Bottom & links
POSTAGE RATES 

An unofficial site by Jerry Nelson.
   First Class letter down to 47 cents 10Apr2016 
  No online discounts for Priority flat rate.
revised 17May2016
---=---

Inspired by the friendliest home town post office in the USA, Lafayette, TN      (How this page started, below)         

FOREVER STAMPS can be used for anything, but what are they currently worth?

47¢  -  classic forever stamp
21
¢  -  additional ounce
68
¢  -  wedding invitation stamp (2 oz)
21
¢  -  bad envelope penalty (non-machinable stamp)
34¢  -  postcard
$1.15  foreign letter

Note: mail that can’t get through a sorting machine costs more.  
A  flat, flexible regular or business-sized envelope is cheaper than a flat, flexible manila envelope  that needs bigger sorting machines and they are cheaper than thick, inflexible envelopes of the same size and weight that are UNMACHINABLE.  

Letters 1st Class 47¢+21¢/oz (10April2016)

Not over:
1 oz          $0.47            +21¢/oz.  Bad envelope penalty is also  21¢ 

2 ounces  $0.68
3 ounces  $0.89
3.5 oz       $1.10           Heavier?  Go to FLATS (next). 

Incrementing 22¢ on 31May2015 with an increased Nonmachinable surcharge ("bad envelope penalty") of 22¢.
Increment back to 21¢ on 10Apr2016; Nonmachinable surcharge ("bad envelope") also back to 21¢
more price history
dates when rates changed  (helps you search for historic data)
USPS tables, not the rate calculator: DMM, the Domestic Mail Manual
Go to "Quick Refs" at end of this long pdf doc; stay in "Retail" chapters, we don't qualify for cheap corporate rates.

Rigid object inside?  Metal clasp?  Button & closure string?Business envelope styles like "commercial" or "wallet flap"
Add  non-machinable surcharge ("bad envelope penalty"). 
Square?  Goes though their machines but they can’t tell which way?  Add   $0.21
Almost square (less than 30% height-width difference)?  Add  $0.21. 
Too skinny? (long length more than 2.5x short)?  Add   $0.21.
Really cute little one for that note, under 3 ½ or 4¼”?
         Hide it! You're illegal.  Go home and start over.
Length over 11 ½ ? Go to “Flats” (next)
Height over 6 1/8”? Go to “Flats”.
        A "Size 14" envelope is OK; Size 10 is normal.
        If you want to send someone a stamped, self-addressed envelope ("SSAE")
        to return-mail you, it's nice to get a few Size 11 envelopes to put the #10 into.     
Thicker than ¼”?  Go to “Flats”.
You're a corporation using metered mail?  Congratulations!  Take off 1¢
Not a corporation, tired?  Sorry.  Too bad.  Congress gave away its power of oversight and let the Postal Service change rates by itself.  

“Flats  (Large 1st Class Envelopes)                  

1 oz            $0.94            Down from 98¢ on 10Apr2016         
2 ounces   $1.15            Incrementing 21 cents each additional ounce                        
                                            
3 ounces   $1.36            (3oz? Fold it & go in a business envelope for 89 cents)
4 ounces   $1.57
5 ounces   $1.78
6 ounces   $1.99
7 ounces   $2.20          
8 ounces   $2.41
9 ounces   $2.62
10 ounces $2.83
11 ounces $3.04
12 ounces $3.25
13 ounces $3.46

FLATS:

Over 13 oz?  Consider Priority Mail flat-rate envelope.
Your envelope is inflexible, lumpy, not rectangular? Go to “Packages”. 

(No rigid, corrugated cardboard in flats for preventing creased photos, sorry.)
If you want to send the photo anyway,
        pad the envelope with stiff paper to protect it,
       hang half of the short side over the edge of the table and check that it flexes 1" and back if you press down with your finger.
       If the short side is 10 inches long or more, you'd better be able to bend 2". 
       You're a Retail pro now -- these are Commercial-level tests!  Go home and mass mail the whole neighborhood. 
Length over 15  ? Go to “Packages”.
Height over 12”? Go to “Packages”.
Thicker than 3/4"? Go to “Packages"
Under 3/4" but lumpy?  Klutz!  Go to "Packages", pay more.
 
Still confused?  Make sure your letters are white, your flats are manila envelopes, and read this

After 12May08, it went up 3¢ to 83¢  and incrementing 17¢; 13oz is $2.87
After 11May09, it went up 5¢ 
After  17Apr11, is incremented 20¢ /oz instead of just 17¢
After  22Jan12, it went up 2¢
After  27Jan13, it went up 2¢; 13 oz is $3.32
After  26Jan14, it went up 6
¢; 13 oz is $3.38
After  26Jan14, is incremented 21
¢/oz instead of just 20¢; 13 oz is $3.50
After  31May15, is incremented 22
¢/oz instead of just 21¢; 13 oz is $3.62
After  10Apr16, reduced 4
¢ on 1st oz & incrementing 21¢ again, not 22¢; 13 oz is $3.46
          Note that $3.46 does not roll us back to any price we ever had before.
          The per-ounce increment was rolled back exactly, but the starting cost is arbitrary.


     
   DOMESTIC
    -
    First Class LETTERS          
  
FLATS (manila envelopes)   
   SMALL PKGs & padded envs  
FOREIGN .  .  .  .
-
INT'L   Letters

INT'L   Flats  
INT'L   Pkgs
Postcards  
BIG
Domestic     PRIORITY boxes                                
International  PRIORITY                          

ExpressMail $$$     
MediaMail    BOOKS                                 
Stnd Post (formerly PARCEL POST)    
Money Orders         


Small Packages / Parcels / Lumpy envelopes 1st class

These are padded envelopes over 3/4" thick, rigid photo mailers, medical samples, small boxes under 1 cubic foot.  If it's not cubic but very rectangular, then girth + length have to be under 108". 

"1st Class" and "Pkg" are the most important things to write on it. 

Full service name is "1st Class Airmail Small Pkg".  
Avoid "parcel", you'll just confuse everybody.
"Parcel Post" is abolished.  We send parcels by post, but not by Parcel Post.  Doesn't exist.  Parcel Post was abolished on 27 January 2013 and became "Standard Post". 
Standard Post was abolished on 17 January 2016 and became "Retail Ground". 
This is not "Ground", it's First Class.  And today 1st class is nearly entirely Air Mail.
((When did I start this Web page?  What ever made me think I could find the logic in all this, let alone explain it to anyone?))

2011: No longer available on-line to the American public.  April2016: still no on-line access.  This is stupid.  They need the money. 
Pitney-Bowes can print it for eBay Inc, but you and I have to stand in line at the Post Office.

But wait!  To send  small 1st Class Packages ON LINE, try this unpublicized URL ("Universal Resource Locater" or Web address):  https://www.paypal.com/ShipNow   (Thank you, JohnD.)

You must be a registered PayPal user (allied with eBay, Inc). This page normally comes up only if you sold something on eBay and must ship it, so you would normally already be signed in to eBay. If the site sends you to a bad login page or can't get back to shipping after login, just log into PayPal on another browser tab, then go to the ShipNow address.  Browser cookies will keep you logged in, and all will run smoothly.

<rant> When public access to this URL is shut down, there will be some excuse.  You didn't sell on eBay, we don't know what you are sending.  But all our parcels are subject to opening for postal inspection, so tell me again, What are you afraid of?   Why should it be up to eBay, Inc. to say whether we, the American people, have the right to use our own postal system?  Keep small parcel access available on line -- they need the money and we want the service.  Our Constitution (Sec 1, Art 8) promised a postal system to us, unlock it.  </rant>

1 oz           $2.45
2 ounces   $
2.45
3 ounces   $
2.45  and add 19 cents each additional ounceParcels symbol used on USPS Webpages.     
4 ounces   $2.64
5 ounces   $2.83
6 ounces   $3.02
7 ounces   $3.21

8 ounces   $3.40                                                           
9 ounces   $3.59
10 ounces $3.78
11 ounces $3.97
12 ounces $4.16
13 ounces $4.35
    14,15, and 16 ounces were announced as acceptable on 7Jan2016,
    but this is only for COMMERCIAL First-Class Package Service, not retail service.


After 26Jan14, it went up 25¢.  Wow! No wonder their press releases only talk about 1st class stamps.
After 31May2015, it went up 22
¢.  The increment increased to 20¢, so 13oz goes from $4.12 to $4.54
On 17Jan2016, it was announced that the maximum 1st Class Parcel weight limit had been  increased from 13 oz to 16 oz.
    However, the USPS failed to provide the rates for the additional 14,15, and 16 oz weights in their
    17 January 2016 "Notice 123 Price List", and again failed in their 10 April 2016 "Notice 123 Price List".
    This is because the 16 oz limit applies to
COMMERCIAL First-Class Package Service, not to retail service. 
On 10April2016, we had a "roll-back", but we didn't roll back to prices we ever had before.  Go figure.
More price history

THE CARTON SYMBOL:  To get the above small carton estimates even if you can't purchase the postage on-line, enter the USPS site by clicking on the cartons symbol and look for "First Class Mail & Other Options" at the bottom, or perhaps a line labeled "Other Services" to get the menu to enlarge (open up) and show cheaper choices.   https://postcalc.usps.com/

YOUR CONSOLATION PRIZE:  PARCELS MIGHT STILL BE PRIVATE 

Congratulations!  Your mail is a parcel!  All letters have to be scanned to be automatically sorted, and we keep the scans.  At least some parcels are still done manually so we don't have the scans. 

The letter scans are saved, so here in the United States, the gov't knows everyone with whom you are in correspondence.  Then comes the part we don't know: how long is your personal dossier kept?  In this "Mail Isolation Control and Tracking" (surveillance) system, they say they don't store the information for more than 30 days.  Maybe you can find out for me, and, while you're up, ask to see their no-fly list. 

<rant> My address is 50 characters with spaces.  Call it 100 characters.  There were 62 billion pieces of mail in 2015.  Call it 100 billion -- more mail, long addresses.  At that rate, all people's correspondence exchanges that occurred this year can be recorded on a single high-end hard drive (10TB).  Next year, buy another drive.  So much for 30 days. 

But wait.  The sorting machines are set up with OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to translate only the "to" address into a string of characters.  If you only wanted to sort the mail, you only need to know where it's going.  But that's not complete surveillance.  The government needs to see who is writing to whom in order to keep us safe.   Why not build new surveillance-**and**-sorting machines that get both "from" and "to" addresses with OCR?  Until then, we'll have to store the whole-envelope image as a graphic image, not a few letters of text.  Keeping whole images until the postal system is rebuilt for surveillance of everyone and everything in the mail stream is hardly efficient, but it's doable.  At reasonable resolutions and jpeg compression levels, keeping images  means 500 times more storage.  Oh dear, where can we get that kind of storage capacity?  Do you suppose storage really is only for 30 days? 

Fortunately, there is an answer to anyone's storage prayers.  It is Bluffdale, the new NSA data center in Utah.   With an estimated 3 to 12 exabytes (10E18, ten with 18 zeros) of storage capacity (I'll figure on getting 5 exabytes for letter scans), Bluffdale can hold and retrieve the nation's entire letter traffic for 1,000 years before their drives get full.

Well, it's only metadata.  They don't open the envelopes . . . well, or course they do, but that's another procedure that you can discuss with your lawyer. 
By the way, what did they say about the no-fly list? 
</rant>

BIGGER THAN "FLATS"?
If over 13 oz domestic,  try Priority Mail flat rate boxes (any weight if you can fit it in).  Once you're over about 15 lbs, Retail Ground (formerly Parcel Post) will never be cheaper than a Priority Flat Rate box.

You are not over 15lbs, therefore Priority flat rate is not such a good deal for you.  Now what?  Some suggestions: 

Online:  "Parcel Post Select" purchased online includes free tracking.
Length plus girth for Parcel Post Select is 84 inches max.
Length plus girth max for ordinary Retail Ground (formerly Parcel Post) is 130 inches -- the Postal System's absolute max.

Too big for the box?  I prefer the brown UPS trucks from ups.com.   You have to register.  

Length plus girth over 108”?      Go to the Retail Ground (Parcel Post)  calculator.  No even Priority will accept your package. 
Length plus girth over  130"        Go to UPS like I told you -- even the Post Office won't take it.

If over 13 oz and going overseas, you want "First-Class Package International Service" good up to 4 lbs.  (Other names: "1st Class International Parcel", "1st Class Mail International Packages".)  After that, try Priority Mail International's flat rate boxes (limited to 20 lbs to most countries; see International section next). 

Posters rolled up (maximum post office length): Global Express Guaranteed is only 46", Express Mail Intl. is 60", domestic Priority Mail is maybe 60", and sometimes there is a formula of length plus how tight you rolled it up, so you don't really get the maximum length.  They can't seem to pick one rule.  


   DOMESTIC
    -
    First Class LETTERS          
  
FLATS (manila envelopes)   
   SMALL PKGs & padded envs  
FOREIGN .  .  .  .
-
INT'L   Letters

INT'L   Flats  
INT'L   Pkgs
Postcards  
BIG
Domestic     PRIORITY boxes                                
International  PRIORITY                          

ExpressMail $$$     
MediaMail    BOOKS                                 
Stnd Post (formerly PARCEL POST)    
Money Orders         


International Airmail Letters $1.15 

1 ounce any country $1.15 after 10Apr2016

Thank you, dear P.O.,  for making first-ounce foreign letters the same to anywhere.  And in 2013, for Global Forever stamps  :-) 
Try this search for Global Forever stamps at store.usps.com

One ounce is a business envelope with 5 sheets of typical Xerox paper, or 1 sheet and six  4x6" photos.  Leave out 1 sheet or 1 photo to be safe.    "3.5" oz means you can't weigh more, but you pay for 4 oz.  
Limits, all countries:  value under $400, size under 6 1/8" x 11 1/2" x 1/4" thick (same envelope limit as domestic).

CANADA       1 oz         $1.15                                                           
                        2 oz         $1.15    which is   0¢ more                       
                        3 oz         $1.61    which is 46¢ more 
                        3 1/2       $2.08    which is 47¢ more, because we had nothing to do one day,
                                                                          so we had an extra committee meeting to discuss it,
                                                                          and they had to decide something,
                                                                          so we made each additional ounce different. 
                                                                  
MEXICO        1 oz          $1.15    +57¢/oz 
                        2 oz          $1.72                 
                        3 oz          $2.29                      We have to bribe them to take the letters, so they cost more.        
                        3 1/2        $2.86   


Rest of World    1 oz       $1.15            

                           2           
                           3            Check your country group below.

                           31/2      

COUNTRY GROUPS
Group 1 Countries
is CANADA (see above).
Group 2 Countries 
is MEXICO (see above).

Cheaper  Countries, Groups 6-9
.  Central and South America, Middle East, Africa,
                                                               central
Asia, New Zealand, Philippines, Taiwan
                            1 oz        $1.15         

                            2 oz        $1.98      +83
¢/oz        
                            3 oz        $2.81
                            3  1/2      $3.64

Costly Countries, Groups 3-5.      European Union (France, Italy,
                                                              places with chateaus & good food) ,
                                                              Russia, eastern Europe, Turkey; China, Hong Kong,
                                                              South Korea, Japan, & Australia
                                                              (kangaroos, spy satellite stations).
                            1 oz        $1.15            
                            2 oz        $2.13   that was 98¢ more       
                            3 oz        $3.12   now it's   99
¢ more.  Why?       
                            3  1/2      $4.11
                          
31May2015 first ounce up 5¢ for all countries to $1.20
10April2016
5¢ increase revoked, first ounce back to $1.15
some price history
check other countries:  https://postcalc.usps.com/


BIGGER THAN A LETTER?  MORE THAN 3.5 OZ?

Int'l Flats - "1st Class Mail International" 

Envelopes up to 15" x 12", weights up to 1 lb, not lumpy, not totally inflexible.
Weight increments are 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8 oz then 12 oz, 16 oz, +4oz.    So, if you cross 8 oz (or 12), pull some photos off the camera and print them up -- 5 sheets/ounce of good paper, 6 sheets/ounce of ordinary copy paper (minus a sheet or two for safety).

    TABLE BELOW
    Canada, roughly     $6    first lb, half as much gets you a quarter pound

    Mexico roughly       $10 first  lb,   ditto
    ROW roughly          $12 / lb,  ditto

ONLINE:  select the large plain envelope icon at https://postcalc.usps.com/ and a weight 16oz or less.  On next page, click to unhide  "First-Class Int'l Options".  You still cannot buy the postage online as of 4/2016.  This is stupid.  They need the money. 

FLEXIBLE:   International Flat envelope cannot be rigid (or else it won't go around the curves on their conveyors past high-speed  scanners).  And thickness?  We are going up to 4 pounds here, folks, so the infamous "quarter-inch rule" does not apply.  Instead, the warning is,

don't have more than 1/4" VARIATIONS in thickness.  

If you fail the thickness test, you are a  First Class International Package box -- prices are 40, 50% higher, even double for the low weights. 

OVER ABOUT 2 1/2 POUNDS a Priority Flat Rate Envelope will be cheaper.  Get the legal size   9-1/2" x 15" -- same price as stnd size for international.

USE BIG ENVELOPES FOR "FLATS":  Don't  try to mail a small envelope that's over 3.5 oz. even if you pay for it.  The small envelope will look like a letter, and "LETTER"  service up to 64 oz was dropped on 12May2008, so now there's only big "FLATS".  Fill the airplanes with big envelopes, that's what they want. 

INTERNATIONAL FLATS - 10 April 2016   
Some prior history

HEAVIER THAN 4 LBS?
Priority international boxes take up to 20 lbs, cost a fortune, and require the #2976 Customs Form.  Sketched in Priority section below.

          

   DOMESTIC
    -
    First Class LETTERS          
  
FLATS (manila envelopes)   
   SMALL PKGs & padded envs  
FOREIGN .  .  .  .
-
INT'L   Letters

INT'L   Flats  
INT'L   Pkgs
Postcards  
BIG
Domestic     PRIORITY boxes                                
International  PRIORITY                          

ExpressMail $$$     
MediaMail    BOOKS                                 
Stnd Post (formerly PARCEL POST)    
Money Orders         




1st Class Mail International PACKAGES - 4 lbs
Flat rate Priority Int'l is reasonable, but, if you can't fit their flat rate boxes, then you need 1st Class Mail Int'l PACKAGES. 
First-Class Mail Int'l   PACKAGES i
s also called
First-Class Pkg INTERNATIONAL SERVICE, aka
First-Class International PARCEL.
This is the "Letter Post" group which embraces everything that is not "shipping"; namely, LCs (Letters and Cards) joined with AO ("Air Mail -- Other"). 

Size limit is 1 cubic foot maximum, and no one dimension over 24 inches. 
Rolled up poster maximum: width: 36" x 3"diameter.  If you roll it up 1" wider diameter, take 2 inches off your length.
Customs Form 2976 (the green one) must be filled out, max value is $400.

Available online at discounts up to 10%.

To get  the appropriate USPS calculator, pick the small tan carton symbol, enter a weight under 4 lbs, and a country overseas.  Skip all the Priority choices and click on a closed menu item labeled "First-Class Int'l Options" (or "Other Services") to open it.  Hiding the choices most people need is not what a democratic government should do to its own people. 

Postage Rates for International Small Packages as of 10April2016  

You need a list of countries' zones to use this international packages chart. 

LIST-OF-COUNTRIES  PAGE
I'm sorry the service beyond Canada & Mexico has been broken up from 2 zones (3-5 grouped together plus 6-9) into 7 zones (10April2016).  The break-up makes it hard for me to help you.  Standing in line at the Post Office costs them money and us, time.  Here is an alphabetized list of the most common countries with their zones.  The full list follows it; you can use "CONTROL-F for find" to jump-search the list in most browsers.  Finally, I sorted the list by zone for those of us who need to get some idea how the shipping world is divided up (what each zone means).   You want the first-class zones on the right.  I do not know why the same country can move to a different zone for a different postal service. 

Zones 1 and 2 are always Canada and Mexico. 
Zone 3 is Australia, China & Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea -- in Asia, our three big trading partners and closest surveillance ally. 
Zone 4 is Turkey, Russia, and Eastern Europe. 
Zone 5 is Europe, east including Kosovo and Serbia. 
Zone 6 is what most people think of as Asia, including India and Pakistan, but not China, Japan, Korea. 
Zone 7 is Africa and some island nations. 
Zone 8 is the Middle East, Arab sheikdoms, Algeria. 
Zone 9, the most expensive, includes, understandably,  remote island nations and, inexplicably, all our neighbors in this hemisphere, in both nearby Central America and throughout South America. 

Some price history for First-Class Package International Service.

HEAVIER THAN 4 LBS?
Priority international flat-rate boxes take up to 20 lbs, cost a fortune, and require the #2976 Customs Form . . .as  sketched in Priority section below.

   DOMESTIC
    -
    First Class LETTERS          
  
FLATS (manila envelopes)   
   SMALL PKGs & padded envs  
FOREIGN .  .  .  .
-
INT'L   Letters

INT'L   Flats  
INT'L   Pkgs
Postcards  
BIG
Domestic     PRIORITY boxes                                
International  PRIORITY                          

ExpressMail $$$     
MediaMail    BOOKS                                 
Stnd Post (formerly PARCEL POST)    
Money Orders         

     

Postcard  34¢    International $1.15 world,  10Apr2016

3 ½ min - 4 ¼  max by  5" min - 6" max,   7 - 16 mills thick.  (0.016" is "16 mills".  A typical business card is 12 mills)
Within the USA, the smallest permitted letters and postcards are the same: 3 1/2" x 5". 
Minimum thickness 7 mills; cheap glossy ink jet photo paper is 10 mills, so mail it.  
Max thickness
0.016" -- easier to say "16 mills", sound like someone who knows what they're talking about.
A typical business card is 12 mills. 

Too big?  Too bad.  Use rates for domestic first class letter. 

International postcards same, but must be 5 1/2" - 6" wide vs 5"-6" domestic.
Thickness 7-16 mills (0.007" = 0.016")

Domestic postcards can be square-ish, up to 4 1/4" high by only  5" wide.
For all other mail,  "rectangular" means "Let's have a 30% high-vs-wide difference." 
That's a simple rule, so let's apply it inconsistently for postcards.  There, done!   Feel better?  

DOMESTIC Postcards Increased 1¢  26Jan14 to 34¢ and again on 31May2015 to 35¢
       Rolled back to
34¢ 10Apr2016 as Postal Regulatory Commission ended the 2-year "exigent surcharge" of 2014.
INTERNATIONAL increased 5¢ to $1.15 for all countries 26Jan14 and again on 31May15 to $1.20
       Rolled back to $1.15 10Apr2016 as Postal Regulatory Commission ended the 2-year "exigent surcharge" of 2014.

Postcards offer no privacy and not much space.
Pricing int'l postcards up there with a 1oz int'l letter kills a cultural tradition for tourists the world over when they visit us and want to send home more than a selfie.
We need the money, we need the tourists, we need cheaper postcards -- 27
¢ in 2008. 

more price history



Vint Cerf's card from Google 2012

                                  16 mills

THICKNESS LIST
3 mills (0.003 inch) - El Cheapo copier paper
4 mills - brightest white copier paper
7 mills +   is legal for postcards
9 mills - sheet of ordinary ("110 lb") card stock (good enough for post cards)
11 mills - glossy 4x6 photos (Postcards to anywhere can be 3.5 - 4.25 x 5.5  to 6 inches -- just mail your photo.)
BUSINESS CARDS
feels cheap:  8 mills
feels normal:    12 mills
feels impressive:  16 mills (=max mills for postcards)

Aerograms / Air Letter Sheets  are discontinued by the postal service of the United States. .  Was $0.75 to any country, postage printed on the paper, no stamps. Write whatever you want, mail it to any address you want -- done.  The good old days.  Remember simplicity? 


   DOMESTIC
    -
    First Class LETTERS          
  
FLATS (manila envelopes)   
   SMALL PKGs & padded envs  
FOREIGN .  .  .  .
-
INT'L   Letters

INT'L   Flats  
INT'L   Pkgs
Postcards  
BIG
Domestic     PRIORITY boxes                                
International  PRIORITY                          

ExpressMail $$$     
MediaMail    BOOKS                                 
Stnd Post (formerly PARCEL POST)    
Money Orders         



 Domestic PRIORITY Envelope & BOXES 

For local shipments, use straight Priority and drop the flat rate boxes.
Otherwise, let's concentrate on flat rate. 

$6.45 flat rate envelope   domestic, any zone, any weight   
as
long as you can seal the envelope without extra tape,
Add 35
¢ for padded envelope.
10April2016: no more online discounts.

                                                                                                                
AirplaneSkidsThruBrickWall-TeterboroNJ-2005
                                   
$6.80 small flat rate box  domestic, any zone, any weight,  
as long as you can close the flaps on the seams.
10April2016: no more online discounts.

            8-5/8" x 5-3/8" x 1-5/8"      
 
$13.45  regular/medium  flat rate box 
any zone, 70 lb max, 
10April2016: no more online discounts.

Two medium-size boxes are available:

11" x 8.5" x 5.5" and
            13.625" x 11.875" x 3.375"

$18.75 large-size box  to any zone, 70 lb max,  
$16.75 for APO/FPO/Diplomatic
10April2016: no more online discounts.
 
        Two large-size boxes are available:
       12" x 12" x 5.5"  
        23 11/16" x 11 3/4" x 3" 

31May2015: online prices unchanged, but all prices at the counter are higher.
4April2016:  online mailing labels no longer sold at https://postcalc.usps.com
    you will be transferred to Click-N-Ship where you must set up an account. 
    Log in at cns.usps.com
    4April2016: No more online discounts for the public. Try a corporation like stamps.com
   
more price history

If it's not a flat rate shipment, you can use your own box. 
If it's virtually a local shipment, don't use flat-rate.
If it's local, Parcel Post ("Retail Ground") won't take it anyway, so you have to use Priority, and, as we just said, unzoned is cheaper if the distance is local. 
If it's light (a fluffy sweater for Mommy), don't use flat rate -- they push up what those boxes cost because people usually ship heavy tools and supplies, not fluffy sweaters for Mommy.
70 lbs is the limit throughout  the USPS, period: Retail Ground, Media Rate,  Priority, anything. 

Remember, you can't mail everything, there are no-no's

                  For APO/FPO/Diplomatic mail,
                 
go online because a lot of destinations don't have service for bigger sizes.
                  You need to do Form2976A (weight, value, all the addresses).
                  Presents can't be alcoholic drinks or tobacco or fresh fruits or veg, or
                  perfume ("fragrances" in alcohol).  Lithium batteries are forbidden
                  while the airline industry reacts to spontaneous combustion of
                  early-tech batteries that did not use lithium phosphate and other safer
                  formulations.  Be patient, battery issues are not the Post Office's fault. 

The flat-rate-size Priority boxes may be used internationally (20 lb maximum; 4 lbs for the small one).
See Priority Mail International below.   Stop complaining and just get the package out, this is not the Hope Diamond.

TO ORDER PRIORITY BOXES:  
small boxes
medium boxes  Why does this domestic box link say "International shipping"?  Oh well, it works for now . . .
       https://store.usps.com/store/browse/uspsProductDetailMultiSkuDropDown.jsp?productId=P_O_FRB2&categoryId=international-shipping
large boxes    
      ttps://store.usps.com/store/browse/uspsProductDetailMultiSkuDropDown.jsp?productId=P_LARGE_FRB&categoryId=free-shipping-supplies

If these links stop working, search on site:store.usps.com   Priority Mail Flat Rate Boxes
Look for a hit from store.usps.com. 
Most search engines will do a "site search" like that, and they search better than any search facility on the site itself.  Who knows why, just try it.


SIZE LIMITS -- Escape from a flat rate box.

Internationally, NON-FLAT-RATE PRIORITY
costs about as much as the large box, and gives you sizes up to 79" long and length plus girth of 108 inches.  More costly Express Mail is more limited: 42" long and length plus girth of 79 inches (2013).  Sometimes there are country-specific surprises. 

Over 108", Priority stops (airplanes get crowded fast) and Retail Ground (formerly Parcel Post) is all you have left (trucks have more space).  Stay under the 70 lb limit, but other than that, your weight becomes irrelevant when your box becomes large.  After 108" length+girth,  you pay the "Oversize Penalty Price"  until 130" for  length + girth brings your expulsion from the Postal Service altogether.  Remember that  girth is  width + height + width + height.  
Check prices online.  

ABOUT THAT 70 LB WEIGHT LIMIT:  the maximum box weight, any size, domestic shipment,  is 70 lbs.
Pouring the small box full of liquid lead gets you 29 lbs, so I'd say, for small boxes, 70 lbs shows an intelligence limit.  They thought we would ship the small box to Jupiter, whose gravity will bring any small Priority box of lead up to 68 1/2 lbs. 

You can fill any box with a solid block of aluminum and they'll ship it.  (On the large box, leave 1/2" of free space on top.)  The medium-sized boxes can be about half-full of solid iron.  The large box needs to be under 1/3 full of iron to pass -- solid iron all the way up to the top of the box would be  225 lbs, lead would be 325 lbs., and don't even think of gold.  I have a friend who could handle the 552 lb avoirdupois weight if you sent him a large priority box filled with it,  but I don't have the $8 million to buy it.  (552.5 lbs Au, 14.583 Troy oz per lb Av.  With gold at $1000/oz Troy, that's $8M.)   I waste my time with these stupid calculations while everyone else makes money trading on the precious metals market. 


Insurance: 
Pre-May 12, 2008:  insurance up to $500 was available on-line;
up to $5,000 if you presented the package to a Post Office clerk.   $5,000 is still the limit, 2016.
$50 worth of insurance is free.  Declare even a dollar more, and you pay a $3..35 insurance fee. 
For some easy-to-steal-and-sell items, you may be forced to get insurance when you fill out the customs form.  

Priority “Dimensional Pricing” --  beyond flat rate: 
Packages larger than 1 cubic foot traveling far  (Zones 5 through 8) are priced by size because such trips use air transportation.  Or rather, you use the same old  tables that price everything by weight, but you must use an imaginary weight calculated from your package size as  8.9 lbs per cubic foot.  This works out to  LxWxH in inches divided by 194. 


   DOMESTIC
    -
    First Class LETTERS          
  
FLATS (manila envelopes)   
   SMALL PKGs & padded envs  
FOREIGN .  .  .  .
-
INT'L   Letters

INT'L   Flats  
INT'L   Pkgs
Postcards  
BIG
Domestic     PRIORITY boxes                                
International  PRIORITY                          

ExpressMail $$$     
MediaMail    BOOKS                                 
Stnd Post (formerly PARCEL POST)    
Money Orders         





INTERNATIONAL Priority Mail

When it's bigger than a flat (manila envelope), it's either these flat rate boxes (20 lbs max)  or "1st Class Int'l Parcels" aka "1st-Class Package International Service" (4 lbs max).
Flat rate box sizes same as all other Priority boxes. 

1. CANADA - FLAT RATE ENVELOPE (stnd or legal) & SMALL BOX (4lbs max -- could be $48 w/o flat rate)
Canada    
       
10April2016         env $23.25, up from $21.95 since 31May2015; envelope  not same as box anymore.
        10April2016         box $24.95, up from $21.95 since 31May2015; box not same as envelope anymore

2. CANADA - MEDIUM FLAT RATE BOX (20 lbs max -- could be $100 if you didn't have flat rate)
Canada
       
10April2016        $45.95, scarcely changed from $45.25 since 31May2015

3. CANADA - LARGE FLAT RATE BOX (20 lbs max)
Canada
       
10April2016        $59.95, why did they bother to change it from $59.75 since 31May2015? 

 

ROW, REST OF WORLD for FLAT RATE PRIORITY.   BOY, DO I HATE THIS . . . TOO COMPLICATED !! 
8-column table: 2016April10 - Int'l Priority mail flat rate boxes

HOW TO USE THE TABLE ABOVE -- LIST-OF-COUNTRIES  PAGE
We have an  alphabetized list of the most common countries with their zones. 
The full list follows it; you can use "CONTROL-F for find" to search the list in most browsers.  Finally, I sorted the list by first class zone
.

On this country list, the so-called  zone "B"  column  gives you the correct 1,2,3,4,5,6,7, or 8 column to use in the table above. 
The table above uses the regular Int'l Priority table (country column), not the Expre$$ Priority table/column.
Those of you still trying to run a small business may find it easier to get prices for your own set of countries here, vs. cycling through a USPS calculation page on-line. 

some price history
 

METRIC SYSTEM: 66 LBS MAX  IN MANY COUNTRIES
Although 20 lbs is the official limit, some countries will go up to 66 lbs
if you go outside the flat rate system and pay $200,  even $300 to some places.  Starting in 2014, nearly every country in the world  refused to carry the United States' Postal Service maximum of 70 lbs,  because nearly every country in the world went metric -- Australia converted in the 1970s.   30 kg is a nice round number, it's 66 lbs, so get lost with your stupid "70".  

Map of world countries using the metric system. 
 
   DOMESTIC
    -
    First Class LETTERS          
  
FLATS (manila envelopes)   
   SMALL PKGs & padded envs  
FOREIGN .  .  .  .
-
INT'L   Letters

INT'L   Flats  
INT'L   Pkgs
Postcards  
BIG
Domestic     PRIORITY boxes                                
International  PRIORITY                          

ExpressMail $$$     
MediaMail    BOOKS                                 
Stnd Post (formerly PARCEL POST)    
Money Orders         


  
    


Domestic Express Mail -- Does everybody agree I can drop this page
  
                            because the prices are ridiculous?

after 31May2015:
$20 for a flat rate envelope, $45 for a little flat rate box, $460 to impress someone with a 70 lb carton shipped across the country.
some price history
https://postcalc.usps.com

To find the the free stuff page,  search on  site:store.usps.com  $0.00 express mail box  like this:  sample search.   


Media Mail Rates -- BOOKS

Flat rate, no zones so it does not get cheaper locally, but even locally it is still cheapest per point if you qualify. 
OK for: books, sheet music, movies and music on CDs, DVDs,  educational maps & charts if there's not a lot of text.

Because advertising is forbidden, you must take all magazines out of your box.  The books themselves may add only incidental announcements of other books -- as old-fashioned publishers so often did on the otherwise blank end-pages. 

No video games (they're media, yes; but educational, no).  No hard drives, no tapes if they're blank.

Make it easy to inspect the carton should it be opened -- so, if you want to support book bindings, wrap the books tight in "stretch (plastic) wrap" not brown paper.  Liquor store cartons are stronger than supermarket cartons, but you have to obliterate anything that makes it look like you're shipping alcohol. (Use up your old aerosol spray cans, or buy a new one in Pro Shipper tan.) 


After 10April2016: Domestic Rates
1 pound: $2.61     One CD/DVD in a padded env is $2.64 (4oz) as a small parcel (1st class service, 13 oz max) .
                                Two
CDs in an env is a $3.21 parcel (7oz), so media mail is clearly cheaper. 
Add 48¢/lb.
The increment never drops, so you can multiply it out for yourself

Up to 2 pounds: $3.09    
Up to 3 pounds: $3.57       
Up to 4 pounds: $4.05
Up to 5 pounds: $4.53
Up to 40 lbs      $21.33
70 lbs max        $35.73


some price history

Yes, it goes to 70 lbs, see https://postcalc.usps.com   At the Post Office, be prepared to open and reseal the box.  If you don't qualify, regular  "Retail Ground" (formerly Parcel Post)  is double to triple the cost, depending on zone.  

To send  Media Mail packages ON LINE, try this unpublicized URL ("Universal Resource Locater" or Web address):  https://www.paypal.com/ShipNow   (Thank you, JohnD.)

You must be a registered PayPal user. You must enter a PayPal user name and password.  I suggest logging in on the normal paypal.com home page and **then** going to the paypal.com/ShipNow page (which assumes you are completing a sale and are already logged in).  Specify USPS, not UPS.  After entering an address (no address book facility, sorry) you want to get to a page that asks you to specify a SERVICE TYPE.  There you can select MEDIA MAIL.
April2016: still not available online. 

   DOMESTIC
    -
    First Class LETTERS          
  
FLATS (manila envelopes)   
   SMALL PKGs & padded envs  
FOREIGN .  .  .  .
-
INT'L   Letters

INT'L   Flats  
INT'L   Pkgs
Postcards  
BIG
Domestic     PRIORITY boxes                                
International  PRIORITY                          

ExpressMail $$$     
MediaMail    BOOKS                                 
Stnd Post (formerly PARCEL POST)    
Money Orders             



      

BEGIN  PARCEL POST  

PARCEL POST ("Retail Ground") - UNPUBLICIZED ON-LINE ACCESS

To send  Retail Ground pkgs ON LINE
,
try this unpublicized URL ("Universal Resource Locater" or Web address):  https://www.paypal.com/ShipNow   (Thank you, JohnD.)

You must be a registered PayPal user (allied with eBay, Inc). This page normally comes up only if you sold something on eBay and must ship it, so you would normally be signed in already. If the site sends you to a bad login page or can't get back to shipping after login, just log into PayPal on another browser tab, then go to the ShipNow address.  Browser cookies will keep you logged in, and all will run smoothly. 

To look up Retail Ground costs online, the calculator page is here: https://postcalc.usps.com   . . . but you can't buy anything (use paypal.com/ShipNow  as just mentioned to pay for and print out shipping labels).     

THE COUNTRY & ITS MAIL STREAM WOULD BE MORE SECURE IF WE COULD PRINT  USPS SHIPPING LABELS THE  WAY WE CAN PRINT UPS LABELS
And the USPS could compete better with corporate UPS and its little brown trucks.  Why are you holding us back? 
We would be more secure if citizens (not just eBay/PayPal customers and UPS customers) could print US Postal System shipping labels online because your identity and your shipping data are better known when you are online, longer remembered and easier to search and retrieve, compared to just pushing a box across the counter (as retail customers are supposed to do). 


PARCEL POST ("Retail Ground") - SHIPPING RESTRICTIONS
ANY 1-PAGE LOOK AT GOVERNMENT REGULATIONS THAT RESTRICT MAIL SERVICE IS GOING TO BE INCOMPLETE
 30USC3001 (contraception) and 18USC1461 (abortion)

If in doubt, go to the Post Office.  I would just  see if they'll take whatever it is and not ask questions because they're not supposed to answer:
"Postmasters are not authorized to give opinions on the legality of any shipment of firearms."
I'm quoting official regulations here:  433 Legal Opinions on Mailing Firearms

Post Office and law enforcement take weapons replicas very seriously.  A fake replica of a hand grenade
has to be registered mail, so it can't be Parcel Post (aka "Retail Ground").  You have to write "Replica Explosive" in letters at least 1/4" high on the box.  Yes, it's legal, but get it boxed and keep it in there.  If someone calls 911 and says there's a man with a grenade walking into the post office,  that's it for counter service in that post office for the rest of the day.

THE FUTURE OF CARTONS FOR ANY AEROSOL, FLAMMABLE, or LIQUID OF ANY KIND
The USPS does what the Department of Transportation (DoT) says.  The DoT does what the United Nations says.  They all agree that it is too complicated to tell you **how** to make a sensible package.  Instead, they specify **what** the Crash Test Dummy performance of the package should be.  Setting up a Crash Test Dummy laboratory for carton testing is more complicated than sensibly packing a carton.    The only solution is to buy special cartons that already have a UN certification number printed on them.  Soon I fear we will all soon be forced to order a carton of cartons, a different order for each different thing you need ship.  Remember getting old cartons from behind the liquor store? 

PARCEL POST OVERVIEW
RETAIL GROUND (PARCEL POST) is the cheapest postal system service, and the one that takes very large, very heavy boxes.  Write "USPS Retail Ground" on the box if using stamps instead of a mailing label.    Parcel Post will not take local traffic to Zones 1 to 4.  (A Zipcode-to-Zone chart is below, and you can easily make one centered on the place where you live.)  Try unzoned Priority for just local or lightweight stuff. 

PRIORITY, PARCEL POST, or BROWN TRUCKS?   I use flat rate Priority  if it fits the box, parcel post (Retail Ground) for small stuff that doesn't fit, and the brown UPS trucks for heavy boxes (over 5 lbs or so).  

http://www.ups.com/dropoff?loc=en_US&WT.svl=PriNav     

EVER COLLECTED ANY UPS INSURANCE?
UPS insurance is free up to $100.  You can buy more (over $1 per hundred coverage), but you may never collect. 
You are warned to have an original receipt for the item, a signed receipt from the guy across the counter when you dropped off the package, perhaps the original complete packaging saved exactly as it looked at the other end, perhaps a police report . . .


PARCEL POST ("Retail Ground") - THE BIG BOX PENALTIES

AVOIDING THE TWO PITFALLS OF RETAIL GROUND (Parcel Post)
Retail Ground  (Parcel Post) can be cheaper than UPS if you avoid two pitfalls. 

1. AVOIDING THE  RETAIL GROUND  BALLOON RATE  PITFALL AT 84 INCHES

When you are under 20 lbs (as most gifts and eBay shipments are), then keep the box length plus girth under 84"or you will pay for 20 lbs (up to $55.78 across the country, 2016) regardless of actual weight.  Think of a balloon rate box as a flat rate box at the 20 lb rate.  If you're stuck with the size, enjoy the weight -- put something else in.  (Ordinary, non-flat-rate Priority Mail has the same 20lb/84 inches penalty in the more local zones 1-4.) 

DON"T JUST DROP YOUR ITEM  INTO  THE  CARTON  & THEN  FILL IT.
When packing a smaller, tighter-fitting box, place padding into the bottom of the box first, THEN add the shipment.  You want the item floating away from the walls, not crashing into them when you shake the box. 

2. AVOIDING THE  PARCEL POST OVERSIZE  PITFALL AT 108 - 130 INCHES
If your length + girth goes over 108 inches, you pay an oversize penalty.  Going across country with 70 lbs., your oversize cost is $170, when a smaller box would have been only $122 (2016 rates; in 2014, oversize penalty was  $132.20 and a smaller box was $105.83).  

Once you're penalized with this "dimensional weight" charge, you can pack your shipment up in as large a carton as you want (up to the maximax of 130 inches) . . . the price isn't going to change with either your weight (up to 70 lbs) or your size (up to 130 inches length + girth). 

At 130", you are expelled from the Postal System.  Go directly to UPS or FedEx Freight, do not pass Go, do not pay any more penalties.  
130" and 70 lbs are the limits no USPS service can exceed. 

To get parcel post in the USPS rate calculator, choose  "package" or "large package". https://postcalc.usps.com

Measure and weigh the carton first, get your two Zip codes. 
some price history



GETTING YOUR OWN 1.ZONE  AND  2.RATE TABLES   for  PARCEL POST

Still trying to run a small business?   Need to get six boxes out this morning without going online or to the post office?
You need two charts, your own stamps, and you'll have to present your packages in person at the Post Office counter,
unless you use the corporate privileges that eBay and PayPal have gotten for their customers, the ones I told you about above.  

If your business grows, you will yearn for these lower prices on the business calculator page:  https://dbcalc.usps.com/
but you have to bring everything to a BMEU, Business Mail Entry Unit.
See if there's a BMEU near you:  https://ribbs.usps.gov/locators/find-bme.cfm
If you figure out how to qualify for business rates, tell the rest of us what the forms/procedures/minimums are (jerry at remove this text speakeasy net).

Meanwhile, for the retail-level DIY route:
  1. You need to go from destination Zip code to a postal zone, and then
  2. You need a chart of rates per pound (for all those postal zones).  

PARCEL POST ("Retail Ground") -- Do It Yourself w/ZONES FROM ZIP CODES
A personalized chart from my town McLean to ZIP XXXxx

It's easy to get your own chart at  https://postcalc.usps.gov/Zonecharts/  .
These charts work for Priority boxes that are not flat rate, and for Parcel Post.  Both have  big-box problems penalties. 

Parcel Post and non-flatrate-Priority have the same 20lb/84inch balloon box problem, but only for local-ish Priority boxes (Zones 1-4).
Parcel Post big boxes have the oversize dimensional weight penalty at 108".
Flatrate Priority starts its oversize dimensional weight penalty  at 60", but only for distant Priority boxes (Zones 5-8).

Go to the zone chart, then the rate table, and you're done?  Not so fast.

THE SPECIAL CASE OF PARCEL POST ZONES 1 THROUGH 4

Parcel post zones 1-4 do not exist.  You have to use Priority.  (Try the non-flat-rate kind of Priority; it is probably cheaper for local, zone 1-4 shipments).
So why do we have 1-4 zones if we can't use them?  Wrong!!  They are used, just not by you.  Ground shipment is required for all stuff that knocks airplanes out of the sky, so we keep zones 1 thru 4 alive in the "Retail Ground" (Parcel Post) department for people who have no other choice but to use them.  If it weren't for dangerous materials shippers, we'd never send our trucks out on such local stops.
I don't care how you route your trucks.  Why can't you just take my money and deliver my box?  If the problem is dangerous cargo, give **that** a separate service and leave parcel post alone.  Listen, little retail customer,  the revolving door between government and corporations catapults industry people into top government positions, and lets government people retire into new -- and lucrative -- industry jobs.  No one at the USPS who drove the USPS forward would ever retire to a "second life" industry job at triple his former salary.  Wouldn't you like that kind of retirement?
If we don't use zones 1-4, why not abolish them?  Clarity of vision is a key part of the leadership we do not have.  Just mail your silly box. 


PARCEL POST ("Retail Ground") - Do It Yourself with THE ZONE CHART

Chart from postcalc.usps.com/Zonecharts

Above: a chart from https://postcalc.usps.com/Zonecharts/


PARCEL POST ("Retail Ground") - Do It Yourself w/THE PRICE CHART


THE PARCEL POST RATE TABLE, PRICES  BY ZONES


You've got the zone number.  Now you need a table of charges to that zone for all the weights up to 70 lb max.
Because of its large size, the parcel post rate chart is on a page all by itself, from which you can print it out.  


I once tried to figure out how commercial Parcel rates are calculated when items are taken to Bulk Mail Center (BMC) and Auxiliary Service Facilities (ASFs).  These are the mail sorting centers Congress wants to shut down to "save money".  These Congressmen want to help us "save the Postal System from financial collapse."  Once enough of the sorting centers are gone, the Post Office will never again be able to deliver first class mail by the next day.  Delivering an ordinary envelope the next day and "overnight delivery"  from corporations like FedEx are not much different, except that one costs $21.05 to $36.05 ("FedEx Envelope" up to 8 oz, 2013) and the other costs 89 cents (3 oz First Class business envelope 2016). 
Private industry can beat any competitor once we use a corrupt political system to destroy in our time what previous generations had built for us. 

   DOMESTIC
    -
    First Class LETTERS          
  
FLATS (manila envelopes)   
   SMALL PKGs & padded envs  
FOREIGN .  .  .  .
-
INT'L   Letters

INT'L   Flats  
INT'L   Pkgs
Postcards  
BIG
Domestic     PRIORITY boxes                                
International  PRIORITY                          

ExpressMail $$$     
MediaMail    BOOKS                                 
Stnd Post (formerly PARCEL POST)    
Money Orders       




Money Orders 
Domestic:
$1.20 up to $500
$1.60 up to $1000
International Money Order
$11.40 up to $700
$17.10 up to $!,500


Some price history:

2012Jan22: Domestic Money Order: $1.15, $500; $1.55 up to $1000, the maximum

2012Jan22: Int'l Money Order $4.45 for $700, the then-maximum

2016April16: Domestic Money Order $1.20 up to $500; $1.60 up to $1000, still the maximum

        Int'l Money Order $11.40 for $750, new maximum $1,500 is $17.10, canceling for a refund is $26.95, changing payee's name is $12.40

        I do not know the date since 1/2012 that these rates began.


Search terms for data:   site:pe.usps.com dmm    Price List Notice 123

Likely URL of current Price List: http://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/Notice123.htm 

Relevant section of 60+ page USPS document: Services and Fees / Domestic / Other Services, or / International / Extra Services

<rant> Your overseas maximum is $1,500    The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corp. (HSBC, a British bank from colonial times) had a slightly higher money maximum: billions.  The money came from Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, and Mexico, injected into the American banking system (and into the global economy) illegally ("laundering money").  When a bank in Mexico uses special boxes built to slide exactly through tellers' windows in order to take in the volumes of cash that their customers don't know how else to get rid of,  you know it is drug money (but  of course, they did not know).  Over $800 million of the Mexican dollars were documented well enough to prosecute the bank,  yet nobody went to jail.

I will be blunt.  I want these people humiliated.  Their conviction in open court can make them forfeit wealth to fines or not.  I can accept that.  They can sit in jail or not, that is not the point, as long as they are marched outside where the public can sneer, jeer, and curse them.  It's two for one: they need to visit a new social rank in life as the consequence of their own personal decisions, and we need to affirm the decency that most of the rest of us possess and live by.  But really, thanks for raising the money order limit.

Being forced to loose social rank for harming society is called accountability.  A society which does not hold those who harm it accountable is dysfunctional.  If those who have done the harm escape the accountability by giving large sums of money to support the campaigns of political people, and give large job salaries to employ "retired" government people, then the society is corrupt and dysfunctional.  A dysfunctional society that is also corrupt is harder to fix.  "Elevator going down, step inside please, doors closing." 
</rant>


   DOMESTIC
    -
    First Class LETTERS          
  
FLATS (manila envelopes)   
   SMALL PKGs & padded envs  
FOREIGN .  .  .  .
-
INT'L   Letters

INT'L   Flats  
INT'L   Pkgs
Postcards  
BIG
Domestic     PRIORITY boxes                                
International  PRIORITY                          

ExpressMail $$$     
MediaMail    BOOKS                                 
Stnd Post (formerly PARCEL POST)    
Money Orders      

END  OF  POSTAGE  CHARTS 

  (return to top)

1.  Apologies & Thank You.   Why I had to write this essay. (But that doesn't mean you have to read it.)
2,  Other rate pages disappeared as they called in complexity to kill the postal system. 
3.  Package traffic is growing.  To starve the USPS, limit package revenues at home and abroad.
4.  eBay gives 1st Class Service away to China, doesn't help Americans.
5.  What does it cost you or me to send a package to China?
6.  The eBay traffic from China -- entire items for less than we pay for postage alone.
7.  Under a dollar and free shipping too. What can we possibly earn from this? (Ebay gets the auction-related fees.)
8.  100 million Chinese items sold annually on eBay, over a million under  dollar,
                 about 90% under a dollar are free shipment, even more free ship at higher prices. 
9.   Summary: The eBay Burden on an Undefended Postal System (ours)
10. Summary: Positive Suggestions to Help Everybody
11. Civic society -- a country is its people.


 
1. APOLOGIES & THANK YOU

Apologies for neglecting this postage page as 2016 began, and thank you to all who wrote me.  Yes, updates take time, but it's not too hard to do..  The problem was that I got discouraged -- depressed, really.  I couldn't find the oomph to look at the Post Office go down.

Doing this page has turned into watching the relentless degradation of the country's postal system by men (and guys, it is mostly men) who cannot see past themselves to any larger vision of greatness for their country.  I never dreamed that listing the price of stamps would turn into something so political and so poisonous. 

Is there nothing left to bring us together again as a nation?  No even a postal system for everyone? 

The Founding Fathers wrote the existence of national "post roads" and a postal system into the Constitution.  Why do many today not want to honor that gift?   In the 1780s, a postal system was the surest way to give a major nation -- the first in 2000 years foolhardy enough to set itself up as a  democracy -- the gift of an informed electorate.  Today,  to inform citizens about what governing elites are doing to them, we would also want an open internet, "net neutrality".    Laugh with what has been attributed to Mark Twain ("If you don't read the newspaper you are uninformed, if you do read the newspaper you are misinformed."), but keep the postal system (and an open Internet). 

Most "savior attackers" of the USPS want the personal wealth that privatization of a public operation will give them -- privatizing the postal system, the  municipal water supply, the school system, prisons, social security

An informed electorate is not in the personal interest of selfish people who do not care for others.  The goals of those who want pieces of the postal system for themselves are best served by an electorate of citizens who won't know what hit them . . . until after the rules and law books and the criminalization have changed the game for everyone. 

What makes it hardest to take is the lying. 

Updating this site forces me to watch the USPS be weakened step by step while we are all told the system is being saved.  We cannot get rid of these people.  They appoint themselves.  More people keep coming out of the woodwork to act like this because we pay them to do so.  The system pays off these behaviors with a revolving door to corporate salaries that are double and triple what public servants were earning in the government.  We invite legions in rising generations to step up to the same well-paid and, in my view, degenerate use of the only lifetime they will ever have.  There will be more than one house, sometimes I see that there is a plane to fly between them, there are trips, cruises -- and all that motion will never take them far enough away from the thought that their lifetime was wasted, and others see little to respect in it. 

The "privatization" that the private wealth people want is not the same as "profitability". 

"Profitable" is not a dirty word or a bad idea, as long as it is not dog-whistle code for "privatize into my pockets".  Profitability is a proper tool for social engineering.  Demanding profitability can jar a division or service our of complacency, even end corruption.  Profitability can drive efficiency, even innovation.  Profitability can be applied and then lifted again to keep this or that part of a large organization in top form. 

HOW FAR DO YOU WANT TO RUN WITH PROFITABILITY?  All the way, nothing else in sight?   Perhaps we both agree that the town Post Office in zipcode XYZ will not be profitable as far as we can currently project.  You want to close it to end the dollar losses.   I am willing to bleed money until we look at it again in the next 20 year review period.  Why put up with a loss?  Because closing that post office will close main street businesses in that town, damage those families, and guarantee that those parents' children and grandchildren leave town, settling down perhaps too far away to visit in old age. 

WHY SHOULD THE TOWN DIE?  My story has many factors in a synthesized abstraction, but no single value measured in dollars.  You have only one factor which is itself little more than a number of dollars.  You feel precise, decisive, superior.  Perhaps you are not good at "synthesized abstraction" (connecting the dots).    I look at more things than you do.  It's a complicated world out there, and my description is as valid as yours. 

I'M PART OF A BIG COUNTRY, I CAN HAVE A BIG HEART.  Try looking at the census.  The Census Bureau says 80% of us are urbanized.  At the Census Bureau, the "urban" definition is loose, and "rural" for them is pretty isolated, but isolation is exactly the point here.  80%-20%.  So I think four Americans won't hurt much to give one in five Americans a chance to stay on the land where their family has lived, perhaps for generations.  If you and I know what we are doing, if anyone who wishes to do so can see what we are doing, then I don't care if today goes your way or today goes my way.  In clarity and collegiality, the country will find its own way to a better future in the long run.  It's the open clarity and collegiality that count.  Other people who tell me we must close the post office to save money and we have no other choice but bankruptcy of the whole system are liars.  Endless lies are a failure of leadership.  If you can't tell the difference between a liar and a leader, then get out of public life, find something more suitable to do with yourself. 

For a lot of us who walk into one, a Post Office is part of our civic society -- it is in all our communities, it serves everyone, all of us in our daily lives, and it is not a corporation. Like many institutions of civic society in our time,  the Post Office has been weakened.  Destroy what we had in common and you'll find yourself bickering and fighting over whatever's left -- a once-great society lying in broken pieces on the ground. 

It was important for me to know that others see through the games being played with the governance and destiny of the Postal Service. That is why I was glad to hear from you.  A few years ago I stumbled across perfectly public announcements that all but secrect negotiations had finished among eBay, the ChinaPost, and the US Postal Service. It was obvious to me what those negotiations meant, and I spell it out here, but you don't have to read it all.  I felt telling the story was more important than updating the postage rates and for a while I avoided them both.   I thank Robin for letting me take the time to research the story enough to put some numbers on it, and now the fun should return to updating the rates on time again and teasing anyone who thinks this is the way to run a postal system. 


2. HOW THIS PAGE STARTED, WHAT HAPPENED TO OTHER ONES?    
(return to top)

I still remember the day I was ready to put out a letter and then come back in for coffee.  I started this site in 2007 when I couldn't find out what stamp to put on the envelope.  "Forever stamps" weren't around, and besides, I loved to use pretty "commemorative" ones.  I never dreamed doing a chart of how many stamps to put on an envelope would become so politically upsetting. 

My stamps page 
was inspired by a similar rate page done by the local post office in Lafayette, Tennessee.  The government Websites drove me crazy with a hundred questions and no information.  Reveal the secret!!  What stamp goes on an envelope these days?  Finally I found the Lafayette page that  told me the postage so I could just get rid of the envelope and have my coffee.  Some guys who work there and one or two of their buddies  put up a Web page with the few simple rates that most of us need most of the time.  I put up my page  to be like theirs.   By putting up something myself I could be less formal than the government, add some common sense, such as,  "If it isn't machinable, it costs them more, so we pay a penalty of X cents."  I could tease everyone and have some fun.

Then what?

Soon the rates were changing two different times a year.  The rate structure was getting complicated. Zones were added for Priority that used to be the same for the whole country.  Rates to Canada and Mexico that used to be the same became different.  What a headache for everybody.  Tennessee gave up.  That's right -- the town  post office took down their rate page, gave up and never put it back.  I challenge you to find any place that posts the postage rates of the USA -- the ones you need,  all on one page.   I also apologize for any errors on my page, but at least you can get an overview and the logic -- if there is any -- behind  the rules.  Maybe I helped you pick the service you want before you went to the https://postcalc.usps.com page.  It was worth it if you didn't stand in  line as I did,  only to discover you chose the wrong envelope (and had to go home to fix it).
       
WHY IS THIS SO COMPLICATED?  (return to top of the rates page, get something useful done)

There is a choice between keeping our post office simple so that people can use it, and running it to squeeze out every dime. 

RAPID RATE CHANGES.  You tell me you must change rates rapidly because you want to save the system.  If we are not making enough money, charge more for each stamp, that's the problem, there's the solution, how can I argue? 

Really?  You didn't take Economics One in college?  I can argue "elastic demand".  Raise the cost and I'll go elsewhere, you're not the only and essential supplier. 

MORE ZONES WHERE RATES USED TO BE FLAT.  You tell me you need more zones. 
Claiming again that you are trying to help, you become indignant:  Do you expect us to carry your stuff more miles without charging more dollars?.  Well, yes.  In fact the country expects and legislated that you deliver a first class letter from anywhere to anywhere for the same cost for all of us, because that makes our great land feel like one country,  that makes us feel more like we are all in this together, and such in-this-together feelings drive nations to greatness.   Sure, a few zones are OK.  After Canada and Mexico, you had two groups of countries (2 zones).  That was fine -- I can display the two groups, and people will know which one is their group, their letter,  their stamp.  But when you went from international manila envelopes to little parcels, you broke those two groups into 7 zones for the parcels, and now we have to find a table of all the countries in the world, find a place to look for the zone number in which our country belongs, or else start looking online.

It's all international first class, and those small parcels weigh just the same as flats, but you had to separate all the zones (2,3,5,6,7,8,9 zones)  for one, and leave them in two groups for the other.   I ask why, you name a dollar cost figure, each zone has to pay its way.  But how do costs run in these zones?  The next zone is two dollars more, the one after that is 25 cents less.  No one can figure it out, and half your customers leave.  You've covered each box's cost exactly, and your traffic decreased.  Are you missing something?  Have you been on this job too long? 

If we switch our little international box from 1st Class service to Priority, you have a different zonal system (in the country list, the zone numbers you want us to use are now in the "B' zone" column, not in the "First Class column").  Who are you to move countries around to another zone, just because you want use a different little box?    I live in this world, Planet Earth.  Countries do not move.  Did you ever stop to think that creating different imagined worlds for yourself comes close to insanity?  You have made the postal service so complex that people have to pitch up at a post office service counter asking for help.  That drives costs up, not down.  Or retail customers have to go on line, where multiple screens make multiple shipments a nightmare for small shippers who are trying to earn a living or supplement an income at etsy.com, bonanza, rubylane, eBay, other online marketplaces, or who are trying to build a venture of their own (small business creation, Mom & Pop, American entrepreneurship, innovation -- screw it all, you say?)

What belongs to all of us is getting degraded -- year by year, revision by revision, by those who tell us not to help anyone in life who cannot pay for it. 

Let's stay with package shipping if you have time  . . . or maybe you don't have any more time 
(return to top of the rate charts)

3. PACKAGE TRAFFIC IS GROWING.  TO STARVE THE USPS,  LIMIT PKG REVENUES

THE INTERNET DRIVES MESSAGING DOWN.  Despite changes in rates, changes in zoning, and changes occurring more frequently than ever before, USPS online sites have not made a change that would enable their retail customers to get a parcel post package ready to ship online.  Americans ("retail customers" to you) cannot print a shipping label for our box.  Or a shipping label for a "small parcel, 1st class".  This  matters.  In the ten years from 2006-2015 inclusive, almost everything about the postal service declined:  first class mail volumes (about 36%), even the number of post offices.  The USPS closed 977 post offices -- their own post offices, not just their desk in somebody else's building--apparently providing real estate opportunities for Dianne Feinstein's husband.   But one thing went up: the volume of packages shipped. 

Shipping volumes went up 36% in the same ten years that first class volumes went down 36%.   So yes, doom-sayers tell us the Post Office is a goner because Internet email and messaging will never let First Class mail.  Therefore, therefore (here comes the jump--it is not logic, but stay with us) therefore privatize the doomed US Postal Service--give up, tear it limb from limb, sell the pieces, let the vultures have the pieces they want, put employees on contract with nothing in the benefits package, your children can read about unions in a history book.  That's the way to run the nation's mail delivery. 

THE INTERNET DRIVES PACKAGE VOLUMES UP.  But wait.  Post Office traffic is surging where Internet e-commerce is driving package delivery volumes to places it has never been before.  Americans buy billions in  shipping on line from the United Parcel Service corporation, while policy wonks keep the lid on at the post office.  They help us understand our complex world by explaining over and over how the Internet is killing 1st class letters, while hoping we never notice that, back at the post office, the Internet has already driven package volumes up as much as letter volumes went down, and on-line USPS revenues have doubled over that same time period.

Postal system leadership -- all of it, within the Postal Regulatory Commission, the Mailers Technical Advisory Committee where Pitney Bowes, FedEx, UPS, DHL, and Amazon tell the post office what the American people need,  the USPS Board of Governors,  or at the USPS itself -- the leadership is incapable creating a system able to drive up retail usage through simplicity of service.  If you don't agree, then get off this Website and write a simpler one yourself. 

The USPS needs to print parcel post shipping labels online and capture the rise in Internet-driven shipping revenues, no matter how much it might embarrass smart thank tanks like the Cato Institute or Brookings to watch the government compete successfully against private corporations like United Parcel Service at home, or DHL abroad.  

But the USPS already prints parcel post shipping labels online, doesn't it?  Yes, you are correct.

eBay users will find that their corporation has persuaded the USPS to let their customers do something that eBay was not able to arrange for all Americans to do.  Corporate customers but not US citizens can use the United States Postal Service to buy parcel post shipping labels on line, and then ship boxes.   National security and the war on terrorism make it imperative that we protect Americans from Americans who might ship nasty things hidden in their boxes, and never tell us.  Compared to letting Americans mail their own boxes with lord knows what inside them, eBay knows what their customers have inside their boxes.  eBay knows because the Chinese tell them.  And no one lies or games eBay's systems --  I suppose the fraud I have experienced at eBay was unusual, just one bad apple in the bunch.  eBay is perfect now.  We're fine with corporate customers buying USPS services online, but let's stay safe with non-corporate citizens taking each package to a local post office, and asking a clerk to tell them everything is OK before they mail it.  Keep the US Postal Service out of the parcel business, remember bombs, anthrax, terrorism -- let the corporations do it. 

But it gets worse.  The Chinese can print shipping labels we can't, at first-class postage rates Americans do not have. 

4. eBay GIVES FIRST CLASS SERVICE AWAY TO CHINA, DOESN'T HELP AMERICANS
 
(return to top)

INTEGRATED COMPUTER SYSTEMS AND DATA INTERCHANGE.  eBay drove tri-lateral negotiations between the postal systems of China and the United States.  Agreement was announced in June 2010 to integrate computer networks, make data bases compatible, standardize both bar codes and Electronic Data interchange (EDI) formats, and provide real-time analytics to support logistical (trucking, air freight) operations.  
Press coverage at the time (2Jun2010) described the move as  tri-lateral -- the first nation, the second nation, and a global corporation.  The coverage said, "U.S. online marketplace eBay Inc recently entered into an international tri-lateral agreement with China Post, the country's official postal service, and the United States Postal Service." 

CORPORATION PRESENT AT INTERNATIONAL TREATY NEGOTIATIONS, CITIZENS ABSENT.  eBay officials attended the announcement ceremony because eBay  was the party that drove the agreement.  Present at the ceremony celebrating the joining of the two nation's systems was  Jeff Liao, then CEO, eBay  Greater China (eBay GC), Southeast Asia and Japan,  and head of eBay's Asia-Pacific cross-border trade.  The USPS was represented by  Paul Vogel, president and chief marketing and sales officer at USPS, and Pranab M. Shah, Vice President and Managing Director, Global Business in the USPS's Office of the Inspector General.  Not present was you.  eBay's Jeff Liao said, "
The collaboration will make the most of the advantages of the three while helping expand eBay's profits." 

The USPS always says they gave services to Hong Kong, but Chinese don't have to go to Hong Kong to mail anything.  Any CHINA POST post office in the country  will do.  Ebay wanted to open up all of China, and that is what the USPS has done, even if they can't bear to hear themselves say it.

In the 2010 agreement, Ebay and the USPS catered to individual Chinese customers and individual eBay users.  The USPS said,  "The mission ... is to open up anew online silk road for ... individual users and help more Chinese users reaching out to the world."  Just as press releases speaking only of Hongkong do not hide the fact that the Ebay negotiated USPS service for all of China, so later press releases speaking only of Hongkong merchants do not hide the fact that Ebay and the USPS were serving individual users in China.  Ebay and the USPS were setting rates for "Retail Service", a service with no special applications to qualify for Commercial Rates, a service with no weight or volume minimums.  Retail Service in the United States is what a US citizens would pay if he walked into any Post Office. 

The new ePackets coming out of China got first-class service across the United States with a new label and barcode design, scanning, tracking, Confirmation Delivery service to your kitchen door, beginning in April 2011. 

ON-LINE SERVICE DISAPPEARS FOR AMERICANS.  After information technology contractors had completed the integration of US and Chinese data networks, first class ePacket service from China was announced the following year, in April of 2011.  It has always puzzled me that 2011 was the year when, for no reason that I could see, the USPS stopped allowing Americans to buy First Class Small Package mailing labels online.  We couldn't ship anything electronically.  The timing never made sense because the last rate change had been years earlier on 11May2009 and nothing changed then, and there was no rate change at all that year, none until 22Jan2012.  The timing didn't make sense, and canceling the online service never made sense, because shipping volumes are rising with e-commerce and the USPS needs to enter that revenue stream, not be advised to leave it. 

A NICE PERK FOR EBAY PEOPLE.  Someone using my rate page noted that eBay customers buy the 1st Class Small Pkg mailing labels on a site controlled by eBay, and told me how to direct users here to go around the USPS ban and buy shipping labels there themselves.  The cancellation of the ability of anyone to buy USPS shipping for a small package online except eBay customers struck a competitive blow against users in competing Internet auction companies --  other sellers wanting Small Package 1st Class service were faced with a trip to the Post Office.  Ebay had a nice perk for its own customers -- at the cost of a policy that damaged the postal system that serves the nation as a whole. 

FREE DELIVERY CONFIRMATION DISAPPEARS FOR AMERICANS. 

Chart-USPS Tracking cost a fee for 1st Class Small Parcels in 2014

When ePacket services was turned on for China (USPS announcement April 2011), online purchase of postage for 1st Class Small Packages was turned off for Americans.  Since you now had to go to a Post Office to buy the postage, you became a "Retail Rate customer" and free tracking was turned off as well.  America had tracking, but you had to pay for it -- $0.90 for tracking as of 2013Jan27, and raised to $1.05 in the rate table for 26Jan2014 shown above. 

As of April 2011,  any First Class package automatically got tracking and delivery confirmation across in the United States, provided the package was dropped into the mail in China.

The USPS could say, "But there's still free First Class Parcel tracking!"
Answer: True, only nobody can qualify.
The USPS could say, "You can't expect us to give you counter service for nothing.  If you need help mailing your parcel, we're happy to provide it, but that costs money and you can't have free tracking too."
Answer: I'd be happy to save you money by making online shipping purchases.  Why did your turn off the service?

The tracking restrictions on Americans were lifted by 10April2016, but there's money in buying shipping online, and the USPS still (rate table  2016Apr10) does not let Americans buy parcel shipping online.  If  those who govern the USPS and rotate in and out of private competitor corporations want to weaken their country's postal system, they ought to block this rising source of online revenues as long as possible.  And they have. 


5. WHAT DOES IT COST TO SEND A PACKAGE TO CHINA?    
(return to top, don't waste another perfectly good hour)

FIRST CLASS INTERNATIONAL PACKAGE RATES FOR AMERICANS -- CHINA IS ZONE 3
                   Chart-IntlSmallPkg rates as of -2016Apr10 
This is the rate table for 1st Class International Package service out of the USA.  The rates to China are highlighted.  Americans can't send a box to China for less than $13.75.  (Eight ounces; details in the 1st Class Int'l Packages section).

What if it is not a box, what if the item can masquerade as a document envelope, a "flat" with less than 1/4 thickness variation?  Good.  Four ounces, a quarter-pound, going to China as a "flat" is only $5.10, details in the Int'l Flats - "1st Class Mail international"  section.   

What does it cost?  $13.75, or $5.10 if its flat.

eBay's Money Back proceedure is absurd when return postage is more than an item's total cost. 




MY BEST RECENT SUPPLIER IN CHINA
First I want to give a shout-out to eBay China seller Thamesmall ("Thames Mall").  When I wrote that two items arrived and one didn't work properly, Thamesmall promptly mailed a replacement, no questions asked, and it worked.  Hey Thames, thank you, that's the way to do it.

But my good luck is not eBay's standard return procedure.   Check it out:  eBay records the item location as Shenzhen, China.  eBay sets return policies offered to sellers, and one return policy that sellers can check off is "buyer pays return shipping", which than automatically generates the screen you see.  

No item selling for for $5 or less can be returned, except at a total loss, because Americans do not have access to the rates eBay helped to negotiate for China.  If an American can make the item look like a manila envelope weighing under 4 ounces, s/he can get it back to China for $5.10.  No doubt eBay has other protections for American buyers of bad items, but the standard policy illustrated on this screen is a farce. 

The item costs less than its return postage.  Maybe I don't understand postal rates very well and I missed something.  But how did eBay miss anything  when it was eBay themselves who negotiated Chinese-American postal services? 

Need a little box to mail it back?   Too bad..  No item selling for $13.75 or less can be returned except at a total loss, because Americans can't pay less than that to send a little box to China.  Not everything fits into a flat envelope that must be flexible as well.

Is this really a problem?  What would anyone buy on the other side of the Pacific Ocean for such little amounts of money? 



6.  THE eBAY TRAFFIC from CHINA: HOW MANY ITEMS FOR LESS THAN WE PAY FOR POSTAGE ALONE?
Number of items from China on eBay under $5 is over 2 million.  May 2016
The number of items listed at any moment from China for less than five dollars fluctuates between two and three million (May 2016).  There's no way any of them can be mailed back for less than the cost of the item.  What  if you need a box and USA postage is $13.76 (10Apr2016 rates)?

Here is a snapshot of the number of listings at the cheapest price levels one evening in May. 

$1 or less
  431,333
$1.01 - $2
  440,446
$2.01 - $3
  627,859
$3.01 - $4
  678,631
$4.01 - $5
  728,401
Americans cannot return
the above items
even in a flat envelope (4oz)
for less than the item's entire cost.

$5.01 - $10
1,219,118
$10.01-$13.70
   913,644
Americans cannot return
any item above,
even in the smallest box,
for less than the item's entire cost.


You might enjoy a look a
t some individual items.    Within a single supplier's list, the variety can be stunning -- consumer goods and the industrial tooling used to make them, all in one eBay "store". 

Americans can't put  anything into the postal system for less than 34¢ or 47¢ (domestic postcard,  or USA-only letter, 2016).  How low does it go for China?

7.  UNDER A DOLLAR AND FREE SHIPMENT TOO

Looking for something cheap from China?  The number of listings for a dollar or less fluctuate between 200,000 and 300,000 (a Sunday morning in May, 2016). 

Here's a snapshot of the number of listings on eBay from China at the bottom of the price scale.

 price
# listed
 FreeShip
$1 exactly
 
  14,075 
 
  93% 

99¢ 124,888
 89 -92%
78¢-98¢  19,269   94%
77¢  53,264
  94%
0-76¢      0
     0
$1 or less
211,496
 over 90%
free shipment


You have no business sense if you price for $1 instead of ninety-nine cents.  Only 7% of these beginners think to ask for extra postage money
-- the more numerous, more savvy 99¢ crowd knows better.  77¢ items are nearly all $1Canadian items selling for $0.77US.  When eBay computers let a seller select shipping to United States but price in Canadian dollars, PayPal has an opportunity to profit on the currency conversion. 

Ebay can say, Whoa, we sure do collect shipping dollars from our sellers.  Here is one listing behind their tally of collected shipping dollars which eBay can produce.

eBayMeaninglessShippingCosts.jpg  $200 bogus shipping charge on eBay

I enjoy buying inexpensive items from China, and I thank eBay for simplifying the transportation, but who's paying for it? 

A Chinese seller -- via ChinaPost -- can pay our postal system only pennies for postage if her free shipment item sold for under a dollar.  The United States Postal Service gets paid amounts that are trivial per item, and insulting compared to what Americans are forced to pay.  American retail mailers lined up at post office counters in every American town are subsidizing China. 

But these are listing numbers -- how much actually got sold and shipped?

8.  THE FULL SIZE OF THE CH
INESE BURDEN ON OUR POSTAL SYSTEM & LETTER CARRIERS: 100 MILLION PIECES/Year

Ebay will report for-sale listings from China.   Here is a snapshot of the number of listings at cost levels of  $13.70 or less.  $13.75 is what Americans would pay to send an empty box to China (weight up to  8 oz -- doesn't have to be empty).


$1 or less
  431,333
$1.01 - $2
  440,446
$2.01 - $3
  627,859
$3.01 - $4
  678,631
$4.01 - $5
  728,401
Americans cannot return
the above items
even in a flat envelope (4oz)
for less than the item's entire cost.

$5.01 - $10
1,219,118
$10.01-$13.70
   913,644
Americans cannot return
any item above,
even in the smallest box,
for less than the item's entire cost.


You might enjoy a look a
t some individual items  -- consumer goods and the industrial tooling used to make them, all in one eBay "store". 

Free shipping, price included, is dominant at all price levels (Section 7).  Shipment by the eBay-negotiated ePacket service is the dominant shipping choice,  except at the four or five lowest-price levels, where the Chinese people have a still-cheaper China Post standard service.  An American standing in his own Post Office, box in hand, has zero service below $13.70, but the Chinese have two.  Obviously if Chinese on eBay are selling over a million items annually at under a dollar each (below), including the postage,  then the postage paid is pennies . . . not $5.10 (flats from USA), not $13.70 (smallest box from USA, 2016). 

Pennies for postage across the Pacific Ocean?  China subsidizes its postal system, which destroys ours and drives up their own exports.  Fine, I can accept their drive for exports, but the USA Postal Service destruction means the USA must subsidize its Postal Service to protect it.  National security, right?  You were going to protect us, right?  If you don't want to pay to fix it, why did you negotiate with eBay to break it?  I wasn't supposed to notice, but I did.  Now what? 

No one has paid the US Postal Service any federal (tax payer) money since 1982.    You gave China the exports, you gave eBay the profits, and that took water out of the pail at the Postal Service.  Put the water back, or stop watering other people's horses. 

The eBay flood from China carried to our doors by USPS letter carriers can be roughly estimated as 100 million items a year.

PRICE BRACKET
LISTINGS on 1 evening, May 2016
ANNUAL ITEMS SOLD, rough estimate
 RUNNING TOTALS,
annual # eBay items from China
$1 or less
 431,333
 1,725,000
 
$1.01 - $2  440,446  1,762,000

$2.01 - $3  627,859  2,511,000

$4.01 - $5  728,401  2,914,0000

Americans
cannot return
the above items
even in a flat envelope (4oz)
for less than the item's entire cost.


11,627,000 items
selling for less than we must pay
just for envelope postage
(no item ! ).
$5.01 - $10 1,219,118  4,876,000

$10.01-$13.70  913,644  3,655,000

Americans
cannot return
any item above,
even in the
smallest box,
for less than the item's entire cost.


20,158,000 items
selling for less than we must pay
just for box postage
(no item ! ).

Ebay negotiated ePacket service from China for the Chinese, not us --
a global corporation at work in today's globalized world. 
Give American Post Office customers the same service.
Make Commercial Outbound ePacket Service available for American retail customers, and
make it available to purchase online.
$13.71 - $15
 322,768
 1,291,000

$15.01 - $20
 912,372
 3,649,000

$20.01 - $50
2,550,138
10,001,000

$50.01 - $!00
 702,856
 2,811,000
 
$100.01 - $200
 256,339
 1,025,000

$200.01 - $300
   59,118
  236,000
 Wigs from Brazil.
$300.01 - $400
  32,443
  130,000

$400.01 - $500
  23,962
   96,000

$500.01 - $1000
  32,177
  129,000
Industrial parts or entire ultrasound scanners, wholesale quantities, fur&leather coats, gold, musical instruments.
over $1,001
  15,274
   61,096
Complete industrial systems, engine rebuild kits, Fanuc robot parts, gold with gems, instruments, silk rugs, mink, $387,000 free shipping! plastic injection machines, $22,000 flour mill free ship!!, milk pasteurization systems, $13,000 wedding dress from a seller whose positive feedback was built with items under $1, selling under a new name. 



97,694,000 items/year


If you know roughly how many listings there are tonight, how can you tell what got sold?  

(You can quit & go back to the postal charts.)
FROM #LISTED to #SOLD:  A few years ago,  I stumbled across reports of the largely-unnoticed corporate-government meetings that explained the China explosion on eBay, and all the wind went out of my sails. I knew it would be hard to tell the story, and here it is, taking too much time for both of us.  But for me there is no choice.  I can't go on maintaining this postage page if I don't do this.  It would be like like accepting what's going on and pretending the new rates are fine adjustments needed to tweak the system and everything is OK.  Even if we can't change anything, let's all be smarter about what's going on so at least we'll make them tell us more creative lies.) 
     
The data here set inventory turnover at four times for all Chinese sellers.  This is a rough but serviceable guide.   Examining annual sale size vs listing size for over 30 individual Chinese sellers in one of the under-$5 brackets showed that a linear trend of 4x was a plausible fit to the data.   This enables us to go from total inventory data (number of listings for all Chinese sellers), which eBay searches can be coaxed to reveal,  to total annual sales data, which eBay does not reveal.  Total annual sales of Chinese sellers is  the total number of packets coming out of China in a package stream which the US Postal Service must deliver.  Most of these items use ePacket service, and get fully-featured, first class service levels which eBay persuaded the Chinese to accept and America to offer, in negotiations that they led. 

Can we live with the four-times inventory turns factor until eBay gives us their data?  I think so. As in a real market  place, a few exceptional sellers capture much of the market, with inventory (listing) turns of over 12x, not four.  eBay is a protected community, not a free market, and uniform listings offer little variation in marketing or customer contact.  How do star Chinese sellers do it?  A twelve-turn super seller has secured success on the supply channel side, not one eBay's distribution channel.  The seller has locked in supplies of popular items that get 900x repeat sales.  These repeat-sale  items -- for any seller -- are mostly in fashion, decor trivia, some tech items; and they are mostly under three dollars each -- almost no item is over $10.  So this number-of-turns issue disappears at higher prices. 

Unlike a real market, the bottom end is a sheltered, virtual un-reality.  There are no staff salaries or building rents to pay, no creative destruction to drive a languishing seller bankrupt.  So there are numerous sellers who turn little inventory and have a poor  fit with a linear trend at sales 4x inventory.  But they do not invalidate our rough guide because they do not have much volume. 

Ebay should kindly release the data they withhold before criticizing these rough conclusions.

9. THE EBAY BURDEN ON OUR UNDEFENDED POSTAL SYSTEM


1. The postage paid  for 1.7 million items costing a dollar or less, postage included, to cross the Pacific is arguably less than any American must pay just to enter his own postal system  with a letter or postcard. 
Prove me wrong on what they pay.   If you can't, then tell me why we have to subsidize them.  If you can't, then stop criticizing the national postal service as too stupid to be profitable. 

2. The  USPS annually carries over 11 million eBay items from China that cost less, postage included, than regular American Post Office customers would have to pay for postage alone, if they could make their item look like a 4 oz manila envelope. 


3. The USPS annually carries over 20 million eBay items (11 million plus 9 more) from China that cost less, postage included, than regular American Post Office customers would have to pay for postage alone, to send the smallest possible box (8 oz) to China.

4. The size of eBay's China flood washing over  the United States Postal Service (USPS) annually is about 100 million pieces, mostly hauled by letter carriers to your home. 

return to top of rate page
, get something useful done

10. POSITIVE SUGGESTIONS TO HELP EVERYBODY

1. PARCEL POST ONLINE.
Give American retail customers the same online access to parcel post shipments ("Retail Ground") as corporate/commercial customers. 

Paying online for shipping labels for 1st Class Small Parcels and for parcel post ("Retail Ground") service must start now -- turn it on. 

Ebay customers can pay for Parcel Post ("Retail Ground") shipping labels on line, and ship a box, but non-corporate Americans cannot.  We need the convenience; you need the money.   P.S. Don't pay a corporation to run the service, let eBay and Pitney-Bowes keep their own page for their own customers, and sell your own stuff on your own Website. 

Internet e-commerce is driving shipping volumes up as fast as Internet messaging is driving first class mail volumes down.  Anyone who argues against hitching the USPS wagon to the rising revenues of this secular trend is an assassin even if you'll never hear his dagger go in.

2. OUTBOUND ePACKET
Turn on ePacket service for Americans.  Make the ePacket service which eBay created in its 3-way negotiations with ChinaPost and the USPS available to individual US Postal Retail Service customers.   eBay gave ePacket service to individual, retail, Chinese eBay sellers; give to to individual American citizens.  You have a "Commercial Outbound ePacket Service".  Turn in on for Retail USPS Customers.

In negotiations concluded in April 2010, Ebay created the ePacket service that opened the floodgates (June 2011) to most of the approximately 100 million parcels from China on which eBay earns a portion of its $8.5 billion annual income.  The USPS today also has a reciprocal ePacket service, outbound to over two dozen countries.  What's good for one is good for all -- they buy from their post office, we want to buy from ours. 

3. SHOW ME WHAT EBAY'S CHINA VENTURE COSTS ME & MY POST OFFICE

Publish the compensation and settlement fees that the US Postal System receives for delivering ePacket traffic with full first-class service:  scanning, tracking, delivery confirmation, computer-based logistics monitoring of the shipping channels, guaranteed service levels, door-to-door delivery. 


In the century of globalization,  in a wealthy country that buys a lot overseas, the US Postal Service is going to deliver a rising volume of package traffic ordered by their own wealthy citizens, but dropped into the mail and paid for far away.  What are you paid for serving them?  Show me the money.   I don't care what overseas countries do with what we ship to them, that's their budget.  You criticize our postal system's lack of money, tell me what they pay us.

The Post Office and many government Departments have been  assigned (1978, 1988) quasi-independent "Offices of the Inspector General" (OIGs), who, it was hoped, will eternally catch fraud in suppliers to those Departments and sometimes in the Departments themselves.  Any such hope in OIGs may be misguided ("Criticism" paragraph).

Nevertheless, it is more likely the Office of the Inspector General for the USPS will push back against eBay's ePackets than that the USPS will ever defend itself:

"In the 2014 audit mentioned above, the OIG found the FY 2012 cost of a typical domestic First-Class, single-piece package was $1.10 higher than the rate China Post was paying." 

ChinaPost is eBay's carrier, the one they negotiated with.  But that $1.10 giveaway was renegotiated and everything is fine now, the report says. 

Here is the full report, search inside it on "China Post":  https://www.uspsoig.gov/sites/default/files/document-library-files/2015/RARC-WP-16-003.pdf  
Numbers in that report do not agree with figures and eBay search results presented here.

And as for the corporation that catalyzed it all?  Dear eBay: you are an $8.5 billion/year company based on a website that costs only $1.5B to run, leaving about seven billion dollars a year in earnings.  You choose to give yourself back about half of those seven billion dollars as salary.  Fine, enjoy it.  What does eBay pay in taxes compared to those seven billion dollars?  You take half of it home, 3.5 billion dollars.  At what level have you decided to support the country that gave birth to the on-line auction, indeed to the Internet? 

-----o=o-----

11. Civic society -- our communities and our relations with one another --  can get lost when profit is the only goal.  The country -- the welfare of the United States of America, its role in the world, its greatness as a nation, whether others see us as friend or foe -- this is not what counts when profit comes first.   In the end, we lose greatness itself when we  become preoccupied with profit alone.  All of us can count on a future in which the US Postal Service delivers junk mail at reduced rates for corporate clients right up until the day the system vanishes forever.   On that day there will be less competition for the corporations that killed it, paid for the funeral in advance, and always wanted the business.  Live with  it, get with the program.  The failure of post offices everywhere is the free market at work.  So just accept it.   And when the banks failed? 

--jerry
J. I. Nelson, Ph.D.   
</end rant>

1.  Apologies & Thank You.   (Why I had to write this essay, but you don't have to drag yourself through it.)
2,  Other rate pages disappeared as they called in complexity to kill the postal system. 
3.  Package traffic is growing.  To starve the USPS, limit package revenues at home and abroad.
4.  eBay gives 1st Class Service away to China, doesn't help Americans.
5.  What does it cost you or me to send a package to China?
6.  The eBay traffic from China -- entire items for less than we pay for postage alone.
7.  Under a dollar and free shipping too. What can we possibly earn from this?  (eBay gets the auction-related fees.)
8.  100 million Chinese items sold annually on eBay, over a million under  dollar,
                 about 90% under a dollar are free shipment, even more free ship at higher prices. 
9.   Summary: The eBay Burden on an Undefended Postal System (ours).
10. Summary: Positive Suggestions to Help Everybody
11. Civic society -- a country is its people.




(return to top, Really, forget the idiots & just get on with your own life)
 

   DOMESTIC
    -
    First Class LETTERS          
  
FLATS (manila envelopes)   
   SMALL PKGs & padded envs  
FOREIGN .  .  .  .
-
INT'L   Letters

INT'L   Flats  
INT'L   Pkgs
Postcards  
BIG
Domestic     PRIORITY boxes                                
International  PRIORITY                          

ExpressMail $$$     
MediaMail    BOOKS                                 
Stnd Post (formerly PARCEL POST)    
Money Orders         



home for this Website


   McLean, VA Post Office

Vacation over.
Back to reality and 35 lbs of mail.
Maybe next time ask if they offer a shredder option.  


Revised  29Jan2011 enlarged clarity; and  no online purchases anymore 3Mar2011;
15Feb11 bad env penalty still 20 cents ; 17Apr11 rate change; 10Jun11 Flats3oz-vs-1stClass
24Oct2011 70lb limits, on-line access thru PayPal  25OctPkgs; gold. weight; 2Nov links to Parcel Post
23,24Jan2012: Everything.  6Feb12
Jan2013 remove BMC & AFS text to separate pages.
10Feb2013 Oh my goodness, all the internal links were broken!   :-(   Fix. 
30Jan2014: update 1st class, flats, small parcels, Priority envs+boxes, Media Mail, spelling but don't have online prices for Priority
8FebPM tabular internal links, only ParcelPost not revised (note added);ChinaRipOff not written.
BIG APRIL-MAY 2016 REVISION
30April2016--the big 10Apr16 "roll-back" + 17Jan16 minor changes; 9May2016 parcel post a and cost charts.
13May2016 eBay negotiates ChinaPost-USPS deal for Chinese eBay sellers but not Americans. 
16May2016--Remove full postal regulations page, just link to it.  Restore silly birth control regulation before anyone gets in trouble over it.