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Topic: Media Mail inspection

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Subject: Media Mail inspection
Date Posted: 7/23/2008 12:31 PM ET
Member Since: 1/5/2008
Posts: 12
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I just took a book to the post office and requested it be mailed Media Mail.  He looked at it, felt it and then said even though it was obviously a book, he would still have to open it to make sure.  He said he was required to do so and keep a log that all MM packages had been inspected.  Is this true?

Just let me know.  If necessary, I will take any future packages somewhere else.


Date Posted: 7/23/2008 12:46 PM ET
Member Since: 6/17/2008
Posts: 626
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I am not a postal employee but that is the first time I heard that there was a MANDATORY check.  I know that when you choose to send items via MM then your package may be subject to it- but usually if it is suspicious. 

I have mailed dozens of books by MM and I have never had a postal employee tell me that they had to open it, inspect it and log every package.  The same goes with MM packages I have recieved... I have only recieved one that I remember with a notice saying it was inspected... and that was because I had won a lot of books so it was in a large box, that they couldn't be sure of the contents.. weird

Date Posted: 7/23/2008 1:19 PM ET
Member Since: 8/24/2005
Posts: 504
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Posts from PBSers about their suspicious mail clerks alternately horrify and amuse me. I live outside Washington DC in a heavily populated metropolitan area.  I take my books to the main mail processing center for northern Virginia, where the staff appear to be on a dead run nearly all of the time. They don't have the time or, I suspect, the interest in checking the contents of the packages I mail. I say they are books, the clerk nods his or her head, I give them my money, and away they go.

Date Posted: 7/23/2008 1:41 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,226
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They are subject to inspection, but it is not mandatory by the USPS. Maybe it is a policy that specific location has, some of them have some pretty weird self-enforced rules. If you care oneway or another, go somewhere else so you don't have to deal with it. It would worry me on whether they are getting them sealed back up a securely and as waterproofed. I'd be temped to walk in there with 20 books and see if he inspects and logs them all.

Date Posted: 7/23/2008 2:14 PM ET
Member Since: 6/17/2008
Posts: 626
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LOL.. Melanie that would be hilarious!

Date Posted: 7/23/2008 2:46 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
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sounds like he misinterpreted the rule.  it is that the pkgs could be subject to inspection, not that they MUST or even by that clerk at that time.

I'd probably question him next time.  say that you know that media mail could be inspected at any time but you were not aware of any rule where it HAD to be inspected and by the clerk that took the package and could he show you the rule on that. 

Date Posted: 7/23/2008 4:07 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2005
Posts: 10,761
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Maybe they've had problems with people abusing media rate in the past so the post master at that particular location has mandated the rule for that office only...you could always ask to speak to the post master about it.

Date Posted: 7/23/2008 4:52 PM ET
Member Since: 4/16/2007
Posts: 1,646
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I'll agree with the others.....they've never said it HAD to be inspected, just that it could be. I mailed a box of books on Saturday, and the postal worker told me that it would probably be inspected, just because it was a heavy box and not easily recognizible as books. No big deal, IMO, but he didn't check it right then and there.

Date Posted: 7/23/2008 7:35 PM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2007
Posts: 18
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The other day i mailed a book and the paper bag i wrapped it in was somewhat crinkly, and the postal worker looked at me suspiciously and said "Is this actually rice?" and he started shaking it until i explained it was the bag. but i've never had any of mine opened.

Date Posted: 7/24/2008 9:56 PM ET
Member Since: 4/2/2007
Posts: 180
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I think I've had one,maybe two,  media mailed books that have been opened for inspection.

Date Posted: 7/25/2008 11:27 PM ET
Member Since: 9/11/2005
Posts: 905
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The packages are subject to inspection, all right, but it's not required.  I have sent out >3000 books so far, and all of the clerks at about 4-6 of the PO's here in Lincoln and a couple of them in Omaha, just take them from me with no questions asked now.  If this clerk insists that it is a requirement, go to USPS.com, and find their email and report him.  You could also find an 800 # on there and you will get some satisfaction from them----I think that people who are small-minded about their jobs and try to lord it over the people that they are to be serving deserve to be stepped on by higher-ups in their organization.    When I first was a membe of PBS, there was a local rule here that MM packages had to be brought in unsealed for inspection, and after I complained to the District Postal Inspector, a memo went to all of the branch offices here changing this capricious policy. 

The squeaky wheel gets the grease---you need to squeak a bit!

Date Posted: 7/27/2008 2:41 PM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2008
Posts: 340
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Since I normally use bubble mailers to send out books, I always take them to the PO unsealed so they can see that it is indeed a book.  The last time I did this, the postal employee looked at me and said "Do you want to seal them up?  He kind of looked at me like I was nuts!  Then he let me know that in the case of one of the packages, it would cost less to send it 1st class.

Date Posted: 7/30/2008 6:01 PM ET
Member Since: 8/19/2007
Posts: 4,436
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I mentioned to my postal clerk the other day that if it got inspected with the tape and what all I put on the package they'd never get it wrapped back up, and he said it was obvious it was a book and would probably never be opened.  Not even sure where they inspect them, because I worked in distribution for the PO many years ago, and I know we didn't open them when we were trying to get them out.  Pat

Date Posted: 7/30/2008 8:18 PM ET
Member Since: 2/11/2007
Posts: 808
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I write "book - no enclosures" on the package to clue the P O pipeline handlers that I know the regulations.

A box I could understand, but a package that's clearly a book shouldn't be worth the time and effort to open and re-pack just because there's a chance of a forbidden "note" inside!

Date Posted: 7/31/2008 6:53 AM ET
Member Since: 7/16/2006
Posts: 198
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I have mailed out over 100 books here, but before I joined here I sold on half.com for years and years. I still sell my textbooks there. Never once have I been given a hard time at the post office. As far as I know, no book I have sent has ever been inspected, but the receiver could have just never mentioned it.

I have also received over 100 books here, and buy the rest of them, textbooks included, online, and have never had a package come to me marked inspected. Now that I say all of this, the 17 books I mailed out yesterday will all be mauled by the PO in their attempts to inspect them. *rolling eyes*

I have received several damaged books, with those trite "I'm sorry" messages from the PO, but that's it.

Date Posted: 7/31/2008 2:39 PM ET
Member Since: 8/19/2007
Posts: 4,436
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I checked with my postal people today and was told:

1.  Years ago they had to inspect all media mail brought in - they were having problems with people saying it was media when it wasn't, but they didn't have to log it in, and they haven't had to do it for years.

2.  Any postal person can open a media mail package and inspect it.  They don't usually unless they suspect there is a problem.

3.  They used to have people bring media mail in unsealed, but again haven't done that in years here.



Subject: Never happened
Date Posted: 8/19/2008 10:12 AM ET
Member Since: 9/2/2007
Posts: 3
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Have sent and received hundreds of media mail books.  Nancy

Date Posted: 8/20/2008 4:41 PM ET
Member Since: 6/20/2007
Posts: 5,058
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I have never had any of my book packages inspected.

Today I went to the PO and mailed out 13 books.  I imagine the people behind me would have been pretty peeved if they opened 13 packages for inspection.

ETA: I would've been peeved too, since they were all PBs in paper wrappers that were completely sealed in packing tape, and I didn't bring my tape with me to the PO! LOL!

Last Edited on: 8/20/08 4:42 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/20/2008 10:20 PM ET
Member Since: 6/27/2008
Posts: 25,356
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I have opened a few Media mail packages to inspect them in the course of my job at the PO.  Usually, no one will bother to inspect a Media Mail package unless it is suspicious in some way.  I have found a gun rack for a pickup truck, a wooden shelf, clothing, toys, etc.  The reason I usually inspect a package is if the weight doesn't seem to be appropriate for the size of the package, an unusually shaped package, or an odd noise from a package.

We did at one time have a log to record inspections of Media Mail - but I haven't seen it for awhile...

Date Posted: 8/21/2008 1:09 PM ET
Member Since: 4/21/2008
Posts: 8
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I just mailed an obvious paperback today, with the pbs wrapper, & the po guy give it a weird look & then stamped it with the "subject for inspection" stamp.  I was annoyed, but I guess not as annoyed as having it opened right there...that stinks! :(

Date Posted: 8/21/2008 1:25 PM ET
Member Since: 7/18/2008
Posts: 1,051
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I've received packages from half.co & PBS with the "Subject for Inspection" stamp on them. It was obvious (to anyone with eyes, hands & a brain) that they were only books.

Date Posted: 8/25/2008 5:44 AM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2006
Posts: 2,024
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The "subject to inspection" stamp is a standard media mail stamp.  It doesn't mean that your package is being marked for inspection.  So no need to stress if you see that stamp!