I don't normally like to swear, but after today's experience with the USPS, I must vent! Two post offices, two boxes and some tears later, I finally have my package shipped off to Australia (late, I might add, for a birthday party, but that is another story)...
First post office, this morning at 9:30am - I took my two presents in, took them to the counter and asked if I should use the Flat Rate Priority International Box. That would be $39, but it turns out that I could ship my stuff for $20. So I skipped the Flat Rate Priority International box and went with the regular Priority box (free). I showed the lady behind the counter the box I was going to use, and asked if this was the right one. She nods Yes. After filling out all the forms, I take it back to the counter, only to be told that, no, the box I had was not the right box and would not cost $20. For some reason, this completely upset me - probably because I had just wasted a good box. I leave.
Second post office, about 11:30am - I take my Priority box, with the presents inside, into the post office. They have a large selection of regular boxes, so I open the Priority box and transfer the presents to a new Ready Pack box (cost $2.69). I fill out the mailing label and take it to the counter. This postal employee informs me that I could have left my stuff in the Priority box, because, and catch this, if I buy the Ready Pack box and the tape, it would cost as much as sending it Priority. So I take my stuff out of the new Ready Pack box, and put it back in the Priority box, use their tape behind the counter (you can do that if it is Express or Priority, since it has that printed on the tape) and fill out a different customs form (oh, they changed that too.)
While finally mailing the package, I think I asked enough questions to figure out the program. I offer some tricks to mailing through the USPS:
1. If you bring your own box, you can mail an international package Airmail which takes about 10 business days. Better to go with a large padded envelope if you can, it probably saves some money. This was my $20 option.
2. If you don't bring your own box, and your items are relatively light weight, choose the Priority box - it will be cheaper than buying a box and tape at the post office. Also, it will get to the recipient faster. This was my $31 option.
3. If you have a pretty heavy package, up to 20 pounds, go for the Flat Rate box, which will cost you $39.
Hope this can help someone else have a less frustrating experience at the post office!