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Topic: too many mail-by dates (& not enuf of the yummy brown kind)

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Subject: too many mail-by dates (& not enuf of the yummy brown kind)
Date Posted: 3/20/2009 3:25 AM ET
Member Since: 1/4/2009
Posts: 294
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I know this stuff about mailing it on time, and don't say you've mailed it when you haven't, etc., has been gone over so much everyone's weary of it. So I apologize for still being confused. But I am. What I'm still confused about is, the plethora of different dates that the sender of a book encounters, on their way to deciding when they absolutely must put a book in the mail.

Right now, for example, it's early AM on the 20th, and thus time for me to get moving on a book I originally marked "Mail Later" and then chose the day of "Saturday, March 21st."

In keeping with that choice, in the "Books to Mail" section of my Main Account, it says "I will mail this by: 3/21/2009 11:00 PM ET"

Also in the space for that book there's what cartoonists call a dialogue balloon. It has "Destination:" at the top and says "you must click below by 3/23/2009 11:00 PM" or you will no receive credits.

So that's three dates I've encountered so far, in my process of deciding when's the latest day I can  mail this book: two of them agree it's March 21st, while the third says it's March 23rd.

Next step: I print out the mailing label. When I do so, I have to choose a date--the date that the package will be postmarked.  In my case, since I always mail things in the dead of night, the postmark will always be the day after I click the "Book Has Been Mailed" button.

But what date should I choose for the label, in this case? Do I have to put March 22nd, since that's the postmark date for the mail-by date I originally agreed on,which is also the date of the "I will mail this by"?

Or can I put March 24rd, which would be the postmark date for the mail-by date of "you must click below by"?

What would happen if I clicked "Book Has Been Mailed" in order to meet the March 23rd deadline for clicking it, but actually didn't put the book in the mail until the following evening, March 24rd, thus getting a postmark of March 25th? Would that be so awful? Is that the sort of discrepancy between date mailed and date postmarked people were talking about in the "Books Mailed After Posted as Having Been Mailed" thread? Do people really care a whole lot about a day or two? I mean, it's OK with me if they do, and I'll adjust my behavior accordingly, but it never occurred to me that anyone would. I'm just trying to get a clearer picture here.

One more question: Why are the "I will mail this by" and "you must click below by" dates different by two days in the first place?     

If all, or any, of this is clearly explained in the Help Docs, just give me a search string I can plug in to get to the right place.

                                                                              --ignorant but still trying,


Last Edited on: 3/20/09 3:33 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 3/20/2009 5:45 AM ET
Member Since: 12/20/2008
Posts: 1,417
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I can clear up a couple things:

1) There is a Mail by Date (in this case, 3/21/09)

2) There is a date which you must click on the box to acknowlegde that you have, in fact, mailed the book. (this case, 3-23-09)

There are a few instances in which PBS says it's okay to click that you have mailed the books, even if you haven't but you intend to. Search the help docs for the exact instances, but an acceptable reason I remember off-hand include if you have unreliable internet service & might not get online to acknowledge mailing by the deadline.

If this is clear as mud, sorry, I'm having a bit of insomnia but too tired to think clearly.


Date Posted: 3/20/2009 7:12 AM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,603
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And I'll go further, on the date listed when you print the label. That is supposed to be good for 48 hours, so if you print the label today, you should mail it by no later than Sunday. However, I have to say that I usually forget to change the date when I'm printing a label and the PBS postage/DC has never been refused or not worked regardless of when I printed and then mailed the book. Typically though, I'm printing a label and mailing within a day, though not always.

Most things have "grace periods," which explains the first two conflicting dates. The first date 3/21, is when you SAID you'd mail the book. The second date is the "okay, you SAID you'd mail it 3/21, so be sure you mark it as such by 3/23 or we're gonna cancel the order." They'e just being nice and giving busy people time to get their sh....stuff together. :)


Date Posted: 3/20/2009 7:46 AM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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They give you 2 extra days to mail the book because life gets in the way sometimes.  Your car breaks down, you forget the books at home and don't have time to go back for them, your kid gets sick etc..., Or like what happened to me the other day is that I found a book that had slid out of the bag after I went to the PO.  It was too late to go back to the PO that day.   Also not everyone has computer access everyday and they prefer that you don't mark a book mailed until it is actually mailed. So they give you 2 extra days incase you only have computer access at the library or work or if something comes up. 

The date on the label only applies if you are using the PBS postage. The post office uses that date to help them keep track of mailing times.  Some are strict and will send a book back if they date looks too old to them. So you have the option of adjusting the date. So say you only have computer access at work Mon-Fri.  On Fri you get a book order and print out the label and the printed posted. But you know that you won't get the book in the mail until Mon morning when you drop it off in a Blue box on your way to work.  So you can pick Mon as the date on the postage, take the label home and wrap up your book over the weekend.  Most likely the Fri postage date wouldn't cause a problem but you never know. Some rule stickler postal employee could spot it on Mon with Fridays mail by date and send it back to you. So they give you the option of adjusting the date.

Date Posted: 3/20/2009 1:57 PM ET
Member Since: 2/19/2008
Posts: 2,007
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Copy of an email exchange I had a few days ago with TPTB:

Dear Bernhard,

Yes, if you mark a book mailed on (for example) Wednesday that means either that you have actually mailed it, or that it will be in the mail on Friday at the latest.  There is no rule about how early you mail - just about not mailing too late.

Of course there are other things than the examples in the Help Center that can come up and delay a Wednesday mailing until Thursday or Friday - too many to list in the Help Center.  We hope that members are not being overly concerned about this.  We would expect requestors to give senders the benefit of the doubt, just as we expect senders to mail on the date they mark mailed, if they possibly can. 

While we want everyone to respect the rules of the club, bookswapping is not brain surgery - precision is not a matter of life-or-death!  Members need to be considerate of each other in both directions.

Have a great day!

The PaperBackSwap Team


Regarding: None
I would like to get a clarification of the guidelines please.  Currently, the help docs say this about marking a book mailed:

A book must be mailed within 48 hours of marking it mailed


      It is okay to mark your book mailed before you have mailed it if:
          o The deadline date falls on a postal holiday
          o Your computer/Internet access is unreliable
          o You plan to mail the book on your way out of town
    * It is not okay to mark your book mailed and delay Mailing it for longer than 48 hours
          o We understand that sometimes circumstances interfere with prompt mailing!  But this should not be a habit.
          o If your mailing is delayed, you must inform the requestor as soon as possible, so that she doesn't think the book is lost in the mail if it was merely mailed late.

In the forums there is much debate over how this is to be interpreted.  On the one side you have those who maintain that you should never mark a book mailed before it is placed in a collection box, and that the only exceptions to this rule is the three reasons listed below the opening statement.  On the other side of the debate are those who say that these are only examples, and that the opening statement (A book must be mailed within 48 hours of marking it mailed) allows for a book being marked as mailed up to 48 hours prior to it being placed in a collection box.  Some of the first group have even said that marking a book mailed just before you walk out the door to go to the mailbox or post office is unacceptable.

Would you please be so kind as to clarify the site position on this matter?  Are those, in fact, the only times it is okay to mark a book mailed before it is placed in a collection box, or are they only examples?

The way I understand this rule is that if I were, for example, to mark a book as "mailed" at noon on a Wednesday, I would have from noon on the prior Monday to noon on the following Friday, to actually place the book in a collection box.  I believe I am correct in this, but I would greatly appreciate your clarification of this matter.

Date Posted: 3/20/2009 3:45 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,226
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If you are using PBS postage try to make sure that you use the date you will be putting the book in the mail, error on the side of having it posted after you mail it, but within the mail date period. Some POs allow lag time, some follow it strickly and will not take a stale postage date. The site originally said that you had 48 hours, but found out quickly that they were wrong and many people were getting their packages denied at the PO or returned out of a blue box. Most POs will add a zero strip to adjust the date, but that will require standing in line and some POs are crotchety and won't do that for you, but make you buy new postage. You'll have to decide what kind of people you deal with and what to expect.

The rest of it you are WAY overthinking. You have an agreed upon mail date of the 21st, that is what the receiver sees. You have 2 days after that in which to get it marked mailed in the system, the 23rd. No one is going to notice what day you mail it on in that narrow window, wait until the 31st and you will probably have an upset requester since you agreed to mail it on the 21st.

Not sure why you are looking for the absolute must put the book in the mail date, but that would be 2 weeks after you marked it mailed (as long as you marked it mailed by the end of 23rd). As long as the book reaches them and it was not mailed more than two weeks late, the receiver has to mark it received. I'm not saying that is the proper thing to do, I'd find it extremely rude, but that is when you "absolutely must put a book in the mail" in order to get the credit.

Last Edited on: 3/20/09 3:46 PM ET - Total times edited: 1