This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 18, 2006 7:01 PM. The previous post in this blog was It's not all tinsel and candy canes, people. The next post in this blog is Welcome to Buck-a-Hit Day, e-Hat, and Comment Contest. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Monday, December 18, 2006

This modern world

Just as I was steeling myself for the annual run to the post office -- I was planning a midnight run to the airport branch, hoping that it's still open all night -- the doorbell rang. It was our Christmas parcel from Mom. "You want to take mine?" I asked the mail carrier, wistfully, pointing to the carton I had just finished packing and addressing. It was a seasonal guy, whom I had never seen around before. "Does it have the postage on it?" he replied. "If you used Click-N-Ship, I can take it."

Alas, I hadn't. But that didn't mean I couldn't. I have a little postage scale that weighs up to five pounds. Sure enough, my one and only package to be mailed this year weighed only 4.75 pounds. And so onward onto the Postal Service website I went, clicking and typing away until my printer spit out a label that I taped onto the box. Postage paid, delivery confirmation, $12.80. Cool.

But now what? There was a button you could click to have your regular mail carrier pick the package up when he or she delivers your mail, but we had already received our mail for today, and given that the shipping days 'til Christmas are running out, I resigned myself to having to drive down to the P.O. to drop the thing off. So I threw on some clothes and hopped in the car, bound for the local branch.

Just as I stopped at the stop sign on our corner, our regular mail carrier pulled up on the next block. I pulled over, rolled down the window, and asked him if he could "take a Click-N-Ship." Sure, he said with a smile. This guy is a great one for customer service. Last week he walked a full city block to the bus stop where he noticed that I was standing, to get my signature on a receipt, so that he could leave us a package on the first try.

"You don't want to get anywhere near a post office this time of year," he observed today as he ran a scanner over one of the bar codes on my newly printed label. "Heck, I wouldn't go there myself if I didn't have to." The scanner reported that the box was officially being accepted "in the system," and so I bid it, and my helpful carrier, goodbye.

Now that the box is gone, I'm not completely angst-free about the whole experience. I've never tried this process before, and the week before Christmas is no time for an experiment with this sort of thing. But hey, it got me out of that post office line, and that's worth the risk.

It freed up time for another trip I needed to take -- back to the mall.

Comments (8)

Our carrier is one of the nice ones, too. I've had some problems with click 'n ship, but on the whole it's pretty convenient. Another option I used this morning: the little store in the Uptown Shopping Center (I guess you can't really call it a package store; that term is taken) that will box, label and ship for you, for a small fee.

Go to the main post office on NW Hoyt, I just walk over. 24/7 in the lobby there is a self-serve parcel center. It has a scale, and a postage label maker and can accept cash or credit/debit cards. Beside it is a oversized mailbox.

Jack, how did you pay for the shipping; I'm confused as to where to pay??

To the right of the scale there is an area with a credit card swiper and a device that can accept coins and paper money. Below this there is a device that prints out your self-adhesive postage sticker. This sticker has a bar code for the destination zip code,source, weight, etc. You affix the sticker to your package or envelope and drop the parcel into the adjacent mailbox.

All of these functions are controlled by a touch screen that is behind the scale area. The screen displays all of the possible postage options for your package including cost and approximate days to deliver the package.

Will not fail her
Can send a book
By Norman Mailer

Place it on the
Stainless scaler
Santa glows for
Lack of failure

On line, you have to set up an account with the Post Office in order to pay for postage electronically. It takes a while, but presumably you have to register only once.

The USPS is actually on the ball this holiday, for the most part. I wish I could say the same thing about UPS, which has neglected for three days now to pickup my scheduled pickup at the office, forcing me to go down to Mail Box's Etc to drop it off instead. The UPS guy even came to the office today to drop off some packages, neglected to grab it.

Sounds like Big Brown is living up to its name -- I believe b!X had some problems with it as well recently.

There's also a self-serve package mailing setup at the post office on SE 7th just south of Belmont, fyi.

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