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Topic: Media Mail vs. First Class

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Subject: Media Mail vs. First Class
Date Posted: 7/28/2008 6:17 PM ET
Member Since: 7/12/2008
Posts: 1,181
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I just mailed two books and when I printed the label, one came up as First Class, the other came up as Media Mail.  When I got to the post office, the clerk told me the Media Mail one could actually go First Class. This is the second time this has happened. Am I supposed to let someone know, or is it just that the PBS information is slightly "off," as to the weight of the book and it's so close that  it's a minimal difference and PBS uses Media Mail to be on the safe side.

This time, First Class was about 20 cents cheaper. The last time it was only about 3 cents cheaper to go First Class.

Date Posted: 7/28/2008 6:29 PM ET
Member Since: 6/4/2007
Posts: 2,941
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I was actually under the impression that they used the First Class just to be safe, for packages smaller than a certain size.  There's a limit, and packages under a certain weight or thickness have to go First Class.  There is the option, I believe, when printing the wrapper, of changing the weight of a book, choosing the weight of the book alone or the book when wrapped, and possibly simply choosing to have it labeled Media Mail or First Class, though that might just be by way of changing the weight.  Regardless of what gets printed, the Post Office usually knows best, though.  They definitely keep me steered in the right direction lol.  Next time you print a wrapper take a second and look around.  To be honest it took me quite a few wrappers before I even realized how much information is on that page.  Hope that helps!

Date Posted: 7/28/2008 8:04 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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Don't trust the PBS weight it is frequently off.  If you apply your own postage it's worth the investment to get a cheap scale.  I have a small kitchen one I got at Walmart for less than $10.  It goes up to 5lbs and has saved me many times from applying the wrong postage. I hate going to the post office and like to use the printed postage or stamps.

The PBS suggested postage is supposed to go to 1st class if it's cheaper or only a few cents more.  So most likely the weight was wrong in the PBS system.  They do not weigh each book, their data comes from other sources (Amazon) I think. Since publishers reuse ISBN's and reissue books all the time with different covers, print sizes and page numbers-it would probably be impossible for them to be right all the time with the weights.

It does let you adjust the weight before you print the label and there is a box you can check for book only or book w/packaging.  I don't know if PBS keeps track of that to see if a book habitually comes up w/the wrong weight so they can adjust it or not.  I just weigh everything to be on the safe side.

Date Posted: 7/28/2008 8:46 PM ET
Member Since: 8/26/2006
Posts: 9,348
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Media Mail up to 1 lb is $2.23.

If your package is under 8 ounces, First Class is cheaper. At 8 ounces, First Class is $2.36.

I always weigh my package, and either adjust the weight on the label or go to http://postcalc.usps.gov/ and choose "package."  (It's not an envelope, even if you're mailing in an envelope, because it is not bendable.) 

The PBS weight is whatever was entered for the book at some point.  If it's off, you can adjust it on the print label page, and you can also edit the data to correct the weight.

Date Posted: 7/28/2008 9:32 PM ET
Member Since: 8/19/2007
Posts: 4,355
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My postal people check the packages, and if it's cheaper to go First Class, they tape over MEDIA MAIL and restamp it for First Class.  I never worry about it.  Pat

Date Posted: 7/28/2008 9:40 PM ET
Member Since: 7/12/2008
Posts: 1,181
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Thanks! I would probably even pay the extra 15-20 cents to go First Class over Media Mail for the trade paperbacks since it's so close. I just go to the post office because I don't really trust my printer to make a good enough PP label.

Date Posted: 7/29/2008 12:51 AM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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I need to get a scale.  I want one that I can use in the kitchen as well.  But I can't find one I like. And that's costing me money since I hate going to the PO, too!.  I'll look some more to find something I like and can afford.


Date Posted: 7/30/2008 1:36 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,601
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My PO does the same thing--if the label does say MM and it'll go cheaper FC, they put a sticker over the MM and stamp FC on it. I would never take the PBS info as gospel--even if the 'book weight' in the info is accurate, how you package up the book can change the weight enough to make the postage needed change.