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Topic: ARGH! APC stamp is NOT enough for blue box!

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Subject: ARGH! APC stamp is NOT enough for blue box!
Date Posted: 2/18/2010 12:13 PM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2005
Posts: 1,442
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I have a 3-lb package of books to mail, and attached an APC stamp plus two regular stamps.  Has enough postage. I tried to mail the package at work, but they brought it back to me saying that I had to bring it to a PO due to being over 13 oz.  I didn't try to argue.

Instead, I called the nearby post office and explained about the APC stamp and package weight and asked "Is it okay for me to drop this into a blue PO box?" 
PO worker: "No because it's over 13 oz." 
Me:  "Even though it has an APC stamp on it?
PO worker:  "Well no, we need to see it, being over 13 oz.  Also, what is the date on the stamp?"
Me:  "The date is 1/23/10"
PO worker:  "Ya, that's an old stamp, too.  You really need to bring it to a window."

So much for pre-purchasing APC stamps to avoid this problem!

Thanks for letting me vent.

Deb
 

Date Posted: 2/18/2010 12:18 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2007
Posts: 13,192
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I'm not sure about your work bringing it back to you. I've mailed mine from work numerous times and they've never come back ... as long as you have preprinted postage, that is.

I think in the direct interpretation of the rule, you can't have any stamps on it for it to be valid to mail over 13 oz without going to a window. Since you added postage, I think that might have nullified the preprinted postage. I'm not entirely sure but I'm thinkin ...

Also, I've heard a couple things on using older APC postage. Some do it on here regularly with no problems, others say you can't do it at all. I'm convinced it has to do with the leniency of the particular post office. All it takes to fix the problem is affix a .00 dollar sticky thing and you're good to go. I think some do that willingly for their customers who have dropped in the box and others do not.



Last Edited on: 2/18/10 12:19 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/18/2010 12:30 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2009
Posts: 1,083
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The problem may have been the two stamps you put on the package.  The rule for over 13 ounce has to do with stamps, not electronically printed postage.  I'm curious about your sending a package that weighs 3 pounds with APC postage.  My understanding is that you can't print APC postage for Media Mail.  Are you sending the 3 pound package first class?

Date Posted: 2/18/2010 12:35 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 9,852
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Your post office is wrong.

Your procedure is fine. The date on APC stamps is NOT a mailing date, it is a purchase date. The date on a APC stamp can be anything, it does NOT have to match an actual date that you mail the package. (Only postage label dates have to match a mailing date, APC stamps are not postage strips, they are STAMPS.) And, APC stamps are trackable stamps and thus, qualify as stamps that can be used to mail packages larger than 13oz WITHOUT taking them in to the PO.

You can mix them with regular stamps as needed. That has no impact on the APC still being trackable.

Of course, if your PO is going to give you a hard time about it, you might have to take them in anyway. However, they are completely wrong.

Kate, I think she means that she purchases APC stamps for the amount of postage that Media Mail needs. I do that all the time ... just buy $2.38 stamps from the APC machine, and add stamps if I need to, to the package. You are right, on the APC machine you do not get the option to put on "media mail" postage if you follow the "package mailing prompts" .... but if you use the APC machine to weigh the package, you can then buy a stamp to put on it for whatever amount you want.



Last Edited on: 2/18/10 12:40 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 2/18/2010 12:41 PM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2005
Posts: 1,442
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Kate, no I'm sending it Media Mail.  The stamp itself doesn't say "First Class" anywhere on it, and I think I asked a long time ago (in this forum) about APC and Media Mail, so I figured it was ok.

I guess I'm just stuck going to the PO with over-13-oz books.  I don't think I want to chance it coming back to me.


Thanks all.

Date Posted: 2/18/2010 4:36 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,441
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My post office will also not accept older APC stamps.  I have to go in and get them to add a new one with no money on it.  Argh.  I have no problem from them about new APC stamps for media mail.  I take in a cheat sheet of the prices per pound as they are not posted.  (Printed out the PBS postage page,  Use that with the APC scale.)

Date Posted: 2/18/2010 5:35 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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I agree with Sara, adding stamps to the APC shouldn't be a problem.  Even if there's only 1 cent APC postage in addition to stamps, that 1 cent is still trackable through your method of payment.

The date thing I'm not sure sure of, my local PO doesn't have APC nor after hours stamps in the lobby :(

Date Posted: 2/18/2010 6:17 PM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2009
Posts: 2,925
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I've done it numerous times...both in the blue boxes and via my carrier picking it up. I buy a bunch of APC stamps once a month, and add postage stamps if necessary. None have ever been returned. Evidently my PO is "lenient" - although I've never received one of my packages, so don't know if they add the $00 sticker or not. My APC stamps have never been over a month old, but I don't see that as problematic, it's not metered (where they are funky about the date). But, if your PO is being difficult, even if incorrectly, you still don't want to have them returned under their interpretation of the rules.

Date Posted: 2/18/2010 6:36 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,194
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I've used APC stamps for blueboxing over 13oz packages since I joined. I get those for the heavy, stamps for the under 13oz. I had my first one returned to me this year (it was the first time I used that particular box). I took it into the PO where I buy my APC stamps and asked them what's up with an APC stamp returned as a stale meter strip when its not a meter strip and it doesn't have a postal date it just has a date of purchse. They said the main branch did it and that was completely in the wrong. They slapped a zero strip on it and called the other PO to chew them out.

Your post office is incorrect. Date and weight do not matter on an APC stamp.  If they read the 13 oz rules, it specifically excludes APC stamps from needing to be taken to the post office. Unfortunately, since they handle your books, there's not much you can do if you can't get them to understand.



Last Edited on: 2/18/10 6:36 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/18/2010 9:09 PM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2005
Posts: 4,130
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I use APC stamps all the time, any weight package is okay for the blue box as long as it fits through the slot!  Sometimes my stamps are old too, I've never had a problem.  I DID have a problem once adding a postage stamp, that package was returned, but it shouldn't have been.  As long as the trackable postage part is on the package it shouldn't matter what else you add.

I'd suggest finding the appropriate USPO regulation on line and bringing a copy in to your post office.  It seems that customers sometimes have to educate the PO staff.  It's worth the convenience!

Date Posted: 2/18/2010 9:46 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2009
Posts: 1,083
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Kate, I think she means that she purchases APC stamps for the amount of postage that Media Mail needs. I do that all the time ... just buy $2.38 stamps from the APC machine, and add stamps if I need to, to the package. You are right, on the APC machine you do not get the option to put on "media mail" postage if you follow the "package mailing prompts" .... but if you use the APC machine to weigh the package, you can then buy a stamp to put on it for whatever amount you want.

Ok, I got it, but how do you indicate you are sending it Media Mail?  Do you just write it on the package.  Because if the stamp doesn't say Media Mail and it's not on the package, I suspect they will try to send it first class and the postage amount will end up wrong.

I think I'll stick with printing postage at PayPal.  The postage label clearly says Media Mail and it always gets the postage amount right as long as I get the weight right.  And apparently they will even send it if I goof on the weight because that happened to me for a while with a new scale that weighed from 2-4 ounces less than the book really weighed.  I shorted postage on about 5 books, but they all were delivered just fine and none had postage due.  It's funny how the USPS will let some things slide and then get pissy about something pretty lame.

Date Posted: 2/18/2010 10:20 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,441
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The PBS label comes out with media mail on it.  You just have to know what the postage is because the APC machines are designed to not offer the media rate option.  As the post office does not profit from it.  So we select the buy a stamp of different value option. 

Date Posted: 2/18/2010 10:50 PM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2009
Posts: 2,925
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As far as paypal postage, you can actually be "off" 15oz...but it depends which ones they are. When you put your weight in, the paypal postage basically only indicates the poundage. So, if you put 1lb1oz, the paypal postage will show 2lbs, because the rate from 1lb1oz  to up to 2lbs is the same. So the PO isn't "short" unless you go into the next poundage postal increment.

I buy APC stamps at $2, $2.38, $2.77. I have assorted varieties of regular stamps from .01 to $1.00, and I add those to the APC if needed. I tend to use paypal for box orders though, because the APC machine will only let me buy $50 at a time, and boxes eat that up too quickly.

Date Posted: 2/18/2010 11:23 PM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2007
Posts: 2,027
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It seems to me that the post offices with APCs get how they work, but those without APCs have no clue.

Date Posted: 2/19/2010 5:10 AM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2005
Posts: 1,442
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An update:  I brought the package in to the post office (a different one than the one I had called to ask about APC) and asked the person at the counter if I could've put the package into a blue box since it had an APC sticker on it.  She said exactly the same thing as the other guy:  "nope, because it's over 13 oz."

Given this experience, I have three more APC stickers to use up (never buy them again!) and will never chance them in a blue box.  This is yet another one of those Postal regulations that some know - some don't.  And so far I'm batting 1000 with those who don't seem to know the right procedure.   Rather frustrating!

Date Posted: 2/19/2010 9:46 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 9,852
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http://www.usps.com/mailpro/2008/septoct/page5.htm

I did a search on www.usps.com and this is just the first page I found (I am sure there are more) ... right at the bottom it explains how you can use APC postage to mail packages that weigh more than 13 oz. .... in the boxed text that says "Thirteen-Ounce Mail Rule"



Last Edited on: 2/19/10 9:47 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/19/2010 10:07 AM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2005
Posts: 1,442
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Sara, thanks for posting that.  The problem is postal employees who don't know the official policy (see "Cranky Pants" thread for a very detailed account of such behavior).  I am not willing to mail a book only to have it come back to me a week or two later because some postal employee somewhere didn't know about this rule.  No APC's for me anymore!

Date Posted: 2/19/2010 11:41 AM ET
Member Since: 2/28/2007
Posts: 2,164
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I've never had a problem with older APC postage, and I drop my books in a variety of blue boxes at different post offices.  Maybe I've just been lucky, who knows.

Date Posted: 2/19/2010 11:44 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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Here's another one:

http://www.usps.com/communications/newsroom/2007/pr07_058.htm

That's actually amazing (not) that they don't know the postal regs on it.   I'd print out both and take them to the site supervisor.  Then if you have no luck, pass it on to the PBS team.  They work with a rep who can get that taken care of for you.  They may try to get sticky on the issue of the added stamps, but I'm with the others who said it shouldn't matter.  The tracking is still in place.  As for the question of expiration dates on APC postage, I can't find a single thing about it anywhere on the USPS site.  Here is the APC FAQ: Automated Postal Center (APC) ? Information

And as you can see, nada.  If you google for info on it, there is some from different blogs (including the OIG's blog) out there that says it doesn't expire, but none of it is an official statement from the USPS directly - that I saw anyway.  Maybe call 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777)?

Date Posted: 2/19/2010 12:15 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,194
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Even if you don't use the APC stamps again, I encourage you to take the regulations in and give them to the post offices that are incorrect so that they will learn how to do it correctly. If no one points out their error, they will continue to enforce the rules incorrectly. If you don't want to confront them, find the next higher up level (a district office maybe) and contact them.

Date Posted: 2/19/2010 12:29 PM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2005
Posts: 1,442
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I'd print out both and take them to the site supervisor. 

Even if you don't use the APC stamps again, I encourage you to take the regulations in and give them to the post offices that are incorrect so that they will learn how to do it correctly.

Yes, I will do this.  Thanks for the suggestions.