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Topic: Saving on postage

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Subject: Saving on postage
Date Posted: 12/15/2008 9:19 PM ET
Member Since: 9/11/2005
Posts: 905
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This is a drum that Ihave beaten many times before, but having now sent out >3800 books, i know what I'm talking about.  The estimated postage that PBS prints on their labels is more often wrong than right!!  Very frequently it is too much, especially for books that weigh almost, but not quite, a pound.  You MUST have a scale that measures accurately by oz., up to a pound, and a inexpensive kitchen scale that goes to 4-5 (at least) pounds for orders of several books or boxes thereof.  From the USPS website, print out a table of Media Mail rates and "first class package" rates, too, as there are a lot of books that go for $1.85, $2.02, or $2.19, instead of the $2.23 for 1 pound media mail rate---first class goes a lot faster, too.  The PBS estimates are more often high than they are low, but I weigh EVERYTHING that I send out.

Scales of both varieties are really inexpensive, too.

Date Posted: 12/16/2008 2:09 AM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2007
Posts: 1,090
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You are so right, Winston! It's become a habit for me to automatically ask the post office clerk to check which is cheaper, 1st or media. Sometimes when I'm thinking for sure it's media, it's cheaper, and faster, going 1st class. I don't have a scale yet; every time I'm in line at the PO I see them displayed and I promise myself I'll get one. Perhaps, I should just put it on my Christmas list!

Date Posted: 12/16/2008 3:27 AM ET
Member Since: 3/31/2006
Posts: 28,538
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Great tip, Winston!  I got a scale for my bday last year.  I'm surprised at how many times the postage is off.  I'm also surprised at home much cheaper it can be to send 2 or 3 books as opposed to 1 book.

Date Posted: 12/16/2008 8:44 AM ET
Member Since: 9/11/2005
Posts: 905
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The basic scale that I use on my desk I got at an office supply store for <$10 and it has saved me far more than that!  That is the one that goes up to 1 pound, which is where most of the packages of books that I send lie.  If you get one that has old postage rates on it, ignore the amounts it tells you to put on the letter/package and use the tables printed out above.  The one I use all of the time has 37c per oz. for first class, but I have another one I use sometimes that has 6c per oz. on it.   (I'm not sure how long ago that was----some time in the 60's, I think.)

Date Posted: 12/16/2008 8:55 AM ET
Member Since: 4/20/2006
Posts: 5,752
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The postage calculator at PBS (while I appreciate it) is really nothing but an estimate.  It's why I have asked for a postal scale for Christmas.  I don't print postage from home that often, but I take all my books to the PO, and they almost always say, "This doesn't match what you have on your label."  (referring to the recommended postage)  I just tell them it's an estimate.

Date Posted: 12/16/2008 3:37 PM ET
Member Since: 1/18/2006
Posts: 441
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I don't know how many times Iv'e been snarled at when I take a PBS book into the post office and I'm told that "Your postage is wrong on this"  (meaning the wrapper says it's heavier than it really is!)  First off, please be pleasant about it, and second, that's not MY 'postage' -- it's an estimate. :)

Date Posted: 12/16/2008 7:48 PM ET
Member Since: 5/29/2007
Posts: 13,347
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Last Edited on: 1/13/14 1:00 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/16/2008 11:02 PM ET
Member Since: 5/20/2008
Posts: 1,123
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Does anyone know where I can get an inexpensive scale? All the ones I've seen go for at least $20.

Date Posted: 12/16/2008 11:47 PM ET
Member Since: 9/11/2005
Posts: 905
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Go to Office Depo or Office Max or a similar office supply store and you should be able to get one for $10-$15 or less.  You only need a postal scale that weighs up to 1 lb., by oz.  A kitchen scale that you use to weigh your turkey or a big roast that goes to 25 lb. is worth the investment, too, though my wife had one of these almost ever since we have been together.  

In ny case, if you send out about 1-200 books or so, yuou will have long since paid for these scales in postage savings.

Date Posted: 12/17/2008 9:38 AM ET
Member Since: 3/10/2006
Posts: 2,819
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I have a scale and weigh everything first as well.  However, I find with most books the PBS estimate is pretty close.  Maybe that's because I'm dealing mostly with trade paperbacks that might not have a huge weight differential.

Date Posted: 12/17/2008 1:26 PM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2007
Posts: 8,139
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I've found that the weight is off more when I've got multiple books. I just use my kitchen scale. I've seen them at Wal-Mart for <$15. Non-digital ones are even less than that. I'd make sure to buy one that goes to at least 4 lbs. just for those larger orders.

Date Posted: 12/17/2008 1:41 PM ET
Member Since: 12/8/2006
Posts: 29,785
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I found a scale at Sam's Club for $18, it weighs in pounds and ounces, up to 5 lbs. It's the best investment I've made! I've been using printable postage this time of year, it saves me the hassle of dealing with the PO. I do belive the scale has aved me postage costs...

Date Posted: 12/17/2008 10:09 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2008
Posts: 258
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I have given up on using pbs postage I got tired of the post office clerk getting angry with me. The clerk is a big jerk about it. I had my sister, who is pregnant right now, drop a book off for me since I had to work and since PBS postage estimated the shipping to high the clerk flipped out and made my sister cry her eyes out. I dont think its right that he was so mean about it, but there is nothing you can do, there has been many complaints to the usps about him and it hasnt changed anything yet. But back to topic I appreciate that pbs is willing to do printable postage I just wish that they had they option of First Class or Media

Date Posted: 12/20/2008 10:52 AM ET
Member Since: 5/17/2007
Posts: 3,129
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I'm lumping this in with 'postage' though it's really about labels.  When my printer was out of ink I began hand-writing my labels and am still doing it.  I use a black marker and write directly on the package, then cover both the address and my return label, with Request ID number, with tape.  I copy the address very carefully and have had no problems so far.

Date Posted: 12/20/2008 12:53 PM ET
Member Since: 3/28/2007
Posts: 1,074
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Not in regards to PBS postage, but I pay all my bills on line except my car insurance (they chare a "convenience fee" of $4.95 to pay on line - on top of the billing fee they charge if monthly payments are made instead of the lump sum).

Date Posted: 12/20/2008 4:04 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2007
Posts: 732
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At my postoffice the clerks usually always mention  that the postage is different than the PBS estimate.  Since they are weighing it and I'm paying the amount they tell me, I've found the easiest thing to do is just to mark out PBS estimated postage.  That way it doesn't catch the clerk's attention and bother them. 

Date Posted: 12/23/2008 2:29 PM ET
Member Since: 5/31/2006
Posts: 568
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I mark out the postage too - they weigh it anyway, so it's better not to confuse the post office folks with misinformation.

Usually though I print postage at home, and I LOVE my scale. I think it was $15 at Costco. It is such a time saver for me. I can just run in and out of the post office.  It take a long time to go through all those screens at post office.

And I reuse materials until they are worn out, such at the manila, bubble and tyvek envelopes.

Date Posted: 12/27/2008 10:31 PM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2006
Posts: 3
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I found a scale at a yard sale for $1.  It's programmed for 34 cent postage so what I do is take the amount it says the postage is, divide that by .34 and that will tell me how many stamps to use.

I also had a couple of incidents where first class was cheaper than media, though the people at my post office have been a lot nicer to me than some of the ones mentioned here.  One note, though I don't know if it is accurate, the lady at my post office told me that anything over 13 ounces has to be mailed as first class or priority.  She said the "powers that be" at the post office has decided that anything over 13 ounces required a 'handling' fee.

Date Posted: 1/9/2009 7:08 PM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2006
Posts: 125
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Great idea! I just bought a weight watcher food scale and never thought of using it to weigh my books and see if I can save money on postage.

Date Posted: 1/9/2009 8:57 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2005
Posts: 2,372
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The 13oz rule is accurate, though I think you mistyped. Over 13oz cannot go first class--it's priority, media, or parcel (or express, I suppose).

I offer anyone who orders one of my books other books on my shelf at a 2:1 rate.  When they take me up on it, it saves a bunch of shipping per credit.  

I try to check for other books on someone's shelf if I'm ordering to save them money, figuring karma will come back around! . Since I switched my WL to AR when I went on vacation--and haven't cared enough to tire my wrist again to switch it back--I'm not good about that on WL books. I don't notice they showed up.

Date Posted: 1/10/2009 2:05 PM ET
Member Since: 12/4/2008
Posts: 207
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I just use my Weight Watchers scale.  Most of the books I've been sending end up in bubble envies because they are heavy books, so I weigh them anyway. If your book prevents you from reading your scale, zero it out with a bowl on top, then place your book on the bowl.  It leaves the indicator free for you to see without the bowl being weighed.

Date Posted: 1/10/2009 4:40 PM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2006
Posts: 125
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Thanks for the tip, Stephanie!

Date Posted: 1/11/2009 5:25 AM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2007
Posts: 2,015
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Last Edited on: 2/3/15 2:09 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 1/14/2009 10:29 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
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The 13oz rule is accurate, though I think you mistyped. Over 13oz cannot go first class--it's priority, media, or parcel

If something is over 13 oz why can't it be sent first class (other than it is not the cheapest method)?  that doesn't make any sense to me

I appreciate that pbs is willing to do printable postage I just wish that they had they option of First Class or Media

Nichelle, they do offer the option, you have to know how much the book weighs and then adjust the weight when you first get to the print screen.  After you pick the sort of printout you want you then scroll down and if the weight is adjusted where first class is cheaper you will pay for first class and not media mail

Subject: calibrating your scale
Date Posted: 1/23/2009 4:38 PM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2008
Posts: 1
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i calibrate my scale periodically, because as a cheap one, it goes off a bit now and then.  IT IS SO EASY!  and i have had no problems with weight at the post office.

Take a 1# bag of sugar or flour, weigh it on your scale, then use the adjustment knob to make it right on.

thanks for the other tips here, too, All..................