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Topic: Another well-informed USPS branch...What is the 13 oz rule?

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Subject: Another well-informed USPS branch...What is the 13 oz rule?
Date Posted: 8/16/2011 5:21 PM ET
Member Since: 10/23/2010
Posts: 244
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I started using the printable postage and am getting the runaround on whether or not it can be mailed from my house.  DH told me he didn't think anything over 13oz could be mailed from home that it had to go through the post office.  It ended up that I had another package I needed to mail out that I didn't have postage for so when I went today to mail it I also inquired about mailing the printable postage books from my house and if it was OK to do, even if it was over 13 oz. 

The clerk gave me a look like I was speaking Alienese.  She confers with the clerk next to her who tells me no, I cannot mail it from home that it always has to be brought to the P.O. And I can't just walk in and drop it off, I'd still have to wait in line and hand it to them so they can scan it and ask all the silly questions like, "is there anything liquid, fragile, or perishable" (even though it's maked media mail).  A clerk who happened to be passing by with an armload of packages over hears the conversation and stops to give her input which was that I can hand it directly to my mail carrier and if he/she knows that I am a legit customer then they have the option of taking it if they want but I can't just leave it out with my regular mail. 

So now I'm thinking, either they're giving me wrong information or, if not, then what's the point of printable postage?  Sometimes I'm here when the mailman comes so I could try to hand it to him directly and see if he would take it but I work and that's not always an option.  So why should I bother putting money in my PBS account, using my paper and ink to print it all out, if I have to go to the P.O. and stand in line and give it to them anyway?

I also had a professor tell me one time that, "In today's age of technology, if something seems too difficult then you're probably doing it wrong."  So, what's the verdict?  Another case of ill-informed postal emloyees passing on bad information or am I doing something wrong and is there in fact a convenience to the printable postage that I'm missing out on?  I'd love to be able to keep using it instead of having to go to the P.O. several times a week but if I'm going to have to go anyway then I'm going to stop doing it and save my paper, ink, and time transferring money to my PBS account.

Date Posted: 8/16/2011 5:42 PM ET
Member Since: 8/5/2009
Posts: 8,077
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The rule, IIRC, is that you have to hand all packages 13 oz and over that are STAMPED over the counter to the clerk. If the postage is electronic or traceable (i.e., PBS printable postage, USPS.com, APC), then it doesn't have to be handed to a clerk. Even though my PO clerks are nice, I always use the APC if I'm just mailing books. No need to bother them or wait in line for something that I can do very quickly!

I don't know what the rule is offhand about pickups from your house. We have one of the fancy neighborhood boxes (incoming and outgoing mail for the whole street) on the street that you can only put a letter in, so I have to go to the PO. Seems to me that several PBS members have had different experiences, sometimes depending on their mail carriers.


Last Edited on: 8/16/11 5:43 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Cathy A. (Cathy) - ,
Date Posted: 8/16/2011 5:43 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2005
Posts: 4,149
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If you use printable postage:

  • You can always drop your packages in a blue drop box, regardless of weight.
  • You may be able to leave them in your mailbox for carrier pickup. Some carriers have told other members that they are not required to pickup items left for them, even though the documentation on usps.com says this is a service they provide to customers.
  • You will get a discount on First Class postage when sending small books. However, since you do have to purchase delivery confirmation with printable postage, this is not actually cheaper than using stamps with no delivery confirmation.
Subject: Printable postage
Date Posted: 8/16/2011 5:52 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2005
Posts: 5,435
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That is the main reason I use printable postage. You can just toss it in the blue box, regardless of the size.You don't even have to go in the post office.

Yes, it is a bit more expensive, but for me, it is worth it. As for pick up at your mail box..it would depend on the box and the kind of box, ec. My mail person picks up packages left. My daughter, a fellow PBSer is the ones that leaves them out. I will only do it for small packages.

It is easier for me to use the printable postage rather then keeping a stash of stamps on hand, or taking the package into the PO-but I have done both at one time or other.

Date Posted: 8/16/2011 6:18 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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This article is dated 2007, when it changed from 16 oz to 13 oz. It spells it out very clearly



Starting Monday, July 30, customers mailing packages and envelopes that weigh more than 13 ounces can use a convenient online postage application and leave packages and envelopes in Postal Service collection boxes or Post Office lobby mail slots. Customers can even leave items for pickup by their letter carriers.

The process of mailing out larger envelopes and packages has just become a little easier and speedier for customers.

"This is part of an ongoing initiative of security," said Yvonne Yoerger, media relations representative at USPS. "We are aiming for safer and more secure mail."

Postal Service's Click-N-Ship service on www.usps.com and PC Postage from an authorized USPS vendor are some examples of online postage applications. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If a customer is unable to use one of the above methods to prepare and affix postage, items weighing more than 13 ounces must be presented for mailing to an employee at a Post Office retail service counter. Business customers who use postage meters may continue to use meter postage for packages of any weight and mailing method.

Customers will notice new decal on USPS collection boxes, and Post Office lobby and Automated Postal Center mail drop slots. The new red, white and blue decals inform customers that deposit of stamped mail over 13 ounces is prohibited, and any such mail will be returned.

Previously, the prohibition applied to mail over 16 ounces. The change is part of ongoing security measures established by the Postal Service, in cooperation with other government agencies to keep the public, customers, employees and the US Mail safe.

"For residential customers the change will be mostly transparent," Yoerger said. "The new rule is a change for customers if they had previously mailed packages over 13 ounces using stamps as postage, from their home, in a collection box or in a lobby drop slot. The new rule means they can no longer do so if they use only regular postage stamps. They have to use one of the other postage methods or go to a Post Office and present the mail to an employee at the counter. 
"The biggest change would be for our retail associates, letter carriers and processing employees, who have to know how to accept mail and handle it if it falls into the new weight limit," she said. "The change is significant especially for the letter carriers because they are potentially the first employee to see a package in a collection box or at the customer's home, so it's their job to return the package to sender, or explain to the customer the change."

Date Posted: 8/17/2011 1:09 AM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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What they said (and yes your PO staff is uninformed).  All packages over 13 oz. must be passed over the Post Office counter, unless it has trackable postage...such as PBS, USPS online, APC, Paypal, etc.  If trackable postage is used, you can blue box just about anything.

Another point of error, PO employees tell us that they are discouraged from 'courtesy' DC scanning at the counter for packages already bearing postage (regardless of 13 oz. rule).  The sorting centers and delivery scans are adequate (and all that is required) and therefore counter scanning is an unnecessary use of their time.

We've heard rumors that rural routes have some unique pick-up guidelines. 

Last Edited on: 8/17/11 1:12 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/17/2011 1:46 AM ET
Member Since: 10/23/2010
Posts: 244
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Thanks for all the info everyone - blue box it is! 

Date Posted: 8/25/2011 11:35 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2008
Posts: 20
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Since I use to sell books and comics on eBay, when I bought our house I put one of them BIG mailboxes out in front and it will hold one of the large PM one-rate boxes so everythings gets mailed from my house...  The only time I go to the post office is if I need stamps, or I don't have any PBS money on my account and have to buy postage there...  My route postal cleck told me if the package fits in my Mailbox she will pick it up..  Now if I could just get her to come to my door with the really big boxes it would be all GOOD..  But I have a sweet border collie in the yard and she doesn't do dogs (her words).  ;-)


Later Gator,


Date Posted: 8/27/2011 8:48 AM ET
Member Since: 1/19/2009
Posts: 61
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About "courtesy scanning", we are now required to scan everything that comes across the counter. That did not used to be the case. Customers are now able to track their packages from beginning to end.  Our scanners even have a new scan on them called "Pre-paid Acceptance Scan" which we are required to use on all pre-paid labels.

Date Posted: 8/28/2011 12:20 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,603
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If you have one package going Priority Mail, you can request a carrier pickup for free via USPS.com.  They'll take all your packages at that time, even the ones not going Priority.

Subject: 13 oz rule
Date Posted: 10/31/2011 10:15 PM ET
Member Since: 10/18/2011
Posts: 10
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I didn't read the whole thread, but I copied this directly from the USPS website. Someone may find it helpful...I take it that if you pay electronically, jam it in a blue receptacle or your home mailbox....should be good to go. 

Why does the Postal Service return stamped envelopes that weigh more than 13 oz?

The 13-oz rule is part of ongoing attention to security as the Postal Service works cooperatively with other government agencies to keep the public, its employees, its customers and the U.S. Mail as safe as possible. The rule is as follows:

Mail weighing more than 13 oz and bearing only stamps as postage must be presented for mailing to an employee at a Post Office retail service counter. Stamped mail weighing more than 13 oz can not be deposited in collection boxes or picked up from a customer’s mailbox. Customers can use a number of quick, easy, convenient ways to print postage for packages weighing more than 13 oz, including an Automated Postal Center, Click-N-Ship, PC Postage, or a postage meter. When postage is paid electronically or with a meter, it does not need to be presented at a Post Office retail counter, regardless of weight



Date Posted: 11/12/2011 9:57 AM ET
Member Since: 10/10/2006
Posts: 43
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I just mail mine from work.  Almost every office building has a mail room of some sort in the basement and I just take mine down there and drop it in the slot for packages.  I've worked in several office buildings during my time as a PBS member and they all had designated mail room.  Eezy peezy!

Date Posted: 1/11/2012 5:06 PM ET
Member Since: 5/22/2007
Posts: 34
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this is why I use internet postage, saves time, and if it is media mail, usually they will take it in your mailbox with a priority mail package.

Date Posted: 1/12/2012 9:09 AM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2010
Posts: 220
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My mailman will take pretty much anything outgoing I leave for him.  Of course, I try not to leave anything bulky or heavy (because he *walks* the route, not drives), but a single paperback (mass-market or trade) in a bubble-pak envelope has never been a problem.  Maybe he's not required to, but I think most will pick stuff up, especially if yours is an area where the mail delivery is done by truck at the curb.

Date Posted: 1/14/2012 2:30 AM ET
Member Since: 9/24/2009
Posts: 1,389
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My postal carrier will take anything I can put in my mailbox regardless of weight, online postage or stamps.  If I have something that won't fit in the box, I leave him a note and he comes down my 600 foot driveway and picks it up.  Never had a problem with any carrier on my route.

Date Posted: 1/17/2012 5:09 PM ET
Member Since: 4/28/2009
Posts: 9,833
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That blue box rule only works if you have blue boxes that can take anything thicker than a 3/4in thick flat envelope.  If you live/work near some military or govt buidlings, you cannot put packages in the blue box at all-- they just have a very tiny slit to put things in.  Some of my large manilla flat envelopes don't even fit !!