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And I'm having issues using Firefox with Paperbackswap's website, but that's not important right now. I could enter a subject, but not any text. (I'm using Internet Explorer to edit this posting. Blech.)
I have a P.O. Box that I've been using for about eleven years. Mostly it's great. I live in a large city with many post offices, and this particular one seems pretty benign. Mostly. A couple of times I've gotten some less than stellar service, but that's life in the big city.
However...I have not received SIX books in the last three months!! I feel terrible for the senders, but that's got to be some kind of record! It makes me feel like a deadbeat. And TWO of them had delivery confirmation - with no explanation as to where the books finally ended up...
I'm really suspicious about this, because years ago, when I started Netflix, I wasn't receiving about a third of my DVDs at this same P.O. Box. To deal with it, I asked about it at the customer service counter, and I got in a fight with the guy with the mustache. However, I never had another problem receiving anything from Netflix. So. Do I escalate to confrontation again, and take the chance of not getting any important mail, or do I play nice and hope that does the trick?
This is not my first problem with media mail. When I first started using Paperbackswap, nearly half of the books I sent were opened by the post office and then returned to me, so I would have to pay to mail them twice - and mail them late. I solved this by going to the smallest local post office and standing in line, rather than going to either a larger post office or paying for postage online and then dropping them through the slot at the post office. It took a couple of months to figure this one out.
I'm getting absolutely paranoid about this!! I know that media mail is subject to inspection, but is there some quasi-governmental personnel somewhere out there intercepting my books and adding their titles to my FBI file? I mean, seriously, this is ABSURD. If Homeland Security wants to know how many books about renaissance history and chocolate that I order, they can just ask me for a list. I'd be happy to send it to them.
Last Edited on: 10/31/09 9:51 PM ET - Total times edited: 3
About the books that you are not receiving ... absolutely complain. Especially about the books with DC on them.
I have found that squeaky wheels get the oil ... being extra nice might work, but being the person who is going to keep complaining up the chain is even better. Being extra nice while you insist on talking with supervisors often works well.
About the books that were being returned to you. Why were they returned? One thing with the PBS on-line postage is that the book weights in the PBS database (which the postage calculation is based on) are often incorrect. Many members that use on-line postage have found that purchasing their own scale helps to avoid overpaying or underpaying for postage. So, were they retuned for postage due?
I've never had a single package returned to me (from over 400 books sent). Maybe your Post Office was doing something wrong?
Last Edited on: 11/1/09 1:08 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Before you ask your local PO about the lost DC books, you can check the scan records by clicking on Request Details in your Transaction Archive. Do any of them show a scan after "Electronic Shipping Info Received"? If not, it's possible they were never mailed.
I see you're in S.F, so books coming to you from the east should normally get "En route" scans in Oakland or Richmond. You can check the details for some successful transactions to compare. If the lost books never made it to the east bay, then the problem is not with your local P.O. but elsewhere. If you see "Arrival at Unit" or "Arrival at Pickup Point" and you still didn't get the book, then the problem is definitely local.
The USPS is allowed to open Media Mail for inspection, but they have to reseal it and send it on its way if it meets their conditions. They can't just return it to sender and charge you again if it's legal mail. There's no trick to this, and you should be able to use online postage. Make sure that you're not including anything other than books in your packages -- no bookmarks, thank you notes, etc. Also make sure that your wrapping does not say Priority Mail anywhere on the inside or outside. You are not allowed to reuse free packaging for a higher class of mail to wrap a lower class, even if you turn it inside out. Finally, weigh your packages, and make sure that the attached postage amount is correct. If one gets returned to you, take that package into the Post Office in the exact condition in which it was returned to you and ask for an explanation. Even if your postage is wrong, all you have to do is pay the difference, you don't have to pay the entire amount again.
All good suggestions for both sending and receiving mail.
As far as receiving mail, I don't mind confronting the post office, and rattling a few cages, but I seriously wonder about the safety of my mail after I do this. Am I going to get anything ever again? I get mail to this P.O. Box because I live in a lousy neighborhood and cannot trust that what is mailed to me will reach me. I get as much mail sent to me electronically as possible. But eventually, a real letter or package has to come through. I'm getting the feeling there's no safe harbor. Out of sixteen books I ordered on Paperbackswap in the last three months, SIX have been lost. Doesn't that seem like a really high number? That's more than a third...
As far as the post office opening the packages I send out and then sending them back to me, they may not know that they have to reseal the package and send it along after "inspecting" it. Otherwise, I wouldn't have had so many months of having to constantly re-package and re-mail books. As far as post office personnel, do you get the feeling they all have the same regulations, but they have different interpretations of even the most basic rules? Do you get different results at different post offices from mailing the same thing? I do, all the time. I ship books that I sell on Alibris as well, and when I ship either media mail or internationally, two different post offices will have vastly different postage charges for the same service and package. I don't like this at all.
Thanks for the ideas.
If any of the missing books are coming from an APO/FPO, Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico or the US Virgin Islands-that could be why they are lost. It took 2 months for a book to get to me from the US VI recently.
Out of sixteen books I ordered on Paperbackswap in the last three months, SIX have been lost. Doesn't that seem like a really high number? That's more than a third...
It depends if the books were actually mailed or not. The vast majority of members are great and they do mail on time and would never mark a book mailed when it hasn't been, but there are always a few who are less reliable. The best thing to do if a book has DC is look at the DC scan details.
As far as post office personnel, do you get the feeling they all have the same regulations, but they have different interpretations of even the most basic rules? Do you get different results at different post offices from mailing the same thing?
Well, not really. I pretty much stick with one P.O. and I talk to them when I have a question about what they've done and why. If they return something to me, I ask about it and get an answer. If it was my mistake, I learn from it; and if it was their mistake, I hope they learn from that too.
two different post offices will have vastly different postage charges for the same service and package.
You can print out the rate tables for First Class and Media Mail and question any USPS worker who doesn't follow them. Here's the link: http://www.usps.com/prices/ Things can be tricky for International mail, because many clerks don't deal with it very often, but there is no excuse for any USPS clerk failing to sell you the correct postage for domestic mail.