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Topic: hand-addressing: why ask? what's the deal?

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Subject: hand-addressing: why ask? what's the deal?
Date Posted: 1/30/2009 6:18 PM ET
Member Since: 1/4/2009
Posts: 294
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I'm perplexed about something. When you're marking a book as received, in the optional section at the end, there's this query: "Was the package hand-addressed? (Yes or No)."

Why do "they" (the PBS Poobahs) ask that question?

There is a detailed discussion in the Help docs about hand-addressing, starting with: "If you cannot (or do not wish to) print the wrapper, you may hand-write the address on your package." Part of what's spelled out is that you can't have Delivery Confirmation (DC) if you hand-address the package, because DC requires the DC bar code. But the upshot of the whole discussion is that--so long as you do it right--there's nothing wrong with hand-addressing.

So if it's OK to hand-address, why do they ask? Are they trying to get a survey of how many people do hand-addressing? To what end?

 I have a reason for asking this. As I get more comfortable w/ the process of printing, packing, addressing, and mailing, I'm eager to stop using machines to address the mailers. I want, as much as possible, to reinstate the human touch. 

So maybe I'm paranoid, 'cause I'm afraid there's going to be a prohibition, in the future, against hand-addressing.

Your thoughts?

                                               -- Fiona

Last Edited on: 1/30/09 6:20 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/30/2009 6:23 PM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2008
Posts: 2,007
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A sudden upsurge of people hand addressing might indicate a problem with how the address labels are being formatted or printed.  <shrug>

Date Posted: 1/30/2009 6:32 PM ET
Member Since: 10/23/2005
Posts: 7,719
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PBS is one of the few swap site that has a printable wrapper, and they track to see how many members use that feature. It is a great selling point for them and they have tracked how many use this feature even before the PBS Printable Postage/DC became an option. I hand-write many of my own labels too, and havent had a problem. I do think they are comparing it the hand-writen ones take longer to arrive, since the printed ones have the bar coded address on them.

Date Posted: 1/30/2009 6:54 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,631
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Yes, I think they just want to see how many actually print out and use the PBS wrapper to mail.  I admit I rarely do so, I wrap in brown kraft paper and hand address most of my outgoing packages.  It's more economical and doesn't waste printer ink and paper.  Plus, most of the time, I just do not want to turn on my other computer which has the printer attached to it.  If I had a printer attached to my laptop, I'd probably print and use the wrapper for the printed address.  I find kraft paper much easier to wrap books in than printer paper.

Date Posted: 1/30/2009 7:09 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2005
Posts: 7,977
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Last Edited on: 9/15/10 12:48 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/30/2009 7:47 PM ET
Member Since: 1/19/2006
Posts: 472
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Handwritten labels can often the source of a slowed down book or something if the machines can't read them.  It's possible they are tracking that.  Or not using the PBS mailer.  You could write and ask them.

Date Posted: 1/30/2009 9:25 PM ET
Member Since: 1/4/2009
Posts: 294
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Interesting replies so far. I appreciate them because I'm learning things. For example, I didn't know that PBS uses their printable wrappers as a selling point.

I've been thinking about doing a mash-up of printed and hand-written labels: I really like the printed postage and DC bar code part of the printed label, so what I've been thinking of doing is cutting out the address section of the label and replacing it with a hand-written label. That way I can play around with calligraphy or decorative edging or whatever in the address section, but keep the advantages of the bar code, etc.

                          --call me nuts, I already know I am,


Date Posted: 1/30/2009 9:38 PM ET
Member Since: 1/4/2009
Posts: 69
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The question I have is this: How do the PBS powers that be know that just because my label wasn't handwritten, I actually used their printable postage?

I work for a packing/shipping store, so I just write down the addresses, take them into work, package the book there and print out a label from our system. They can't blame delays on my handwriting, but I don't use their DC system. I would think that people like me would throw off whatever data they are trying to collect with this question.

Date Posted: 1/30/2009 11:47 PM ET
Member Since: 1/29/2006
Posts: 54,837
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Katie, I don't think it wold matter if you use the PBS label, printable postage or not.  (for the purposes of handwriting vs. printing).  The label was either hand addressed or not.  If they are looking to see if hand-addressing is slower, can be blamed for anything, etc., then all they would need to know is "Printed" or "Hand written", not where or how it was printed.    Now, as a selling point, as Cheryl mentioned, knowing that people do, or do not, use the PBS label is important, of course.

Date Posted: 1/31/2009 10:26 AM ET
Member Since: 2/17/2006
Posts: 2,077
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Just a note about using calligraphy or even cursive writing for the addressee part. The USPS relies on ICR readers in order to route mail more efficiently. That is why they request that handwritten labels use block lettering if possible. If the machine can't recognize enough of the address to route it, it is spit out and a human has to review and interpret it which can create a significant delay.

While I understand the wish to have a human touch added to what you are doing, please understand that this happens at the cost of delaying or perhaps mis-routing the package. The recipient would probably be less excited about your personal touch if it meant that the book took an extra week to get to them if it got there at all.

Honestly, I would stick to decorating the envelope or an insert if you really want to put the personal touch into it, but make sure that it does not interfere with legible block lettering or pre-printed labels. JMHO.

Cathy A. (Cathy) - ,
Date Posted: 1/31/2009 10:33 AM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2005
Posts: 4,150
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Fiona -- please don't try to replace the address on a label that has printable postage. The USPS has to preapprove the layout and sizing of all text on labels that have printed postage, so you should not alter them.

Date Posted: 1/31/2009 11:09 AM ET
Member Since: 1/19/2006
Posts: 472
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I want to echo people's calls not to get creative with the addressing of the book.  When I get wedding invitations or other things like that with calligraphied addresses they get to me late and mangled.  It's a nice idea, but mail just isn't set-up for a personal touch.  Maybe you could do a little note about the book inside?  I think more people would appreciate that and it wouldn't have to stand up to mailing.

Date Posted: 1/31/2009 3:13 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2009
Posts: 74
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Adding a note inside the book would make it ineligible for Media Mail.  So be careful with that, too.

Date Posted: 1/31/2009 3:46 PM ET
Member Since: 1/19/2006
Posts: 472
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You can't put a letter in side a book, but "Hope you enjoy this" or something similar does not make ineligible for Media Mail.

Date Posted: 2/1/2009 9:25 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2005
Posts: 253
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I always use the label, to me it seems faster and looks so much better.  I use the one-sheet option if I am mailing a book too large for the regular PBS wrapper and have my printer set on the ink-saving setting to save paper and ink.  I consider my handwriting to be very neat, but I always print when hand-addressing an envelope.  

Date Posted: 2/1/2009 9:35 PM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2009
Posts: 2
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Automatically generating an address label with a bar code does greatly increase the speed of shipment.  Shipping media mail packages with automatically generated labels vs. handwritten or even typed labels is days vs. weeks, especially if your packages are traveling across country. I have been shipping books via media mail for a long time and found that in the early days  books could 1-2 weeks to be delivered when I used a typed/handwritten label. I eventually switched to a postage program, similar to the one PBS offers, and my deliveries speeded up considerably. 

Date Posted: 2/1/2009 10:29 PM ET
Member Since: 1/2/2009
Posts: 408
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I have always used the printed label, it's muuuuch easier. It's nice that we can handwrite without penalty when there are cases you can't print or something.