How should I know? Once a mailing exceeds 500 pieces and a #10 Envelope, I am no longer privy to the tools and formulas used to calculate postage. Come rain, come wind, come sleet come hail, the official rules of the U.S. Postal Service will forever by cloaked in mystery. They will also be rewritten once a week.
Yesterday I received my weekly "Postal Bulletin" from Beverly Banks. Outlining (not fully explaining, just outlining) the latest changes in postal regulations, the PDF was 80 pages long.
There are people in my office who have been doing nothing but direct mail for twenty-five years. When I ask them how much a piece will cost to mail, they say, "There's only one way to be sure."
You have to hand craft an exact replica of the piece you wish to mail, drive it over to the Postal Requirements Office, show it to the crazy person behind the counter, and blindly accept whatever price he or she assigns to it. Then you have to like it. Or they shoot you.
"How will you be mailing this?" the woman behind the counter asks.
"You mean standard."
"Oh, that's right. Bulk is now standard."
"No, standard is now standard. We did away with bulk."
"So what is the equivalent of what was once bulk?"
"Then let's say I'm mailing it standard."
"Okay. Now are you mailing it because you want to, or because you have to?"
"It makes a difference?"
"Yes, Ma'am. That's how we determine the Perceived Weight of the piece."
"Well, it's for my client. So I guess I'm mailing it because I have to."
"Then there will be a three-cent drudge charge."
"I see. Then can I change my mind and mail it because I want to? Surely I can muster up some enthusiasm by the time this thing is printed."
"You can. You just have to fill out a Change of Intent Certificate and send a notarized copy to the branch that will be processing the mailing. I should warn you, though, that this can take six to eight weeks to be approved."
"But the piece needs to be delivered by the end of the month."
"You have a specific time frame? You should have said so. If that's the case, you can't mail it standard."
"But I thought standard mail delivered within three weeks, give or take."
"No. Standard mail only guarantees that the postage will be applied to the piece. It does not guarantee the piece will actually arrive at its destination. That's why it's so affordable."
"Oh. So then what if we go first-class, presort? What will that cost?"
"That depends. How much do you weigh?"
"How much do I weigh?"
"You are the one mailing the piece, correct?"
"Well, yeah, but I don't see ... I weigh 130 pounds, give or take."
"Ooh. You're just out of the range of compliance. If you could lose five pounds, it would save you 11 cents."
"If I could lose five pounds, I wouldn't be ... Fine. Let's say I'm weight compliant. Then what will it cost?"
"Twenty-seven cents per piece."
"Oh. That's great. Even if I can't drop the weight, we'll still be within budget."
"Hold on a minute, Ma'am. You didn't say your mailing had a budget ..."