Weird spreadsheet envelope counting problem
April 24, 2019 9:34 PM   Subscribe

OK so in the ongoing saga of me trying to mail out a bunch of pins, I was ALMOST DONE packing & labeling them and I hit on a really weird puzzle that I would like help with.

OK So bear with my story here:
1. First I generated a bunch of labels with postage, cut them out, stuck them on the envelopes, and brought them to the post office. (This was a hassle because I messed up doing the printing and had some duplicates and some that never got printed so I had to go back to the print shop)

2. The guy at the post office said since I used the media mail rate on the domestic ones, they would come back to me with insufficient postage. So I took them home (190). The international ones were fine so I put those in the maill. (44)

3. Then I refunded the old labels on and re-uploaded the spreadsheet again.

4. Re-generated the labels and brought them back to the print shop (and this time realized that they could cut them for me instead of cutting them up one at a time like before). While generating the labels I made a note of the batch number for each person in my spreadsheet; this way I could also make sure that every person got generated, and find their label later if I needed to. The number of label sheets used matched what I expected.

5. Before applying the labels, I checked them off on my spreadsheet to make sure everyone was accounted for. There were 2 people missing and 2 duplicates, so that makes sense, I just printed the same sheet twice by accident (weird because I was trying really hard not to skip any).

6. Then I stuck the labels over the old ones. There are TWELVE left over. I was like, hold on, how did this happen??

7. So I checked off each completed envelope against my checklist. Everybody on the spreadsheet got checked off except:
2 folks whose labels never printed
2 folks who I messed up their labels and I need to reprint them,
and 1 person who imported their address wrong.

So like, why do I have 12 envelopes with the old, bad labels on them? There should only be 5, no?

I've done everything I can think of to figure out why there are extra envelopes (checking them all off against the spreadsheet and doing some weird spreadsheet stuff that turned out to be pointless and inconclusive.)

Is there something else I could try?
posted by bleep to Grab Bag (4 answers total)
And also, does it even matter? If I confirmed that everybody who should be getting one IS getting one (except those 5 I'll take care of tomorrow), then just there was more weirdness/duplicates than I realized in the initial batch?
posted by bleep at 9:38 PM on April 24, 2019

So like, why do I have 12 envelopes with the old, bad labels on them?

Because cross-checking got built into your workflow too late to prevent this kind of confusion, and mailing over 200 of anything is not work that human beings are naturally good at without it.
posted by flabdablet at 12:31 AM on April 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I bet if you look at the 12 you're going to see duplicates. I honestly would not worry. You've worked hard on this project and anyone not getting their pin will send an email or ping you on social media.
posted by PistachioRoux at 3:40 AM on April 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

Yes to your final comment: there was just more weirdness in the initial batch than you realized, and now it doesn't matter because you confirmed everyone's. Years ago I worked at a printing place where the powers that were randomly decided they wanted us to take on direct mail campaigns along these lines, and this whole post is just so familiar, ugh. It's really bizarrely difficult to do this relatively easy thing (print, pack, and label a package) correctly over hundreds of iterations, particularly the first time one tries.
posted by teremala at 5:30 AM on April 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

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