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Topic: Shipping Costs

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Subject: Shipping Costs
Date Posted: 1/19/2010 10:53 PM ET
Member Since: 11/17/2008
Posts: 1,168
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Lately, I have been having a problem with printing my postage at PBS. Specifically, the amount of postage on the wrapper is less than what it costs to mail the book(s). Last week, I listed about 40 textbooks, most of which had to be listed as not having an ISBN since the ISBNs in them were already assigned to older books. As such, I carefully measured each book and stated what kind of binding it had (hardcover or paperback).

Unfortunately, when the books were requested and I got them ready for shipping, the amount of postage was too small to ship the books. I had one package containing four textbooks and two teacher's booklets, the weight of which wound up coming to 22 pounds. When I printed the postage, however, it was only enough to mail 18 pounds, and I had to make up the difference at the post office. Another package that I shipped the same day, also containing textbooks and teacher's booklets, came to 12 pounds, but the wrapper only had enough postage on it for 9 pounds. Today, I mailed an auto repair manual that weighed 5 pounds, which I had posted using the ISBN in the book, but the printed wrapper only had enough postage for 2 pounds.

Has anyone else had this problem?

Date Posted: 1/19/2010 10:57 PM ET
Member Since: 6/29/2007
Posts: 17,210
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Erica,

I have only had the weight PBS estimated be correct a handful of times.  I recommend that if you plan on using PBS postage regularly, you invest in a digital scale for accurate weights. 

Date Posted: 1/19/2010 11:02 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,201
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I recommend always weighing packages to verify weights if you are using PBS postage. Those weights are estimates, many coming from other sources or input by members (which you would have done on the PBS assigned ISBNs, did you weigh those or take the wieght off of the net somewhere?).  The field for the weight is left adjustable for the reason that the weights are only estimates and should be verified. Usually it not pounds off, but you are mailing some pretty big books!

The PBS postage system also only adjusts about 6oz for packaging so if you are having to use sturdier packaging to mail that heavy stuff, your packaging is going to be much heavier.

Date Posted: 1/19/2010 11:11 PM ET
Member Since: 11/17/2008
Posts: 1,168
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I've been using PBS for over a year, and this is the first time I've had a problem with too little postage being printed. Granted, most of what I mail out is paperbacks that can be easily wrapped in the printed wrapper, but I also sometimes send out large books and have heretofore had no problems with the postage amount.

I do own a postal scale, since I sometimes sell things on eBay, but...the fact that I've sent out a couple hundred plus books and this the first time I've run into a problem makes me wonder if something is going on with PBS.

Date Posted: 1/19/2010 11:14 PM ET
Member Since: 11/17/2008
Posts: 1,168
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I recommend always weighing packages to verify weights if you are using PBS postage. Those weights are estimates, many coming from other sources or input by members (which you would have done on the PBS assigned ISBNs, did you weigh those or take the wieght off of the net somewhere?).  The field for the weight is left adjustable for the reason that the weights are only estimates and should be verified. Usually it not pounds off, but you are mailing some pretty big books!

The PBS postage system also only adjusts about 6oz for packaging so if you are having to use sturdier packaging to mail that heavy stuff, your packaging is going to be much heavier.

There was no field for book weight when I posted the books. I used a cardboard box to mail the largest package, but it didn't add that much weight, certainly not 4 pounds.

Cathy A. (Cathy) - ,
Date Posted: 1/19/2010 11:32 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2005
Posts: 4,142
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When you post a book without an ISBN, PBS uses a formula to guess the weight of the book. If you are posting textbooks they will often have heavier paper and covers, and it makes sense that the weight might be further off. When you print a wrapper, there's a box below the pictures of the wrappers  to enter the correct weight.

Date Posted: 1/20/2010 12:32 AM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2007
Posts: 13,203
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I never follow PBS weights. I always weighed my own. That was one of the first things I was told when I started using PBS postage. It's good advice. 

I don't think it's anything happening all of a sudden. I think you're just not mailing run-of-the-mill books now and PBS is guestimating since you had to input the book information.

If needed I adjust the weight when I'm printing out the postage/wrapper. 

Date Posted: 1/20/2010 7:39 AM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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Also you can add stamps to the printed postage to make up the difference. The weight can be adjusted when printing out the lable.  My guess is that  you've over paid for postage in the past and just didn't notice.  I never trust the PBS weight when using the printed postage.  They get their data from outside sources and it isn't always correct. And it's too  much for the team to keep up with making sure every book weight is right. Then you get people making errors when updating book data and publisher's reusing ISBNs. 

Date Posted: 1/20/2010 11:55 AM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2005
Posts: 4,133
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By the way Erica, thank you for posting some heavier textbooks--it sounds like you are making some PBS folks very happy by sharing them!

Date Posted: 1/20/2010 12:33 PM ET
Member Since: 10/13/2007
Posts: 36,445
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I would say that 90% of my books that I have sent out are listed as heavier on PBS then what they actually are.  So maybe you have been overpaying for postage for awhile.
Plus different editions can have different paper quality so would make a weight difference..
I always weigh the package before sending it off, just for my own peace of mind.

Date Posted: 1/20/2010 3:28 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2009
Posts: 1,083
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If you are sending large hardback books you really do need to invest in a postal scale.  They aren't that expensive.  You can find a good used one on E-bay for quite reasonable prices.  That way you can weigh the books and know how much postage to apply.  Then, if you print your postage through Paypal Postage (https://www.paypal.com/shipnow), based on the weight the scale gives you, buying the correct postage will be a snap. 

Date Posted: 1/20/2010 3:44 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,201
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Wonder why they leave off the weight field in the stats on entering a book without an ISBN? I know they have a book calculate weight off of the page numbers if there isn't a weight, but with texbooks their pages are quite a bit heavier in order to stand up to wear and tear and the formula would not work if it worked on regular books. It seems rather dumb to not just havethat field there. I understand some people don't have scales, but since you do, a simple box to enter weights would have saved a lot of hassle.

If you still have some of the non-ISBN books on your Bookshelf, go into the book detail page and under other options select Edit Book Data. Will it let you add the correct weight there? An extra step, but if it does, you could make sure everything on your shelf is listed correctly going forward.



Last Edited on: 1/22/10 11:16 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/22/2010 11:02 AM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2009
Posts: 115
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I have a food scale that I bought at a clearance store cheaply that I use to weigh my books then I enter the data on the print address page and it gives me the correct postage.   I usually use the automated machines at the post office to actually print my postage, but those machines while they will allow me to print whatever amount of postage I want, they won't figure Media Rate postage for me.    Anyway, PBS is probably wrong about the cost of shipping about 10-25% of the time for me.  

Date Posted: 1/23/2010 3:23 AM ET
Member Since: 1/19/2008
Posts: 14,791
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yep, the weights are off by a little to a lot on a regular basis.  i received a regular sized paperback in today's mail and noticed the person had paid the 1-2 pound media mail rate when the book was only about 7oz.  i did the 'Edit Book Data' to fix it, and recommended they get a postal scale.

i think this was one i also noticed on incoming, rather than outgoing, but the paperback had the weight in the system as over 5 lbs!  that's paying a *lot* of extra postage if you just aren't looking.

Date Posted: 1/23/2010 3:32 AM ET
Member Since: 8/26/2006
Posts: 9,337
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I'm not sure why we can't enter the weight when we post a non-ISBN book, but my solution is after I post it, I click on the title, then on "more options" --> "edit book  data" and enter the weight, then submit the edit.

I also weigh before mailing.