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Topic: Is postmark of a received book used by PBS?

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Subject: Is postmark of a received book used by PBS?
Date Posted: 3/15/2014 6:36 PM ET
Member Since: 9/9/2010
Posts: 469
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When you mark a book received and it asks for the postmark if available, is that info used for a specific purpose?

I had almost given up on receiving 2 requested books. The label was printed 2/24 and marked mailed 2/24. USPS delivery confirmation shows electronic shipping info received 2/24. When it seemed to be taking a long time, I started watching the delivery events...nothing. On 3/13 it showed up as acceptance at the shipping post office and yesterday it showed enroute.

Were these books really mailed 3/13? If so, is this a common practice to mark them mailed when printing PBS postage & tracking; then mail them whenever?

Sandy

Date Posted: 3/15/2014 7:15 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,399
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In general, PBS appears to not use the data from the short received survey for books mailed on time.  An email is triggered when a book is marked as mailed late.  A member who has a habit of mailing late will have their account reviewed by staff who has access to the survey results.   Having the data really helps the PBS staff when this happens.

An area that has a history of delays might be contacted by our mailing rep from the postage service. 

That said, the scanning by the USPS has really shifted over the last two years.  Many local drop sites no longer scan.  Often the book is not scanned until it reaches a mailing hub.  Many of the hubs have been condensed or closed.  My local branch has such a delay uploading the data that the hub has often scanned the book before the local site has posted it.

If the book arrives with a late postmark, please report it as RWAP, late postmark.  This happening once or twice is fine.  There is weather and books left in the back seat.   Life happens.  But a history or habit?  PBS wants that data to back them up when they contact the member. 

Members have lost the privilege of the quick credit or been asked to leave.

Date Posted: 3/15/2014 7:17 PM ET
Member Since: 5/4/2009
Posts: 389
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I have heard that if the postmark shows the book was mailed much later than the book was marked mailed, PBS will message the sender to remind/warn them. However, when a book has printed postage, there is not usually any postmark applied to the package.

If the first scan was an acceptance scan, then yes, the book was likely just mailed. That is almost 3 weeks after they marked it! I don't think that is common, but it does happen. They risk the books going lost in the system (based on PBS' expected arrival date) and the books being reordered for you. If that did happen, you could try to stop the reorders. If the second (of either) book was mailed before you could stop it, you would not need to give the first, late mailer a credit for the book.

Date Posted: 3/15/2014 7:26 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,399
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The PBS postage is dated.  The USPS can be very picky about old dates.  It makes them look bad, as if it's their fault.  They will often return packages with older dates.  You can go around this by getting a zero cent counter stamp with a date. 

You can apparently use the APC stamps after the date.

One of my local branches no longer does acceptance scans.  Books going into that branch do not get scanned until they reach the hub.

Date Posted: 3/15/2014 7:53 PM ET
Member Since: 9/9/2010
Posts: 469
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This is PBS postage because I'm getting the info from the details button. When I copy the tracking number into the USPS system, it says "cannot find".

At my age, I definitely know that life happens. I do think that she should have messaged me and let me know. I wouldn't have been concerned that that were lost in the mail.

I'm a little uneasy with the postal service right now anyhow. I had 4 wish books disappear in the system and the sender received back a torn and empty package. Oh!.. and a letter of apology, that's important. Life happens...


 

Date Posted: 3/15/2014 8:31 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,399
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The sender is required to PM you if they mail more than 4 days late.   But the post office not scanning promptly?  No notice.

Date Posted: 3/15/2014 9:28 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,186
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In general, PBS appears to not use the data from the short received survey for books mailed on time.

This is not true. They gather the information for multiple reasons. They use this information to figure out average travel times. They use it to determine what books to select if a Gold Key member is requesting a book because it is not just based on geographical nearness, but also on the speed of shipping to determine if it selects someone who will get a book to the requester more quickly than just going FIFO.

 

A scan of the DC does not necessarily reflect the mailing date and it should not be entered into the system as the post mark, it is not one. Though it is against USPS policy, books DO sit and wait for scanning. 

I know I have had books I've blue boxed and have had Fargo scan them as accepted in West Fargo more than a week later. The only thing I could come up with is that the sorting facility in Fargo scanned it that way because I didn't mail it in WF but my return address was WF. I've also had books scanned as accepted in Fargo and then scanned again as enroute in IA a very short time later, too short of a time for a book to physically travel. Again I figured the sorting center in IA logged the acceptance scan for Fargo. My point is that I've seen activity on my own books to know that the USPS does weird things to not assume the sender does something wrong when I see suspect scans. Is there a good chance the book IS being mailed very late? YES. Can you know when they mailed it for a fact just by looking at the tracking scans? No. So you should only log legitimate USPS postmarks in the PBS survey, tracking scans should never be used.

Date Posted: 3/15/2014 10:08 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,399
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I stand corrected about PBS using the data.

That said, I've seen some really strange tracking scans.  One book I sent was scanned in to and enroute out of the hub in Bell before my local branch scanned it as accepted.  

The post office seems to have been changing policies right and left about tracking.  Some places have cut down on it, probably to cut costs.  Some places are madly doing it, probably to prevent being closed.  And the new marketing about priority mail scans are going to be a factor.

A post mark is different than a tracking scan.  I've heard that the PO is trying out new canceling inks that only appear under special lights.  Infrared? Soon, we might only have the counter postage as clear dates.

Date Posted: 3/16/2014 12:49 AM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,171
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Probably best to just wait until the package arrives and see if there are any markings indicating late mailing.  The member may have used counter postage or have a PO marking of some kind.  Otherwise, it's fair to at least suspect a late mailing with that late of an acceptance scan...not guaranteed tho b/c USPS sometimes does odd things.

Date Posted: 3/16/2014 10:56 AM ET
Member Since: 9/9/2010
Posts: 469
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Don't you have to assume the package was mailed on the printed postage date? Since it can be dropped in any blue box (if it fits), I assume you can get by with a stale postage date.

I never use tracking dates in doing the survey...I always use what's on the package. Isn't that correct, that the printed postage date is supposed to be the mail date since there isn't any cancellation date stamped?


 

Date Posted: 3/16/2014 11:49 PM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2009
Posts: 11,733
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Some people do mail late.  That is a fact.  Unfortunately if you use PBS postage, you put the date in when you will mail it.  I think some members think then well I can always say it sat at the Post Office and mail it when they want.  I do get an acceptance scan at my Post Office.  That is the day I dropped the book off.  I realize some offices do not do this but when I see an acceptance scan a few weeks later, it is the sender who mailed it late.  I know, some books or packages supposedly sit  around their local Post Office but it does not happen as often as some folks think or claim.

About your WL books being damaged, I would first wonder how that person packaged them.  Many folks just throw books into a mailer and add a strip or two, if any, of tape.  I worked for the P.O. and have seen firsthand the lousy job lots of people do when mailing items.  I mummify and wrap books in plastic then securely and somewhat tightly in the mailer.  Out of 4300+ books, I have had very few go lost and some of those I see the member's account is later closed/suspended making me think perhaps they were not honest.  None of mine have ever arrived damaged.  If she used PBS postage or DC, I would look at the scans to see if and when it was in the system.  Now all that said, there is a small possibility of damage due to the machinery/handling at Postal facilities.  I would keep an eye and see if she offers the books again.  I had one gal claim to have sent me a book, it went lost and then a few months later, again the book was offered to me and went lost from the same member.  So I notified PBS about it.  Don't know what happened but her account was closed not long after that.  This only was caught because I keep an eye on my transactions, the lost ones.