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Topic: Book Damaged by USPS

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Subject: Book Damaged by USPS
Date Posted: 2/27/2010 7:17 PM ET
Member Since: 11/17/2008
Posts: 1,110
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Yesterday, I got a book request. I printed a wrapper, wrapped the book, put it in a blue mailbox--and received the damaged package and the even more damaged book back a few hours later. The old but postable book had obtained a drink stain on the back (someone must have set a cup on the book), and the front cover was partially separated from the book. I printed another wrapper and sent the book again (since it was still readable and I had marked it mailed), and then contacted the requestor about what had happened, giving them the choice of their credit refunded or another book from my shelf. Since there were no other books on my bookshelf that he wanted, I refunded the credit and told the requestor that I had found two other copies of the wanted book in the system that he could order.

Fortunately, we seem to have resolved the problem, but I am wondering hopw common this is. Have many of you had problems with books being badly damaged by USPS? I can see how a package might get caught in the machinery and torn, but it really irked me that someone had set a coffee cup (or whatever it was) on the book.

Date Posted: 2/27/2010 7:24 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,167
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Considering the quick return Erica, IMO the damage was probably done locally (vs. the more common large sorting center mishap).  I probably would have taken the book to my local post office and requested the assistance of Postmaster to figure out what happened. . . 'cause I agree the coffee stain was just insult to injury.

Date Posted: 2/27/2010 7:24 PM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2008
Posts: 15,690
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I received one mangled book damaged by the USPS. I could tell it was damaged by them because the wrapper was damaged too.

Only 1 though...and I've received hundreds of books so I guess it's not too bad.

Date Posted: 2/27/2010 8:11 PM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2009
Posts: 2,925
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I've had three come to me. None however have been that quick! I received one out of 6 books once - repackaged by the PO. I received one package of several paperbacks (mailed in a manila envelope) which had exploded, and the PO put the whole thing in a plastic bag, and I received one last week that was a paperback in a pbs wrapper - it had definitely been caught in something - the book was grease stained and scrunched - almost fan folded. So of those, two were probably due to poor packaging, and the third a mechanical error.  Out of several hundred books received, that's not too bad.

Date Posted: 2/27/2010 8:26 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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I had a book about BDSM arrive with boot print on one side and a tire tread on the other (something small like a cart of some kind).  I mean I'm all for a little discipline but that was a little too much.
 

I've never had any of my the books I've sent come back to me damaged. I would ahve taken it to the post office and complained.  Although without insurance I don't know if they could have done anything.

Date Posted: 2/27/2010 10:29 PM ET
Member Since: 8/19/2007
Posts: 4,222
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I've never had one damaged by the PO.

I'm surprised that you got the book back several hours after putting it in the blue box.  Around here the blue box gets picked up around 2p and again around 5:30p, so there would hardly be time for the carrier to get the book to deliver to you.  Something sounds strange here.  I'd sure check with my PO.  Pat

Subject: mailing packages/ damaged mail
Date Posted: 2/28/2010 5:34 AM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2009
Posts: 11,689
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I used to work for the Post Office so here is what I believe happened in your case, Erica. 

For some reason, people drop some nasty items into those blue mailboxes.  They have dropped gum, ink, coffee, soda, used condoms, used needles, water/liquid and some more disgusting items.  Although it may appear as though we put coffee cups on mail or packages, we do not.  This was done by someone who has low morals and it happened to fall that way into the box.  If the parcel was returned to you, I would have spoken to someone about it.  Had you used stamps, they should and would refund your postage, if you could not mail it out in the same parcel.  Metered postage from PBS cannot be refunded by the Post Office as well as any other form of metered postage.  I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THAT SENDERS DROP THEIR PARCELS INSIDE IF AT ALL POSSIBLE.  There is much less likelihood of contamination.

May I make a few suggestions in addition to advising you to putting the parcels inside:

I wrap the parcel well and totally cover it in a strong clear plastic tape; Staples tape is wonderful and not too expensive.  The entire parcel has tape on it.  I reinforce the edges with two or three smaller strips and the address label with two strips.  Check to feel if the corners are sticky or can get caught.  You want the package to slide/glide easily so it does not get mangled.  Make sure the tape has no ends sticking up where it can get caught or stuck on anything; feel it with your hands.  ALWAYS put your address inside in case the parcel is damaged and needs to be returned.  Putting the book in plastic is another good thing but the tape I use usually cannot be easily pierced, crushed or ripped.  It also protects against rain or snow.  Bubble wrap can and does rip and get punctured; use clear tape to reinforce  all packaging even manila envelopes.  Personally I do not like the PBS wrapper as the book is so snug, it is hard to get out and I end up cutting some corner.  Then I try to open it and a few times I cut or tear the book.  Brown paper bags are much better and with tape hold up better.  Your parcel may still get damaged because of another parcel jamming the machine and yours was next, just like letter mail, but doing just a little extra work can make a difference.

I hope this helps.   :)

Priscilla



Last Edited on: 2/28/10 5:43 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 2/28/2010 8:13 AM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2008
Posts: 15,690
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Thanks for the advice Priscilla! It never occurred to me that people would drop nasty stuff in the blue boxes!!

Date Posted: 2/28/2010 12:27 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2007
Posts: 13,182
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They have dropped gum, ink, coffee, soda, used condoms, used needles, water/liquid and some more disgusting items.

Now that's REALLY gross! ;(

Date Posted: 2/28/2010 2:12 PM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2007
Posts: 201
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Wow!  I had no idea that mailboxes could be so gross!

Date Posted: 2/28/2010 3:34 PM ET
Member Since: 11/17/2008
Posts: 1,110
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I think I got the book back the same day because the neighborhood mail carrier is an acquaintance of mine and has made extra effort to collect my packages and get them where they're going in the past. She did look very apologetic as she handed me the mail with the ruined package on top.



Last Edited on: 2/28/10 3:34 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/28/2010 7:48 PM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2009
Posts: 11,689
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I believe that some people use the mailboxes as convenient trash depositories.  Others are rather malicious with their gum, condoms etc.  I used to finger the mail in the tub until I almost got stuck by a needle; then I would empty the contents into something else looking out for dangerous items.  Remember this was a number of years ago.

The best way to mail is always use a box but it needs to be padded inside so it does not collapse if a heavier box falls on top.  Mail is not handled a piece at a time much anymore.  Machines do most of the work and can be tough on parcels and letters, too.  A little extra care goes a long way.  Parcels can be thrown and dropped so expect that and prepare, as well as they are stacked inside a huge container and are often subjected to heavy weight from above or even the sides.  If you want it to get there, simply take a little extra care in packaging.

I am always happy to help anyone who has a postal question.  My husband is a Postmaster at a small Post Office and I am a retired clerk.  Usually we can find the answer for you according to regulations.

Priscilla

MSCOZY

Date Posted: 2/28/2010 9:11 PM ET
Member Since: 2/21/2009
Posts: 2,925
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I never thought about people using blue boxes as trash cans! That's good to know (and disgusting).