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Topic: Incorrect Postage?

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Subject: Incorrect Postage?
Date Posted: 10/28/2009 6:30 PM ET
Member Since: 12/7/2008
Posts: 2,067
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I recently sent a book that was received with too little postage.  I'm not sure how this happened.  I either mailed it from the postal counter with the postal clerk weighting it and putting the postage on, or from the APC machine, with the machine weighing it and printing out the postage (I mailed from two post offices last week... I am not sure which book I mailed from which!)  Is it really possible that either the clerk or the machine was wrong about the weight or postage?  How can I be certain next time that the clerk or machine is correct?

I refunded the received two credits, because she had to pay postage for the book I sent.  I felt really bad and want to prevent this from happening again... I assumed the clerk's scale or the machine's scale would be correct.

Date Posted: 10/29/2009 2:23 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 9,662
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Sometimes the scale could be off but usually its by some fraction of an ounce. I had an instance once where I had weighed on the APC machine but it was broken for printing and then when the clerk weighed them, they were all slightly more (like half an ounce). So, some got bumped from First Class back to Media Mail rate.

So, my best guess is that either a scale was off, or perhaps your postage fell off the package, and for some reason the receiving Post Office assummed it was never there.

How much postage did she pay, that was worth 2 credits? I can't imagine a scale being off by more than a small amount (which might be the difference between the 1 lb rate and the 2 lb rate), but even so, the difference between going from tier to tier is less than 50 cents.

Date Posted: 10/29/2009 6:48 AM ET
Member Since: 12/7/2008
Posts: 2,067
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It was 34 cents off.  I don't think the postage fell off, because it was all on one thing, so I guess the scale was off.  That's really frustrating.  I sent two credits because I felt so bad and reacted too quickly.

Thanks for the response!

Date Posted: 10/29/2009 6:32 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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You didn't need to send 2 credits. Frankly I think for .35 you shouldn't have had to send any credits. I would not have asked for one.  I would have just PM'd to let you know incase it happened again.  Some people trust the PBS weight too much and they use stamps or postage from the APC machine that the got ahead of time.  The PBS weight is frequently wrong. 

Did the package say media mail on it?  If it didn't then maybe they sent it 1st class instead and then charged the postage due.

Date Posted: 10/29/2009 6:46 PM ET
Member Since: 12/7/2008
Posts: 2,067
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It was my choice to send 2 credits- I didn't know how much postage was overdue and I was worried that perhaps the whole stamp had fallen off and that it was several dollars.  Again, like I said above, I reacted too quickly.  That's done and I can't undo it.  I'm only concerned now about whether or not I can trust the APC machine scale or the scale at the counter, as I can't recall which one I used to mail this particular book.

I don't use PBS weights or PBS postage at all.  I have either the person at the counter or the APC machine weigh the package.  I don't usually send media mail and I purposely sent this book first class.  That is why I am confused and can only assume that the scale at the APC machine was wrong.

Date Posted: 10/30/2009 8:02 PM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2008
Posts: 3,495
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Did you send it first class parcel or first class letter rate? This could be why it was off if the size of the item didn't meet the requirements to be sent that way.

Date Posted: 11/1/2009 1:15 AM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 9,662
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I would have sent a check for the 35 cents if the other member insisted on a refund, rather than a whole credit. Not to mention 2 credits!

Maybe I'm not very nice. I don't know.

But, on the other hand, if I was the member that had to pay postage due of 35 cents, i wouldn't have complained about it, either. I would just figure it was some kind of error and forget about it.

Not to mention, if I did complain and someone sent me 2 credits to make up for it ... I would send them right back! :)



Last Edited on: 11/1/09 1:15 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Cathy A. (Cathy) - ,
Date Posted: 11/1/2009 8:13 AM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2005
Posts: 4,117
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I think Rebecca is on the right track here. There are 3 different First Class rates:

  • Letters
  • Large Envelopes
  • Packages

The postage for a First Class Package is equal to the First Class Large Envelope amount + 34 cents, and the postage due was 34 cents, so I'll bet neither scale is wrong. You or the clerk just chose the wrong option when printing out the stamp. Books cannot use the Large Envelope rate because that's only for items that are less than 1/4" thick and can be bent in both directions.

Each additional ounce for a First Class Package costs 17 cents, so it's also possible that one of the scales weighs two ounces light. This seems very unlikely to me though. Scales used by businesses have to be inspected, certified and calibrated regularly. If a postal scale that's used by a lot of people is out of whack, it would get noticed and fixed very quickly, and it would likely be fine the next time you went to that P.O.

Date Posted: 11/23/2009 1:31 AM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2009
Posts: 3,041
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I am one of those who doesn't trust PBS weights. I have a small postage scale and it has never steered me wrong. Now I have something I'm a bit worried about. I know that for a book that weighs under 7 oz., I can send it for 2.24. Well, as I was adjusting the weight on the PBS postage, I noticed something strange. It was telling me that if it was 6.4 oz, I would pay 2.24, but if I went up to 6.5 oz., I would pay 2.38. So I didn't know what to do! The package fully wrapped and taped weighed 6.8 oz, which is still under the  7 oz that should ask me to pay 2.24. So since it was under 7 oz, and the FCM label even says "7 oz first class mail" I punched in 6.4 oz so I wouldn't be overcharged. Has anyone else noticed that?

I switched back and forth between the different weights for a few puzzling minutes to make sure I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. I don't like the fact that I might have been overcharged on books in the past because the weight isn't appropriately set.

Date Posted: 11/23/2009 4:12 AM ET
Member Since: 1/19/2008
Posts: 14,749
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the default setting on the screen where you punch in the weight is for book weight only, and then it assumes some weight for wrapping materials.  that's what makes it assume 6.4 will end up at or under 7.0, and 6.5 over 7.0.  you can change it to say wrapped wt, and put your book and the wrapping materials on the scale - just give yourself some room for tape.

and of course, even if the weight is right, but your wrapping materials weigh more than the guesstimate, you could end up not paying enough.

but the PBS weights are wrong often enough i would never pay for postage based on the weight in the database and risk being either under or way over.  one time PBS had the weight of a mass market paperback i was mailing in the database as 5 pounds!  (i did submit a data correction on that one.)

Date Posted: 11/23/2009 9:04 AM ET
Member Since: 8/26/2008
Posts: 129
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I agree about PBS weights.  Many times I have had thin HC books shown to weigh well over 1 pound when in actuality they we nowhere close.  I purchased a postal scale for about $40 and it has paid for itself in saving me from buying postage online for far more weight than the book would have weighed wrapped! 

Date Posted: 11/23/2009 1:41 PM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2009
Posts: 3,041
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Ellen, I know what I did now! I didn't adjust it to say "wrapped weight" instead of "book weight". That must be why. So I should feel safe just mailing the book that weighs 6.8 oz.