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Topic: USPS bar code not scannable.

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Subject: USPS bar code not scannable.
Date Posted: 4/16/2010 7:27 PM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2010
Posts: 388
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The USPS bar code was on the book I mailed out today.  I overtaped the darn thing and the scanner wouldn't read the bar code so the postal worker punched in the numbers. 


I didn't mark the book mailed until I got back from the post office.  Since the bar code was punched in before it was marked mailed, does this mean that it won't be entered into the PBS system until it gets to the final destination?

Just wonderin'.

Date Posted: 4/16/2010 7:34 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,201
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It shouldn't. The only time it matters is if they upload into the USPS system and then  into the PBS system before you get it marked mailed. Most places only do that once a day and PBS catches it later that evening, though some do it more frequently and can be problematic

Date Posted: 4/16/2010 7:37 PM ET
Member Since: 1/17/2009
Posts: 9,942
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The USPS seems to upload to PBS daily, If the book gets scanned along the way, then it should upload the info the PBS at that point ... so the answer is it may hppen before delivery. From the books I get/send with DC, most do get scanned somewhere along the way, but there have also been some that have only been scanned upon delivery.

As to whether or not that first scan will register ... it just depends on the timing. If the USPS uploads the info on the scan before you marked it mailed, then I think the answer is that that scan will not show up in PBS. If the upload happens after you marked it mailed, then I think it will show up. But it can probably happen either way, just depends on when that upload happens.

Date Posted: 4/16/2010 7:43 PM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2010
Posts: 388
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Thanks, ladies.  I marked it mailed as soon as I got back home.  I didn't know if it was automatically scanned and transferred.

Date Posted: 4/16/2010 7:46 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,601
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That's the main reason I always mark my books mailed before I've actually mailed them. I actually mail them less than an hour after marking them as such, so I don't feel bad at all about doing it that way. I drop my books in a blue box that gets collected at 9 a.m. and again at 1 pm. I don't get home from work til 6:30 pm so if my books were scanned and the PBS computers hook up with USPS computers before I mark the book mailed, the initial scan doesn't show up. Most days I have time to login to PBS from work, but some days I absolutely don't, so I prefer to work it his way. I had that happen a few times when I was just using DC and had them scanned right at the PO, went on my merry way running errands, got home and got busy, marked the books mailed several hours later..no scan til some other way point or at destination, even though I watched them scan at the PO.

Cheryl.

Date Posted: 4/16/2010 8:35 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2009
Posts: 1,083
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I always make sure I only tape over the numbers under the bar code.  A lady at my post office told me NOT to tape over the bar code because it interfers with the scanner.  I guess this verifies that advice.  I tape over the numbers because in case the wrapping gets wet and the bar code gets smeared, there are still the numbers, protected with tape, to punch in.

Date Posted: 4/16/2010 9:58 PM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2010
Posts: 388
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Well, when I placed the tape over the bar code, I think I wrinkled it.  That's why it won't scan.  It's still not showing up as scanned and it's 10:00 at night.

I'll be more careful next time.

 

Update:  Ok.  I spoke too soon.  lol.  It's registered and now I have the credit.  (smile)



Last Edited on: 4/16/10 10:02 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/16/2010 11:18 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,201
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My postal clerks tell me that I should tape over the whole barcode if I use an inkjet because one drop of moisture makes them unscannable. It always scans fine unless their batteries are going dead in the scanners, I wouldn't worry about it. I've had wrinkles and multiple layers many times and I've only had once or twice that they've had to key them in.

Glad your quick credit showed up!

Date Posted: 4/17/2010 1:50 AM ET
Member Since: 10/22/2009
Posts: 1,452
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I've always taped over the barcode--just one layer of tape on the whole mailing label.  I've mailed out over seventy books, and so far every one of them has been scanned with no problems.

Date Posted: 4/17/2010 2:15 AM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Live in a wet climate, and always tape over my DC barcodes.  I'm careful to purchase very clear (not cloudy) packing tape, only use one layer, and avoid wrinkles.  To date, the most problems I've experienced is one book that the scan didn't take the first time and clerk had to try again (worked fine). 

I live on the West Coast, and notice our USPS updates/downloads are around midnight (or the wee hours).

Date Posted: 4/17/2010 4:36 AM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,476
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I must say, I'm very glad that we can reprint the DC bar codes.  Have had to redo labels several times after the tape (also inkjet) has wrinkled the label.

Date Posted: 4/17/2010 7:41 AM ET
Member Since: 12/3/2005
Posts: 3,352
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I know that people are going to continue to do it anyway, but here is the info from the USPS stating not to tape over the barcode:

  • How should I attach a Click-N-Ship label to a package?

 

Labels must be fully placed on the package and not folded over package edges. Use clear shipping tape to securely affix labels on all four sides. Do not tape over the "Postal Use" area on Express MailŽ labels or the barcodes. In addition, you cannot tape over stamps.

 

 

Click-N-Ship is the USPS equivalent of what is printed out here on PBS.

Date Posted: 4/17/2010 7:54 AM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,601
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Yep, I'm going to continue to do it anyway! LOL I use the heavy Scotch (tm) packing tape and have always taped over the whole label. The issue for me is....I do use an injket printer, so what if that label gets wet? Then it won't scan at all. I do make sure it's not wrinkled, though, and the only time I have had a scanner fail to pick up the scan was when my printer was almost out of ink and the print was very light...thought I could sneak by, but it didn't. And I have sent literally hundreds and hundreds of books with the entire label taped over.

Cheryl

Date Posted: 4/17/2010 1:08 PM ET
Member Since: 10/22/2009
Posts: 1,452
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Yup--Count me in the "I'm going to do it anyway" crowd too.  LOL   Since it's worked so far, why would I change.  I feel a lot more comfortable taping over the entire label.

Date Posted: 4/17/2010 2:55 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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"Yep, I'm going to continue to do it anyway!"  +1  I've taken at least a hundred of these to the counter to buy postage and watched the clerk scan them in.  None of my USPS clerks has said anything about the tape, nor has there been a physical problem scanning them.  Although if asked directly, my USPS counter clerks say it's not recommended to tape over barcodes.

Inkjet labels run if exposed to water/liquids.  Once received one that had been wet, the address was so blurred I was surprised it actually found me.  The DC barcode & numbers were useless, and were never scanned anywere enroute or upon delivery.  Part of this shipping label had been taped over but not all...unfortunately at some point it had been so wet the water ran under the tape and damaged the ink anyway.  OTOH, the book was wrapped in plastic and arrived in mint condition!

Date Posted: 4/18/2010 12:27 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2007
Posts: 13,205
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I was also told not to tape over the barcode area. I've never put tape over it and I've never had a problem in the 3 years I've been here. 

I see no reason to tape over that area especially since the post office says not to. 

ETA: I've also never received a book with a wet/running label either. 

I'm totally amazed at what seems to "always" happen to some people yet never happens to others.  Climate is a factor, yes, but it rains where I live too! Quite a lot of it, actually. 



Last Edited on: 4/18/10 12:29 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/19/2010 1:19 AM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Susan, I also live in a wet climate.  A couple book packages have arrived somewhat wet due to severe weather, or rural mailbox not closed properly.  The bad one I mentioned, I'm guessing was maybe dropped in a defective blue box in awful weather.  Was dry by the time it arrived, but had been soaked somewhere enroute. 

A frequent complaint - Some PBS members report they live in areas where their USPS carrier does that 'walking route' thing with a pull-behind mail pouch.  Apparently these mail pouches are open on top, and in bad weather all their mail arrives wet...including books.



Last Edited on: 4/19/10 1:20 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 4/19/2010 12:45 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2009
Posts: 1,083
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Yep, I'm going to continue to do it anyway! LOL I use the heavy Scotch (tm) packing tape and have always taped over the whole label. The issue for me is....I do use an injket printer, so what if that label gets wet?

Just tape over the numbers under the bar code label.  That's what the bar code is, a series of numbers.  The numbers are there so that if the bar code can't be scanned, the person doing the scanning can enter the numbers to get it to scan.

It really bothers me when people say "I'm going to do it anyway".  What you are doing is causing the people who work at the post office more work if your taped bar code won't scan.  Just because it never happened to you or someone in your post office never said anything about it, doesn't make it right to do something the post office has asked people not to do.  Enough people here and on other threads have said that the people at their PO said not to tape over bar codes, so I believe that means they really don't want you to do it.

This is like the people who say "I have never received a wet book" and use that as a reason for not wrapping books in plastic.  It doesn't matter that there are requently posts here by people who do receive wet books, for whatever reason.  Just because it has never happened to you doesn't mean it doesn't happen to others.

Date Posted: 4/19/2010 1:22 PM ET
Member Since: 10/22/2009
Posts: 1,452
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It really bothers me when people say "I'm going to do it anyway".  What you are doing is causing the people who work at the post office more work if your taped bar code won't scan.

Kate--I really don't think that my taping over the barcode is causing anyone at the post office more work!  I mail all of my packages in a blue box out in front of my office.  The first place that my packages get scanned is in the USPS sorting center in Bell, CA.  I'm sure this is automated and that there is no one standing there to make sure that the barcode on my package is read!  If the machine didn't read it, it would just pass through unread.

But that doesn't happen.  The machine reads it just fine as is with the tape on it.  I do use clear packing tape, make sure there are no wrinkles in it, and make sure there is only one layer.

So far in almost eighty books sent out, I've never had a book that wasn't scanned.

Date Posted: 4/19/2010 2:14 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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"...What you are doing is causing the people who work at the post office more work if your taped bar code won't scan..."  Mine scan just fine Kate.  I take them to the post office counter and buy postage, and therefore watch while my DC's are scanned.  I've probably mailed a hundred (probably over 200) books in this way and USPS has NO difficulty scanning the barcodes...I've watched them all.  Nor has any of the clerks said anything about reduced scanabilty, and they know me well enough it would have been mentioned if it was a problem.

Every day, PBS members fudge site & USPS guidelines attempting to find methods that work for our own schedule, lifestyle, & budget.  Everything from when a member uses the 'mailed' button to how we log books in as received....and all the variables in between, including tape, wrapping materials, plastic underwrap, and media mail inspections.  Folks working for the USPS are big kids, if they want my packages wrapped differently I have no doubt they will let me know.  Personally, I like my postal employees.  If I was doing anything that increased their workload I would change it immediately.



Last Edited on: 4/19/10 2:17 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 4/19/2010 2:21 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,201
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It really bothers me when people say "I'm going to do it anyway".  What you are doing is causing the people who work at the post office more work if your taped bar code won't scan.  Just because it never happened to you or someone in your post office never said anything about it, doesn't make it right to do something the post office has asked people not to do.  Enough people here and on other threads have said that the people at their PO said not to tape over bar codes, so I believe that means they really don't want you to do it.

But that is just your experience Kate. My post office personnel all say to put tape over the bar code if you use an ink jet printer. I continue to do it because that is what the postal personnel told me to do. Someone else's PO's preferences will not overrule that as I have yet to see any postal employees that know more than the ones I work with. They have said that the idea that it will interfere with the scanners is dated and only applied to the old scanners.  You are correct to compare it to the plastic wrap on books, depending on who you ask, you get a completely differently absolutely correct answer.



Last Edited on: 4/19/10 4:04 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/19/2010 6:20 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,601
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Kate wrote:  It really bothers me when people say "I'm going to do it anyway". 

Okay. I won't say it.  Heaven knows, I don't want you to be bothered.

Cheryl

Date Posted: 4/19/2010 8:49 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2009
Posts: 1,083
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But that is just your experience Kate. My post office personnel all say to put tape over the bar code if you use an ink jet printer.

I have read numerous posts on here about people saying the PO says not to tape over a barcode.  I tend to believe they would not want it done  because I can see how the tape may interfer with the scanner, especially if the tape wrinkles the bar code.  But, since your post office says to tape the bar code, by all means do so. 

Kate--I really don't think that my taping over the barcode is causing anyone at the post office more work!  I mail all of my packages in a blue box out in front of my office.

If you don't walk into the PO and see them scan your book, you have no way of knowing whether or not your tape over the bar code caused a clerk to have to enter the information by hand from the numbers. 



Last Edited on: 4/19/10 8:50 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/19/2010 9:43 PM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2007
Posts: 2,520
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I would think it would cause exponentially more work for someone if the bar code were to get wet and become unreadable. 

Date Posted: 4/20/2010 2:18 AM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Totally agree Liesl.  The blurry one I mentioned above...even I could barely make out my address, and I know my own addy unlike the USPS attempting to deliver this book.  No idea how long postal employees had to look and research before they could complete delivery on that one.

ETA - "...They have said that the idea that it will interfere with the scanners is dated and only applied to the old scanners...."  That makes alot of sense :)



Last Edited on: 4/20/10 2:19 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
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