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Topic: Lost in the Mail

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Subject: Lost in the Mail
Date Posted: 8/17/2008 10:30 AM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2007
Posts: 335
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How frequently do the books you send get "lost in the mail?"  Swapping for a little over a year, I've been pretty lucky that most of the books I've sent have been received.  Several have gone missing.  But I requested 3 books from one member and the package has strangely never arrived!  I feel awful for the sender, who is down 3 books.  What happens to these books?  Do they end up in a large post office bin somewhere?

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 8/17/2008 10:43 AM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
Posts: 3,849
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I am new here, but I have been e-baying for years, and sold stuff through Amazon.  I have never had anything get lost in the mail that I sent, and only once that I recall did I pay for something and not receive it...I suppose it could have been lost in the mail, but I will never know.  After several emails I let it go to protect my perfect feedback rating.

Date Posted: 8/17/2008 10:49 AM ET
Member Since: 5/14/2007
Posts: 881
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In over a year, I have had maybe 2 go missing on the way to me and about that number go missing that I sent. Media is cheaper for a reason, I guess.

Date Posted: 8/17/2008 11:30 AM ET
Member Since: 6/4/2006
Posts: 516
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I have been a member for over 2 years and have never had a book go lost that I sent or received (knock on wood).

Date Posted: 8/17/2008 11:48 AM ET
Member Since: 7/14/2007
Posts: 8,942
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It's pretty rare that they go lost.  In the 13 months I've been here, I've mailed 453 books, and had 3 go lost.  Of the 233 I've ordered, 4 have gone lost, and that may be due to issues of packaging or that they were never mailed for some reason. 

I have gotten books with the lable just barely hanging on there (a breeze could blow it off), entire ends of loose envelopes torn off, etc.  And, I have to say, media mail generally gets to me within a week to 10 days from anywhere in the country.  I have had several books arrive at or after the "go lost" date, only to find that they had postage strips on them dated 3-4 weeks after they were marked mailed.

Date Posted: 8/17/2008 11:49 AM ET
Member Since: 5/14/2007
Posts: 881
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I guess the time frame isn't really that helpful. I went and looked up the specifics and I should amend my above post to say that out of 255 books shipped by me I have had 2 go missing. Out of 199 requested by me I have had 3 go missing and never received.

Date Posted: 8/19/2008 8:48 AM ET
Member Since: 4/7/2007
Posts: 335
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Thank you for all the replies.  Before I joined PBS I was of the belief that mail always arrives at its destination.  And most of the time, it does.  It seems from the handful of us who posted in this thread that the percentage of lost books is extremely small.  But I have also received media mail packages that have been torn open, so it is possible that there have been times when the books have separated from their packaging.  (I believe that the postal service does search them occasionally, as they say is their right.)

Date Posted: 8/19/2008 8:58 AM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2008
Posts: 2,835
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I have had 2 to me declared lost, and one I sent "lost." I don't think it is; it's just going to an APO address. Maybe PBS should put a special extension for APO addresses because we want to support our soldiers, sailors, and their families. Evidently, some people cancel when they see it's an APO address.

Date Posted: 8/19/2008 11:46 AM ET
Member Since: 2/17/2006
Posts: 468
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I've been swapping for over a year and had never had anything go missing. My luck recently ran out and I never received two books that were sent from one person. I have another multi-book shipment coming way to close to the deadline for comfort. Since neither used DC there is no way to tell when the book was actually sent vs. when they marked it sent. I'll have to keep my fingers crossed.

Date Posted: 8/19/2008 11:54 AM ET
Member Since: 8/1/2007
Posts: 5,034
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I have had two packages go lost in the year that I have been a member out of 200+ orders.  It is rare, but does happen.  I have no idea where those books end up.

Date Posted: 8/19/2008 12:08 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
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so far none that have gone lost/missing on the sending or receiving end for me *knock on wood*

Date Posted: 8/19/2008 12:18 PM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2007
Posts: 5,637
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In a little over a year, no books I have sent have went lost. I think I had 2 go lost that were sent to me.

Date Posted: 8/19/2008 12:55 PM ET
Member Since: 7/1/2008
Posts: 2,835
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HA! One to me lost arrived this morning from Alaska.

Date Posted: 8/20/2008 3:33 AM ET
Member Since: 12/31/2007
Posts: 240
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I have had 2 lost that was due to me, and they came from the same state Arizonia

I had a problem with a lost book I sent out, Seem the person address was wrong and they forgot to update their address and as a result the book came back to me a month later. I pm the person and informed them the reason the book never arrived was because they had not provided the correct address to PBS.

patticom - ,
Date Posted: 8/20/2008 4:57 AM ET
Member Since: 11/3/2007
Posts: 416
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I rarely receive a book that hasn't been marked "lost" first... basically anything sent first class comes before.  :)  At my military APO, media mail typically takes 4-6 weeks, and since PBS only allows 4 weeks it almost always times out first.  I'm pretty sure the "lostness" is removed from the record once it does arrive and I mark it received in my TA though.  :)

Subject: 2 in a row
Date Posted: 8/21/2008 1:58 PM ET
Member Since: 10/21/2006
Posts: 3
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I've been mailing and receiving books about a year.  The last two have never shown up.  The first one was declared lost and I reordered it from another member, and that one has also not come.  I contacted the member who mailed it on 8/5 and she said she mailed another book at the same time and that one was received by requestor.  Do we try to contact the post office or just write it off?  I am reluctant to order another book as I have no idea why they were lost.

Date Posted: 8/21/2008 2:26 PM ET
Member Since: 2/8/2008
Posts: 3,898
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Maybe you were just not meant to read that book.  :)

Subject: Lost book
Date Posted: 8/21/2008 2:43 PM ET
Member Since: 10/21/2006
Posts: 3
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Either that, or someone in the post office REALLY liked it :)

Date Posted: 8/21/2008 8:20 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2005
Posts: 10,718
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I have been a member since late 2005. I have sent out 1229 books and 9 have been marked lost - that's less than 1%. I have ordered 1444 books and 16 have gone lost - that's just over 1%. One interesting thing I find when I check my transaction archive is that almost all of those 16 books that I never received - the senders aren't account holders anymore. Coincidence? I don't know.

Last Edited on: 8/21/08 8:23 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/21/2008 8:57 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2005
Posts: 587
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Well, I've mailed out about 550 books and 4 of them have gone missing.  I know two that never arrived were sent into the Hurricane Katrina & Hurricane Rita areas when the hurricanes hit, so I really can't blame the post office for never delivering them.

I've received 384 and 4 of those have gone missing also.  The sender of one of those admitted she had never mailed the book.  Another sender had already left the club when I tried to PM her about the missing package.  So, I'm guessing two of those were not the post office's fault either.

I'm just wondering what the post office does with the missing books.  Do they disintegrate in the machinery?  Do the postal employees get to keep them?  Any ideas?


Date Posted: 8/22/2008 11:24 AM ET
Member Since: 10/14/2007
Posts: 2,090
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Last Edited on: 1/22/09 9:39 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/23/2008 3:57 PM ET
Member Since: 6/27/2008
Posts: 24,470
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As a postal worker, let me tell you what is SUPPOSED to happen.  If a package opens up during processing and it is noticed by the people working that operation - if there is some way to tell WHAT came out of the package, then it can be reinserted, resealed, and sent on.  If there is no way to be sure of what came out of the package - the empty (or partially empty) package SHOULD be delivered to the addressee marked "Received without contents".  IF the package is INSURED, then a claim for loss can be placed.  Delivery Confirmation (PBS or otherwise) DOES NOT mean your package is insured, it only gives you a way to find out when the package is delivered.

If an address label is damaged or comes off during processing - if EITHER address is still intact then the package should be delivered.  If neither address is readable - then the entire package goes to the Dead Parcel Section.  They are the people authorized to open the package and search for an address inside the box.  If nothing can be found, then the items are either auctioned off periodically, donated to a charity, or disposed of.

Date Posted: 8/23/2008 6:46 PM ET
Member Since: 12/6/2006
Posts: 15
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From PBS Help Center...

What you should do if a book you requested is declared Lost in the mail:

  • Contact the sender, to find out if Mailing was delayed for some reason.
    • you can do this from your Transaction Archive, using the PM button on this Lost transaction in that list.
  • If the mailing was not delayed, the sender should call 800-ASK-USPS or go to http://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/forms/MLNtRcvd.aspx (the Postal Inspection Service's website) and input the information online there . This will help USPS try to recover the book if it truly has been lost in the mail.
  • Don't re-request the book for at least 2 weeks, unless you are willing to run the risk of getting two copies (and paying a credit for both).

I have a book recently delivered to me in ripped, torn packaging and one where the post office had to rubber band the outside package to the book so it could be delivered.  I believe they truly do try to get them delivered, but I am sure it is not always possible--I was surprised these two were able to be delivered at all and apprecate that they were!

Subject: lost book
Date Posted: 8/26/2008 12:49 PM ET
Member Since: 10/21/2006
Posts: 3
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I have little confidence that the usps will do much.  I input information and received a standard reply, but from reading others' comments, I don't see anything happening.  One sender said that two books she recently sent were declared lost, but the two I am missing came from two different states.  Go figure.  I don't know whether to try to have the books sent to a friend's address or try again here.  I know that if we have many books declared "lost," it looks suspicious to the powers that be.