamp anything. I said a woman I know said they could. Then the more knowlegable one (the supervisor, I assume), slid one of the invitations through a slot template of some kind (where the sealing wax got caught) and told me they wouldn't be able to put them through the machine and that I shouldn't have been told they could do that.

She also said I had too much postage on each one, I only needed 49 cents worth, but they don't sell 49 cent stamps and the only way to get that amount in postage is put a bunch of different stamps on or have them metered. Because of the machine problem and that the woman I know said they would hand-stamp, she would now have to "pay someone to hand-stamp ALL these invitations." There were 66 envelopes. I offered to stamp them myself. In the time it took for me to be told why this was such a huge policy, time and expense problem for the post office, they all could have been stamped and processed.

So my questions were: why doesn't the PO tell us that sealing wax is a problem on envelopes? What was the problem with giving them TOO MUCH postage? Would 11 cents on each envelope cover someone's 2 seconds of time with the hand stamp?

Sorry for the ramble, it just took a long time to get it straightened out and I left there more than a little confused. I really am not sure what the advantage of hand-stamping is anyway.

But, hey, they're in the mail and that's one more thing off the list.

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About the only places that still hand cancel the stamps are small post offices in rural communities or post offices in places with unique names where people purposely send things to be hand cancelled, such as Bridal Veil, OR, St. Patrick's, MO, Santa, ID, or Valentine, NE. Everywhere else it is done by machine.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2005 at 3:36PM
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What a pain in neck that officious woman was!

Who cares if you wasted your money--11 cents, times 66? Wow, you really broke the bank there, you wasteful person you.

You weren't asking for the money BACK, after all. Geez! It's not her business! As long as you have ENOUGH postage, who cares? Certainly not you.

Maybe she thought you didn't know (even though you know you *did* know). But still, what were you gonna do--peel them all off, and put new ones on?

And geez, they hand-cancel BOXES. Because, y'know, they won't fit through the machine. I don't understand why they couldn't hand-cancel envelopes here and there.

Maybe they'd have to charge you Priority Mail rates. But they accept oversize envelopes, too--with more postage, which you paid.

No, wait--they have a "Non machinable rate" RIGHT ON THEIR WEBSITE--and if it's "nonmachinable," then how ELSE do they do it, if not by hand. By chicken?

Note the bold--that seems to cover your sealing wax!

First-Class Mail is used for personal and business correspondence. Any mailable item may be sent as First-Class Mail. It includes postcards, letters, large envelopes, and small packages. The maximum weight is 13 ounces. Pieces over 13 ounces can be sent as Priority Mail.

The minimum size for First-Class Mail is 5 inches long, 3-1/2 inches high, and 0.007 inch thick. Pieces weighing 1 ounce or less may be subject to the nonmachinable surcharge.

Nonmachinable Surcharge: An additional $0.12 is required for items weighing 1 ounce or less with any of the following criteria:
a. Square letters.
b. The height exceeds 6-1/8 inches, or length exceeds 11-1/2 inches, or thickness exceeds 1/4 inch.
c. The length divided by height is less than 1.3 or more than 2.5 (length is the dimension parallel to the address).
d. It has clasps, strings, buttons, or similar closure devices.
e. It is too rigid or contains items such as pens that cause the thickness of the mailpiece to be uneven.
f. It has an address parallel to the shorter dimension of the mailpiece.

OK, the "nonmachinable" is for items weighing 1 ounce or less; but normally there's NO surcharge for 1 ounce or less. For larger items, you're already paying a surcharge because of the size, and that ought to cover the "nonmachinable" idea.

I'm sorry it was such a pain for you. Officious post-office women can be a real pill.

And I just shake my head over people who spend more time scolding you that you can't or shouldn't do something, that it would have taken to just DO it.

Here is a link that might be useful: from USPS.com--domestic rates

    Bookmark   March 16, 2005 at 6:27PM
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Tally--I'll be mailing the shower invitations next. They have raised silver dragonflies on the front of them. Guess which post office I'll be avoiding?

    Bookmark   March 16, 2005 at 7:28PM
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Talley Sue, what a helpful post. And so funny! I LOVED the chicken.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2005 at 4:36PM
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