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Topic: How is everyone doing their postage?

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Subject: How is everyone doing their postage?
Date Posted: 8/3/2008 11:20 AM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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I was wondering what seems to work best for everyone else?  Are you just printing out the plain old PBS labels & waitng in line at the PO when you have multiples, using printable postage, or doing something else altogether?

I've always had a printer, so I started out just printing regular PBS labels & getting DC at the PO when I did BOB swaps.  I went to PBS postage, just because I could use it for everything & didn't have to wait in line at the PO even when I had multiple books in one shipment.  The added perks were instant credit & easy package tracking.  The drawback mostly being the cost.  I don't mind the extra 18 cents for package tracking and DC, but that added 40 or whatever cent fee was adding up to quite a bit.  Plus, I felt like I was always buying PBS money - mostly because I was:P  One month I spent $82 on PBS money to cover my postage costs - blech.  A few days ago, I started trying out buying postage direct from paypal.  There are no added fees, so you pay the cost of postage + 18 cents for DC & package tracking.  The only drawbacks I can see to it are that I have to type in the addresses, and then I also need to inbox everyone their DC numbers so they can track their shipments.  Right at this moment, I have 40 credits sitting in my account - absurd, I know:P  But it does sort of make instant credit a lot less attractive, which was mostly the perk I was justifying that extra fee with.  I like this, I think.  Everything is sort of scattered out more, instead of all being a matter of a few clicks on this site.  I have to go to paypal or USPS.com to track my packages, I have to do the extra typing for the labels instead of just hitting the print button, and I'm printing extra pages, so I can send the PBS labels inside my packages, so everyone realizes the books they get are through PBS, but it's going to take time for me to decide if the extra work is worth saving 40 cents:P

Oh - and the other perk is that I can use this other PO that I prefer to my home station.  I hate that one.  It does less business than the one that's not in my zip code, but the service there is lousy and sooo slow, and it's not even the closest station to my house.  Using paypal labels, I can enter the postal code I'm mailing from, and they get credit for processing my packages at the other station, so I don't feel bad about dropping off packages there that they don't get credit for processing.  I think PBS needs to add that feature to their postage too, btw, and I keep meaning to message someone and suggest it.

Last Edited on: 8/3/08 11:22 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/3/2008 11:59 AM ET
Member Since: 8/25/2007
Posts: 13,134
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I just go to the P.O.  I am wondering about doing PBS DC because I am sending out so many game books I think it would help save a little $, but I'd just want to have it for game books, not regular orders.  I have kept my receipts from the P.O. but am afraid to actually start totalling them.  I am sure the amount will make me ill.  :-(

Date Posted: 8/3/2008 12:11 PM ET
Member Since: 8/11/2007
Posts: 597
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I go to the P.O. because it's close and I try to use First Class when it's cheaper to do so instead of Media Mail. Can you send this way thru PBS? I spend about $12 to $15 a week on mailing.

Date Posted: 8/3/2008 12:14 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,632
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I keep stamps on hand for stuff that's lighter and cheaper to send.  I purchase them directly from USPS.com.  You do pay $1 processing fee but that's it except for the cost of the stamps.  I can get stamps in whatever denomination I want to that way.  If I use my Paypal debit card to purchase, I get the cashback bonus from PP so I get back part of that $1 processing fee.

If it's over 13oz, I use Paypal postage or if it's something that has to have DC on it.  I don't bother to even check the DC # unless the book's been out for a couple of weeks and I'm getting worried about it.

I really don't have time to go to the PO much at all.  I like my 3 for 1 special because that's about the size of package I can cram down the slot of the blue dropbox.  Any more than that and I have to run the package down to the PO which is 32 blocks away and completely out of my way.

Date Posted: 8/3/2008 12:38 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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Dawn -

Tell me about it, girl:P  I almost went feet up in the floor when I looked at my money registry and saw $82.  That's why I started selling credits.  I had to do something to offset what I was spending on postage.  Of course you pay for convenience.  You can mail like Fred Flintstone and save the most money, but of course there's no way to track anything, and talk about writer's cramp... uck!  As many books as I send out each month, my hand would either fall off or I'd end up with carpal tunnel syndrome:P

I want everyone to be able to look up a tracking number and see where their stuff is.  But more than that, I just do not want to use my crappy post office:P  Hate it doesn't even come close to describing how I feel about it.  It's a new station, but it's tucked back in this industrial park & I have to take a roundabout route to get there - strike one.  It's slow, so they don't have more than one or two people behind the counter at any given time, BUT it seems like everyone treats it like the old time barber shop or general store.  They mosey in and lean on the counter & wanna chat half the day, buy collectible stamps, and it's like waiting for lunch in a retirement home - strike two:P  Then, one time I go in & wait 100 years so they can ask their stupid "fragile, liquid, or perishable" question, and someone will invariably tell me I didn't have to wait - I could just leave them at the end of the counter since they're all postage paid & ready to go.  Ok, cool, but then the next time I go in, some anal retentive pinhead fusses because I left my stuff at the end of the counter the last time I was in and they didn't get to ask me "the question" - strike three, they're out. 

What's good about paypal over PBS postage is that you can enter the zip for whatever station you plan to mail from.  I didn't know it, but they told me at the station I like using (they actually live in the modern world there and try to get customers in & out as quickly as possible:P) that they don't get credit for processing anything that has a different zip code than the one they're in - which effects their payroll & staffing, etc.  They showed me how to print their "origination zip code" on my labels using other preprinted postage services -like paypal, but PBS doesn't have that feature with their printable postage.  Paypal does, and I already have an account with them that I use regularly for buying books online anyway.  So it's kinda like, save 40 cents, or spend the extra money and use the station that's permanently stuck in 1955.  Hmmm... decisions, decisions...

Brenda - PBS's system automatically generates the label at First Class rate if the rate is lower than sending a book media mail.  In other words, like something thin & lightweight - like a harlequin - would be cheaper to mail 1st class than it would to send it media mail, which is always a minimum rate for 1oz  through (I think) 13 oz - I'd have to find my rate chart and check that to be sure at what point it goes up.

Date Posted: 8/3/2008 12:39 PM ET
Member Since: 2/28/2008
Posts: 2,553
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I've been using paypal instead of PBS postage for the same reason's as you Kim. Unless I'm super low on credits, that is (like I am now). I try to avoid the post office as much as possible because at my PO anyways the line moves SLOOOOW.

Date Posted: 8/3/2008 12:56 PM ET
Member Since: 11/29/2005
Posts: 953
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I usually buy postage through PBS unless I'm already going to the PO to mail boxes or something. I started doing PBS postage for a couple of reason. I love the Instant Credit and it gives PBS some money for the upkeep of this great site. I can also mail from my work or home on the weekends and I really like that. I have done the Paypal postage for other things but not for PBS.

Date Posted: 8/3/2008 1:00 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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Yeah, helping to support PBS is something I don't have the least problem with.  I do need to send the suggestion that they add the feature to their printable postage that allows you to enter the zip code for the station you will be mailing from.  If they did that, I could see spending that 40 cents, at least every so often, just to help support PBS, get the instant credit, and still be able to mail from wherever I want.

Date Posted: 8/3/2008 1:24 PM ET
Member Since: 10/19/2007
Posts: 1,028
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i just do DC through PBS and my postage at the PO.   Plus, I don't really see my costs add up.  It's just basically out of pocket.

Date Posted: 8/3/2008 1:51 PM ET
Member Since: 1/19/2008
Posts: 14,812
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i get PBS-DC on nearly every package, and then just go stand in line at the post office to buy the postage.  since the clerk has to scan the package to get the DC fee down to $.18, this way i almost always get my credit by the next morning.  i like the nearly instant gratification, and i love being able to watch the packages move.  plus all three clerks at my local PO are totally used to me and my packages by now, and the lines usually aren't that long.  i will use the APC in the lobby if the line is ridiculous and i don't need the credits ASAP. 

i try to buy enough PBS money to pay for two months worth of DC codes at a time, but it seems i'm shipping more packages every month so it keeps going up.  like Dawn, i have a pile of receipts here that i'm afraid to add up.

Date Posted: 8/3/2008 1:57 PM ET
Member Since: 10/16/2007
Posts: 1,180
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I don't send out as many books as you guys.  Maybe 3-4 a week.  I have never tried DC for books although I do use when I sell things on Ebay.  Seems to me the value of returning a credit occassionally offsets the cost of paying an extra 40 cents + 18 cents (If I figured that correctly) each time through PBS and then you have to keep track of PBS money too.  I have yet to have a book go missing.  (***Knocking on wood).

I buy my stamps throught the mail.  (No fee for that and they come to me.)  I usually buy Forever stamps so that I don't need to supplement with 1cent stamps each time the rates are raised.  I'll also get 5 or 10 cent stamps so I can be more accurate with postage.  I usually will mail all the books with first class stamps unless I have alot going out at one time.  Media rate is usually only about 9 cents cheaper and does not warrant the effort to go to the PO for just one book.

I have a scale at home so I weigh the books and check postage calculation at USPS.com.  I have found the rec postage on PBS printouts to be inaccurate so I don't go by those.  Then I put the book in my mailbox or drop it in at the mailbox I walk past entering work.

When I do go in to my PO,  I live in Nowhereville so the PO is very small and has 1 employee.  He knows me by name and there is usually no one else there.  Very fast and helpful when I have questions.  It is located 1/4 mi from my house. 

Last Edited on: 8/3/08 1:59 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/3/2008 2:38 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2006
Posts: 749
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I have never tried DC either. I use stamps, like Dana I buy the forever ones and some 10cent stamps, to mail my books and then I just put them in the mailbox at the end of my driveway. If I have several books to mail or packages over 13oz  I'll go to the PO. I'm all around town for my job so I'm usually by a PO a couple of times a week so I don't have to make a special trip. 

Date Posted: 8/3/2008 2:57 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2007
Posts: 4,058
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It's the bookmarks:P  The specials make a really big difference, but those bookmarks have made my shelf immensely popular - no doubt.  I don't mind going to the PO if I can use the one that I prefer.  It's close & easy to get to, and since I'm always out running here & there, I can drop books off anytime I have other errands to run.  It also has extended hours - open until 9pm Mon - Sat - so I don't have to squeeze my PO stops into normal business hours.  I'm not usually just mailing out single book shipments since I started running specials though.  I have a certain amount of WL books and FIFO orders going out, but it's usually no more than 1 or 2 per trip & sometimes not even that.  The package sizes have trimmed down to a more manageable level since I went to 2 for 3 instead of 2 for 1, but I'm still dropping off packages 2-3 times a week, usually 3-5 packages minimum, and of those, very few have just one book in them.  And my carrier will let me hand them off to him, but since I send so many, I try not to wear out the welcome.  He has his hands full enough with all of the books I have coming in:P

Last Edited on: 8/3/08 3:00 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/3/2008 3:13 PM ET
Member Since: 6/9/2007
Posts: 745
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I just go to the PO but then I only go once a week (as needed, some weeks I don't go at all). My PO is kinda slow but the clerks there recognize me and know exactly how to send my stuff. Since I only go once a week, I do all of my errands on that day and I usually pass through on my way home from work. I'm not hurting for credits and I'm making an effort not to get any books unless they on my WL so it works for me.

Date Posted: 8/3/2008 3:41 PM ET
Member Since: 7/18/2008
Posts: 1,051
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I usually go 1-2 a week depending on how many orders I have. But I'm thinking of making it once a week.

Date Posted: 8/3/2008 4:01 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2007
Posts: 287
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I mainly use two different POs - one on the way to work & the other in my town.  Both are small with friendly staff, although the one in town ususally has a line.  They have gotten used to my face and I tell them up front - just books, no insurance & no DC.

I didn't realize the one outside my zip code would not get credit for me sending my books though them.

Date Posted: 8/3/2008 5:15 PM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2006
Posts: 6,436
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I generally go to the post office, which I combine with other chores to save gas. (Though I'm thinking about being brave and riding my bike next time.) There's an APS and a good scale, so it's really pretty easy.

I also keep a book of $.75 stamps for really obvious packages that I know will be $2.23 media mail. 

Date Posted: 8/3/2008 5:22 PM ET
Member Since: 1/4/2007
Posts: 261
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I usually regular stamps mostly - if the books are less than 12 oz. If I feel the books are heavy, I will go the Mail America and send them from there.

Date Posted: 8/3/2008 7:22 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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I use the printed postage for audio cds and books over 13oz so I don't have to go to the post office.  I keep a variety of stamp denominations on hand for everything else. If I have to go the PO for any reason I stock up.  I usually have some $1, .90 .26, .10, .05 and .01 on hand.  So I'm usually able to come up with whatever postage amount I need. I have a small kitchen scale to check the weight. For game books I use the mail to a friend option and use the printed postage since I'm getting DC anyway.  For BOBS I use the Mail to a Friend option if it's over 13oz.

Date Posted: 8/3/2008 7:34 PM ET
Member Since: 6/24/2005
Posts: 356
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Here's my outlook.  I'm here to save on book buying (other than to find HTF books), otherwise, might as well buy new with no worries about condition, etc.  So I don't want to spend anymore than necessary, especially currently with finances being minimal for me and wanting way too many books. 

Printed vs. hand labels - Factor in the cost of that costly printer ink and paper you are printing on along with the postage, costs even more then, plus the time you spend to print the label and tape it properly around the book.  Just as easy to handprint a label and slap it on a padded envelope (or write direct on the envelope if unused) or box and less time actually.  We all know what we are expecting from PBS regardless of all that other info on the PBS labels, or would be reminded logging into our accounts, lol.    Padded envelopes are so much easier, have the plastic bubble wrap to protect.  Not so costly if you wait and buy a box with a very good sale and re-use all the ones coming into your house, they can be used many times over.  Now Kim's packages are very pretty, and nice to get, but really, I don't care how pretty the package looks, just care about what's inside, lol.   If  you want to type the labels, fine, can be quicker if you are mailing out a lot at one time, so okay, you allow that printer ink cost.

Check the postage for the book and use First-Class when you can, PBS does not always give the FCM postage even when cheaper, and yes sometimes the weights used are off and postage is higher than it should be.  You know those old thin Harlequins are only usually between  4-5 oz., sometimes less, so you can spot those right off.  I worked for Postal management for 10 yrs some time ago, wouldn't bother with DC.  Besides just adding to your cost, it does not guarantee the book getting to the right place, just that it was delivered somewhere, and all the comments in threads here about it being inaccurate, scanned at different points or not at all depending on how updated equipment at a PO is, is true.  Ask a good clerk, he/she will tell you not reallly worth it.  Tracking is a waste, for DC ofen not accurate at all.  So I don't bother.  When you think of the costs to each book and how rare it is that your books go missing, if at all, it's just worth it to eat the cost of maybe $2  or a bit more for that one book gone missing when you think of all that you spent on that extra for all the books you mail.  Only bonus to DC is the instant credit, and I never have enough and still don't think it's worth it, lol.  All how you look at it.

Mailing convenience:  No problem for me.  I can get stamps from either the main PO or stations or contract stations in my town easily.  Most in our town have the self-help in their lobbies, and one is available 24 hours, which is great for me, a night owl, so you don't have to stand in line unless you have big boxes.  Even a padded with several books you can do on self-help when lines are there or after hours in a station like the one I go to--they have scales to weight and calculate postage (and often the weights at PBS and even Amazon--which usually I do find accurate but not always), you pay with your credit or debit card.  This way because they have a way of tracking you because you paid with that credit card, you can drop in the package over 13 oz.  One reason it was advertised to buy and print postage at Paypal, you can be identified.  Usually mailing one book at a time or a few in one, I can leave them in my condo lobby drop-box for my mailman - he knows me so will take even if over 13 oz., I can even give  him a box.  If you are home when your carrier comes in a private house, can do the same.  It's that 24-hr service lobby that really makes it easy for me, I'm often there at midnight or later, lol.  Usually I leave in my lobby unless a very large package or I ran out of stamps.  Doesn't take much time for me to click handprint, write it on the envelope or label and stick it on. 

Check for FCM rates - besides either being cheaper or at almost the same as media for most paperbacks you mail out singly now, you also avoid media mail inspection which can lead to delays or books going missing, and can add anything else in the package without worrying if it's okay - like a promo pen or something if  you'd like, and it gets delivered pretty quickly if handled properly, so no real need for DC cost other than instant credit or guarantee against lost book (not worth as I said above).    Media Mail up to 1 lb.  is $2.23;  First-Class up to 7 oz is cheaper - 7 oz is $.2.19, and even 8 oz. at $2.36 I'd go First-Class.

Check your lobbies next time you go to the PO and see if they have self-help and avoid those lines, look for the 24-hour go whenever you want, ask about contract stations - authorized by PO for mailing purposes in local stores in your area, may help avoid lines or closer to your home if a PO is not nearby.

Date Posted: 8/3/2008 7:55 PM ET
Member Since: 2/24/2006
Posts: 5,498
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I go to the PO because sometimes First Class is actually cheaper than Media.


Date Posted: 8/3/2008 11:26 PM ET
Member Since: 6/17/2008
Posts: 626
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I drive by the PO every day on my way home from work... and since my PO doesn't close until 8pm on the weekdays, I usually just send it there.  I will print out the PBS package and use that for the addresses and stuff but will cut away the MM or First Class portion of the wrapper... occasionally (though not very often) it has been off.  But the other reason is that there are times when it really is only a few cent difference between the two so if that is the case I generally don't have a problem with upgrading the package.  I also don't send as many books out so I don't see a huge difference in the amount I am spending.  

I will occasionally use DC (I just sent away for the lables from USPS.com for free) and will put them on the larger packages. 

I have been looking into PBS shipping or with Paypal, but I just can't help but feel paranoid about it (the wrong postage amount, etc.)... even though it sounds like it is rarely off and there aren't thay many problems...

Date Posted: 8/4/2008 3:00 PM ET
Member Since: 1/1/2008
Posts: 11,143
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I use Paypal for sending game books and PBS DC for orders that come through my account.

Date Posted: 8/4/2008 3:15 PM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2006
Posts: 258
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Fortunately, my post office is directly across the street from my grocery store--a true convenience and gas saver.  I regularly use the automated postal machine in the lobby to purchase stamps in bulk.  Then I just leave the books in my mailbox for the carrier to pick up.  The downside is that I don't use DC, so I can't trace the books, but only 1 of more than 400 books I've mailed has not reached its destination.  I've been very lucky!

Date Posted: 8/4/2008 9:03 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2007
Posts: 376
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uhm, I guess I'm not smart enough to use PayPal for postage and shipping - I watched the demo twice but I do not see where I can buy postage and print a shipping label on my account overview page. The demo shows it attached to a specific transaction, so, uh, how can I do this?? HELP! thanks...