OK, so today I have to quote a newsletter for a customer. It will be 20 pages, which is 5 sheets of 11″ x 17″ printed both sides, folded and stapled. They asked me to handle everything including the addressing and mailing. For small runs like that we normally don’t do the actual mailing. The quantity is too small to take advantage of bulk mail, since any postage savings you get will be eaten up by the costs associated with all the sorting and stuff. First class postage is usually the best option, and if you are going to use stamps, it is usually cheaper if you do it yourself. Well they don’t want to do that so we get to. Woo hoo! Now to find out how much the postage will be so we can finish the quote.
To start, the Post Office website is a piece of shit. The search bar brings up web pages outside of the postal site that have no bearing on what I asked. The regular postage calculators have no options for a 8.5″ x 11″ flat newsletter. They only have options for regular envelopes, large envelopes, postcards and packages. Well it had better be cheaper than a large envelope because that rate came out to $2.55 each. Time to investigate, so off to the post office!
The Joliet Post Office out here sucks donkey balls. They are the slowest and probably the rudest of any I have ever been to. So to avoid that I went to the Plainfield one instead. They are usually nicer and less crowded as well. I get to the counter and I brought with me a mockup of the newsletter. I show it to the guy and tell him that I have 160 of these to mail and I need to get the postage. he turns around and grabs a Priority Rate box and is trying to figure out how many he can fit in it. So I then explain that no, I was mailing each one individually and I needed to know how much that would be for each piece. “Well, you have to put that in an envelope, you can’t mail it this way”, he tells me. Um, no, I get mail just like this several times a week at my store and home. We have a 3 or 4 minute discussion where I try to convince him that I do indeed get such mail when he says well then you have to seal it. Again, unless there is something loose inside, the ones I get are not sealed. Whatever, just give me a price. So he tells me $1.63 each to mail. I got a price but he does not instill confidence that it is the correct price.
So I then ask “what if they were to fold it in half (then I folded the mockup to show him) and sealed it shut with the 3 labels like required?” We do mailings like that often but usually only one or two sheets which just need 1 first class stamp. he AGAIN tries to tell me it needs to be put into an envelope. I just stare at him, holding onto my rage, not wanting to make a scene. After about a minute he says “well if you seal it up you can mail it for $.92 each.” Didn’t I just say that I was sealing it? Clean your ears out! Aaaaarrrgggghhh!
So now I am back at the office and not at all confident of this pricing. On a whim I decided to try the postal help number, just in case. All I encountered was automation, with NO options to actually get a person on the phone. I have a call out to a mailing house I use from time to time to see if they can help me here, at least get some answers. I will update if I get any.
My mailing house, who are AWESOME PEOPLE, answered my email. I CAN ship the newsletter flat and unsealed. The postage cost on that is less that I was quoted, only $1.42 each. They did, however, get the price correct on the item if folded in half. 50% FAIL, post office!!! I so hate them. There HAS to be a simpler way to do some of those things.