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Topic: Is the extra fee to guarantee your credit really worth it?

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Subject: Is the extra fee to guarantee your credit really worth it?
Date Posted: 9/29/2015 6:42 PM ET
Member Since: 6/2/2014
Posts: 11,524
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Okay folks..please give me all the pros and cons for this. I hate to have to do this but is it worth it in the end? or is it better financially to just accept that sometimes (it's not common but happens) that you will not get a credit if a book does go lost or it isn't received. Tracking isn't enough so what do you think of the extra fee? I really hate losing that credit as there are about 16 books on my reminder list I'd like to order but wait until I have the credit to spend the credit (and keep a small few credit balance for WL books).

Date Posted: 9/29/2015 6:49 PM ET
Member Since: 1/3/2010
Posts: 16,433
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Yes. I get the credit directly and don't need to worry about those who chose not to mark books mailed in a timely fashion.

I started using PBS postage when my local PO refused to honor PBS DC only. At the time it cost me just a few cents more and was worth it. Now I continue to pay the small extra for both convenience and peace of mind. I'm retired and on a limited budget but it's still  worth it.

Cathy A. (Cathy) - ,
Date Posted: 9/29/2015 6:58 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2005
Posts: 4,150
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For me, it's not worth it to guarantee the credit. It is worth it for the convenience though. I posted the analysis below back on June 15 (I've left out the detailed table in this repost), that shows why I think printable postage is a good buy for me.

Now for you, based on the fact that you frequently complain about lost books and failure of other members to mark books received in a timely fashion, I'm assuming that you have approximately 2 lost books every month and 1 of those never gets marked received while the other is marked received later. You've been here 17 months, so you probably have about 17 books lost in the mail at this time. If that's accurate, then for you, it probably does make financial sense to pay for the credit guarantee. If your actual numbers are different, post them and we can give you better recommendations. (For myself, I've sent 1104 books and 0 are lost, so my experience with lost books and delayed books is very different from yours.)


You guys got me interested in how much I'm actually spending to use Printable Postage and whether that amount is really worth it, so I grabbed the data from my money registry for the previous 3 months and did some analysis. Details are in the table below. (These are the rates from before the 5/31 increase.)


  • 18 packages mailed, 3 were First Class discounted, the rest were Media Mail
  • Bought PBS Money once since I typically put enough in my account to last for several months
  • Total cost of PBS Postage including all transaction fees: $64.42. I drop books in the blue box that I pass on the way to my office, so there's no time cost when using this option.
  • Total cost of USPS Postage: $56.58 plus 4.5 hours (9 trips x 30 minutes per trip). I live within walking distance of the PO, so there's no fuel cost to consider. I assumed I'd have stamps and would bypass the line to leave books on the counter, so no waiting time is included.

So for me, the bottom line is I spent $7.84 to save 4.5 hours. For me, that's worth it. Other people have different situations and printable postage may not be a good value for them. Maybe when I retire I'll have more time to spend running errands around town and I will also switch to the cheaper option, but for now, I'm sticking with the printable postage.


Date Posted: 9/29/2015 7:01 PM ET
Member Since: 9/8/2009
Posts: 626
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I've mailed out 423 book, which I realize isn't a lot by PBS standards, but I haven't had any go lost.  The only time I use PBS postage is if I want the credit right away for some reason (which is rare).  Otherwise, I use PayPal shipping for the convenience of mailing from home. 

If you're looking at it from a cost standpoint, I think you have to weigh paying 43 cents extra for every book you ship versus how often one of your books goes lost. 

Date Posted: 9/29/2015 7:04 PM ET
Member Since: 6/2/2014
Posts: 11,524
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Sorry to frequently complain Cathy. I won't mention this anymore but if I see a topic, then I'll add to it (my experiences anyway)


Just in the interest of being correct, I have not had 17 books go lost but I do get a lot of almost lost, then marked received books. I think the PBS email reminds them. 



Last Edited on: 9/29/15 7:05 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/29/2015 7:09 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,125
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Credits cost $2 in the box bazaar. For every 4 books that you use the postage fee on, you could have just bought a credit. Unless you are losing a book out of every 4 you mail, then, no, it's not worth it. Now, if it gives you peace of mind, then, by all means, buy the postage. But financially, it rarely makes sense.
Date Posted: 9/29/2015 7:16 PM ET
Member Since: 8/26/2008
Posts: 821
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Absolutely not worth it. 361 transactions since 2008 and one lost in the mail. It was not lost, just a victim of a scammer. That would amount to almost $200 in money wasted 

Date Posted: 9/29/2015 7:24 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2014
Posts: 2,793
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It does not make financial sense.  Its good for peace of mind and quicker access to your credit.  

Date Posted: 9/29/2015 7:28 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,672
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In my time here, I've mailed out almost 400 official PBS transaction books and I'm sure upwards of 200 books from Games.  Never had any I've sent go lost.

Well, I did have one once.  It sat in the processing center in Bell, CA for a year but then it was found and sent along the way.  So, no, not worth it for the credit guarantee.

Date Posted: 9/29/2015 8:09 PM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2008
Posts: 4,671
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Since the post office hours were shortened a few years ago here, printable postage from here or paypal are my only options. Even if the hours changed at the post office, I'd still use printable postage for the convenience. Avoiding the awful post office is a big plus for printable postage.

Cathy A. (Cathy) - ,
Date Posted: 9/29/2015 8:35 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2005
Posts: 4,150
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Sorry to frequently complain Cathy. I won't mention this anymore but if I see a topic, then I'll add to it (my experiences anyway)

No need to apologize! You're allowed to complain as much as you want. I totally believe you are having a different experience with PBS than I have and you can point that out whenever you'd like.

It's just not possible to make recommendations for your situation without knowing the actual numbers; so I have to use estimates based on what you post.

zeke68 -
Date Posted: 9/29/2015 9:24 PM ET
Member Since: 10/30/2008
Posts: 2,810
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I've received 393 and sent 401.  Have never had a book go lost in either direction.  

For about my first 6-7 years here, I used PBS postage exclusively because I didn't want to wait for the credit, I liked the convenience, and I was supporting the site.  When I broke down the numbers, I realized what a waste of money it was.  I now use Paypal, which gives me the same convenience, just not the credit assurance.

The only time I use PBS postage now is when I'm sending multiples.

Date Posted: 9/29/2015 10:49 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,485
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It is really worth it if you are sending a multiple book order. The fee is per order, not per book.

I think it is worth it if you are sending books over water. Definitely good for books going to Guam and APOs.

Or if a book is over 13 ounces. Worth not going to the counter.  Although PayPal shipping would work without the fee.

Please also remember that the first one per month is free if you are gold level. If it is getting near the end of the month, I'll use it.

Date Posted: 9/29/2015 11:44 PM ET
Member Since: 5/7/2009
Posts: 794
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Since I joined in May 2009 I have sent out 1836 books.  Only 2 have been lost in the mail.  PBS postage is definitely not worth it for me.  I use Paypal and live within walking distance of a post office.   Now, on the other hand, I have received 1084 books (I get a lot of audiobooks, sold and donated credits along the way) and have not received 15 books due to "Lost in the Mail".   Of course I can't be sure that was their actual disposition.

I'm also curious, Michele as to what your actual statistics are because I don't think your experience is the norm.  You can check your Transaction Archive.

Last Edited on: 9/29/15 11:47 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/29/2015 11:54 PM ET
Member Since: 7/23/2005
Posts: 7,527
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For me, no - it isn't worth it. I've been a member since 2005, have mailed over 4,000 books and have had 8 of them 'lost'.

I'm lucky in that it's easy for me to use the post office. We're semi-rural and have to use our local post office to receive mail. It's within walking distance.  DH is retired and picks up or mails daily. I also do the mail runs for the office I work at and access the post office in that town during the week. 

I think the 'worth it' value of the extra fee really depends on the person and the circumstances.

Date Posted: 9/30/2015 9:07 AM ET
Member Since: 4/22/2006
Posts: 4,734
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I use PBS postage if I'm sending out a highly sought after wish list book OR if the weather is so bad that I don't want to go out to the post office/blue box.  That time of year will be coming up shortly.  sad

Date Posted: 9/30/2015 9:15 AM ET
Member Since: 6/2/2014
Posts: 11,524
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I've had 5 go lost 3 to APO, 2 to me..no communication. What the transaction archive doesn't say is how many people wait until the book is about to go lost before they mark received. I have heard this from others as well. I've had 9 books that just timed out. I post books when I'm at 5 credits but depending on games and wl books, I can get out. So it helps when they're marked mailed in a timely manner. Yes, I know I should be buying credits to have as a reserve but it depends on my budget, I do work but I don't ever seem to have lots extra to buy credits, etc. Yes, some say well, you're complaining, Ive been on x amount of years and no problems so what's wrong with you Michele? Etc. Again, others have had my similar experiences or so I've read. I've seen at least 2 others on here that have frequent problems but I guess no one else notices them.
Date Posted: 9/30/2015 9:34 AM ET
Member Since: 6/20/2007
Posts: 5,043
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I use APC stamps for postage for the vast majority of my book shipments. I buy 5 stamps at a time in $2.72 (or $3.22) denominations. Then when I get a book order, I weigh it at the office on our nice new postal scale, affix the appropriate postage, affix a USPS DC bar code, and pop it in the outgoing mail. So I have the benefit of not having to go to the post office to mail my packages, plus I have the benefit of DC. I cannot personally justify spending 55 cents per shipment for quick credit when DC is now free with media mail. I am fortunate enough that there's an APC in my town and one town over (on my way to and from work), so going there to pick up APC stamps is easy and convenient for me. Not everyone has them though.

Prior to free DC with media mail, I used PBS-DC only, and used the APC stamps in the same manner.

I am one of the folks who has posted about books not being marked received in a timely fashion. That is why I used to use PBS-DC--it protected me against those members who waited 7, 10, 14, days after a book was scanned delivered before marking it received. When I mail from work, my DC barcodes are almost always scanned that evening, so I had my credit later the same day, which was nice because I never have a lot of credits. The 30 cents PBS-DC cost was worth it to me. When PBS-DC only was discontinued, I planned on leaving the Site, as I was not satisfied with the remaining options at the time. But now that DC is free with media mail, I ordered a few books of USPS DC labels for free, they were shipped straight to my house (again, for free), and I can still mail from the office with USPS DC using APC stamps. The disadvantage is when a member doesn't mark a book received--you are either out the credit, or you have to wait for the system to time out and, if the system determines that the member is inactive, then you'll get your credit. I have said it before, and I'll say it again, one thing I hate about the PBS system is that there is no requirement for senders to mark received in a timely fashion. Be that as it may (and I don't think we need to debate that again), the 55 cents I would pay for the guaranteed credit is just too steep for me. As others have said, after paying 4 of those fees I could just buy a credit.

My other objection is that previously, PBS has stated that the 55 cent fee was divided 3 ways--part to the USPS for the actual DC service, part to Endicia, and part to PBS. There is no longer the 23 cent fee to the USPS for eDC, but yet PBS continues to charge the members for it. I'm not OK with that.

Date Posted: 9/30/2015 12:46 PM ET
Member Since: 8/3/2009
Posts: 563
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It's not worth it for me. I have had books go lost, but at the rate of one or two per year at the most. Plus I don't use electronic postage for book shipments, anyway - I work at home and I don't mind going to the post office occasionally; in fact, it gives me an excuse to get out of the house.


I agree with Sheryl about the PBS fee now that USPS tracking is included on media mail - I think the fact that PBS hasn't lowered their price for it is insulting. Members have already been shifted to a fee-paying structure (of some sort, whether memberships or a la carte fees), don't penny-ante them by charging them even more for things that the post office now includes in their postage fee.

Pam M. -
Date Posted: 9/30/2015 1:15 PM ET
Member Since: 1/11/2010
Posts: 422
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I keep a store of credits so that I'm not running short and desperately need a credit.

There's an APC within walking distance to my house.  I'll pop over on a Sunday and buy as many 2.72 and 3.22 stamps as the budget holds.  When I get a request, put one on and toss it into the outgoing mail at my office.

I've never used PBS postage.  Never thought of it.  I can see that it would be a "peace of mind" thing for many people, but I don't worry that much.  It's rare that a book [of mine] goes lost.  I can think of one or two each way in the last four years.

Last Edited on: 9/30/15 1:15 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/30/2015 5:04 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2008
Posts: 8,829
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I ordered a few books of USPS DC labels for free, they were shipped straight to my house (again, for free)

Sheryl, I recall this previous conversation but can't find the thread to locate the web link for ordering the labels.  Can you provide it?

Date Posted: 9/30/2015 6:57 PM ET
Member Since: 1/25/2010
Posts: 3,082
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I think it's worth it if you need the credit quickly and/or if you are sending more than 1 book (since it averages out over the number of books).

On SaDVD I am pro recipients taking as long as they need (within the deadline) to mark items received since a disc could not play, and I take the same stance on audio books, but the books are easier to check the condition on.

If a book arrives damaged (and it was clearly not just the PO's fault), sometimes I'll take longer to mark it received while I try to decide if it's worth it to get into it with the sender. If it's something in violation of an RC where I have to finely detail what's wrong (measure cuts, stains, etc.) or, even worse, it's something obvious that had to have happened prior to shipping and I hate having to figure out a polite way of requesting the credit back when a sender just blatantly ignored the RC. I mean, what can you say that's going to convince someone that's trying to cheat you not to cheat you? The thing is, if there's a problem, I've found that any communication about a problem results in a "but it was fine when I sent it".

I've received one when the problem could literally not have happened in-transit - on top of the damage that may or may not have been PO, it was a book I'd asked for without library cover protector/stickers and it arrived damaged, with a protector glues on, and stickers. The sender didn't respond to my initial RC-RWAP where I described the damage and why it did not match my RC and I eventually PMed them again that I could not mark the issue as resolved without a response. They're response was "I will refund credit however the book was not in that condition when I sent it. It was used but not destroyed like that it must've happened in transition".

That said, and as much as I'm generally happy with the site, I would be entirely pro a new button that is "received with problem - details pending" where you can go ahead and mark it and then have a small grace period to input what the problem is. It would let the recipient mark it while letting the sender know that there was an issue, without making the sender feel like they need to respond to a PM / the recipient have to write an awkward "it's damaged and I'll mark it as soon as I can detail the damage" PM. It's not a super necessity, but it is one of the few changes I'd like to see happen.

Date Posted: 9/30/2015 8:49 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2007
Posts: 2,571
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Valerie, to order the labels just go to the USPS.com website and the 'postal store' tab.  Choose labels and scroll down to USPS tracking. The SKU is Label 400. I think you may have to set up an account with your mailing address to complete the order, but these are free so there's no charge.

Date Posted: 10/1/2015 12:10 AM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Sara summed it up nicely...not cost effective for financial reasons, but (like me) worthwhile if used for peace of mind.

Date Posted: 10/1/2015 12:35 AM ET
Member Since: 10/23/2009
Posts: 1,281
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In my six years, I have never had a book that I sent go lost. I've had maybe 3 go lost coming to me, and PBS refunded my credit on all of those. On one of them, I received an email from the sender several months later that she had received the book returned to her in pieces-who knows what happened in transit?