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Topic: First Class Letter vs First Class Parcel

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Subject: First Class Letter vs First Class Parcel
Date Posted: 3/15/2009 9:20 AM ET
Member Since: 8/24/2005
Posts: 504
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Yesterday a very helpful post office clerk pointed out that one of the books I was mailing First Class Parcel actually qualified for the First Class Letter rate, a savings of about 30 cents.

The package must be less than 3/4 inch thick and not rigid. I had assumed that the fact it was a book meant it was rigid and he said no, that it was a paperback and had some give to it, which he demonstrated, and that it did not qualify as rigid.

Now most paperbacks will not be thin enough to meet the 3/4 inch rule but if you have one that's about 4 ounces, it might well qualify for a lower mailing rate.

I'll be measuring my tiny paperbacks from now on as well as weighing them.

 

Date Posted: 3/15/2009 10:03 AM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2008
Posts: 2,007
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You might want to be careful about this, as the reason for the "not rigid" requirement is so the letters can pass over and through sets of belts and rollers as then are sorted and scanned.  Those same belts and rollers can tear up a book in an eyeblink, and at the very least break the spine.  The difference is 20 cents.

 

 

Date Posted: 3/15/2009 7:14 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,185
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I'm with Bernhard, a book has a higher likelihood of getting damaged being sent as a letter. Letters go through too many machines that are made to process envelopes with just paper in them.

I assumed what your PO employee told you, that some give would mean it isn't classified as rigid, my PO guy said the if it didn't flex a lot, and easily, so that it could bend around corners and go though the rollers it is rigid.

Date Posted: 3/15/2009 8:23 PM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2009
Posts: 2,016
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I agree with the other posters that using the First Class letter (or "Flat") rate might subject books to automation that might damage books. I'm also relatively new here, and don't use PBS postage, so I don't even know if there's a way to select letter rate. The other issue is that first class letters do not qualify for delivery confirmation, whereas first class (and media mail) parcels do. In fact, I looked this up because a postal clerk told me I can't mail a book via media mail with DC because it is not over 3/4" According to the guidelines, however, if it is rigid (but under 3/4") it is classified as a parcel and not a flat, and as a parcel it can have DC. There's actually a definition and a defined way to test for the USPS term "rigid." See this link for the test. http://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/301.htm
Date Posted: 3/18/2009 8:41 AM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2009
Posts: 98
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Actually.

A "letter" has some very specific guideline.  A letter must be less than 1/4" in thickness and not larger than about 5 1/4" by about 10 1/4".

If it exceeds those dimensions. and is not bumpy or rigid then it is a large envelope.

More than 3/4" thick OR more than 1/4" difference between largest and smallest thickness OR more than 1/4" thick and rigid, it's a parcel.

Hope this helps.

Date Posted: 3/27/2009 7:11 PM ET
Member Since: 1/19/2009
Posts: 61
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I would certainly think a paperback would be considered rigid.  When mail is being sorted into the boxes, it has to be flexible enough to be bent to fit into the box, such as a manila envelope with papers in it.  If it can't be bent without damaging the item or other items in the box, it shouldn't be put in.  A paperback can't be bent or folded.  That being said, a carrier once told me about an employee in another office who actually bent a book over the edge of the desk so it would fit in the box.  It takes all kinds!

Date Posted: 3/28/2009 1:17 PM ET
Member Since: 11/6/2008
Posts: 110
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It depends upon the spine of the book.  While most paperbooks are not sufficiently flexible for the first class letter rate, I do have some small paperback books which are sufficiently flexible.  Also while most paperbooks don't qualify for the first class letter rate some qualify for the first class flat rate.



Last Edited on: 3/28/09 1:19 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Subject: shipping media parcel
Date Posted: 3/30/2009 3:15 PM ET
Member Since: 9/4/2005
Posts: 12
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If it's a real thin item just add a few peanuts, etc, so it's over the 3/4 size.

It's only $2.19 for 7 oz. first, then it's cheaper to ship media.

Date Posted: 4/6/2009 10:59 AM ET
Member Since: 4/8/2008
Posts: 1
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I sent a book and the post office told me it was not thick enough for tracking. (that I paid for through pbs)  The post office proceded to cover up the tracking with lables.  I paid the usual postage $2.23.  This is the first time this has happeded to me and I have sent smaller books before.

 

Brenda

Date Posted: 4/6/2009 1:41 PM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2009
Posts: 98
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I sent a book and the post office told me it was not thick enough for tracking. (that I paid for through pbs)  The post office proceded to cover up the tracking with lables.  I paid the usual postage $2.23.  This is the first time this has happeded to me and I have sent smaller books before.

 

I  believe this was a mistake on the PO's part, because you sent it Media Mail not First Class.  To avoid any issues just put a piece of stiff cardboard with the book so it doesnt bend. If over 1/4" and not flexible, it qualifies as a package.

Date Posted: 4/6/2009 2:24 PM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2008
Posts: 2,007
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There is a minimum size for Delivery Confirmation.  I'm not sure what it is, but I remember reading about it in the postal regs.