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Topic: Media Mail vs. First Class

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Subject: Media Mail vs. First Class
Date Posted: 6/26/2009 11:48 AM ET
Member Since: 7/12/2008
Posts: 1,181
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I posted this in the Postal Questions Forum as well, but this one sees more action, so here goes:

I plan to send a book to someone as a graduation gift. I would like to include a card so they know it's from me and why they are getting it. I know that cards are considered First Class and books can be sent Media Mail. If I package them together, do I send the whole thing First Class, or can I put a First Class stamp on the card, attach it to the book, wrap it all up and send the whole thing as Media Mail. The extra weight of the card would not significantly increase the Media Mail cost, but I'd hate to have to pay First Class for the whole thing because it would be much more expensive.

Date Posted: 6/26/2009 12:11 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,178
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I just looked up the rules for you, and I believe that you can include an "incidental First Class Mail" piece in your Media Mail package without extra postage. Below is a link so you can go read it for yourself, and I cut/pasted the rule that I think applies to you below (bold is mine).


4.5 Incidental First-Class Mail Attachments and Enclosures

Incidental First-Class Mail matter may be enclosed in or attached to any Media Mail piece without payment of First-Class Mail postage. An incidental First-Class Mail attachment or enclosure must be matter that, if mailed separately, would require First-Class Mail postage, is closely associated with but secondary to the host piece, and is prepared so as not to interfere with postal processing. An incidental First-Class Mail attachment or enclosure may be a bill for the product or publication, a statement of account for past products or publications, or a personal message or greeting included with a product, publication, or parcel. Postage at the Package Services price for the host piece is based on the combined weight of the host piece and the incidental First-Class Mail attachment or enclosure.

Date Posted: 6/26/2009 12:15 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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Actually you are better off asking at your post office some have been known to charge first class and others might allow it to go media mail.

Mine does not even allow bookmarks to be inside books.

They are meant to all be the same but each reads the rules differently.

Date Posted: 6/26/2009 12:22 PM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2009
Posts: 2,016
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Another way to go is to bypass the postal clerk -- just mail your package with card, as the link Sara P found says is permissible, either

using the "mail to a friend" feature on pbs

using another online postage, eg paypal,

or buying media mail postage at an APC

and then dropping it off in a collection box.


Date Posted: 6/26/2009 3:33 PM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2009
Posts: 98
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Technically    a card does not qualify as free, but there is a feature called an  "Enclosure".
You pay Media Mail postage plus 44 cents to cover the card inside.
 Not all clerks are knowledgeable about this though.



Edited  for Punctuation and additional information.

Last Edited on: 6/26/09 3:36 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/26/2009 4:03 PM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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I haven't done this in a very long time, so I suppose the rules have changed.  But what I did was prepare the card as if i were going to mail it as usual putting a first class stamp on the envelope and then securing it (well) to the media mail package.  The card's address acted as the address for the package, but I put the address on the package underneath the area the card attached to it would be just in case it got detached along the way.  Then I paid media mail price for the package.  Don't know that this would work now.


Date Posted: 6/26/2009 7:41 PM ET
Member Since: 8/19/2007
Posts: 4,410
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You can put the card on the outside of the package (like the label) and put a 1st Class stamp on it, and the package can be sent media mail (additional postage for media mail).  You've paid the 1st class fare by placing the stamp on the card.  However, having said this, the whole thing will go media mail, even though the card has a 1st class stamp on it.  HTH.  Pat

Date Posted: 6/26/2009 8:15 PM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2007
Posts: 4,815
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"Incidental inclusions" are for announcements of books.  A graduation card would not be considered "closely associated" to the host piece.  Per the Help Center under "Can I Include Anything With my Book?":

"Media mail regulations are very strict: only media (books, CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes) and an invoice (page 2 of the PBS wrapper qualifies as an invoice) are allowed to be sent using Media Mail rate.  No advertising, commercial solicitation, political materials, religious tracts, non-Media items, letters, cards are allowed." (emphasis mine)

"Media Mail is subject to postal inspection

  • If your package is found to be in violation of Media Mail regulations:
    • Your package may be returned to you
    • Your package may be delivered to the requestor postage-due
    • Your package may be destroyed."

To be on the safe side, I'd either send the card separately, or send the whole package first class mail, rather than risk having a gift be destroyed to save a bit on postage.



Date Posted: 6/26/2009 8:19 PM ET
Member Since: 5/14/2009
Posts: 6,852
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depending up on the weight the difference between media mail and first class is 3 cents. 

Last Edited on: 6/26/09 8:19 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 6/26/2009 8:24 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 10,178
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The link I posted above is from the USPS web site. It takes precedence over whatever PBS has in its help.

The USPS says that incidental mail can be "a personal message or greeting included with a product, publication, or parcel".

I don't work for the USPS, so maybe they somehow always interpret this rule to not allow cards. I don't know about that. But, I 100% believe that if you were to write a greeting on a piece of paper instead of a card, it is allowed.

Now, as to whether or not every Post Office knows the rules or follows them, who knows?

To be safe, it couldn't hurt to stick the extra stamp on your card.

Date Posted: 6/26/2009 8:39 PM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2007
Posts: 4,815
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You can include a brief message like "Happy Birthday" or "Hope You Enjoy it" (this is also included in the Help Center), but not a greeting card.

Ask your local post office, Carolyn, but be aware that other members have expressed that not all post offices treat the rules equally, and you may encounter problems with a complex transaction involving Media Mail.


Date Posted: 6/26/2009 8:39 PM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2005
Posts: 4,136
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I interpret the post office rule above to mean you can put the card inside the package because it's a greeting, but you have to pay media mail price plus 44 cents on the outside of the package.

Date Posted: 6/26/2009 9:01 PM ET
Member Since: 4/30/2009
Posts: 2,524
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Carolyn - you might check back over at the Postal Regulations forum. It looks like Bernhard has posted there and I believe he works for the USPS (I could be wrong on that he just has lots of info so I suspect that). 

Date Posted: 6/27/2009 2:59 AM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Posted on the other thread Carolyn, and I don't think Bernhard is a postal employee, just knows alot of stuff :-)

Agreeing with Xengab, whatever the rule it's not widely understood or uniformly enforced...so I'd just ask locally.  Depending on which area you live, the answer could vary as widely as the posts on this tread.  Just in the past year, I've heard everything from 'not even a bookmark' (my PO disagrees) to 'send anything as long as a book is in the box somewhere' (my PO is actively trying to track down the post mistress giving out that inaccurate advice).

Unless your gift book is an enormous tomb, I'm sure your local USPS can assist you with a reasonably priced solution.  Even a 13 oz book can go First Class for $3.26.

Date Posted: 6/27/2009 11:54 AM ET
Member Since: 7/12/2008
Posts: 1,181
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Thanks! I'll check over there.