Got packages to mail? Don’t wait to long

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 11, 1999

ERIK SANZENBACH / L’Observateur / December 11, 1999

LAPLACE – So, you’ve got all your Christmas shopping done. You bought thatPokmon doll for your niece in Bangor, Maine, and you finally found the perfect shawl for your favorite aunt in Flagstaff, Ariz.

You’re feeling good, proud of yourself, right? Well, think again.

You still have to mail the gifts to the far reaches of the United States, and you have to do it so that the gifts don’t get damaged in transit. And youwant to make sure they get there on time, and to do it as cheaply as possible, because you’ve spent most of your money on all those gifts you’re sending out.

Frank Fagot, owner of Allied Express Postal Center on Carrollwood Avenue in LaPlace, has several suggestions for mailing out Christmas packages.

“First of all,” he says, “people have to realize that shipping costs are determined not only by the weight, but by the size of the box. Anythingover 130 inches in length and girth will cost more.”However, Fagot says it will cost you less to ship one large box to one destination than to ship several smaller packages to the same location.

Packing items is very important. Even though carriers like UPS, FederalExpress and the United States Postal Service try to handle your packages as carefully as they can, remember that during this time of the year each of these carriers is handling millions of packages every day, and they are under extreme time pressure.

The result is that your package is going to be tossed, thrown, bumped, jostled, bounced and carried on four to five different vehicles on its journey. Also, packages go through conveyor belts and all sorts of sortingmachinery. So pack with care.Here are some packing tips from Allied Express and the United States Postal Service: Use a new strong box that will withstand the trip.

Do not wrap the box in brown paper. Nine times out of 10, this paper getsripped off the box when it goes through sorting machinery and on conveyor belts. If you have written the address on the paper, it too will bedestroyed, and the package will never get to its intended destination.

When packing fragile items like glass, allow ample room between items to prevent breakage. Allow 3 to 4 inches of fill between items. Useshredded newspaper, bubble wrap or styrofoam peanuts as fill.

Do not use string to wrap the package. String can get caught in conveyorsystem and destroy the box. Use packing tape, pressure-sensitive tape ornylon-reinforced tape instead.

When mailing framed photographs or paintings, remove the glass and wrap it separately.

Remove batteries from toys and wrap them separately.

Finally, Fagot has one last piece of advice before mailing off the package.

“To make sure the box is packed properly,” advises Fagot, ” drop it from about 3 feet. If nothing breaks, it is properly packed.”Fagot says a lot of people lose their packages because of incorrect mailing addresses.

“The address must include a name and a complete address that contains streets, avenues, boulevards, etc.” says Fagot, “and don’t forget apartmentand suite numbers and the correct zip code, even if you aren’t using the U.S. Postal Service.”Also, Fagot says that unless you are using the U.S.P.S. do not put a postoffice box on the address. Only the U.S.P.S. delivers to post office boxes.Fagot also suggests that you put a phone number on the address, just in case there are problems with delivery, and don’t forget the return address.

For the cheapest rates, Fagot suggests you send out all your Christmas mailings before Dec. 16. The post office suggests that all overseas andmilitary packages be sent immediately.

However, if you miss these deadlines, do not fret. Everybody, including thepost office, has overnight delivery. Of course, it will cost more, but thegifts will arrive on time.

To avoid long lines at the post office, use one of the other carriers or else a company like Allied Express which will pack and send out your gift by whatever carrier you wish to use.

If you still want to use the post office don’t stand in line to get stamps.

Postage can now be purchased by phone, (1-800-STAMP-24), by mail or by using Stamps Online by going to The post office also says they will be open Christmas Eve to send out those last-minute packages.

If, (and we hope you get a lot), you get a gift in the mail, Fagot wants to remind everybody that Allied Express is the official styrofoam peanuts recycling center of the River Parishes. So instead of throwing out thosefoam peanuts that will only fly out of the back of a garbage truck and litter the road, bring them to Allied Express where they will be recycled in next year’s Christmas gifts.

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