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Topic: Abuse of Priority Mail Materials -- Reporting Question

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Subject: Abuse of Priority Mail Materials -- Reporting Question
Date Posted: 9/1/2010 3:51 PM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2007
Posts: 4,815
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This is not PBS related, but I have searched the USPS website, postal inspection website and Google and can't seem to find the answer I need...

I recently received an order from an online retailer which used multiple Priority Mail boxes as "padding" inside another Priority Mail box, and this irks me, as it is wasteful and seems like an abuse of the free materials.

Is this permitted?  If not, should it be reported to someone? Who and where? 

The closest thing I found was the U.S. Code, Title 18, Section 1707, but I am not a lawyer, so I don't know if it is truly applicable.

Thanks in advance for your help!

Date Posted: 9/1/2010 11:35 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Elizabeth, I recently received a very similar package.  An online purchase arrived in a big gray mailing envelope (possibly UPS), but inside the product was packed in a brand new  Priority Mail Flat Rate Box.  Basically theft of USPS mailing supplies, and thus raising the cost of legitimate mail services.  I called my local post office, and ended up taking in the Priority Mail box and outer shipping envelope (with sender address)...they were going to forward the information so hopefully someone could take some follow-up action.

Must be nice to conduct business and foist off all the cost of packaging your product onto USPS and other mail customers.  FYI I would not have been outraged if the packing materials were recycled, but these were clearly brand new (and therefore stolen as the cost is included in the Flat Rate Mailing Fee).

Last Edited on: 9/2/10 4:27 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Cathy A. (Cathy) - ,
Date Posted: 9/2/2010 3:25 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2005
Posts: 4,142
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Elizabeth - your sender paid the priority mail postage rate, right? I think that's what you're saying, and it's different than Denise's case. No idea whether it's illegal though.

Date Posted: 9/2/2010 4:27 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Would seem that any boxes used - that were not paid for (via being included in postage) is theft.  Recycling used product is one thing, but stealing new materials for your own convience is quite another.  Those boxes are not provided as a free service for anyone that has a need or merely wants one.

Date Posted: 9/2/2010 7:41 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 600
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Any misuse of the USPS free packaging is illegal. 

USPS will even get irked if you re-use them when mailing things, but most of us wouldn't mind if it was something that had really been mailed before. 

Good for you for reporting it. 

Date Posted: 9/3/2010 1:38 PM ET
Member Since: 7/7/2007
Posts: 4,815
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To clarify, yes, the sender did use Priority Mail, but also used several brand new (not recycled) Priority Mail boxes inside the mailing box as padding.

Still waiting to hear if there is an official avenue to report this -- my local post office is not usually too helpful with questions.  Thanks!

Briana -
Date Posted: 9/3/2010 7:47 PM ET
Member Since: 4/8/2009
Posts: 2,768
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What a waste! Yes, it is illegal to use those boxes for anything but it's intended purpose. I love priority mail and the convenience of click-n-ship. I think the USPS provides a wonderful service and I hate to see it abused- or worse- take it away because other people abuse the program. I would be mad too!

Date Posted: 9/5/2010 3:51 PM ET
Member Since: 10/24/2007
Posts: 63
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Just wondering, what are you supposed to do with priority boxes that you can't use, if your post office won't take them?  I have ordered free priority boxes online, and you can only order them in sets of 12.  I ordered 12 of the large square boxes, but I only needed 6.  I tried to give the other 6 to my post office, but they said, "we don't have room to store them, so we won't take them".  I ended up throwing the other 6 in the garbage, but it seemed very wasteful! I know I couldn't use them for shipping non-priority packages, but I would have liked to have used them for something.  (I live in a small apartment, so it wasn't practical to keep them "just in case" I might use them someday.) 

Last Edited on: 9/5/10 3:52 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/5/2010 11:32 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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I pick up Priority boxes directly from my post office, one at at time (or whatever number I need).  If you have more than you need and the PO won't take them back (for just 6, they would have fit in the lobby display at my PO) I suppose you should put them in a recycle container.  B/C  yeah, I'm fighting off the packrat tendencies lol!

Date Posted: 9/6/2010 9:23 PM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2006
Posts: 382
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couldnt you use for storage  instead? you can use that since you arent mailing them