There are three key elements to keep in mind when sending a DVD to another member: Cost; Protection; Speed.
To minimise postage costs it’s important to keep both the size and weight of the package within letter rate constraints. Two discs, with artwork and enclosures, can usually be sent letter rate if not also sending the jewel case. Three discs make it a large letter. Be aware that both weight and size affect which postal band a package falls into. Three DVDs, even three separate DVDs each with its own artwork, would not normally be enough to push the total weight over the 100 gram limit. However, the size would. Letters need to be no more than 5mm thick nor longer than 240mm.
First or Second class post? Generally speaking, we recommend second class, just because it’s marginally cheaper and it’s hard to conceive of a situation where the arrival of a DVD the next day would be a life-or-death issue. (And if it was, we suspect this way of obtaining it wouldn’t be entertained!) However, there might be circumstances where it’s appropriate to spend a few extra pennies upgrading to first class – for example, if there’s been a delay in sending the DVD out for some reason.
Recorded delivery? Sending an item recorded delivery pushes up the cost dramatically as a percentage. It costs an extra £1.10, which in many cases is more than the resale value of the actual disc you’re sending. Also, the recipient needs to be around to sign for it when it’s delivered. If they’re not – and remember that most items will be delivered during the day to residential addresses, so there’s a fairly high probability that they won’t be – then they’ll need to make a special trip to their local sorting office to pick it up. What should have been a quick and easy transaction has become somewhat tiresome. So no, we wouldn’t recommend adding this additional layer under normal circumstances.
Proof of Posting? Most of us have a post box within a short distance. Or we can post it from where we work. Whilst proof of posting is free, it entails a visit to a Post Office which is time consuming. So unless you are going anyway it’s not something we’d recommend, nor is it even necessary in most cases.
What if the DVD doesn’t arrive? It happens. Though in our experience infrequently. Of very many DVDs we’ve sent out only four have disappeared never to be heard of again. We’re of the opinion that this small risk is worth taking, compared to the cost – in time and money – of the strategies that might reduce it.
So to sum up, in most cases DVDs should be sent by standard second class letter rate post. Just pack it up and pop an ordinary second class stamp on it (currently, 54p).
Whilst some might initially think of them as fragile, DVDs – and similar discs – are surprisingly resilient. Have you ever tried actually snapping or even bending one? The cost and weight of any material that could protect it in transit more than the material the disc itself is made of would be prohibitive, nor is it really necessary in our opinion.
What does need protecting is the playing surface, from scratches or similar damage. Promotional discs usually come in a cardboard slip case which in most cases is sufficient. For other discs, a simple plastic cover is available which is cheap, lightweight and offers good protection in normal circumstances.
Non-promotional DVDs will usually be accompanied by artwork – the just under A4 sized insert which in most cases is easily removed from the jewel case. Carefully folded down what would be the edge between the spine and the back cover it’s just under A5, so within the letter size constraints, and the crease won’t be noticeable when it’s reinserted into a jewel case by the recipient. Pieces of card or similar placed either side of the artwork, and any additional inserts, will help protect from creasing during transit.
Although it’s not necessary from a ‘protection’ point of view, we like to include a single sheet of card in promo disc packages too. It ensures the packaging is kept at its maximum size, so a little harder to overlook or mislay. It just ‘looks’ neater too. 🙂
An almost counter-intuitive option, if you’re planning on just using this facility once or twice, is to send a DVD that is in a jewel case in its jewel case. It makes it a large letter but in many cases the weight is still less than 100 grams, so it costs £0.74p instead of £0.54p. (The next band up, which most double discs and some single discs fall into, is £1.19.) Yes it’s more expensive, but may not cost as much as getting the materials needed to post it without its jewel case. The case alone will provide suitable protection, so the only addition needed is a mailing bag to pop it in. And as you’ve already moved into the large letter bracket, this can be a reused jiffy bag, a reasonably tough envelope, brown paper packaging tied up with string, or whatever else suitable is to hand.
Is this enough to protect against damage? In most cases, yes. Of many DVDs sent out, we’ve only seen one example where this method of packing didn’t provide adequate protection. And as the packet was returned to us very chewed up without the actual contents, who knows? The disc itself may have survived unscathed. It just didn’t reach its destination.
Speed is something we can’t really help with, other than offering a few words of guidance to manage expectation.
Think of this one from the recipient’s point of view. It’s probably fair to say that if you decided at 2am to choose a DVD you wanted, you wouldn’t expect it to be handed to you at the breakfast table the following morning. In fact, it would be reasonable to assume that many people wouldn’t get to see a message telling them a DVD needs to be sent till the following evening. Which means that even if they were able to act on the information straight away it wouldn’t be posted until the day after. And the Royal Mail‘s target is to deliver second class post within two to three days. Which means in most cases a weekend is going to be in there somewhere, which probably adds another day or two to the total time.
So a reasonable expectation would be about a week. More than a couple of days beyond that, and your recipient is going to start to think there may be a problem.
If, for whatever reason, you’re unable to send out a DVD within a couple of days of it being requested, let the recipient know to expect a slight delay. People can be very forgiving and accommodating, so long as they know what’s going on. If the delay is longer than a day or two, you might want to claw back some time by sending the item first class post. It is, after all, only a few pennies more.