I just read the wonderful and detailed description of USPS shops in the Mystery Shopper Magazine. Vlade did a fantastic job of describing these shops. Anyone who is wondering about these shops should review the article.
I have one caveat though. The mailing costs in my part of the country vary from what Vlade reported so be careful to check on the post office site and input your package weight and destination to find out what your cost will be.
I did only one A and one B shop before moving on to C shops which I do regularly now but in the case of both of these I was not able to mail very far and stay within the reimbursement. For instance, I could only mail within the reimbursement about 50 miles which was still in zone 1 for me. Mailing to zones 2,3 and 4 which are allowed would have put me out of pocket on the shop. It is very easy to check your prices on the post office website.
Possibly there is more than one msc doing post office shops so perhaps that is the difference.
Yeah, my problem is destination. All the people I 'mail' to are not in the zones they want so I believe it's the C one I finally did because it let me ship to someone. I don't really know the philosophy behind the shop or why they restrict the zones, but I'm sure they have good reasons for it.
Rates are the same everywhere in the US, and are based upon distance => zone and weight. The reimbursement will pay for the required Scenario A and B service up to a total weight of 1 lb 15 ounces (technically 2 lbs and 0 ounces, but that is playing with fire) sent to Zones 1 through 4, inclusive (and you are required to ship a package weighing 1 lb 2 ounces or more). If you ship to a higher zone, then you are getting a discount. Scenario C requires shipping a package to Zone 5 or higher and the package has to meet the required minimum weight and weight less than 5 lbs because the intent is to trigger Dimensional Weight shipping surcharges. If you send more than 5 pounds, it will be an expensive lesson (I learned my lesson). Also, size matter. Stay below 13" in any dimension for Scenario A and B. For Scenario C, only 4 specific box sizes are permitted, and the key with them is that one dimension is 14 inches or more (it get a little more complicated than that, but you can always check on the USPS website). In my area, I am always required to ship to a specific food bank for Scenario C. Some shoppers have reported that in their areas, they are allowed to ship to anyone as long as the zone requirements are met.
Shopping Southeast Pennsylvania, Delaware above the canal, and southwestern NJ since 2008
When I was traveling in California, I did several Scenario C shops and shipped a bunch of stuff home in advance so I wouldn't have so much to mess with at the airport, let alone way heavy luggage. Love those shops!
I could do C ones all day as I have a condo in Florida I need to send a lot too but I have never been able to because it's always been food pantry required. I have asked before too. I might ask again because I have a lot I need to send now. Meanwhile I send small stuff on the A and B shops. It's out of zone reimbursement but it's a great discount and I still make money with the fee.
Yes, you can check the postage before you go. Be careful about getting an accurate weight, or more accurately the weight the PO scale will show. [postcalc.usps.gov]. I have a digital scale at home and keep them one or two ounces off the minimum or maximum weights to be sure.
As for the philosophy of the "C" shops, it is simple. They are designed to see if the clerk measures the box correctly to trigger the Dimensional Weight surcharge. The box sizes are at the bottom edge of the range to better test the clerk's willingness to get out the tape measure and check. As for the destination, they have been going to food banks as long as I remember, I guess it is an altruistic thing that started and kept going over the years.
Happily shopping Rhode Island and nearby Massachusetts and Connecticut
I use the USPS shops to do order fulfillment for a cookbook I've published. The museums that sell it think it's wonderful that I include shipping by Priority Mail in the cost. Six to eight books are generally covered by the reimbursement. One museum orders 25 at a time. That ends up eating into the fee, but it's still worth it to me as it does basically give me free shipping.
Have PV-500 & willing to travel.
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