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Topic: Does the Post Office try to get the most money?

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Subject: Does the Post Office try to get the most money?
Date Posted: 8/14/2007 4:51 PM ET
Member Since: 11/26/2005
Posts: 84
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Today I went to the Post Office and told them I wanted to send a book the cheapest way...either first class or media mail and the lady said her display would automically show her the cheapest price and she would tell me which way.  She thought media mail, then said, No...it would be first class at 1.99.  So I said go ahead with first class.  Then I sent another book that was smaller by first class as I knew if the larger one was 1.99 the other would be less than media mail also.

She told me the cost and I paid, and when I got my receipt and looked at it, turns out the first book was not 1.99, but 2.32.  Now...she told me her screen would tell her the cheapest rate.  I wonder if she just could not read the screen properly.  So...now I got charged extra instead of less.  This one particular post office is always doing this to me.....and others in our area.  We used to send our packages with our carrier, and it seemed that no matter how much we gave them...example...we give the carrier 2.50 for a letter, the letter always cost 2.50.  We never got change.  We finally looked into it one day and it seemed that the person at the P.O, but on 2.50 even if the cost was 2.13. and never sent any change with the carrier.  (this only happened if we sent cash)  I never have these problems when I go to another P.O.  so it does make me wonder what is going on. 

I had already paid and walked out the door, and figured there is no way to change it now...but it really does annoy me, when I ask for the cheapest rate and still don't get it.  Susie

Date Posted: 8/14/2007 5:13 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
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unless the book is 6 oz or less, it will always be cheaper to send it media mail.  if the book is 7oz, first class is usually 2.15, so only $0.02 more.

I never send packages with the carrier to apply the postage.  I don't know that our carrier would even do that!  I would suggest that unless you just can't get there, don't do that.  Or if it is a book and under 1 lb it will be $2.13 for media mail (unless really light like above)

Last Edited on: 8/14/07 5:14 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/14/2007 5:22 PM ET
Member Since: 11/26/2005
Posts: 84
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The book was 7.10 0z and was 2.32...she told me it would be cheaper 1st class and would be 1.99...then charged me 2.32...more than the media mail rate would have been.  Yes, it is only 19 cents more....but if I send out 50 books and pay 19 cents more for each one it will be 9.50 more out of my pocket than I should have paid.  Then if they do this to a million people it can add up. 

The point is...she said her screen shows the lowest rate, and I asked for the lowest rate...but still did not get it.  What gives?  I think they know we won't make a big fuss over a few cents and move on, and in fact I did not look at the receipt until I was outside the building. 


Doing 3 for 2 credits on all books on my shelf.  Trying to save a few cents on postage :) 

Date Posted: 8/14/2007 6:35 PM ET
Member Since: 7/18/2005
Posts: 209
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I think she just made a mistake Susan,  we don't get a commission on our sales or bonuses for upselling.  If she is realativly inexperianced and if you saw the hoops we have to jump through on that POS system (POS to me does not mean Point of Service, think about it) you would understand.

I'm sorry you didn't get what you thought you were getting and probably should have.  Next time pay attention to the little monitor facing you and if it happens again point it out to the clerk so they can correct it.

Date Posted: 8/14/2007 8:07 PM ET
Member Since: 12/18/2005
Posts: 1,807
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I always watch the screen as they scroll through the various prices, and Media Mail is waaaaay at the end.

Date Posted: 8/14/2007 10:50 PM ET
Member Since: 3/8/2007
Posts: 139
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Yes...I think they have to perform finger contortions to get to the Media Mail option.  I think it must take at least three or four button presses to even consider the Media Mail option. 

Date Posted: 8/15/2007 2:30 AM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 160
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I am always amazed at how many options that the USPS people have to select to just get one postage label for each book I send out.  Most of them will tell me if a book is cheaper via first class or media mail.  If it is cheaper to send out first class they will cross out or cover up the media mail wording on the package.

The USPS employee I got today was very knowledgeable about PBS.  She had called Paperback to figure out whether when you use the PBS DC if you get a discounted rate on the DC or if it is already pre-paid (took her about 30 minutes to get ahold of someone at PBS) because a new PBS member was confused about it.  I was quite amazed and impressed with the effort and knowledge this gal had about PBS.  


Date Posted: 8/15/2007 12:41 PM ET
Member Since: 8/24/2005
Posts: 504
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Since you ask, I have been wondering if the clerks at the post office I go to the most have been taking an upselling class.

Early last week I took a box to the window to weigh and ship. No hurry for it to get there, nothing of extreme value in it, I was expecting to use parcel post.

The clerk told me my options were to send it overnight express ($49!!!) or priority mail. Period. Nothing else. She stood there and waited for me to choose. I said how about parcel post and she looked amazed, "you want to send it parcel post?" in a tone that suggested I was sending it via camel, a hungry camel known to nibble on its baggage. I said yes,  please, and we completed the transaction for a lot less than $49. Ever since then, I've been wondering if the clerks have been told to sell, sell, sell.


Date Posted: 8/15/2007 6:38 PM ET
Member Since: 7/18/2005
Posts: 209
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In a way yes Aubrey.  Remember the PO is a business and like any business we will offer our most profitable classes first.  That's one of the reasons we have to go through so many screens on the POS to get to Media Mail (a money loser for us most of the time) or other parcel classes.  It's the PO's way of making sure we offer it first.

Where the upselling comes in is when the difference between Priority and Parcel Post is a matter of cents then the clerk is doing you and the PO a favor by trying to upsell you to the Priority.  With Priority flat rate boxes it's also common for them to be cheaper then Parcel Post. 

To make sure we comply the PO uses mystery shoppers and tracks transactions on the POS, two methods that are almost universal in retail of any kind.