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postcard help?
August 29, 2007 2:07 PM   Subscribe

Can I augment pre-paid postcards?

I am trying to enter a contest from a magazine where you need to solve a puzzle and send in the answers on a postcard. You are allowed to send in as many entries as you want. So I went to the post office and bought a stack of pre-paid (26 cents) postcards. Rather than write out the answers on each card, I was thinking it would be quicker to just print out the answers several times, cut them out onto small pieces of paper and tape them to the postcards. My two concerns are:

1. Will the USPS deliver these? I'm worried that the weight of the small piece of paper and the tape might push the postage over the pre-paid limit.

2. Will they remain intact in the mail? If they're stuck on with 4 pieces of scotch tape (one on each side), how likely is it that the paper will become unattatched during shipping?
posted by SBMike to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
You might be better off making a template and printing directly on the postcards (even if it involves taping the postcard to a sheet of letter sized paper to get your printer to feed it).
posted by MegoSteve at 2:12 PM on August 29, 2007


Are you sure the contest allows mechanical reproduction of the postcards? Many do not.

If you are going to do this, why not print directly onto the postcard? If you don't have a printer that can do this, use a photocopier at a place like Kinko's.

If you don't want to do that, you can use labels rather than taping things on. I believe taping another sheet of paper on violates USPS rules for postcard physical standards.
posted by grouse at 2:13 PM on August 29, 2007


1. Yes. The postcard rate is more about dimensions than weight.
USPS says to be eligible for postcard rates, the item must be:
shaped like a rectangle, AND,
not less than 3 1/2" high or more than 4 1/4" high, AND,
not less than 5" long or more than 6" long, AND,
not less than .007" thick or more than .016" thick.
2) Maybe. Consider using clear packing tape over the entire surface of your stuck-on piece of paper, rather than bits of scotch tape. Loose ends of paper tend to jam the auto-sorters

Something you didn't mention but should check in the fine print of the contest rules: many contests prohibit "mechanical entries". This might include your printed-out (vs handwritten) answers and disqualify your postcards.
posted by jamaro at 2:17 PM on August 29, 2007


jamaro, it's not a question of dimensions and weight, it's a question of an attachment that is not acceptable (§ 6.3.5–6.3.6).
posted by grouse at 2:20 PM on August 29, 2007


Yes grouse, I can read. However, this is also a question of what can the asker get away with mailing vs. a strict adherence to USPS's regulation book. USPS tends to be more stringent about weight/size than attachments, so long as the attachments are good and attached. If they uniformly rejected every postcard that was comprised of taped/glued layers, this site would be a lot less interesting.
posted by jamaro at 2:33 PM on August 29, 2007


If it's a question of what they can get away with, you can probably get away with occasionally breaking the weight and dimensions rules too. Hell, you can get away with all sorts of things in the mail.

I think they will be less forgiving of a lot of these postcards that may jam up their automation machinery as described, than a single one. Only one way to find out.
posted by grouse at 2:56 PM on August 29, 2007 [1 favorite]


I know for a fact that in direct mail marketing, they're sending out bulk mailings with post-it notes attached to the outside of the envelope/postcard/etc, and this is allowed. Yes, post-it notes, with only one of four sides attached. So you'll be fine with tape.
posted by iguanapolitico at 2:57 PM on August 29, 2007


I'd make sure that the attachments are good and attached. Pressure sensitive labels will be OK, a piece of paper with four pieces of scotch tape will most likely be not, especially if it jams the machines and gets ripped apart.

DMM 101.6.3.5 Acceptable Attachments

A card may bear an attachment that is:

a. A paper label, such as a wafer seal or decal affixed with permanent adhesive to the back side of the card, or within the message area on the address side (see Exhibit 202.2.1), or to the left of the address block.

b. A label affixed with permanent adhesive for showing the delivery or return address.

c. A small reusable seal or decal prepared with pressure-sensitive and nonremovable adhesive that is intended to be removed from the first half of a double card and applied to the reply half.

6.3.5 Acceptable Attachments

A card may bear an attachment that is:

a. A paper label, such as a wafer seal or decal affixed with permanent adhesive to the back side of the card, or within the message area on the address side (see Exhibit 202.2.1), or to the left of the address block.

b. A label affixed with permanent adhesive for showing the delivery or return address.

c. A small reusable seal or decal prepared with pressure-sensitive and nonremovable adhesive that is intended to be removed from the first half of a double card and applied to the reply half.
posted by faceonmars at 2:59 PM on August 29, 2007


iguanapolitico: Are those postcards? Because the unacceptable attachment rules I linked to only apply to postcards.
posted by grouse at 3:01 PM on August 29, 2007


The Post it notes that direct mailers use have to be preapproved by the USPS. You can't just go down to Office Depot to get them. And there's a surcharge for them, too.
posted by faceonmars at 3:01 PM on August 29, 2007


I made a mistake. UNacceptable attachments are:

6.3.6 Unacceptable Attachment

A card may not bear an attachment that is:

a. Other than paper.

b. Not totally adhered to the card surface.

c. An encumbrance to postal processing.
posted by faceonmars at 3:03 PM on August 29, 2007


Just print the answer on a label and stick it on. I've sent out post cards with labels a million times for my non-profit work. If they work for the address, I don't see how one in the message area could matter.
posted by kimdog at 3:05 PM on August 29, 2007


Well, for a reference point, look at Postsecret. This week isn't the best example, but in the past, you can see that people sometimes send in relatively bulky looking collages and very often just tape or laminate things down. I think you're more at risk being invalidated for the contest d/t mechanical reproduction.
posted by cobaltnine at 3:08 PM on August 29, 2007


Why not just print straight on the postcards? Any photo printer should be able to feed odd-sized stiff paper stock without curling it.
posted by Myself at 9:40 PM on August 29, 2007


Eh, I can't tell you for sure about the post-it thing. I just know that 2-3 of the agencies I've worked for in the past ~4 years have sent out mailers with them attached. And I've received them in the mail. *Shudder*.

I imagine the OP would like to minimize expense and hassle. To minimize expense, printing on paper is the best. But it'll be a hassle to do all the cutting out and taping on. So, while more expensive, I'd go with printing directly on labels. Easy cheesy.
posted by iguanapolitico at 8:00 AM on August 30, 2007


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