Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Buying "bulk" is not always worth it...

My day, today, will be filled with the process of BULK mailing.   I bulk mail over 750 homeschool newsletters for our county-wide homeschool organization.  I address, sort, and sack them.  The post office recently removed everyone in our area's ability to bulk mail at our local post office.  I must now go to a bulk mailing site.

My first task in bulk mailing is to get the newsletters weighed.  This doesn't sound too hard but let me explain...When you mail a first class letter at the post office, your letter is weighed by ounces.  But when you mail by bulk, the paper work requires that you weigh the piece by pounds in decimal format.  Ounces (divided into 16 parts) do not easily convert to decimal pounds (divided into 10 parts).  The weight must be figured out to the ten thousandths place. To get this accurate of a weight, I must go to a local post office.  Sometimes the postal worker can figure this out and sometimes they look at me as if they wished I would disappear.  So after I pick up the newsletters at the printer, I must run to a post office and hopefully get an accurate piece weight.  (Last month the weight given to me was wrong.  All the sacking and bundling is dependent upon an accurate weight.) 

Then back home to figure out all the paperwork and the sacking.  There must be at least 15 pounds of newsletters in each sack (another amount to calculate).  Each sack must be labeled and sorted by zipcode.  Each sack must contain bundles of newsletters with four rubber bands holding each bundle.  Depending on weight the bundles must have a minimum of 10 or 15 pieces.  The bundles are sorted by either the first 3 digits of the zipcode with a "3" sticker or all 5 digits of the zipcode with a "5" sticker (or ADC or Mixed ADC which is so complicated I don't have enough room to explain.)  I must then figure out if the sacks should be labeled as 5 digit, 3 digit, ADC, or Mixed ADC.  Some 3 digit sacks can have both 5 digit and 3 digit bundles. All of this needs to be documented with paper work and exact counts.

If the newsletters are over 3.3 oz (that's over .2063 lb) there are four mathematical equations to reach a price for the 5 digit sacks.  Then four more mathematical equations to reach a price for the 3 digit sacks...and four more for the ADC and four more for the Mixed ADC.  Then you have to add them all up to get the final price.  You must also know what kind of bulk mailing site you are mailing from.  There are three different prices for each sack depending on your site.  One mistake and you have to do all your paperwork over again.

On top of everything, the post office can take apart all of your sacks and double check everything.  Last month I had only two rubber bands on the newsletter bundles and was asked to take everything apart and put four on each bundle. I get so nervous when I have to go to the mailing site.  I never know if it will go easy or if it will be a disaster. 


  1. My head is spinning!!!
    I'm thinking that I would not have the patience for all of that and this might be what the post office is intending. Less lower cost shipping.

  2. What?! I'm not sure I could bear to go through this every month, but I sure am glad that you are because I really like my SCRAWLS.