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Topic: Using the large envelope rate instead of the rate for parcels

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Subject: Using the large envelope rate instead of the rate for parcels
Date Posted: 4/11/2008 1:14 PM ET
Member Since: 3/6/2008
Posts: 67
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Last night I was at the post office using the automated machine to mail my books. Since this was the first time I had used it (I usually go to the post office and have the clerks mail the books), I was pretty slow with the machine. The guy behind me was watching and commented that it was cheaper to use the large envelope rate instead of the parcel rate, so long as the package is thinner than 3/4". Two of my books were right at the 3/4" limit, so I used the large envelope rate, which was about 30 cents cheaper. I asked the guy why the post office clerks had never mentioned this option and he said that the post office just tries to get as much money as it can. I realize that this option isn't available for most books, but a lot of graphic novels are larger than most paperbacks and therefore thinner. Has anybody tried the large envelope rate? I'm hoping I didn't goof up with the two that I sent.
Date Posted: 4/11/2008 2:10 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,226
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If the package is stiff they may re-classify it as a package and delivery it with postage due. It needs to fit into the envelope sorters to qualify for the flat rate.

Cathy A. (Cathy) - ,
Date Posted: 4/11/2008 4:23 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2005
Posts: 4,155
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It's not just the less than 3/4" thickness that makes something a "large envelope". It has to be longer than 11 1/2 inches -or- taller than 6 1/8 inches and it has to weigh less than 13 oz without being rigid.

Date Posted: 4/12/2008 11:27 AM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2007
Posts: 73
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Sorry, rant removed.

Last Edited on: 4/12/08 11:31 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 4/12/2008 12:06 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,730
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A book is rigid so it doesn't qualify for the large envelope (flats) rate.  Your books should get reclassified as parcels somewhere along the way and arrive postage due.  Not saying that will happen but it may.

ETA:  I looked up the sheet I made for myself when they split FC into the 3 classes.  To qualify for the Retail Flat Rate, your parcel must be flexible, rectangular, and uniformly thick.  Also it must be not more than 15" long, 12" high, and 3/4" thick.  They have a whole test for the flexible requirement and a book just won't meet it unless it's an overly large paperback, like magazine size or better.

Last Edited on: 4/12/08 12:12 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/14/2008 12:10 PM ET
Member Since: 4/9/2007
Posts: 19
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I have actually found in the past that most postal service employees are trying to help me find the cheapest postage available.  There  have been a few cases where they weren't as helpful as they could have been, but for the most part if something was available to be shipped a different way for a cheaper price, they offered it to me.

I can't keep up with postal regulations, so that's what I usually do.  If I'm using the APC I just go with whatever I had planned in the first place (though I wish they would do media mail there, ah well).

Date Posted: 4/15/2008 3:42 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
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Mary, just bring a list of the different MM rates, weigh your book and then buy the appropriate stamp ($2.13 or $2.47 or whatever) from the APC machine.  This is what I do and it saves a lot of time

Date Posted: 4/15/2008 5:19 PM ET
Member Since: 2/6/2006
Posts: 1,186
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As Leslie suggested, you can use the 'Buy another denomination' button on the APC machine for media mail, Mary, as long as you know how much it weighs! Just punch in the amount and it will print that denomination for you!

Date Posted: 4/18/2008 11:55 AM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Thanks for the info, I had been wondering if I could use the APC that way.

Date Posted: 4/19/2008 3:09 AM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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My post office wouldn't let me use the large envelope rate for a book either and it was a thin book.  That's more for documents.

Date Posted: 5/1/2008 3:45 AM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2007
Posts: 285
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I've caugt a lot of packages dropped in our slot where the customer used large envelope rate for things that obviously didn't qualify. I mark them "returned for postage," and the amount need to bring it up to parcel rate, then send it back to the return address. If I don't catch it then, someone else is likely to down the line. Better that they get it back from me the next day than a week later from someone else.

Date Posted: 5/2/2008 9:02 PM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2006
Posts: 2,024
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I specifically asked this at my post office shortly after the rates changed and they also said that a thin book did not qualify.

Date Posted: 5/2/2008 9:57 PM ET
Member Since: 2/18/2006
Posts: 58
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The deciding factors are height, weight, thickness and the one that gets most books rigidity.  The machine that sorts large envelopes will send the items around a drum like object if it will not bend around this it is a parcel.  Most books because of the binding are not going to make it around the drum.  The exception is some very thin (usually children's) books.