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Old 09-20-2011, 01:45 PM   #1
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Default Nonmachinable surcharge for postage

I was wondering if any of you have had issues with mailing cards with embellishments for the 44-cent postage price? I've been checking the weight and adding additional postage if needed, but recently read about the nonmachinable surcharge for items that are not flat enough or the right size to fit in the postal machines. If I know the card weighs one ounce or less, but am worried that it might be nonmachinable because of the embellishments, can I just stick an extra stamp on it?

Also, many years ago I remember my SU demonstrator telling us we could mail our cards in clear envelopes and just put "hand cancel" on them, and that we could also put "hand cancel" on any regular envelopes with cards that we didn't want going through the machine. Does that still work? Would that be another case where we just add an extra stamp to cover the nonmachinable fee?

I've tried to find the answer online and either I'm looking in the wrong places or I'm just overlooking the answers. I thought maybe someone here might have some experience with this and could give me some insight!
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Old 09-20-2011, 01:48 PM   #2
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If your envelope is over 1/4 inch thick it needs extra postage.

Do you have a Fiskars trimmer? If you can slide the envelope between the slats without touching, no need for extra postage.
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Old 09-20-2011, 01:59 PM   #3
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Thanks, Cathy! I do have the trimmer and never thought to try that. Great idea!!
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Old 09-20-2011, 02:09 PM   #4
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A trick from a while ago - if you have a lot of embellishments on your card that stick out, slide a piece of thin cardboard (like a cereal box) in front of your card in the envelope to prevent items from poking through.
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Old 09-20-2011, 02:27 PM   #5
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My cards always have some kind of embellishment/bump on them, but they aren't usually over one ounce. I always put a piece of cardstock cut to card size facing the card front. I also place the front of the card to the back of the envelope.

And then....... I check how I insert the card into the envelope so that if there is a "bump", if possible I place that section of the card so that it is in one of the corners that doesn't have the stamp.

Logic tells me the envelopes are probably fed through the cancelling machines with the stamp end first, so I want that part to be as smooth as possible.

I've asked friends if anything arrives postage due, and they say no. And I've never had anything returned.

Now if the card is overweight, I do add an extra stamp.
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Old 09-20-2011, 02:47 PM   #6
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This is not helpful, but it seems totally random, and dependent on the mood of the postal clerk on any given day. In North Carolina, I mailed things in clear envelopes all the time. When I tried in Utah, they ALL came back to my house, saying they needed a lot of extra postage. Havent' tried in Montana...hmmm. If you go in and ask, you really get a different answer for every different person you talk to.
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Old 09-20-2011, 02:51 PM   #7
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I have been told (by the post office)that the non-machinable "part" of the charge is due to the fact if a card can not be put through the postage cancel machine. If the card can not bend through the machine or an embellishment is to big that it gets caught in the machine and rips the envelope and card apart.

I have only had small brads go through the PO "inspection" at the counter. Anything bigger than a small brad gets hit for this extra postage. The more "padding" I put over the card only makes the envelope thicker which results in more postage.

Extra Postage costs are just a thing a card makers has to deal with if they want to mail their cards out. I have started to make cards without embellishments for holidays cause I have had postage from .65 to over $1.30 charged to me because of embellishments.

I only make "Special" Thanksgiving cards and Christmas cards for family. Everybody else gets flat cards. I sure can't afford over $1 postage per Christmas card!
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Old 09-20-2011, 03:18 PM   #8
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It seems to depend on the post office. My dd is going on a mission trip this spring and I mailed almost 200 cards with support letters at my local post office. I received a mail tray with almost all my cards saying they required 20 cents. Several did arrive at their destinations, so I took them to another post office in a neighboring town and they have gone out with no problem. No idea what the difference is.

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Old 09-20-2011, 03:32 PM   #9
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It is a post office decision. I sent out 25 identical cards - needed extra postage for one of them!
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Old 09-20-2011, 05:31 PM   #10
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The charge fort he *non-machinable* is because there is a system of curves, bends and turns in the feed lines for processing mail...That is how you get the zip sorting code on the bottom of the envelopes...If your card will not make this series of bends, they charge additional postage for some to do all the hand work required to get from point A to point B and into your carriers pouch...
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Old 09-20-2011, 06:33 PM   #11
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If you need extra postage (over 1/4" and/or over 1 oz.) if will be 20 cents. Don't blow an extra 44 cent stamp for it. And, don't go to the post office. They will hit you every time.
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Old 09-20-2011, 07:02 PM   #12
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I just put the extra 20 cent stamp on each time just in case. Hopefully this extra stamp ensures that they hand cancel it but who knows. Nobody has ever complained about problems with my cards but I know people are too polite to do that.
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Old 09-20-2011, 10:26 PM   #13
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I mail in clear envelopes all the time and I use plenty of lumpy embellishments. I have only ever had one card returned for the additional .20 postage and this was if I remember correctly a Thanksgiving card with brads. I carefully peeled off the red sticker asking for .20 more postage and popped it back in the box. This time it reached its destination with no problems or postage due. I think it is awful that all the post office are different in how they access your cards/envelopes. I guess as that goes at least I have a good one.
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Old 09-20-2011, 10:36 PM   #14
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Thanks for the responses! I think I will add an extra 20 cent stamp to the ones that are "questionable" in my mind that I really need to get to the person on time, and the rest of the time I will take my chances!
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Old 09-21-2011, 04:32 AM   #15
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I use two stamps for almost all of my cards.
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Old 09-21-2011, 05:45 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fairsinger View Post
...
I've tried to find the answer online and either I'm looking in the wrong places or I'm just overlooking the answers. ...
I've looked this up before. Here's the official word on nonmachinable criteria from the USPS website:
DMM 101 Physical Standards for Retail Letters, Flats, and Parcels
They don't make the information easy to find.

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Old 09-21-2011, 10:30 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by liannallama View Post
I just put the extra 20 cent stamp on each time just in case. Hopefully this extra stamp ensures that they hand cancel it but who knows. Nobody has ever complained about problems with my cards but I know people are too polite to do that.
I do this too. I would not want some cards (such as a sympathy) to arrive with postage due.
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Old 09-21-2011, 01:25 PM   #18
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I don't have issues w/ the surcharge, but then I always pay by weight (I use a little scale to weigh my envies) and if there are lumps I follow the USPS rules. I don't mind the extra charge, honestly. We love our local postal workers, and since they are closing small rural offices left and right around here, I do what I can to keep our local office open.

And, I figure .64 cents to a $1 or more to get my cards where I need them to be in just a couple of days is a lot cheaper than the price of the plane tickets I would have to buy to get them there myself!

I order stamps from the USPS.com site so I can get all kinds of options, like .02, .04, .10, .26, .64, etc. That way, I pay exactly the correct amount, not over. Our little post office doesn't always have all the random priced stamps in stock. And even though I'm ordering the stamps and paying package postage online, the revenue still gets applied to my small town local post office.

And another bonus about buying from the USPS website, your stamps arrive packaged w/ a wonderful piece of chipboard! *LOL* And if I remember correctly, shipping is free to your home. I also order mailing supplies ... priority boxes, etc.

And, if you print your shipping labels for your boxes online, you get a discount, and free delivery confirmations.

I {heart} the post office. *LOL*
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Old 09-21-2011, 02:04 PM   #19
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Anna, do you just add an additional 20 cent stamp if the card is lumpy? I have no problem paying the additional charge, but just wasn't sure if it was just an extra 20 cent stamp I needed to add? I want to be sure the people I'm sending cards to don't get hit with a "postage due" notice when they get their cards. Thanks for the tip about ordering stamps online!
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Old 09-21-2011, 02:11 PM   #20
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There's actually a chart if you calculate the postage on the USPS.com site
It walks you through the entire process, including your zip, the recipient's zip, the weight of the item, and you can even choose if the envy had a ridged object in it or is non-standard size, and it will let you know what the total fee is.

Go to usps.com and go to the "calculate postage" link and it will guide you.

Or, if you use it as often as me, just keep a shortcut to it in your bookmarks folder:
Postage Price Calculator



It's .20 extra if your item weighs less than 2oz and has a ridged object, but the charge goes up if it's more than 2oz, and a ridged object is included.
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Old 09-21-2011, 02:18 PM   #21
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Thanks, Anna! I will bookmark that page!!
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Old 09-21-2011, 02:38 PM   #22
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I too know that it depends on the post office and who is working and probably how they feel that day!

I take a piece of cardstock the size of a card and run it through my crimper--about the only time I use the "needed" item. I put the crimped cardstock over the front of the card and then place the crimped piece with the front of the card facing the back of the envie--and also with the brad/bow/other bulking item toward the bottom of the envie--and only one has been returned to me for additional postage--that is over a few years of sending many cards a month. I too was tempted to take off the sticker and try again, but I did add the postage and sent it on.

A friend recently told me the story of taking a card into the post office and asking if it needed additional postage--she was told yes. She instead told the guy she was going to just drop it in the box without the additional postage and see if it made it that way. She also asked him to promise not to dig to find the card and he said he would not. And, YES, it made it to the destination without being postage due! Moral of story--just drop in a blue box or in the mail slot!
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Old 09-21-2011, 04:39 PM   #23
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I believe it's 62 cents for a regular sized card (not square) that is too thick or uneven. There is a cardboard "guide" at the p.o. with a slot that it has to fit through. Some clerks are actually fussier than others - but you don't want anything to happen to your card.

If I have a "lumpy" card, I'll put the .44 and then two .10 stamps on it. I usually keep a sheet of .10 stamps around for that purpose. Then I'll write HAND CANCEL on the envelope.

When it comes to mailing larger/padded envelopes, I'll weigh them on my postal scale at home and visit www.usps.com to calculate the postage so I can just put stamps on them and drop them in the mailbox. I use the accurate weight, see what first class mail comes out to, and then divide by .44 and round up using .44 and .10 stamps. I figure that way I'm covered. It works well - sometimes I've written in pencil what I need for postage in the corner of the pkg, and end up going to the p.o. anyway. The clerks always comment that it was the exact amount.
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Old 09-21-2011, 05:28 PM   #24
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I mail all of my handmade cards with 64 cet stamps and I write in red on both sides on the bottom "non-machinable". I figure, I spen all that time making them...I am going to be safe and make sure it gets there without getting torn up.

Thanks for that postal calculator! that is awesome!!
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Old 09-21-2011, 10:30 PM   #25
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I like the idea of adding the extra postage and writing "hand cancel" on the envelope. When I put extra postage on I always figure there's still a chance they'll run it through the machine anyway, so if I'm paying the extra amount I'd like to know it's not going through the machine! Thanks for the tips!
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Old 09-22-2011, 08:20 AM   #26
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When I'm in doubt I always put the extra postage on my cards. I also place a 1/4 sheet of cardstock on top of my cards to help make them smoother. I never think to check the weight though- that's something I'll have to be more careful of.
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Old 09-23-2011, 05:46 PM   #27
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I use my Iphone ap for postage calculation...it's free
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Old 09-23-2011, 05:59 PM   #28
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my post office is getting realy picky here lately. I usually end up paying .64 for postage because they call it bumpy. The last time I was there to mail 2 flat cards they claimed they were rigid. There was never a problem in the past with my flat cards. I used Papertrey Ink paper with maybe one additional layer of paper. They used to pass for 44 cents. I suppose it's because the PO is going bankrupt and they need to charge all they can.
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Old 09-24-2011, 12:24 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lmcgraw01 View Post
This is not helpful, but it seems totally random, and dependent on the mood of the postal clerk on any given day. In North Carolina, I mailed things in clear envelopes all the time. When I tried in Utah, they ALL came back to my house, saying they needed a lot of extra postage. Havent' tried in Montana...hmmm. If you go in and ask, you really get a different answer for every different person you talk to.
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The Domestic Mail Manual was 1700 pages(!) the last one I saw in print. They change a policy/interpretation, you'd get new sheets to replace the old ones. I don't think they do that anymore. The DMM is now on line and completely searchable. If you have an issue, I say print the passage and take it with you. (Hubby just had a carry-on issue with an airline. We had printed the info from their website before we left just in case, luckily.)

Plastic used to be a no-no, but now they have "automation compatible" materials. An old timer might know the old reg but not realize things have changed.

As for "hand-cancel" endorsements. They are a waste of time if you do not take it into the PO (NO BLUE BOX drops). And even then, if it is a low volume PO, they may not have a separation for it. Here in Tampa, every station has a separation for non-machinable, post cards, Netflix, and other things needing different processing. Carriers do not have room in their truck to separate this kind of mail. If you have enough and bundle it with a cover note, he could throw it with his parcels to remember to hand separate it when he gets back. You'd probably know how professional you carrier behaves to decide if it is worth a try.

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Old 09-24-2011, 12:30 AM   #30
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Quote:
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A friend recently told me the story of taking a card into the post office and asking if it needed additional postage--she was told yes. She instead told the guy she was going to just drop it in the box without the additional postage and see if it made it that way. She also asked him to promise not to dig to find the card and he said he would not. And, YES, it made it to the destination without being postage due! Moral of story--just drop in a blue box or in the mail slot!
Because of the reliance on automation, some do get through. I just would feel wrong about stealing service from any company. (You balk at the checkout when something rings up high, I feel the same about something ringing up low. KWIM?)

I just know the embarrassment alone of sending someone a birthday card postage due would keep me from trying.
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Old 09-24-2011, 02:20 AM   #31
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adding that I asked if clear envelopes are acceptable and she told me that "slick" envelopes would require a surcharge too.
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