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Jill Bachman waits at the post office last week for her turn to mail several Christmas packages.

Package delivery companies have deadlines for Christmas deliveries

Delivery services say deadlines begin as soon as this week to get packages and mail delivered by Christmas Day, and they advise customers to expect longer waits in line and to double-check that packages are correctly addressed.

Debbie Jean Fetterly, a regional spokesperson for the United States Postal Service, said customers using ground service need to mail first-class packages and first-class mail, including greeting cards, by Saturday to arrive by Dec. 24.

Items shipped priority mail need to be sent by Dec. 19, Fetterly said. She said priority mail express does not have to be shipped until Dec. 23. The Postal Service’s last day of delivery before Christmas Day will be Dec. 24.

Jason Santo, owner of The UPS Store in Athens, said packages shipped ground service needs to be sent by Dec. 19. He said packages can be shipped via air on Dec. 20 for three-day delivery, Dec. 21 for two-day, and Dec. 22 for next day. The last day UPS will deliver before Christmas is Dec. 24.

Fetterly suggested that customers using the post office go in the morning when lines are typically shorter. She said lines are longer around lunch time. Fetterly said many locations have a self-serve kiosk where with a debit or credit card you can do around 80% of the transactions you would do at the counter.

Fetterly said to check the destination address when sending mail and packages, but putting no zip code is better than the wrong one. She said customers should check cardboard boxes before sending them.

“If a customer chooses to reuse a box that maybe they received something in, … make sure that the box is sturdy,” Fetterly said. “If there’s any extraneous writing on the brown, cardboard box, please obliterate it so it doesn’t interfere with our machine’s reading and sorting it to its correct destination.”

Fetterly said to also pick a box that fits the size of the contents and avoid mailing small items in large boxes.

Suggestions for shipping

Santo said he has two pieces of advice for people mailing packages.

“Make sure you know where the recipient is living, and you manage your time wisely as far as mailing your packages … if you want them to get there before Christmas,” he said.

Although it costs extra, it is a good idea to require a signature from the recipient. This is the season when thieves follow trucks around. If something gets left at the doorstep and a thief comes around and takes it, the carrier’s not going to refund your shipping or pay out the value claim because they did deliver it. If you require a signature, then they can’t just leave it.

Santo said in the month of December, his store has about a 65% increase in packages.

“We’re averaging about 220 customers a day in the month of December,” he said. “Normally it’s about 130.”

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