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Topic: Mailing Tip: Free USPS Tracking# Stickers

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Subject: Mailing Tip: Free USPS Tracking# Stickers
Date Posted: 12/21/2015 9:22 PM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2010
Posts: 7
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I am active in all 3 PBS sites (books, DVD's, CD's) and I have been looking for the easiest ways to stay on top of the items passing to and from my hands. 

A couple of months back my oldest son ordered booklets of free USPS Tracking number stickers that the post office happily mailed to our house. After seeing these used at the Post Office (after an interminable wait in line) to log in the packages I was sending I decided that I could do that myself without the long wait.  I collected a couple of booklets of stickers from my son and...

For the past month I have done the following:

  • Sent all packages using the standard PBS label and posted as Media Mail.
  • Applied the bar code tracking label vertically, left of the address
  • Tried out bubble packs, paper label only wraps, and a box with a book enclosed (to add variety)
  • Used stamps, pre-printed postage from the USPS DIY machine, or a mix. (One pre- was over 3 months old)
  • Mailed every package from a public drop point (both inside/outside the P.O. and random mailboxes)

These mailings were 2 DVD's, 7 Books on CD, 1 book on cassette (large pkg), 1 book (over a pound).

The average time to delivery was 3½ business days, even from KY to the west coast 3 times.

"What other benefits?" you might ask.

I was able to PM a message to each recipient that the book was on its way and giving them the tracking info.

I logged into USPS and had the system notify me when deliver was made via text message.

When  a recipient had not acknowledged system receipt (twice) I sent a friendly "glad you got it" reminder.

In conclusion, if I get results this good during the Christmas delivery rush, I suspect this will be the way to do it all year long!

 

Date Posted: 12/22/2015 2:32 PM ET
Member Since: 1/23/2014
Posts: 855
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Good suggestion for those that use stamps and others that don't want to wait in line.

A day or two ago, we received a PBS book and someone had applied the tracking sticker to the left side of the label.  Only possible problem was that they covered up most of the return name and address.  Since that could pose a problem if the package was undeliverable and needed to go back to the sender, I would add --

Be sure not to cover up any of the addresses - return or the receiving/sent to.

-- Jill

Date Posted: 12/22/2015 10:24 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2007
Posts: 2,466
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I've been using the tracking labels for a several months now and Jill's right, be careful not to cover up the address/return address. On a regular paperback book wrapped in the two sheet wrapper it's a tight fit to get the tracking sticker on. I put it perpendicular to the left of the mailing address. You don't want the barcode folded over the edge from the front; sometimes I have to slightly wrap the top of the label over the edge but it's not been a problem since it's not part of the number or barcode. It's easiest though, to fit it on trade size wrapped books or bubble mailers. The labels have a small peel off section with the tracking number to save with the book mailing info so you can track and follow up as necessary without having to write down the number and possibly transcribing it incorrectly.

Date Posted: 12/23/2015 7:22 AM ET
Member Since: 4/22/2005
Posts: 5,545
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I've used the tracking labels for awhile now and it definitely saves time as far as having to go and wait in line at the post office. Mine didn't have the labels but I ordered them online at no extra charge. They were mailed free to my home. 

Date Posted: 12/23/2015 12:38 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 600
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Just a reminder that if you know the weight of your package, you can print the postage at home at a discounted price via PayPal.com/shipnow. (log in to PayPal first, then type that in the web browser). Media Mail is the same price either way, but will automatically generate the tracking for you. Packages with postage printed from home can be dropped in any blue box, even if over 13oz. 

Subject: PayPal.com/shipnow
Date Posted: 12/23/2015 11:44 PM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2010
Posts: 7
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Becca, that is really good info to know. I will try that on the CD I need to mail tomorrow.

Thanks!

Date Posted: 12/28/2015 3:02 PM ET
Member Since: 8/17/2008
Posts: 8,598
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I discovered the free USPS Tracking number stickers through another post in the PBS forums and love the convenience!  I use PBS Printable Postage once each month to take advantage of my free transaction but use postage generated from APC machines the remainder of the month.

Date Posted: 1/30/2016 10:29 AM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2009
Posts: 1,619
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What a great idea! Just ordered some labels from USPS website for free & excited to try them.

Date Posted: 2/2/2016 6:53 PM ET
Member Since: 9/21/2006
Posts: 2,800
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can you post a picture of these for me?

my postal carrier had no idea what I was talking about...

Date Posted: 2/2/2016 9:33 PM ET
Member Since: 8/25/2009
Posts: 702
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https://store.usps.com/store/browse/productDetailSingleSku.jsp?productId=P_LABEL400&categoryId=free-shipping-supplies.

Here is a link to the page where you can order them.

Date Posted: 2/11/2016 11:31 AM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2009
Posts: 1,619
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If I need to purchase postage at the counter at post office do the labels still work?  Can I use them for large envelopes?

 

Date Posted: 2/11/2016 1:54 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2007
Posts: 2,466
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Linda G. Yes, they still work, although I believe the PO prefers that you let them use the tracking label they generate if you are getting postage anyway. You'll get a receipt with the number printed in it. And the labels work just fine on large envelopes.

Date Posted: 2/12/2016 10:04 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 600
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No, you may not use them on a "large envelope" aka "flat" because those are not eligible for tracking. The package must be at least 3/4" thick or rigid to qualify for tracking. 

Date Posted: 2/12/2016 11:36 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2007
Posts: 2,466
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Sorry, I wasn't thinking flats (like those used to send a contract or small sheaf of papers) when I responded. I was thinking of large envelopes we use at work, like the tyvek ones we use to send 150-page spiral bound reports to clients. We use the large gusset ones and also the Manila ones without a clasp. We use tracking to verify the reports are delivered.

Date Posted: 2/13/2016 5:07 PM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2009
Posts: 1,619
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I was also thinking of the large envelopes for work too.  Asked the at the post office about them & I found it odd that they did not know about them.

 

Date Posted: 2/15/2016 2:32 AM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 600
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Yes, as long as the package is at least 3/4" thick or rigid, it is eligible for tracking. Do make sure to use lots of packing tape if needed to get the envelope tight around the book. A book floating around in an envelope is just begging to be ripped open by the sorting machinery. 

 

Date Posted: 4/25/2016 11:29 AM ET
Member Since: 5/16/2014
Posts: 31
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thank you so much for this tip!!!

Date Posted: 6/23/2016 2:04 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2014
Posts: 2,793
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I ordered the free tracking booklet online.  I hope it includes good instructions on how to use the tracking stickers.  

Date Posted: 6/23/2016 7:44 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2007
Posts: 2,466
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Valerie, the labels are very easy; you just stick them on the front of the package, near the address. I try to set them perpendicular to the address, to the left under the return address, but sometimes it doesn't fit. Important thing is not to let it fold over the edge of the package, though the top half inch is mostly the USPS logo and not the barcode part. Most of the scanners they go through are automatic and the scanner needs to be able to read the barcode. The stickers are just under 2" x 3". You keep the strip at the bottom of the sticker on the paper backing with the number on it (I guess you could keep a log of books on sheet of lined paper and as you send them out you could stick it on that).  I just write an identifying word on it so when I go to the USPS website & type it in I know which book I'm checking on. Once the book has been delivered and marked received I throw it away.

Date Posted: 6/25/2016 10:47 AM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2014
Posts: 2,793
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Linda, thank you,  I should get the labels soon.  

Date Posted: 7/27/2016 2:00 PM ET
Member Since: 2/26/2009
Posts: 36,109
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I tried the labels and when I took to the post office (which I do since I don't have a scale), they scanned it but then it was assigned a tracking number.... she said it would only work when stamps are used... so I told her to put on stamps instead.  She redid it using postage stamps, scanned it and the same thing happened, it was given a different tracking number....

Date Posted: 8/11/2016 12:07 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2016
Posts: 32
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Thanks for mentioning this! I ordered some. I really hate waiting in line at my PO-they are horrible.

Date Posted: 8/20/2016 2:25 AM ET
Member Since: 6/27/2008
Posts: 23,539
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Adrienne - the Label 400 is designed to be used with prepaid packages, not ones you have postage put on at the PO.  If you are using stamps at your home to mail the packages, the package would need to be 13 ounces or less to use the Label 400.  If it is more than 13 ounces and the postage is paid with all stamps, the clerk has to put a zero label on it (postage label, but $0.00) and that does generate a new tracking number.

Date Posted: 8/20/2016 1:05 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2014
Posts: 2,793
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If you are using stamps at your home to mail the packages, the package would need to be 13 ounces or less to use the Label 400.

Cindy, I was wondering about the 13 oz rule and putting tracking labels on at home.  Thank you for clearing that up.  It makes sense!  That label does not have a paper/computer trail to the sender like online postage.  

Date Posted: 6/9/2017 8:52 AM ET
Member Since: 12/4/2008
Posts: 190
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Thanks for posting the tip. I don't mind going to the post office, but these stickers allow me to use the DIY machine in the lobby when the counter is closed. I have had so many days sucked up from taking family members to the ER or unplanned appointments. Got my stickers yesterday.

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