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Quick Tips for Safe and Timely Holiday Shipping

The holiday season is rapidly approaching! On average, the USPS, UPS, and FedEx will do 25-30% of their yearly volume–in four weeks! What does this mean for you? It means you need to take extra care to insure that your packages arrive in their destination ON TIME and SAFELY. BE sure to follow these simple steps:

> Wrap fragile items in bubble wrap and foam peanuts, and consider double-boxing those items that are extremely fragile. DO NOT wrap fragile items in things such as newspaper or clothes, as these items do not provide adequate protection against drops or shaking.

> Include the destination and return address on a piece of note paper INSIDE your package, not just written on the outside of the package. This way, if the exterior of the box is damaged in transit, a copy of the addresses is available to the carrier.

> DO NOT wrap your packages in decorative paper, brown paper, or newspaper. These substances can get caught in the conveyor machines and cause damage to your package.

> Consider insuring all items, but especially those over $25 in value.  Keep in mind that items with “sentimental” value are not insurable. Also not insurable are gift cards and cash–send a money order or check instead–this way, you have recourse in the event your shipment gets lost.

> Even though there is usually an extra cost associated with it, strongly think about adding tracking to all your holiday shipments.  Do not confuse tracking through FedEx or UPS  with delivery confirmation from the USPS–tracking is the only way you can find your shipment, no matter where it is in transit. For valuable items, even consider the benefits of Signature Confirmation, so the package is not just left at a front door.  FedEx and UPS even offer e-mail service, so you can know the instant your package arrive in its destination.

> Make sure the item you are shipping is not identifiable from the outside of the box.  In other words, do not send items like gaming consoles, computers, or phones in their original packaging. Doing so makes them more tempting to steal. Instead, place those items in an additional (blank) box.

Goin’ Postal Tallahassee at 5810 North Monroe Street, Suite 210A, Tallahassee, Florida, can not only handle all those tough shipping needs, but we have the lowest rates around!  Make sure to call us at (850) 692-3130, or visit us on the web at http://gpoftallahassee.com, and we can help you package your items safely and cheaply!!!

You can also connect with us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/gptally) or like our Facebook fan page!

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United States Postal Service…gone?

The United States Postal Service lost an estimated $3.8 BILLION in 2009. And that’s even with the increase in postage rates, most notably the raising of the 42-cent stamp to 44 cents.  The USPS is hampered by a multitude of factors–the increase in things such as electronic bill pay; the inflation in costs such as fuel and healthcare; and the emergence of companies such as FedEx, UPS, and DHL–companies that can offer comparable or better service for the roughly the same price to the consumer. In fact, the largest percentage of the USPS revenue comes from Direct and Bulk Mail Marketing, not from individual consumers or private business order deliveries.  The USPS is projected to lose over $200 BILLION DOLLARS by 2010!!! Because they are not allowed to close USPS facilities due to their financial state, they are exploring other options:

1) Eliminating Saturday deliveries…this would decrease the salaries you pay employees to work 6 full days, and would save the USPS an estimated $90 Billion over the next ten years. 

2) ANOTHER POSTAL RATE HIKE, although that will not happen until 2011, at the earliest.

3)Moving facilities into grocery stores or department stores, which would save facility costs, and would allow them to skirt around the rule of not being able to close down facilities.

As you can imagine, all of this is not only making consumers wary of using the USPS, but also the employees themselves are becoming disgruntled and losing a great deal of motivation with their jobs (Remember this the next time you stand in a line for an hour to buy a book of stamps).

Luckily, here at Goin’ Postal Tallahassee, we use all the major carriers, so we can offer you the USPS services–like Stamps (at face value), Priority Mail, and International Mail; but we can also offer you alternatives like UPS, FedEx, and DHL.  Make sure to visit us at our store in Tallahassee (5810 North Monroe Street, Suite 210A), or our website at http://gpoftallahassee.com so we can help you with all your shipping needs!

And remember, you can also connect with us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/gptally) or like our Facebook fan page!

Hazardous, Restricted and Prohibited Items

An agreement was reached between the carriers, U.S. DOT and IATA to keep all shipments traveling in the air safe. For this reason the HAZMAT question was created. So, there is a definitive list of items that can and cannot be shipped in accordance with the law. However, while you should never ship liquids like oil, lighter fluid and other flammable substances, there is nothing wrong with shipping a well-packaged bottle of bubble bath via a ground service.

Descriptions that indicate Dangerous Goods include: “Explosive”, “Compressed Gas”, “Flammable”, “Poison”, “Toxic”, “Infectious”, “Radioactive”, or “Corrosive.”  These dangerous goods should never be sent.

The carriers will also restrict shipments with certain commodities due to regulatory laws or concerns about personal safety. Those items include: live fish, alcohol, clinical specimens, human parts, firearms, batteries, tobacco, currencies, or used medical devices.


Hidden Dangerous Goods

While not obvious, these items are classified as Hidden Dangerous Goods and should not be shipped:

Breathing apparatus (may contain compressed oxygen), Camping gear (may contain flammable gas or liquid), Dental apparatus (may contain hazardous chemicals, resins or solvents), Cylinders (may contain compressed gas), Photographic supplies (may contain dangerous chemicals or inks), Household shipments/goods (may contain flammable household liquids, bleaching powders, aerosol paints, lighters, or perfume), Car batteries (may contain corrosive,or explosive materials), Fireworks (may contain flammable substances), Matches (may contain flammable substances), Aerosol sprays (may contain compressed gas), Nail polish (may contain chemicals), Nitrogen-refrigerated liquids (may contain compressed gas), or ORM-D (may contain compressed gas).

Questions about particular items can be directed to the carrier, or you can call Goin’ Postal of Tallahassee at (850) 692-3130, visit us on the web at http://gpoftallahassee.com, or drive to our store at 5810 North Monroe Street, Suite 210A, Tallahassee, Florida.  We’ll help you package your items safely and cheaply!

As always, you can also connect with us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/gptally) or like our Facebook fan page!

ATTENTION: All eBay Sellers…

Here at our home store, a good portion of our business comes from eBay sellers who are shipping out merchandise. Sadly, all too often we will see a look of disappointment when they hear how much it is to actually ship out their purchase, and realize they were WAY UNDER on their estimate.  Since eBay requires that you input a price for shipping BEFORE you post your item, the best way to protect yourself from LOSING MONEY on your shipment is to contact us here at Goin’ Postal Tallahassee to get an accurate quote based on the weight and dimensions of your item.  All you have to do is call us at (850) 692-3130, or click on the link marked “Contact Us” on our website, http://gpoftallahassee.com, and one of our Shipping Experts will contact you right away with the different options you have for shipping, and the prices of each option.  That way you can make sure you cover your own costs BEFORE you put that item on eBay.

Of course, you can always just drive to our store at 5810 N Monroe Street, Suite 210A, Tallahassee, Florida, and we can help you package your items safely and cheaply!!!

You can also connect with us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/gptally) or like our Facebook fan page!

To Insure or Not to Insure…

THAT is the question. Granted, it SHOULD be the carrier’s job to make sure your shipment arrives in its destination on time and in tact, but when should you spend the extra money to protect yourself in case something were to happen? Here are a few tips:

1) Does your item have DOCUMENTABLE value or SENTIMENTAL value? Unfortunately, the shipping companies do not allow for what something is worth TO YOU, only what it is worth in the commercial sense, in other words—the amount that was on the receipt when yo purchased the item. So, if you put an old polaroid of your family in a $20 picture frame, and the shipper were to damage or lose it, while the picture may be priceless to you, it is only worth $20 to the shipping company.

2) Is your shipment packed properly? Regardless of how much insurance you buy, if the carrier determines that your package was not prepared to adequately protect your shipment against the normal wear and tear of transit, they still can reserve the right to deny the insurance claim.  Things they look for are: items placed in used or already damaged boxes, and items that are not cushioned with enough packing material (foam peanuts, bubble wrap, etc.) In fact, the drivers who pick up the packages are trained to look out for these types of things to protect the shippers against false claims.  So make sure you have your shipment packaged within the guidelines of the shipper you are using.

3) Is it worth the added expense to you? FedEx and UPS automatically include up to $100 worth of insurance; added insurance is usually around $3 per $100 of insurance.  The USPS does not automatically include any insurance; and to add insurance is usually around $2 to $3 per $100 of insurance.  So sometimes it just isn’t worth the extra expense; other times, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Should you have any questions about insurance costs or packaging guidelines, make sure to call Goin’ Postal Tallahassee at (850) 692-3130, visit us on the web at http://gpoftallahassee.com, or drive to our store at 5810 North Monroe Street, Suite 210A, Tallahassee, Florida. We will make sure we help you get your shipments where they need to be, on time and intact.

You can also connect with us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/gptally) or like our Facebook fan page!

The ART of Packaging (Part 3)

PACKAGING

Packaging is the art, science and technology of enclosing and protecting items, in our case, for shipping. Proper packaging is integral to the delivery of undamaged goods. Today, most packages are sorted and fed through high-speed conveyors and bar code reading systems.

Your goal is to protect the shipment from damage while conserving time and materials. This is achieved by using the smallest boxes and amount of packaging materials possible, while providing adequate protection in accordance with carrier guidelines. The guidelines in this chapter have been developed from service guides available from FedEx, UPS, DHL and USPS along with our own “hands on” approach. We will cover these guidelines in 3 parts; the final part we will cover is Sealing.

Sealing

By far, the most popular method is packaging tape. This is available in different sizes and types. We recommend pressure-sensitive tape in 2” and 3” rolls. For heavier items you may choose to use “strapping tape” which is pressure-sensitive tape that is reinforced with yarn.

Common types of tape that should NEVER be used include masking tape, duct tape and cellophane (Scotch®) tape.

Water-activated tape is another popular product. This type of tape needs to be moistened (like an envelope) and then applied to the package. It is usually reinforced with fiberglass yarn and requires less coverage then pressure-sensitive tape due to its strength.

Sealing Instructions

1. Apply at least three strips of pressure-sensitive tape, at least 2” wide, to both the top and bottom of the package.

2. Distribute the tape evenly across flaps and seams, using the H taping method.

3. You must use pressure-sensitive tape, water-activated paper tape (minimum 60lb grade) or water activated reinforced tape.

Making sure your package is protected from movement and shock during transit will ensure that your package arrives safely. Make sure to call Goin’ Postal Tallahassee at (850) 692-3130, visit us on the web at http://gpoftallahassee.com, or drive to our store at 5810 North Monroe Street, Suite 210A, Tallahassee, Florida, and we can help you package your items safely and cheaply!!!

You can also connect with us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/gptally) or like our Facebook fan page!

The ART of Packaging (Part 2)

PACKAGING

Packaging is the art, science and technology of enclosing and protecting items, in our case, for shipping. Proper packaging is integral to the delivery of undamaged goods. Today, most packages are sorted and fed through high-speed conveyors and bar code reading systems.

Your goal is to protect the shipment from damage while conserving time and materials. This is achieved by using the smallest boxes and amount of packaging materials possible, while providing adequate protection in accordance with carrier guidelines. The guidelines in this chapter have been developed from service guides available from FedEx, UPS, DHL and USPS along with our own “hands on” approach. We will cover these guidelines in 3 parts; the next part we will cover is Inner Packaging.

Inner Packaging

While products like books, soft goods or catalogues do not require inner packaging, most items will require the use of some. Inner packaging can serve several purposes, such as, cushioning, void-fill and surface protection. Cushioning refers to protecting the item from the shock that occurs from impact (dropping the item). Void-fill refers to filling up the empty space in a box so that the object does not shift during transport. Surface protection refers to protecting delicate surfaces from scratching or other damage during transport.

The two main reasons for properly protecting your items are:

  1. So the product arrives safely.
  2. So the carriers will reimburse you for damage that does occur.

The major carriers will not pay on claims for items that were not adequately packed. Most use the ISTA test. The most important of the series of tests would be a “drop test.” Your packaged item, based on weight, should be able to withstand a drop from AT LEAST 18 inches. If properly packaged, you can be somewhat certain the product will arrive safely to its destination.

Bubble Wrap®

Bubble wrap is an extremely versatile protective material that is great for cushioning, void-fill and surface protection. When you use bubble wrap as a cushioning material, make sure that you use enough wrap to completely cover all sides and corners. You will want at least 2” of padding between your item and the walls of your box. You will also need to use enough bubble wrap or other void-fill product (i.e. loose-fill peanuts) to eliminate the movement of your item within the box. Once you have finished packing the item, shake the box to see if there is any movement. If there is, you must add more packaging material.

Foam Wrap

Foam Wrap is another versatile inner packing material. It is great for surface protection, but it also great for cushioning and void-fill. It is a very light weight, soft and resilient material, but should not be used in place of bubble wrap. It is applied to items in the same manner as bubble wrap.

Loose-fill Peanuts

Also called foam peanuts, these are commonly used for void-fill. They are not recommended for cushioning because items will tend to shift toward the exterior of the box. This makes your item much more susceptible to damage.

Foam in Place

Foam in place is the closest “stock” material that you can purchase to engineered foam. It offers excellent cushioning properties and is very versatile as it molds around the product being packaged. It is made with two different chemicals that expand around the item when mixed.

Engineered Foams

Engineered foams provide the ultimate in cushioning protection. Due to it’s cost and manufacturing process, this is usually only produced by companies producing and shipping large amounts of items (think of the end caps that computers are shipped in).

Inflatable Packaging

Inflatable packing is typically used a void-fill. These are bags of air that keep products from shifting around. They can reduce the cost of shipping and have a more professional appearance then loose-fill peanuts. However, the volume of air in each of the bags can change greatly due to temperature and altitude.

Crumpled Paper

Various types of paper can be used for void-fill or surface protection. It should NOT be used for cushioning. Kraft paper is available in a variety of base weights. This is essentially, thickness. The thicker the paper more the protection it will offer. Kraft paper should be tightly crumpled with at least 4” of product surrounding your item.

Corrugated Inserts

Corrugated cardboard is not only a great outer packaging material, but also a multi-purpose inner packaging material. It can be used to create blocks to prevent shifting within the box, or as dividers. It’s most common use is as a stiffener.

Making sure your package is protected from movement and shock during transit will ensure that your package arrives safely. Make sure to call Goin’ Postal Tallahassee at (850) 692-3130, visit us on the web at http://gpoftallahassee.com, or drive to our store at 5810 North Monroe Street, Suite 210A, Tallahassee, Florida, and we can help you package your items safely and cheaply!!!

You can also connect with us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/gptally) or like our Facebook fan page!