Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Is this Great or What? The post office launches a new rate calculator service.

Are you pondering?I mean, really, how many times have you pondered the post office's intricate postage rate charts to try to ascertain which class of mail would be best?

A dozen? Two dozen?

And how many times have you given up in distress and frustration, trapped between automation and non-auto rates, zone charts, piece-and-pound calculations, advertising vs editorial copy ratios, and other incomprehensible mumbo jumbo?

A dozen? Two dozen?

Mmhmm. I betcha it's more. A lot more.

Well, the post office feels your pain. And in an effort that's both noble and generous (and maybe just a tad self-serving) to help ease your distress, the USPS has come up with a neat little electronic gizmo to help you calculate your optimal postage rate.

If enough of us use this new tool, it could relieve the stress of certain customer service postal workers I've talked to. When I couldn't find the answers I needed recently, I called them. These poor souls fumbled through the same charts that had me foiled, but then it got worse. Much worse. They started reading the postal fine print. (Note to my Dear Reader: Never ever read postal fine print. It will drive you mad. Stark, raving mad!) Anyway, confusion gave way to obfuscation. But they labored valiantly onward, fighting their way through the regulations for 5 or 10 minutes until they arrived at an answer. Not THE answer, perhaps, but an answer none the same.

Stressed?The journey was exhausting. For both of us. I was so relieved the search was over, I'd have accepted any answer short of my 401K balance. I tell you, there's got to be a special place in heaven for these folks who have to do this all day long.

Anyway, the Business Calculator on the Postal Explorer website lets you calculate prices for all shapes and classes of mail, both domestic and international. Simply go to pe.usps.com and then click on the Business Calculator in the upper left.

Not sure what's what? Need a dictionary to understand the inside-the-post office lingo? The site provides a navigation tool to give you definitions and links to other references. (Warning: This "easy to access" information varies from easy to not-so-much. Approach with caution.)

Not sure what you need? Calculate several rates and classes and compare the results. Simply hit the "Show History" button to have all the calculations you've just made shown in a nifty side-by-side format for easy scanning.

Not sure where the nearest post office is? Keep clicking. You'll find its street address. You'll even find its hours of operation.

Early RetirementSo there you have it. Automation may force yet another group of postal workers into an early, well-deserved retirement. But the stress migraines we communally got from trying to ascertain the best postage rates should be a thing of the past.

And is that great or what!

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