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Topic: Amount of Postage You Can Buy

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Subject: Amount of Postage You Can Buy
Date Posted: 7/7/2016 7:15 PM ET
Member Since: 11/17/2008
Posts: 1,261
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I sent out a large package of books today. The weight came to a little over 30 pounds. I tried to use PBS postage, but a message popped up saying I could only buy 25 lbs worth of postage. I bought the smaller amount so I could get instant credits, but I'm wondering why there's a limit on how much postage a person can buy at once.

Date Posted: 7/7/2016 8:16 PM ET
Member Since: 12/3/2005
Posts: 3,405
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Huh. I haven't run into that (never did a shipment that large). I know my scale from USPS only goes up to 25 lbs, but don't know if that's a factor in the programming. If you get a chance, please send a note to TPTB through the Contact Us link for a solid answer for us. Thanks!

Date Posted: 7/22/2016 11:54 AM ET
Member Since: 11/17/2008
Posts: 1,261
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I finally got a response:

Dear Erica,

Thanks for writing in about this. We apologize for the delay in our response.

We checked into it, and we DO have the programming limited to 25 lbs for a shipment. The thinking at the time we did that was (1) that the need to print for a higher weight would be very rare, and (2) that larger shipments often don't do well in the mail. Most of our members are not professional shippers and multiple-book packages can be challenging to pack.

We'll consider increasing the weight limit, but in the meantime, if you want to print postage for a large request, you can do this workaround to send in two shipments:

(1) divide the books to be shipped into two (or more) groups
(2) weigh group 1 and change the estimtaed weight on the official transaction on your My Account page to = that weight. Print postage from that to mail group 1.
(3) create a Mail-to-a-friend creditless swap for (each of) the other  group(s) of books. Include the actual books in those shipment(s) and the estimated weight should be accurate -- you should definitely check the weight though before you print postage.

If you do that, you will have two (or more) shipments, each with appropriate postage. Then you can mark the official shipment mailed, and mail both packages. When the other member gets both/all of the packages, he or she can mark the official shipment received, and you can mark the "Mail to a Friend" shipment(s) received from your My Account page, to move it/them into your Transaction Archive.

Of course, if your multiple-book shipments suffer in the mail and arrive torn or open or damaged, you would need to scale down your packages and improve your packaging technique. Multiple-book shipments do require stronger packaging than smaller shipments.

We hope this information is helpful. Have a great day!

Date Posted: 7/22/2016 12:10 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2014
Posts: 2,793
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I have heard of members buying site postage and going to the Post Office to buy more postage to add to the package.  I have never done this myself.  I would prefer to mail one package but I have never mailed over 30 lbs before.  

Date Posted: 7/22/2016 1:48 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2007
Posts: 2,276
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I wanted to add that large boxes of books do not do well in shipment and I'm a pretty competent packer: I sent three well wrapped boxes of books to my brother-in-law in California, each containing about 25 MMP. One box arrived, I got the label back from the PO with their apologies on the 2nd box -- that's all they could find was the label, and the 3rd disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again. From experience now, I have self-imposed a 12 book limit in a box.

Date Posted: 8/18/2016 12:58 PM ET
Member Since: 1/7/2007
Posts: 1,061
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I routinely ship out packages of books weighing over 30 pounds. I use the Printable postage feature as well, and I get the same warning each time. You just have to weigh the books and box with packaging so you know the actual weight. When you select to use the Printable Postage feature just input in the correct weight of your total package - if you input in 32 pounds 3 ounces you will get that message just click OK - when you get to the part where you are going to print out the label etc - you will get that message again - just click OK and continue - the end result will be a Printed Postage label with the correct amount for 32 pounds and 3 ounces (i.e. a 33 pound Media Mail) preprinted postage paid mailing label. 

Seems the software gives out the message you see but does not affect the actual tally for the poundage you put in. When I take the box to the PO I always have them recheck the weight and postage, usually I'm on target with the weight and the postage has always been correct for the weight indicated on the package. Also - when I check the amount of monies deducted from my PBS Money account the monies subtracted has always matched what was printed on the label.

August 15th, 2016 I mailed out a 44 pound box of books - to Salt Lake City - Used Printable Postage, cost was $23.25 - I just changed the weight on the Printable Postage portion from what the PBS estimate was (32 Lbs) to 44 pounds (I have a small postal scale that only goes to 10 pounds even - so I weigh the empty box (2 Lbs), then weigh short stacks and tally the results on paper - I have been short a few times as well as over a few times - I ALWAYS ask the PO Clerks to recheck and comfirm the correct weight and postage - if I'm under they just add postage stamps til it's correct - if I'm over they just smile and say thanks for the extra postage (there's no refunds). 

Next time you do a big box (over 25 pounds) just put the poundages numbers in the box and keep hitting the Ok button...

Danny N (Alameda) - Havelock NC


Last Edited on: 8/18/16 5:14 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 8/18/2016 1:09 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
Posts: 3,419
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I had a heavy box one time. I took the box with me to a small grocery store in town and put the box in a scale in the produce department. Get a good weight.

Date Posted: 8/19/2016 1:46 AM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2014
Posts: 889
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Danny, if you have a bathroom scale, you can use that to get a better and almost accurate weight.  Garage sales and estate sales can be good sources to get a cheaply priced scale (for weights greater than 5 or 10 lbs).  The bathroom scale we use was found for $1 at a garage sale.  We recently found a fancy postal scale at an estate sale for $4.

Date Posted: 8/19/2016 3:19 AM ET
Member Since: 1/7/2007
Posts: 1,061
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Gordon, I'll have to keep my eyes out for one - might find one with a Digital readout so I don't have to strain my eyes!

I think my problem is that I forget that the scale reads in pounds and ounces (16 ounces = 1 pound) and think in terms of pounds and tenths of pounds. So if I get 9 pounds 5 ounces and 8 pounds 5 ounces I keep adding it up as 18 pounds 0 ounces instead of 17 pounds 10 ounces. Adding anothe stack or 2 seems to get me a pound or 2 off when I add them up. I seem to err on the PO side which is ok 'cause I'd rather pay a little too much than too little. But, our PO is not usually busy - (2 or 3 folks in line at any particular time except the holidays). so since I got to drop off the boxes, anything over 9 pounds I just ask them to recheck on their scale and make sure the postage is right - they've seen me enough to where they already know the routine. 

I'll keep an eye out for a larger scale - might be a better answer, eh! 




Date Posted: 8/19/2016 2:54 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,246
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Media Mail has an upper limit of 70 pounds. So that's the largest you can ship as Media Mail, regardless of how you purchase the postage.

As far as mailing large heavy boxes goes. I've mailed 30-40ish pound boxes of books out, and they do fine. There is one secret to shipping them.

Use strapping tape. Period.

Strapping tape is the tape with the long strings embedded in it.

Put it completely around the box in all three dimensions (length, width, height) and in several locations (not just down the center). Nothing is getting that box open, even if it gets crushed. Strapping tape will take heavy damage, and as long as you have the box taped so that there are no areas where a huge hole (large enough for books to escape) can be torn in the cardboard (while leaving the tape intact) ... nothing is getting out.

It goes without saying ... use the right size box, and stuff empty areas so the book contents can't move around inside.

99.9% of boxes packed like that will have no issues.

Date Posted: 8/19/2016 3:40 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
Posts: 3,419
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I believe that 70 pounds is the limit for flat rate priority envelopes. I'll take your word for the media mail limit but I don't think that is accurate.

Date Posted: 8/19/2016 8:28 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,246
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What is the weight limit for Media Mail?

Regardless of the size of the mailpiece, the maximum mailable weight of any mailpiece is 70 pounds. Some classes of mail have lower weight limits.

That's from the USPS ... I knew that Media Mail had a limit but I didn't realize all classes of mail had the same limit.

Last Edited on: 8/19/16 8:29 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/20/2016 2:08 AM ET
Member Since: 6/27/2008
Posts: 25,335
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The PO does not ship anything over 70 pounds.  Doesn't matter what class of mail it is.

Strapping tape is wonderful stuff!  I really like your way of shipping heavy packages Sara.  I wish everyone was as careful with their packaging.  The only other suggestion I would have is to be sure that the box you use is in excellent shape and not already "broken down", especially on the corners.  A new, or almost new, box that isn't already crushed will do a much better job at protecting what you ship.