Monthly Archives: May 2011

Post Office Introduces Forever Boxes

The United States Postal Service announced yesterday (9 May 2011) the creation of new Forever Boxes, which (in their infinite marketing wisdom) they’ve dubbed “Prepaid Forever Priority Mail Flat Rate Packaging.”

These Forever Boxes will be similar to the Forever Stamps that have been quite popular in the U.S. — basically, by paying for a Priority Mail flat rate box or envelope now, it will never be subject to increases in postage rates.  You can read the press release here, but I’ve pasted the same article below:

Building on the simplicity of flat-rate shipping and the value of Forever postage, USPS has announced a shipping option that lets customers lock in future postage increases at current prices when using select Priority Mail Flat Rate packaging.

“Prepaid Forever Priority Mail Flat Rate packaging” is a ground-breaking approach to shipping, designed to make it easier to do business with the Postal Service and address the core strategy of increasing the USPS share of the package market. Available for online ordering, Prepaid Forever Priority Mail Flat Rate packaging is the only prepaid packaging option currently available in the domestic shipping market.

“With Forever postage on Priority Mail Flat Rate packaging, customers now have the convenience of a prepayment option that establishes an even simpler way to ship,” said Gary Reblin, vice president, Domestic Products. “It takes the overall value of flat-rate shipping to a new level.”

USPS is offering Prepaid Forever Priority Mail Flat Rate packaging at retail prices for several Priority Mail Flat Rate products in packs of 3, 5, 10 or 25 (see table). Delivery Confirmation service is included at no cost and extra services such as Signature Confirmation and insurance are available when packages are shipped at retail locations.

Reblin said Prepaid Forever Priority Mail Flat Rate packaging includes an address label with Forever postage, so there are no labels to print. “And with Priority Mail Flat Rate shipping, there’s no extra cost for packages weighing up to 70 pounds, no hidden fees or surcharges and the packaging is environmentally friendly,” he said.

Are the Forever Boxes worth your time?  For the average consumer, probably not.  First, unless you’re shipping cross-country or shipping something very heavy, the flat rate is generally a poor value to begin with.  For most zip codes (and especially when shipping to another business), we can generally at least match the Post Office Priority rate with FedEx Ground service.  FedEx is more reliable than the Post Office, and it comes with $100 insurance and free Delivery Tracking.  Second, the boxes are smaller than most people think.  The heavy marketing campaign (If it fits, it ships!) glosses over the fact that the largest of the flat rate boxes is only 13 5/8″ x 11 7/8″ x 3 3/8″ (in other words, smaller than a bread box).  Finally, it never makes sense to tie up a large amount of money in forever postage as an investment.  Future postage increases will remain less than the price of inflation, so you’ll always be better off finding a way to grow your money now, then pay the higher postage price in the future.

That isn’t to say that the Flat Rate boxes are entirely without their charms.  Again, if you’re shipping something across the country (or to Alaska or Hawaii), that flat rate is probably better than what you could expect to receive from any competitor.  Empty Flat Rate boxes can be sent to your house for free, which is very convenient.  And it’s easier to budget when using the Flat Rate boxes because you already know exactly what you’re going to pay (regardless of the weight or destination of the parcel).

When my customers ask about the “If it fits, it ships” offer, there are a few rules of thumb:

  1. In general, the Flat Rate boxes are pretty small.  If your parcel is too large to fit in the largest Flat Rate box, it will probably be less expensive to ship it via FedEx or UPS Ground.
  2. If you’re shipping something light, it will be much cheaper to ship the item in your own box (even if you use the same Priority Mail service).
  3. If your parcel is going to a destination within driving distance, you can probably downgrade to Parcel Post and receive similar service (it might arrive a day or two later) at a lower cost.
  4. If you take a Flat Rate box to the Post Office, insurance and Delivery Confirmation cost extra.  Make sure to factor in those expenses before you decide on the Post Office over FedEx or UPS Ground.
Of course, you can always give us a call if you have any questions.  Or if you want a quick quote, feel free to use the Contact form on our website (

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