First Class or Bulk Mail?

Bulk Mail

I overheard a conversation yesterday where a non-profit staff member was directed to send a large mailing “First Class” instead of “Bulk Mail” because bulk mail was too slow. That instruction pointed out a misconception about how the post office handles mail, and suggested that there may be all kinds of misconceptions out there. Before I dispel this particular myth, I’d like to say that rules and regulations for mailing are complex and I would never try to cover all of it in one little blog post. If you regularly do mailings, whether bulk (formerly called 3rd class, and currently called “standard”) or first class, get in touch with the mailing experts at Reno Type. We can almost certainly save you time, money, or both!

We have mailed literally millions of pieces of mail, first class, standard, media, flats… you name it. Without exception, we send a “seed” to ourselves so we can see how long the mailing takes to get to get delivered. So this information is not only “theoretically” accurate, it has been tested again and again and has been proven to be true.

For any mail that does not get on an airplane, “Bulk Mail” takes exactly the same amount of time to arrive at its destination as does First Class. In fact, bulk mail is frequently FASTER. How can this be?

The post office does not have two systems, one for Bulk and one for First Class. Every piece of mail goes through the same basic process. Separating it would actually by MORE work for them. And because Bulk Mail has been pre-sorted, is usually bar-coded and is almost always “automation compliant,” the the most time consuming steps in the postal process are either bypassed, or sped up! Bulk Mail is not really a “class below” First Class mail… rather it is a discount offered because the mailer does a lot of the postal work in advance.

At times of high mail volume (usually the two weeks before Christmas), there may be an issue. First Class mail goes on planes before Bulk Mail does, and IF the plane is full, Bulk Mail will have to wait for the next plane. But I have never seen this happen to any mailing we have done. Mostly because our mailings are largely local and never get near anything with wings.

Whether First Class or Bulk Mail, if the delivery point is within the local area, your letter or postcard will most likely arrive the next business day.

If you have found that not to be the case, look not at the post office, but at your mailing service. Once your database and postcards or letters are in their hands, they have some work to do. CASS certification, sorting, addressing, barcoding, traying and delivery to the post office. Now they SHOULD be able to do all this much faster than you could hand address or affix labels and put stamps on, but “should” and “are” are not the same things. Dropping blank envelopes off at you rail provider and putting addressed stamped mail in a mail-box are not the same thing. If your mail provider sits on the project for 3 days… well, your Bulk Mail will indeed be slower than First Class.

For the record, Reno Type NEVER sits on project. We figure the sooner we do it, the happier our clients are and the sooner we get paid. So if it is physically possible to get your job in the mail the same day you bring it to us, we will!

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