The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Start thinking about Christmas

Janie Boschma

Christmas is coming. Is your mail ready?

Senior Jessie Martens, a Service Center supervisor, said Christmas is when they experience one of the two biggest mail rushes of the year. A fourth-year Service Center employee, Martens said she would be happy to answer any questions students have when mailing out a pile of Christmas cards or a package.

“I pretty much see anything and everything people want to send,” she said.

Since it is often busy at the Service Center desk in Davies, Martens said it would be best for students to ask questions beforehand, and then come in with the package ready.

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For a standard-sized letter or card, one stamp is usually all you need. Postage stamps within the United States costs 41 cents and international postage costs 69 cents and up.

Service Center Ticket Coordinator Julie Carr said the Service Center does not handle any international packages and can only send cards internationally that weigh one ounce or less.

“Within the U.S., we can do pretty much anything,” Martens said.

Stamps are available individually, in books and in rolls – any quantity up to 100, Martens said.

Martens and Carr said the Service Center has already ordered holiday stamps and expect them to arrive at least three weeks before Christmas.

The post office picks up mail from the Service Center at 4 p.m. every day, Martens said.

If you need to send a package overseas, there are four post offices in Eau Claire. The closest one to campus is at 126 N. Barstow St.

George Esser, the customer service supervisor at the Barstow Street post office, said there have been several changes in international shipping in the last year.

All mail weighing more than 13 ounces must be dropped off inside the post office, which Esser said is an additional post-9/11, security measure. He said individuals should also bring any international mail inside the office.

Students may also notice they can no longer send mail via boat at a lower rate than airmail, Esser said. The post office now delivers all international mail via first-class air.

Also, the United States Postal Service now requires return addresses on all mail, Esser said. Customs forms are also required on all international packages.

The USPS carries free flat rate envelopes and boxes. As long as the envelopes and boxes are closed and do not bulge, postage within the United States costs $4.60 for a flat rate envelope and $8.95 for a box, regardless of weight.

Though it depends on the country, Esser said flat rate boxes to most international countries cost $37. To Mexico and Canada, shipping costs with flat rate boxes are $23. Flat rate boxes are available in 11″ x 8.5″ x 5.5″ and 13.625″ x 11.875″ x 3.375″ dimension, according to the USPS Web site. The boxes themselves are free and are available at any post office, as well as at the Service Center. The USPS limits the contents of international flat rate boxes to 20 pounds, according to their Web site.

Shipping flat rate envelopes costs $9 to Canada and Mexico, and $11 to all other countries. The contents of an international flat rate envelope cannot weigh more than 4 pounds.

Since delivering mail to overseas countries is time consuming, especially to troops in Iraq and other areas in the Middle East, Esser said it is important to mail those packages by Nov. 18.

“The best thing they can do is mail early,” he said. “I can’t stress enough they need to be mailed as soon as possible to get there on time.”

Esser recommended sending packages to Mexico and Canada sometime in the beginning to middle of December.

Carr said students can use their own boxes for packages, though using a flat rate box ensures they do not pay extra costs for having an oversize box.

The Service Center also works with United Parcel Service. Carr said students must provide their own box if they want to send a package through UPS. She said the cost for sending packages through the USPS and UPS is fairly similar.

Carr said if you are reusing a box, be sure to cross out any old addresses, markings or barcodes.

If students wrap packages in brown paper, Carr said they should tape all corners and edges to prevent ripping.

“Paper gets torn really easily in transport,” she said.

Martens suggested placing wrapped gifts within another box to make sure the wrapping doesn’t tear.

Carr said packing items within the box is crucial, especially if they are breakable.

“Even if you put ‘fragile’ on the box, things get thrown around.”

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