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Topic: Media Mail or First Class

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Subject: Media Mail or First Class
Date Posted: 3/7/2011 8:13 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 3,512
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Today I received a paperback that was definitely lighter than one I mailed out today. The lighter book I received was posted as Media Mail, but the heavier book I mailed went as First Class. The kicker was that the heavier book I sent First Class cost less to mail than the lighter, Media Mail book I received.

Sometimes these smaller paperbacks are cheaper to send First Class. I use PBS for Delivery Confirmation, but pay the postage at the Post Office. I recently learned (from a  P.O. clerk) that if you ask for Media Mail, that is what you will receive. So now, when I have a smaller paperback, I ask for "Media Mail or First Class, whichever is less expensive."  It helps to leave the "Media Mail" on the PBS wrapper exposed (not covered with tape) so that it can be covered up or inked out, or you can cut that portion off the mailing label when you think you might have a ligher, First Class-eligible, paperback.

As stated, I asked for Media Mail on a paperback I mailed today, that was heavier than the one I received when I arrived home. The folks at the P.O. here know me even though I deal with a P.O. in a large town. I am always polite when I deal with the postal clerks and sometimes engage them in light conversation. So, I am sure that as a result of my behavior, when I asked for Media Mail today, the clerk (after weighing it) replied, "Well, it is actually cheaper to go First Class."  So I saved $0.20 and the person who requested it is going to get it sooner.

Twenty cents or so isn't much, but it adds up. Plus, if you use Delivery Confirmation on First Class, you don't have to meet the thickness requirements for Delivery Confirmation on Media Mail.  With Media Mail for lightweight, thin books, if I want Delivery Confirmation, I have to wrap bubble wrap around the book several times, then use a larger wrapper. All of this adds some weight, resulting in higher postage.

Last Edited on: 3/9/11 12:18 AM ET - Total times edited: 5
Date Posted: 3/7/2011 11:36 PM ET
Member Since: 9/11/2005
Posts: 905
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I think that it is a great convenience to have a postal scale of your own which you can buy in any office supply store.  I find that the estimates from PBS are VERY OFTEN WRONG.  I have had several that are less than 6 oz so they go cheaper for the first class rate and some that the estimates are too light, too.  I weigh almost all of the packages of books that I send out---that way I know what the postage should be.  The clerks at the PO's at least at the  3 different PO's here in Lincoln that I usually use seem to know me quite well and they almost always say that my estimates are usually right.   I don't know where PBS gets their estimates which are wrong about 25-30% of the time!

Date Posted: 3/8/2011 12:18 AM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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The PBS database is occassionally wrong about book weights, and therefore postage.  Possibly due to different editons, or the addition of mailing materials...but it's best if you can double check yourself.

Date Posted: 3/8/2011 4:33 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 602
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The PBS database is often wrong! If you're taking the book to the post office counter, it's not a big deal, most clerks will tell you if first class is cheaper. But I have received books postage due several times because of people not checking the weight :(

Date Posted: 3/9/2011 9:02 AM ET
Member Since: 10/18/2010
Posts: 110
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I bought a scale for less than $20 at Office Depot.  I always check my weights at home because most times I use PBS postage and mail from my mailbox.  With gas prices as high as they are, I can't see making a trip to the PO just to mail one book.

Date Posted: 3/9/2011 3:34 PM ET
Member Since: 7/13/2005
Posts: 5,201
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I also recommend using a scale as I too have found the PBS rates to be wrong sometimes.  Perhaps they should consider doing it like Ebay does - when you go to print the label, you put in the weight yourself AFTER you have packaged it up (so packaging material weight is taken into consideration also) and it calculates the correct postage for you.

Date Posted: 3/9/2011 3:52 PM ET
Member Since: 8/18/2008
Posts: 7,759
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Peggy, PBS does have this option.  When you go to print the label, you can adjust the weight yourself to make sure the postage comes out correct.  I usually weigh mine after it's packaged (I do have a scale at home), then select "wrapped book" weight, and enter the actual weight of the book.  Sometimes the addition of packing materials makes the book go over a pound, sometimes the book can go first class--it's great to be able to weigh & ship from home.  I highly recommend a scale to anyone on this site!  I got mine from eBay for like $17 shipped, and it weighs packages up to 35lbs, and goes down to fractions of an ounce if needed.

Subject: Digital Scale etc.
Date Posted: 3/22/2011 6:12 AM ET
Member Since: 3/19/2011
Posts: 126
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Last Edited on: 1/7/17 11:13 PM ET - Total times edited: 4
Date Posted: 4/14/2011 1:56 PM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2006
Posts: 30,292
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My postal clerks are really good about telling me when a book with a label printed as media mail will be cheaper sent as first class mail.  They just stamp First Class mail over the Media Mail on the label. 

Subject: Media Mail v. First Class
Date Posted: 6/1/2011 10:51 AM ET
Member Since: 1/25/2009
Posts: 3
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I have found that sending books first class is sometimes cheaper or only a few cents more than media mail.  The books get there in a few days and, therefore, I receive my credits faster. 

Date Posted: 6/1/2011 1:37 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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The 'break' for media mail being cheaper than first class is 7 oz.  If your book is under, it is cheaper to mail first class.  There's also a small space where it's only a few cents more to mail first class, before the better media mail rates kick in.