Why we love the U.S. Postal Service

If you follow the news at all, you’re probably aware that the U.S. Postal Service has been facing serious fiscal challenges and that some in Congress have even advocated privatizing it.   Complicating the story is the allegation that the fiscal crisis is not the fault of the USPS at all but rather the product of punitive policies imposed on the agency by Congress.

We don’t intend to get into policies or politics here, but we’d like to make two important points:

  • It is currently much cheaper to mail books via the USPS than to send them via any other service.
  • It is also much less trouble for a small business like ours, with less-than-daily shipments,  to prepare books for mailing than it would be to use UPS or FedEx.

Let’s start with cost.   We can send a 1.5 lb. book anywhere in the United States for $2.82.  It may take 2-8 days to get there, but it gets there.  We have shipped over 6,000 books to date via USPS Media Mail, and only two copies have gotten lost or damaged in transit.

Want it faster?  The same book sent by USPS Priority Mail currently costs $4.82 and arrives in 2-3 days!

The same book sent from Wisconsin to, say, California, via UPS Ground takes 4 days and costs $14.43.  What if we send it just across town?  Still $11.96!

By shipping our books via USPS Media Mail, we estimate we have saved students and other customers over $40,000 in shipping costs alone.

What about convenience?  If we use UPS, we have to prepare a separate shipping label and then physically transport the package to a UPS office several miles away.  We occasionally do it for various reasons, but it’s a serious annoyance.   Although larger businesses can automate the creation of labels and also have regular UPS pickups, this is not an option for a business of our size.

Preparing a shipment for USPS mail pickup, on the other hand, is a piece of cake: (1) Use the invoice slipped into a clear adhesive envelope as the address label, and (2) affix the correct postage in the form of digital stamps.   And unless the shipment is large, it can be picked up by the regular mail carrier.

Bottom line:  We love the U.S. Mail, and we hope it will get the support it deserves from Congress and from the public.   They could triple the postage rate for Media Mail, and it would still be a bargain compared to UPS.

What do we lose by not using UPS or FedEx?  Tracking numbers.  And we’ve never missed them in six years of mailing books.   They just get there.  Yours will too.



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