The best things about shipping via USPS Priority Mail is that the post office will send someone out to pick up the package at no additional charge, or you can leave the package in your mailbox for your regular mail courier to pick up. Also, unlike Fedex and to a lesser extent UPS, you won't get an estimate of shipping charges on the web, then get dinged repeatedly for things like excess fuel surcharges, residential delivery, rural delivery surcharges, signature confirmations. If you send a 1 lb item in a Priority Mail Small Flat Rate Box to a friend in rural San Diego, it will cost $5.50 or so. That same package might be quoted on the Fedex site as $8, but the many various charges could bring the actual final cost to $18 or more! As someone who is in business, I need to be sure that a package gets to a destination with proper tracking information, and just as importantly, I need to be sure that the estimated costs of shipping that package match the actual cost. I am amazed that Fedex continues to get away with quoting one price on their website and then charging more when the package is delivered.
Anyway, if you ship overseas, beware of using the Priority Mail Small Flat Rate box. I attach a couple of screen grabs from the USPS website. I shipped a hard drive to Germany and assumed that the Priority Mail Small Flat Rate box would give me tracking information. Surprise! It turns out that Priority Mail provides tracking information and insurance EXCEPT for Small Flat Rate boxes and Flat Rate Envelopes. You aren't told of this on the USPS website unless you search for it. If you are not aware of this technicality, you will prepare a label at usps.com, pay for that label, and assume that the package is insured and tracked -- as all Priority Mail packages were in the past. Very quietly and without any notice, USPS changed the rules, so suddenly you are no longer provided tracking information for Small Flat Rate boxes and envelopes. It turns out that you are also not provided tracking information for other types of boxes that the USPS deems "small" such as the International Large Video Flat Rate box or the International DVD Flat Rate boxes.
|Here are the choices you will see if using usps.com to ship a package internationally. Note that all of the choices below and including "Small Flat Rate Box" do NOT provide tracking to the destination and do NOT provide insurance for your package!|