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Topic: PBS postage and US Postal rates not the same

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Subject: PBS postage and US Postal rates not the same
Date Posted: 5/6/2010 10:58 AM ET
Member Since: 5/1/2010
Posts: 8
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I recently had a request for 3 books to ship out.  When i printed the labels from PBS and took them to the Post Office to confirm that the prices were the right, imagine my surprise when i found out 1 of the paperbacks was incorrect as stated on the label that I printed out from PBS.  The price from PBS on the wrapper was $2.07 first class but when I took it to the Post Office, they said the price was $2.24.  So I asked, what would have happened if I had just afixed $2.07 and dropped it off in a mail box?  They said that it would have been shipped but that 17 cents would be due when delivered.  If they refused to pay 17 cents, it would be returned to me for postage due.  So, I went ahead and paid the 17 cents.  But, the question begs to be answered:  if i have one error on only 3 books mailed, that's a whopping 33% error rate.  Just how accurate is the postage rate that PBS puts on its wrappers anway?  Makes you wonder if a person should really get PBS money so that the rate can be paid in the wrapper and shipped with instant credit.  Also makes me think that every time I mail a book, I'm gonna have to go to the Post Office to make sure the postage is right.  Anyone have any trouble with this?

Date Posted: 5/6/2010 11:10 AM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,221
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Its not really that the rate is different, its the weight of the package that is off.  It is always best to verify the weight of the book before mailing. Many of us just use an ordinary kitchen scale to check the weight. PBS weights come into the system with book data from other sites or from members manually entering and that leaves room for incorrect numbers. There are also books of differing size that can be posted under the same ISBN (think book club edition HCs and regular market HCs or mass market paperbacks and trade size paperbacks). As much clean-up as the data edit team does, its not realistic to have corrected all incorrect weights in the system so its best for senders to verify their weight.

If you use anything other than the PBS  wrapper and tape for packaging a book, you want to verify the weight of the packaged product too. The bump from 2.07 to 2.24 is 1oz, that could easily be from using a heavier bubble envelope or adding extra tape or plastic wrap. The system adds only about .6oz to the weight if you select the book weight and nothing if you say the entry is wrapped weight.

Scott (scalta) - ,
Date Posted: 5/8/2010 1:19 PM ET
Member Since: 2/20/2010
Posts: 723
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Last Edited on: 7/15/11 5:22 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/13/2010 7:46 AM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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Also the packaging you use can effect the weight more than you might think.  The PBS wrapper itself doesn't really add much weight to a book.  But heavy wrapping paper, bubble mailers,manilla envelopes and other heavier packaging can bump your book up to the next postage weight.  I don't really pay attention when I'm getting postage at the PO.  But if I'm applying stamps or using PBS postage then I weigh the book before I send it out. If I'm using the PBS wrapper I don't add to the weight of the actual book. But if I'm usign a bubble mailer or envelope of somekind-I weigh it before I print. 

Date Posted: 5/13/2010 12:04 PM ET
Member Since: 2/23/2009
Posts: 96
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Weight can be off. I use a postal scale to verify my package weight and key in that information when printing the wrapper. I've had a couple of books received with postage due because the weight wasn't verified. My scale only goes to 3 lbs so if it's over that, I have the clerk double check. That rarely happens though.

Subject: weights are often too high ending up with too much postage
Date Posted: 5/13/2010 5:37 PM ET
Member Since: 5/11/2009
Posts: 61
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One of the first things that I discovered was the inaccurate weights in the database.  I discovered that many of the books, and wrappers weighed less than the weight given -- there were many instances in which I would have put too much postage on the package.  I once sent out 20 books and would have paid about $5 excess postage if I hadn't weighed everything.

I also have a system for bumping up postage when it is between 8 and 9 ounces for first class mail (2.41 or 3 cents more than media mail)so that it will get there faster.   Instead of scribbling out 'media mail' which will print automatically by the system, I lower the weight on the information page so that it prints out 'first class'.  Then I hand write the true weight (after verifying with a scale) and cover that up with stamps.  It would be great if PBS gave us the option of choosing first class versus media so we don't have to jump through hoops to fool the system.

I have a 'royal' postage scale which is nice because they have a .pdf on line when rates go up so you can cut it out and put it in the window of the scale.  You can get a 3-lb scale for $17 or a 5-lb scale for $22 from Amazon (plus shipping).  Unfortunately, the rate series that we use most often for things under 8 ounces, 1st class package, is not one of the series of weights given on the royal scale.  So I double check everything before putting postage on and have a printed page with all the different rate groups.

Subject: 30%of PBS postage recommendations are wrong
Date Posted: 6/9/2010 1:55 PM ET
Member Since: 9/30/2007
Posts: 2
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I always use the two page PBS wrapper so there is no wieght issue.  I find about 30 % of them are wrong in both directions.  Today I have 4 books to go out.  One  says media mail, $2.77 but it is one of those thin westerns which will probably be 1st Class $2.07.  I once had a paperback with Media Mail, $7.44 on it!