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by Shawn Underwood

I run a small online vintage goods business. My business is CallMeCleverVintage on Etsy. I scour flea markets, estate sales and auctions and collect what my husband refers to as ‘junk.’ What does he know? Anyway, I take pictures of my so-called junk and list the photos on my website. Easy right? So far so good and even better when a customer buys a vintage item from me.I’ve had my troubles with the USPS but mostly due to my ineptitude with shipping estimates . . . I’ll go into that bit later. But today I feel like I scored a victory against THE MAN or USPS. The thing is, I actually really like the clerks at the Seahurst, WA PO. They’ve helped me many times when I’ve messed up my shipping calculations and I feel a bit guilty associating them with “THE MAN.”

But what if the customer wants the piece like, yesterday. This poses a problem because though I dearly want to help my new friend from NY, I have to rely on USPS to seal the deal. NY girl wants her metronome in two days at the latest. She is willing to pay top dollar for express shipping. I’m astounded at the amount of money she will spend for shipping but she is from NY so maybe it’s not too far-fetched and she does work for a television company so maybe they have lots of money. I don’t know. She is nice, I want to help her, and the metronome will certainly look good on the piano. She described the scene in which her new item will be playing the part of — metronome and it will sit on a piano. Naturally, I’m very excited for my vintage piece to have a bit part on a television show.CallMeCleverVintage shop owner has issue with USPS.

USPS guarantees she will receive her metronome within two days by noon at the latest. I have doubts. New York city has traffic. Lots of traffic. I hesitate to say this to my new friend for fear she will think I’m a lunatic. I mean how would it sound if I said, “there is a lot of traffic in NY, maybe you should just forget about the metronome.” I ship the package and send her the tracking number and hope for the best.

Two days later. Frantic text from NY friend. I proceed to shit myself, well not really but I feel like it. I feel very bad and new friend feels bad. She says she always does things at the last-minute and it’s probably her fault. I curse USPS for her and offer to run to my local PO to remedy matters.

I’m told that the package is in NY. Somewhere. Probably stuck in traffic. It is 1:30. Past the guaranteed deadline. I suggest to very friendly PO clerk that I would like my money back.

“Come back when you’ve verified the package is late.”

“But it is late, the customer says it’s not there.”

“You need to verify this with the tracking number and the delivery person has to type the arrival time into his computer. Come back later.” I will add the Seahurst clerk was also dismayed about the metronome not arriving on time to its new home. I’ve told her about the bit part that the metronome has in a television show.

I leave like a whipped dog. I’m mad but mostly I’m annoyed with myself for believing the GD package would arrive on time. I wanted it to arrive on time. I’m one of those people who likes to actually do what they say they are going to do. It’s a curse but I’ve managed to live with it thus far.

That was Friday. Today, Monday, things are good; in fact, I would say things are brilliant. New friend from NY texts me again.

“It arrived! I love it! As luck would have it, we have to bring the pianist back in for a few more photos and pick up shots in a few weeks. So I can shoot with the metronome the. :) ))”

I call out to Mr. Big and Mr. Small (my doggy car companions) and drive back to PO. I triumphantly show the friendly clerk at Seahurst, WA PO my tracking number and hand her my “postage guaranteed” receipt. She checks her computer.

SCORE!!! Shawn/NY customer 1 — THE MAN 0

The clerk printed out a check and signed a check right then! I thought I’d have to fill out at least three forms to receive my guaranteed postage money.

And because I know I can’t be the only one who makes continual shipping errors at my expense, here are a few tips I’ve learned from my mistakes.

  1. It’s not always cheaper to measure and weigh your package at home. Yes you may save the .75 tracking fee the PO charges you but is it worth it when you’ve accidentally overpaid in postage printed at home?
  2. Take large packages with correct zip to PO to be weighed and priced WITH ITEM AND PACKAGING prior to giving the customer the shipping price estimate. Too often, I’ve found that my package costs up to an additional $10.00 AFTER I’ve added packaging. Who knew shredded paper weighed so much? Sheesh.
  3. Let your customers know the date you shipped their item and send them the tracking information.4. Canada shipments cost as much as shipping to France or almost. Shipping to Australia is pricey mate! You will need to fill out a customs form, which is easier than it sounds. Really!

Twenty-five years of living in Burien gives Humorist Shawn Underwood much fodder for her writings.

Be aware though – in addition to being a comedy goddess – she is now the “Curator of Vintage Cool” as well: etsy.com/shop/CallMeClever[email protected].

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3 Responses to “B-TOWN UNDERCOVER: Etsy Store Owner vs USPS and THE MAN”
  1. Keith says:

    I find your sense of humor to be to my liking. I work for the POst Office, and I understand where you are coming from. The only thing I really have to comment on, is the GD reference. Really, even working for the Post Office, this was the only thing that really upset me from your entire posting. I don’t find the use of this reference was neccesary, and sure not funny.

  2. Cindylu says:

    Funny as hell as usual Ms. Underwood, I love your writing! Even when it makes me spit my wine on the computer screen. And really Keith? Swearing is THAT offensive. Shawn’s writing is her art and as such she does an eloquent job. Well written and well loved Shawn, thank you for the laughter!

  3. Oh dear. I seriously did not mean to offend anyone.

    Apologies Keith.

    And thank you Cindylu for the compliment. I’m kinda loving you 🙂


    Not always funny

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