USPS Shipping: One expensive inch

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by McBass18, Sep 13, 2013.

  1. McBass18


    Jan 19, 2012
    Rockford, MI
    I shipped out a case today to California in a 50 x 20 x 8 guitar box. I had the price figured out to just around $31 standard post. The woman behind the counter does her measurements and plugs them in. Price comes up as $97.

    Shocked, I ask her how could it be that much? She says the box is 51 inches long, putting me 1 inch over the acceptable 108 inches. I tell her it is a standard box and I have never had this issue before. She brings our her tape and measures it to be 50 1/2 or 50 3/8ths based on your perspective.

    She tells me I have to cut the box down to less than 50 inches or pay an additional $66 in shipping. I take out my pocket knife and cut the box down as best I can. I go back to the counter and as if I can have a bit of tape to reseal the box. She says that tape is only for Priority customers and I will have to buy a roll for $3.49.

    I buy the roll. Tape the box and ship it out. All over a fraction of an inch that one could dispute should have been rounded down. I know they can be the most cost effective way to ship, but with the condition that some of my packages have arrived in and the attitude of some of the counter staff I'm almost ready to give up on USPS. Anyone else had frustrating run ins with them?
  2. BBox Bass

    BBox Bass Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2011
    NW Pennsylvania
    I don't know about USPS, but I've noticed this with UPS when I use their shipping calculator. The difference between a 50" and 49" box can be pretty substantial. I have learned to measure and cut carefully before I take anything to the UPS shipping center.
  3. And, no matter how carefully I measure and weigh, I've never had the shipping calculator give me the same price as they end up charging me. It's always more than the calculator says it will be.
  4. Unrepresented

    Unrepresented Something Borderline Offensive

    Jul 1, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    One inch can mean a lot in terms of fitting on conveyor belts or inside small delivery trucks. That inch probably meant that it would have to be considered an "irregular" and handled separately from the bulk processing inside facilities.
  5. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    They are always completely miserable when I go to the Post Office. Normally I pay online so I just need to drop off. I've seen the woman take my package and literally throw it into the bin that's 5' away. Right in front of me. I'm well aware it's going to happen behind the scenes, but you'd figure they would try not to do that right in front of the customer.

    Pay the postage online, print it out yourself and tape it to the box. Then you can drop it off or schedule a pickup.

    If it's obviously off they will send it back to you, but if it's close enough (like OP's example) they won't...
  6. McBass18


    Jan 19, 2012
    Rockford, MI
    The thing is they are the standard guitar boxes I buy in bulk from ULine: 50x20x8. Measured one when I got home just to make sure I wasn't crazy. 50 inches. Seems if you get a counter person who measures a little differently you are in for a trip.

    I might look into some 52x18x7 boxes that have a girth of 102 inches. That should give me much more wiggle room.
  7. Jhengsman


    Oct 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    That reminds me as a rookie carrier, and today with most parcel deliver and pick up routes abolished it was the half trained casuals sent out to do such work. I was once sent to pick up a chair from a small furniture dealer. Only then we mostly had jeeps so i made the trip out and then back to the station to get another truck. Only to make yet another trip when the chair was over sized to return it to the by then closed store. It was less then 70 lbs and carriers, especially part time ones are not taught all the regulations that window clerks are
  8. RED J

    RED J Lol Supporting Member

    Jan 23, 2000
    I have had overall great service/experience with USPS. I have shipped dozes of large packages. I had this experience happen one time. The lady was real nice, and even re-measured it, so I just had to suck it up and pay. If I remember right it was a trade deal so it could have been worse. I choose my boxes carefully after that experience.
  9. guy n. cognito

    guy n. cognito Secret Agent Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 28, 2005
    Nashville, TN

    If you do a poor job packing a 50" box, it will end up being longer, and you will end up incurring additional charges. Assuming that a clerk will willingly violate company policies to save you a little money is a bit short-sighted.
  10. McBass18


    Jan 19, 2012
    Rockford, MI
    The thing is it wasn't poorly packed. I buy new, purpose designed guitar boxes for shipping equipment. Not used or damaged boxes. There are no bulges or irregularities in the package (at least there weren't any before I have to cut it). As USPS allows you to send items that are 108 inches in girth, I doubt a tolerance of a fraction of an inch would make any difference at all. If you take into account a person quickly measuring 3 dimensions with a cloth tape measure, it is easy to come up with an error of 3/8" of an inch over 108 inches.

    That being said, do I want them to violate company policy over a few dollars no. But I do think that employing reason is fair. If you believe that a box is 108.5" (and I don't believe it was), do you follow the strict interpretation and charge more than triple to ship the same item ($31 vs $97). And secondly, if that line between 108 and 108.5 inches is so dangerous as to muck up the machinery, shouldn't standard guitar boxes be 50x19x8 or something like that.

    I'm not trying to be difficult, but I'm willing to bet that any of us who ship using standard guitar boxes would be subject to having to cut them down (even if properly packed) based on the measurements of the clerk.
  11. BawanaRik


    Mar 6, 2012
    New Jersey
    Shipping a Peavey Cirrus is going to put you over the limit. With the case. Not much you can do about it.
  12. Jhengsman


    Oct 17, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    :meh:My standard answer to customers is that lines must somewhere, normally at my level it comes because we deliver to their street last and not first. I understand if the accepting clerk had not caught it there is a 99% chance it would have went through without revenue protection flagging it for additional postage. However beyond putting on a smiling face, which many do not, to get repeat business that clerk accepting the package has the job of capturing the additional revenue instead of trying to depending upon a carrier to try to collect postage due from the receiver.

    At the low, station level, we play the short game, not the long game and go to extraordinary lengths to get things done now which would be more cost effective to put off until later.

    As to boxes and other things like greetting card envelopes they may be thinking about their unique product and not the standards of one shipper
  13. McBass18


    Jan 19, 2012
    Rockford, MI
    I believe that they are supposed to round down. So, as I said when I asked her to remeasure the length it was between 50 3/8 and 50 1/2. (She must have also measured one side longer to get to 109). I understand lines and not worrying about one person. But, like I said, we are talking about less than an 1/8th of an inch. If we are that exacting, and our supervisors are that exacting, we might as well give tickets to everyone who drives 71 mph, fail every kid who gets a 59.4 and fire every cashier whose till is off by $1.