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Topic: Postage question...

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Subject: Postage question...
Date Posted: 8/23/2010 6:29 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2009
Posts: 262
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Wow - what's up with the postage?  Seems it's all over the place lately.  When I first joined, I could always depend on the amount to be correct on the wrapper (I use stamps of different denominations until the total is reached).   Even so, I always check at the post office before mailing.  The last 3-4 books have been WAY off the mark of what is needed.  One said First Class = 3.16.  PO said 3.57.  Sent it media mail for $2.38.  Another recent one (today's) said media mail = 2.77.  PO said media was 3.16 (for 2 books).  So it is either under or way over, but seldom accurate so that I can't trust it now.  Is anyone else seeing these discrepancies?  Do you trust what is printed on the wrapper?    :-p   

Date Posted: 8/23/2010 6:41 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,225
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I always weigh my books because the input of the weights can be sporatic and inaccurate and a member's choice of packaging can easily kick the package up to the next weight. More often than not, the label is correct.

 One said First Class = 3.16. PO said 3.57.  Sent it media mail for $2.38- there is no weight of FC that would go 3.16 or 3.57 so something is really weird with that one.  Omitting DC options, PBS would never give a wrapper with FC for anything over 7oz at a top rate $2.24 because anything heavier is cheaper going MM and the system defaults to the cheapest rate.

Date Posted: 8/23/2010 7:20 PM ET
Member Since: 6/20/2010
Posts: 94
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The last few I've mailed have actually been dead on, but I always take them to the post office to be weighed just in case.

Date Posted: 8/23/2010 8:03 PM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2008
Posts: 4,767
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I've found the accuracy rate to be about 50%. One of the postal clerks used to joke with me about it to see how many would be correct that day. She pointed out my packaging might make some of them weigh more. But that doesn't explain why some have the weight a lot over.

Date Posted: 8/23/2010 9:31 PM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2009
Posts: 2,926
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I have a scale, and always check. I agree with Rebecca, probably 50%. Some are close, but an awful lot are more, I've saved a lot of money by weighing them. Many have incorrect information in the database, I think sometimes the decimal isn't put in or is misplaced...I had one this week come up with a weight of  .10 and another that said 10 lbs 4 oz. I try to remember and go in and edit those if I'm not in a rush...

Date Posted: 8/23/2010 9:46 PM ET
Member Since: 7/23/2005
Posts: 7,551
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I never look at the amount on the wrapper anymore.  I've come to think of it as the 'suggested mailing price', LOL.

I just wrap and then weigh the package myself and attach stamps.

Date Posted: 8/23/2010 9:57 PM ET
Member Since: 8/26/2006
Posts: 9,354
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There's info at the end of this help doc on how to correct the data base.  When you enter a weight in the data base, use the book weight, not the wrapped book weight.  (The software adds a bit for wrapping materials.)  And note that it's in pounds, so if your book weighs 8 ounces, that's .5 pounds.  (Divide by 16.)


The *recommended postage* on my wrapper was wrong!

The 'recommended postage' on the PBS wrapper is usually correct, but not always. Our database is compiled elsewhere, and it includes some inaccuracies, including the weight of some books. The weight of a book as recorded in the database determines the "required postage" that appears on the PBS Wrapper.

You can see, and adjust, the weight estimate on the Wrapper Settings page when you go to print a wrapper.  Adjusting it to the correct weight will ensure that correct postage prints out.  If you do not have a postal scale, you can take the wrapped book to the PO to be weighed.

This is particularly important if you are using PBS Printed Postage--check and adjust the weight before you print!  Printed Postage can't be refunded after it is printed.

If you want to change the weight of the book in the database permanently, so that no one else has trouble with this for this book in future, you can submit a correction to our Data Correction volunteers.

  • To submit the correct weight of a book to the PBS Database:
  1. Scroll down to the bottom of any page on the site and click Edit Book Data
  2. Enter the ISBN for the book and click Next->
  3. Enter/adjust the weight of the book (this will be on your postal receipt) on the next page, leaving any correct information in place
  4. Click Submit.

Please know that any effort you make to improve the accuracy of the database is greatly appreciated.

Actually, I'm realizing that's not up to date.  Number 1 should be either:

"Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and under "My Account" click on "member tools" then on "edit book data"


"Click on the book's title, then on "more options" and "edit book data."

Last Edited on: 8/23/10 10:01 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 8/24/2010 9:21 AM ET
Member Since: 7/12/2010
Posts: 4,177
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I use the suggested postage as a little game.  I send everything through the post office (I'm fortunate to have one a block from work....just drop off my books during lunch)....anyway, when the clerk puts the book on the scale I like to see how close the suggested postage is.  So far most of the suggested postage for what I have mailed has been spot on, or just a couple of cents off.


Date Posted: 8/25/2010 4:52 PM ET
Member Since: 11/20/2005
Posts: 5
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I hope this isn't much of an issue. I sent two books off today, 1 for 2.38 and the other for 2.24 and put 6 stamps on both and hoping it'll clear. If not and the person getting those books reads this I'll mail you postage if you want. I went with what the site stated. Didn't realize there might be a mistake.

Date Posted: 8/25/2010 10:31 PM ET
Member Since: 8/25/2010
Posts: 1
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So what happens if you take the book to the post office and the suggested postage is not enough?

Date Posted: 8/25/2010 10:37 PM ET
Member Since: 5/17/2010
Posts: 220
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I don't have a postage scale, so I go to amazon and check the weight there too for comparison. So far all of mine have been fine. I usually mail from home because the PO is about 6 miles away.

Date Posted: 8/25/2010 10:49 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 602
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If you take your books to the counter and have them weigh them, they will let you purchase additional postage if you don't have enough already on the package. If you put too much on, they can't refund the extra.

If you mail a book with insufficient postage, it may get returned, it may arrive postage due (most likely), or they may not notice and you might get away with it. I actually received a book with NO postage one time that slipped through the cracks.


I think owning your own scale should be MANDATORY for anyone purchasing online postage or putting their own stamps on. I have received many books postage due and it's really irritating. 

Sometimes publishers use the same ISBN to publish different editions of the book that may be a different size/weight. People also do not always correctly factor in the extra weight their packaging may add. 


Honestly, if you trust the PBS suggested postage, you probably overpay at least as often as you underpay. Getting a scale is the only way that you'll be sure you are paying the right amount and not sending any books postage due. It doesn't have to be a fancy electronic one, you can usually find little ones cheap at thrift stores/garage sales or even Wal-Mart.

Date Posted: 8/26/2010 1:51 AM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,485
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I think those tall oversized mass market paperbacks messed up the PBS system.  Now paperbacks keep showing up as 8 oz., which is media rate.

Date Posted: 8/27/2010 1:52 AM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2009
Posts: 262
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That's the thing...I always check with the PO before mailing now, even before the discrepancies started.  I don't have a scale and just always checked.  But I have to wonder why you are asked to put the amount of postage paid in the "Received"  survey.  It makes sense that if enough people say they got "Such & Such" book for $2.38, that would be the suggested rate for the book every time.  Of course the packaging makes a difference sometimes, but how many different ways can you wrap a book?  No one is going to wrap it so that it costs more, IMO.  

Anyway, there is no way to go back and check how much it cost to send a book to you once you've marked it received.  I have decided to keep the postage info from the package in the books I receive from now on, like a bookmark in the TBR pile.  At least when I finish reading it, I'll know how much the previous person paid to send it to me, and will go from there.   Editing the price is a good idea, I didn't know we could do that!  Thanks, Patouie!  Thanks, everybody!   yes

Date Posted: 8/27/2010 4:35 AM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 602
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"No one is going to wrap it so that it costs more, IMO."


Using bubble mailers instead of a paper wrapper can bump the weight up an extra ounce, especially if one is used that is a good bit larger than the book. Or those thicker, more cardboard-ike ones. 

Date Posted: 8/27/2010 4:56 AM ET
Member Since: 5/14/2009
Posts: 6,852
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I wouldn't trust Amazon's weight, they are off too!   A inexpensive digital scale at Target, Walmart, KMart.  When I use a box or double wrap a hard cover, I will wrap, weigh and then print the postage.  JMO

Date Posted: 8/27/2010 11:03 AM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2009
Posts: 1,083
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Personally I think that PBS should simply take the postage amount off their wrapper.  If it isn't accurate, it shouldn't be there.

I have another question.  If you send a book using their postage, do they go by their calculations or do you have the ability to put in a correct postage amount?