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Topic: Is this a high percentage of lost books?

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Subject: Is this a high percentage of lost books?
Date Posted: 4/23/2010 9:24 AM ET
Member Since: 9/10/2009
Posts: 438
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In the short time (less than a year) that I've been a member on PBS, I've requested books 22 times, and have had three shipments go lost.  That's 13% rate of books getting lost on their way to me!  That seems like an extremely high number to me.  What does everyone else think?  I don't want to get flagged by PBS as someone who is marking books as lost to get them for free.  Luckily, I think all of the books that got lost were sent with delivery confirmation, so it can easily be seen that I was not lying.

I don't know if this is relevant or not, but I live in Wisconsin.  It seems like the WI post offices have some kind of vendetta about Media Mail.  I've had to sign forms, been told that ALL packages sent from WI are opened, etc when sending books.  I wonder if there is some kind of problem with them delivering books as well.  

Date Posted: 4/23/2010 9:30 AM ET
Member Since: 3/4/2007
Posts: 4,582
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Seems high to me.  I've requested 318 books and have had on 4 go lost (1 I'm fairly certain was never actually mailed), which is 1%.  You're right about WI having issues with Media Mail.  There have been several posts about this in the USPS forum, but mostly about trying to mail books; don't remember if there were any about receiving via Media Mail, but I haven't checked in a while. 

Date Posted: 4/23/2010 9:48 AM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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I've heard bad things about WI  and media mail so you may be onto something there. I've had 2 books go lost enroute to me my whole time here and 1 that I've sent that just seemed to vanish. I don't normally use the DC/postage on books but I did on that one and the scans just seemed to stop. 

Last Edited on: 4/23/10 9:49 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/23/2010 9:54 AM ET
Member Since: 4/10/2009
Posts: 1,691
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Last Edited on: 8/10/10 8:14 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Scott (scalta) - ,
Date Posted: 4/23/2010 9:55 AM ET
Member Since: 2/20/2010
Posts: 723
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Last Edited on: 7/15/11 5:29 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/23/2010 9:57 AM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2009
Posts: 202
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I've sent out 109 books and had sent to me 106. Of those 215 books  there was one I didn't recieve. And I have reason to think that it was never mailed.. So that's about one half of one per cent.

Date Posted: 4/23/2010 10:00 AM ET
Member Since: 5/3/2009
Posts: 1,395
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I've been a member almost a year,  and have sent out 167 books and received 142 books...  and none have gone lost.  ::knock wood::   I always use PBS postage with DC,  so I am not sure if that has increased the success of delivered books or not. 

4 out of 22 books does seem like a high percentage,  and the issues of media mail in WI is a bit disturbing.  

Have you done the paperwork for lost books with the USPS, so they can investigate?    I seem to remember another thread on here, where someone mentioned a post office that had apprehended a postal employee that was stealing quite a bit of mail.  The only way they were able to figure it out was by all the lost mail/package claims people had submitted.  

Not saying this is the case with your post office,  but you never know.  

Date Posted: 4/23/2010 10:37 AM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2005
Posts: 6,421
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991 requests by me with 3 lost (one was a shipment of 7 books, 2 other shipments of 2 books)

1345 requests From me with 10 lost (one was a request of 4 books)

I'd say your percentages are pretty high, but I don't know if mine came in bunches at some point, and you  may just be experiencing all of yours at once, and will be done with them now for a long long time. Possible.

ETA: This was over a 4.5 yr period.

And also, I noticedyou mentioned being in WI, I've heard others comment about their media mail care in WI some with different programs being implemented and other with just various comments about mm in WI, so that may be part of your problem.

Last Edited on: 4/23/10 10:39 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 4/23/2010 10:56 AM ET
Member Since: 5/16/2009
Posts: 8,595
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I had a package I sent out to NY go lost in the last month. (It had 2 WL books in it too!)  :(   Didn't use DC on that one either... I used DC quite a bit when I first became a member, but had stopped using it because I'd never had anything go lost.   That was my first out-going one.  (I've had a couple go lost on their way to me *sigh*).

I do think something strange is going on with Media Mail lately (in the last few months)... I've started using DC for my Media Mail again... I guess I may for a little while...  I've noticed things seem to be taking much longer to arrive, too.  I read somewhere (the USPS website, I think?) that they're doing some sort of "re-organization" of some of the Media Mail hubs or something...  I don't know if it's just a regional thing, or if the whole system is affected.

I'm not having any problems with the books that go out First Class.

Date Posted: 4/23/2010 11:22 AM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2009
Posts: 4,412
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Mailed 288 through FIFO with probably an additional 50 books mailed out for games. None Lost.  [knocks wood]   The small extra cost doesn't *pencil* for me, but I do generally use DC/PBS postage for the convenience & to support the site.

Received 372 through FIFO with that same additional 50 books coming to me from games.  One shipment of 2 books lost (DC used, but no scans) + one shipment of 2 books which tore open & 1 of the books was lost (not surprising since 2 larger PBs were tossed in a manila envelope without inner wrapping, padding or taping).  So, is that 1.5 out of over 400 books?

To my knowledge, I've never received a shipment which was inspected/opened by the post office (I live in CA -- just too big here maybe?).  Media Mail has been as fast as 1st Class lately, in my personal shipping experience!  smiley  I've sent to & received from Wisconsin, but it might not have been recently, and I, too, have heard of many problems with WI postal service.  Rich, I'd report & file official claims on every lost book/shipment; the poor record might cause the WI postal service to change their policies.

Wasn't Cranky Pants in WI?

Date Posted: 4/23/2010 11:31 AM ET
Member Since: 9/10/2009
Posts: 438
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Cranky Pants was in MI, not WI.  

I haven't filed any reports with the Post Office about the lost books.  I just have never had the time for that.  I think I might make time.  I have always used DC when sending out books -- I want to be covered if a book comes up as lost.

Would it be out of line to make DC a requester condition?  How many people would decline based on that kind of RC?  My biggest fear is that i get in trouble with PBS because such a high percentage of books are getting lost.


Cathy A. (Cathy) - ,
Date Posted: 4/23/2010 11:57 AM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2005
Posts: 4,151
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I do not think you should make DC a requirement on your requestor conditions. Asking everyone else to spend money because you're worried about looking bad would not go over well with most people. Plus it really won't help. If DC scans show that USPS is losing books close to you, then there's something wrong with your mail delivery, and you need to get that fixed. It's the requestor's responsibility to make sure he's using a reliable address on every request. You can't ask people to mail you books at that address if there's really a 13% chance they'll get lost.

That said, your sample size is awfully small, and you should investigate more before getting too worried. If you go to your Transaction Archive, you can search for Books Requested By Me / Lost in the Mail. Click Request Details on each one of those books and you'll see the scans. If all of them got lost after "Arrival at Unit" or "En Route Milwaukee", then you really do have a local problem and you need to take that info to your Postmaster. If the last scans are all over the country, and nobody's contacting you to say the books were returned to sender due to bad ZIP codes or some such thing, then it's less worrisome.

You can also click on the names of the senders from your Transaction Archive and see if they're still active members. If somebody closes an account shortly after having marked a book mailed, it's reasonable to suspect they never mailed it. Or if you have multiple lost books from the same sender, then that's also an indication that either they didn't wrap a multi-book package very well, or they're repeatedly flaky.

Date Posted: 4/23/2010 12:13 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2005
Posts: 589
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It sounds like a high percentage to me.  I would definitely report the problem to your local post office.  If they don't seem to care, carry it up higher on the chain. 

I wouldn't use an RC to request the use of delivery confirmation.  I think you'll get many people turning you down.

If I were the senders of these books, I would ask the post office to refund my "delivery confirmation" charge.  I know it's only a couple of cents, but they make us pay for the confirmation...then don't deliver the books.  If more people did this, the post office may be able to see a pattern as to where the books are getting lost (like a media mail hub or a specific post office). 

Date Posted: 4/23/2010 1:50 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,485
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Out of 772 books, I've had 3 go lost.  One arrived over 4 months later.  So, Yes, I do think your percent is high.  If you were getting empty envelopes, that I would blame on WI.  Opening media mail and just sealing it with Scotch tape?  I'd expect books to fall out.  But no envelopes at all?

I don't recommend a RC for DC.  I know that for the first year and a half here, my printer would not handle the barcodes.  Only after I got a new printer could I get all the bars to print.  No longer have big gaps where my printer heads were clogged.  The addresses could handle the gaps.  The barcodes would not scan.

You can take the DC number into your local post office to have them look for the books.  Having the number really helps that process.

Date Posted: 4/23/2010 1:53 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Oh Wisconsin *sigh* somebody should volunteer to remove that pickle for your state postmaster.

Don't have time to check just now, but IIRC my incoming 'lost' rate is 3 or 4 times my outgoing 'lost' rate (0)...one wonders, ya know?  And that's not counting the one that was stolen before the sender got to the post office (she marked before mailing).  My incoming and outgoing number over 400 each.

Edited b/c I suck a spelling.

Last Edited on: 4/24/10 11:52 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 4/23/2010 2:05 PM ET
Member Since: 12/9/2007
Posts: 9,601
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I don't know if everyone knows why WI is being hard on Media Mail.  It's because they discovered a larger than usual number of eBay vendors using MM for items not eligible for MM.  So there's a state-wide "road block" on MM.  I don't know if it's restricted to outgoing or not, but as long as they are doing it, they have the opportunity to check on all MM.

I just had an incoming book declared lost.  It is the first in a long while.  I have had a couple I'm pretty sure were never mailed.  I had one outgoing order of 4 books get waylaid for about 2 weeks once.  But that's it on the outgoing books.  


Date Posted: 4/23/2010 2:34 PM ET
Member Since: 8/10/2005
Posts: 4,603
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Hey, I'm from Minnesota, so I'd be the first to blame it on the Cheeseheads! smiley  But yes, that does seem high. I think I read somewhere that the average loss rate is around 1-2%. I can understand the need the postal authorities might feel to examine Media Mail, but they're supposed to re-wrap it and send it along if it's actually an OK media mail item, so maybe you will get these books eventually.

I've sent 1,536 books....7 have gone lost, and several of those were actually scanned somewhere along the way but were just never marked received. I've ordered about 1,480 books and of those, 18 went lost. I think a fairly high percentage of those were never actually sent--most are from people who had their accounts 'closed or suspended' fairly soon after the books went lost, so were probably people trying to get something for nothing that PBS booted out before too long.

I've had several books that went lost and did turn up sometime later--usually a few days after the lost date from people mailing from AK or HI or offshore. One book took 7 months to get to me, and it was mailed right when the sender said, the wrapper was perfect...who knows where it went? These things seem to go in streaks...I haven't had a lost book that stayed lost since the middle of 2008.


Date Posted: 4/23/2010 3:28 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2008
Posts: 5,770
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I guess I'm on the other end of the spectrum , In the last couple months I've had 3 books ( all wish listed ) that I've sent to people FIFO and they were lost in the mail. So I lost credits and WL books.  But all books I've posted to buddies and through games made it safe.

So , I've been really concidering when it comes to Wishlist books , only posting to buddies , not FIFO.

I dont know if its a coincidence or not but its strange to me.

Date Posted: 4/23/2010 10:00 PM ET
Member Since: 12/5/2009
Posts: 21
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I've only been here a few months and have had three go lost (en route to me). Twice with the same book (different senders)! I gave up on that book. I have been a member of other trading sites for years and didn't have a problem with losing stuff in the mail.  I always use DC when shipping out tho....saves a lot of worry on my end!

Date Posted: 4/24/2010 11:41 PM ET
Member Since: 4/21/2007
Posts: 304
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I would definitely go have a chat with the postmaster at the hub that services your area. I too am a member of other trading sites and have done many trades. The only time I have ever had a problem was when the hub I was near was having trouble getting everyone's mail where it needed to go. It was so bad the local news did a story on it. Peoples bills weren't making it in or out on time, tons of lost mail, some speculation of theft. It was bad. They brought in several postal big wigs and that stopped pretty fast. The other time I had trouble with books going lost is when they were getting stolen from my mailbox. A locking mailbox put an end to that. I also let the postmaster know about it.

A lot of people say the cost to print postage & DC here on the the site isn't worth it because things rarely go wrong. For me, I'm a worrier, the peace of mind I get outweighs the small cost.

Good luck to you. I hope this gets better for you.