Totally Frenched Out

From the blogger formerly known as Samdebretagne

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Post office

While we were back in the US, I tasked myself with getting all of our thank-you cards done. It was a huge amount of work, but we finally finished and then headed over to the post office to mail them out.  The mail lady weighed all of our envelopes, including several that were set to go abroad, and told us our total.  I could not believe it how little it had come to, and asked her to double check.

We started talking about the prices of stamps to various destinations, and it turned out it was cheaper for me to mail letters from Minnesota to the UK than from France to the UK. It was also cheaper for me to mail letters from the US to France, than from France to France!  France is the size of Texas people - how is that even possible?

Oh wait, that's right, it's because La Poste has to fund all of the benefits their employees get.  And conversely, the United States Postal Service is not allowed to make a profit.

It just so happens that the day of our visit was also the day the USPS announced that they were going to close hundreds of post offices nation-wide, eliminate Saturday deliveries and get rid of next-day shipping. They "can't" raise prices because of the effect it would have nation-wide on deliveries and thus increased costs to the consumer (a big no-no during difficult economic times), so they are forced to cut services instead.

Apparently several people had come in to complain, so they had put up a sign talking about how first-class postal rates vary around the world:
And there's the US down at the bottom.  But holy cow Norway  - $1.22 for a first class letter?! 

The weights allowed for a first class letter also differed.  I wanted to include some pictures in some of the envelopes, and in the US ones, we could add in several photos and not go over the weight. However in France, if we put more than the card + one picture, it required an additional stamp.  So my advice to all the complainers in the US is to sit down & stop your whingeing - compared to the rest of the world, we've got it quite good.  It's still reasonable to mail a letter cross-country, you rarely have to worry about letters getting lost in the mail (*ahem* La Poste!!) and most postmen still make an effort to deliver your packages.



Blogger Crystal said...

Thats really interesting Sam! And I saw this first hand last week when I went to a Canadian post office and asked to mail off some postcards to France ("Hi Max! Having an awesome time in Canada! Hope the pets aren't being a pain in the ass for you!"). When the post lady told me the price to mail them, I was like "ummm no, check that again" In France, I would have had my chequebook out, and in Canada I was rooting around for lost change in my pocket to pay :)

January 17, 2012 at 3:43 PM  
Blogger Gwan said...

I'm probably wrong since all my information comes from the internet and tv and stuff, but it seems like *everything* is cheaper in the US... (Except healthcare)

January 17, 2012 at 8:56 PM  
Blogger Ksam said...

I'd add wine in there too Gwan. ;)

And Crystal - that's funny that you had the exact same experience except in Canada. Methinks we have been in France for too long my dear!!

January 17, 2012 at 10:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Being Canadian, I had to check the price of a first class letter, because that 45¢ listed there for Canada seemed wrong. And it was. The current rate is actually 61¢. (And the Canadian and American dollars are very close in value right now.) So I wonder how accurate some of those other countries' rates were. Was this perhaps a slight exaggeration by the USPS to gain a little sympathy?

January 18, 2012 at 2:57 AM  
Blogger Michele said...

I have to agree that we should think twice here in the US. We are very lucky and I've been horrified lately to hear of Americans wanting to shut down USPS entirely. I think that would be a total shame and a complete disaster.

And I can definitely agree that we are very lucky to have the USPS and not La Poste and their less than stellar "service."

January 18, 2012 at 7:36 AM  
Blogger Ksam said...

Pinklea - I think she said the poster came from something they put together after the last price hike. And when I looked closer at the photo, it looks like it may reference the 2009 exchange rate. Was the Canadian dollar maybe a lot different back then?

January 18, 2012 at 8:35 AM  
Blogger melinda said...

on the other hand when i mailed a pretty small & not too heavy box from US to France recently via dhl it was $200 (and got detoured to the Bahamas before finally getting to Paris)....thats not cheap

January 18, 2012 at 3:05 PM  
Blogger Ksam said...

Melinda, just curious, did you ever see how much the post office would have charged? DHL, UPS & Fedex are all private companies and they charge exorbitant amounts to ship overseas. My company uses Fedex & UPS and it's always a minimum of $100 per shipment, even if we're sending a tiny little thing!

January 18, 2012 at 3:19 PM  
Blogger melinda said...

PO would have been cheaper but u couldnt track it once it left the US, and, in this case, I wanted to be able to keep track of it

January 19, 2012 at 12:13 PM  

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