Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Please Mr. Postman, part II: "Deliver the letter, the sooner the better"

“How much is it going to cost to mail my invitations?”

That’s a question I often was asked when I designed and sold invitations. I always said, “there’s no way to know until you take a full invitation, complete with all inserts, to be weighed at the post office.” Unless you’re sending one folded piece of paper in a standard business (#10) envelope, determining the postage required for a mailing may be more of an art than a science. You’ve got to be persistent sometimes to get the “right answer” that will make sure your invitations reach their intended recipients in a timely manner.

One of my Purple Raincoat clients wanted to order personalized postage stamps for her daughter’s bat mitzvah invitations, so she took a “fully loaded” invitation to the local post office to find out how much postage was needed. The invitation fit into a standard invitation envelope but included several layers and multiple folds; the invitation also included a ribbon tied into a bow. The post office has different postage requirements for mail depending on its size, shape, thickness, and what is enclosed. My client was told that her invitation was “borderline,” meaning that it could qualify for one of two different postage requirements. A recommendation was made to go with the lower amount of postage and personalized stamps were ordered.

The invitations were mailed using the rate recommended by the post office. But a number of them were returned to the sender for “insufficient postage,” which meant considerable extra work for my client. Eventually, she negotiated a “compromise” with the post office – she added extra postage to mail going out of town, but the post office agreed to deliver the in-town invitations at no additional charge. That’s stress that no one needs during the preparation for any special occasion. All’s well that ends well, of course, and everyone told my client how much they loved the invitations, which were really beautiful. And she can laugh about it now. But it wasn’t much fun at the time.

Lessons learned:

When in doubt, use the highest amount of postage recommended by your post office.

• Be aware that unusual shapes – even squares – usually require “extra” postage. But don’t let that stop you from ordering the invitation you have your heart set on – the cost of postage is literally “a drop in the bucket” of your event costs, and there are other ways to save money if you’re watching your pennies.

• Also, remember that not all post offices are created equal, so you might want to get a second opinion if your invitation is diagnosed as “borderline” postage. Many people have had poor experiences with customer service at our local post office, so we choose to visit the post office in a neighboring town. To make absolutely certain you’re getting the right price, it may be smart to get estimates from more than one post office.

If you’re working this hard on your invitations, or you receive one with personalized postage, you’ll want to be sure the design is preserved and showcased in a Purple Raincoat collage. It’s the perfect answer to the question, “what would be a good gift?” because it is completely personal and can be ordered at a variety of price points. Consider this your invitation to visit our galleries of bar/bat mitzvah invitation keepsakes, wedding and anniversary keepsakes, and special event keepsakes. No postage required!

No comments: