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Topic: Media Mail Inspections

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Subject: Media Mail Inspections
Date Posted: 8/2/2010 2:54 PM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2006
Posts: 28,074
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I was informed by the postal clerk this morning that starting soon every 5th Media Mail package would be opened and inspected to ensure that it is really media.  She said it is due to the large amount of fraud with the use of medial mail.  She did not know if it was just our PO, a MN state issue or an overall postal change.   Does anyone know if this is a general postal change? 

She said it did not matter if it was a package brought to the counter or if they had prepaid postage and were dropped in the blue box- every 5th package would be inspected.  She was not sure if the inspection will be done at the counter or at the first processing center.  When I asked her about resealing the packages she assured me that they would reseal all packages and they would be marked as opened for inspection.

I understand and appreciate that packages will be opened to prove that they really are media but I have a real concern about the resealing of packages.  I worry that when I use the 2 page wrapper that in order to get into the package for the inspection,  the postal staff may not be able to adequately reseal it.  I reuse bubble wrappers and some of those are pretty tight fits also.  Again concerned that postal staff can and will reseal them adequately.  I am afraid that there may be more packages being damaged as a result of this change and that there is no recourse to the sender if the PO damages the book. 

Date Posted: 8/2/2010 3:12 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,171
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USPS in your area is becoming rather anal regarding Media Mail LaVonne, and have attempted to impose several variations of screening not found in the official USPS Regulations.

By definition, Media Mail is always subject to inspection, so in reality not much should change for you.  I would share your concern regarding re-sealing as I've seen both good and bad comments regarding this practice.  Also be aware, if your packages are inspected enroute, it is required that they be marked as 'inspected' and an information flyer inserted.  Feel free to keep track of your books coming and going, if there's re-sealing or other inspection problems...complain loudly, and quickly move up to regional postmasters and above. 

Also, it's very questionable whether or not clerks can make counter customers open (or not seal) Media Mail for inspection.  There is a specific USPS guideline that regulates exactly how postal inspections must be performed.  If you get hassled at the counter, demand that they provide you with a written copy of the official USPS regulations requiring customers to open packages at the counter...it probably doesn't exist.  Make them do it on their time, in the legal manner.

In addition, you will want to be especially careful not to include anything in your Media Mail packages that does not qualify for the rate.  An unfortunate number of PO employees do not fully understand Media Mail, and will not hesitate to impose their ignorance on your packages.



Last Edited on: 8/2/10 3:14 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 8/2/2010 3:21 PM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2006
Posts: 28,074
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Does a bookmark included with the book make it non-media mail?

Date Posted: 8/2/2010 7:26 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,171
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The million dollar question LaVonne  wink  According to USPS regs and most clerks, bookmarks are incidental and allowed.  A few postal employees will argue that, and even disallow invoices and PBS insert (which I consider an emergency address in case the package is damaged) even tho the regs seem to specifically allow them. 

Alot will depend on the training of your inspecters and whether or not they are a Cranky Pants.



Last Edited on: 8/2/10 7:27 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/3/2010 12:26 AM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2006
Posts: 28,074
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Thanks for all your information Denise.  I have always understood that the PBS insert (invoice) and bookmarks were allowed with the books and would not disqualify the package as media mail.

There is one clerk who is always crabby with me when I bring in all my media packages and she was the one who told me that they were going to start inspecting every 5th package.   I am not worried because I know that I abide by the rules, just worried about the packages being resealed adequately after they do their inspection. 

I think my post office is specifically targeting me because I often have 8-10 media mail packages at one time- today I had 14.  I use unconventinal wrapping materials like calendar or catalog pages and I don't think they like that.  Also I mail large shipments of books each month to an organization that supplies reading materials to deployed soldiers and I don't think that they believe that a 12 lb box is really books.

Date Posted: 8/3/2010 2:21 AM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,171
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LOL LaVonne, let them knock themselves out being suspicious and inspecting...books!

I print PBS DC then purchase counter postage.  I'm fortunate and have wonderful PO clerks, most know me by name and don't question my handfuls of Media Mail packages.  In fact, I have to be careful when mailing packages at other rates and tell the clerk that 'package X' is NOT Media Mail!

Date Posted: 8/3/2010 8:54 AM ET
Member Since: 5/20/2009
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Last Edited on: 5/10/11 7:42 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/3/2010 11:12 AM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,186
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Most reports of inspection I have heard say that the book has been resealed really well. I highly doubt they will stick to the "every 5th" because some are very obvious, like the paperback in the 2 sheets of paper.

Its sad that the Wisconsin hysteria is bleeding into MN :-( As one of my wonderful clerks say, just because there are people out there abusing media mail, it doesn't mean the postal clerks  need to be abusing their customers using it legitimately.

Date Posted: 8/3/2010 11:43 PM ET
Member Since: 5/16/2009
Posts: 7,842
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Most reports of inspection I have heard say that the book has been resealed really well.

I've had 2 get inspected, Melanie, and on both occasions, they were poorly ripped open & then loosely resealed with scotch tape...   and had a book missing too :(

LaVonne- I hope if you start getting a lot of packages opened for inspection that yours fare better...  I would try to make sure that you wrap as many as possible to leave no doubt that it's a book inside... Hard to do with boxes, of course, but they really seem to like to tear open the loosely packed manilla envelopes!



Last Edited on: 8/4/10 12:57 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/3/2010 11:58 PM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2006
Posts: 28,074
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The books in bubble wrap are not the ones I am concerned about as those can usually be retaped fairly easily.  It is the books in the 2 page wrappers.  I seal my books really tight using lots of tape and just don't know how they can open them and then reseal them again.  I get lots of packages wrapped the same way I wrap them and by the time I get them opened, the wrapper is shredded.

I am hoping that it is just my PO being snarky and that they will stop opening my packages when they realize that I abide by the rules.  Talked to a PBS friend in the northern part of the state and her PO said nothing to her and she mailed book packages twice today. 

Date Posted: 8/4/2010 12:02 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 598
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Books wrapped in a tight paper mailer rarely get inspected. Even if they made an inspect every 5th item rule (which I doubt), I bet the inspectors would make sure those weren't the 5th item if they could help it. I would imagine they are much more concerned about boxes of things. 

Date Posted: 8/4/2010 9:51 PM ET
Member Since: 9/9/2009
Posts: 916
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I sounds like that might be more of a SOX compliance issue if several POs are stating they need to verify every 5th package for financial accountability.  I'll check with someone on the retail side of the business and see if due to SOX anything has changed. 

Date Posted: 8/5/2010 10:38 AM ET
Member Since: 9/9/2009
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Not a general postal change - I've asked our Area Manager Retail and she notes that there has not been any national changes to mandate every 5th piece - so it is your local office being more vigilant.  From another one of my retail collegues he supplies the following -

"Every item sent as media mail is subject to being opened and inspected, not just one in five. It may be a policy at some offices around the country to randomly (one in five) check media mail items instead of each one due to time concerns. But, in reality, every piece can be opened and inspected. The USPS doesn't make money on media mail, and if non-qualifying items are mailed at that rate, we lose a LOT of money."

Date Posted: 8/5/2010 1:57 PM ET
Member Since: 3/9/2009
Posts: 6
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I was stopped today on it. I offered to leave them open from now on and they said no. They said it would be inspected after I left and they would spot check them. Even though I go every day they said mine would be inspected.

Date Posted: 8/5/2010 1:58 PM ET
Member Since: 3/9/2009
Posts: 6
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They also acted like it was a new thing at my PO. I've been going there for years and they know me well. They said it didn't matter.

Date Posted: 8/5/2010 2:13 PM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2006
Posts: 28,074
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Sounds like it is just a general step up of the inspection process already in place.  I know that some web sellers of all kinds of merchandise send everything they ship via media mail so there is abuse out there.  I ordered an item from an e-bay seller who shipped it MM and it definetely was not media.  Wondered at the time how they got away with that.  If it means that my media mail packages have to be opened for the abuse of others to stop I am okay with that.  My biggest concern is the resealing process.  About a year ago I got a MM package that had been opened and inspected and it was not resealed very well.  It was box with 14 books in it so I am sure that is why it was reopened. 

Date Posted: 8/5/2010 2:45 PM ET
Member Since: 9/9/2009
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The retail guy was telling me a story that the increased vigilance did start several years ago when eBay announced to its sellers it was ok to ship anything and everything via media mail - that was not an accurate statement for eBay to be making.  So he says you can thank eBay for all of the inspection frenzy as the Postal Service has to try and search for the scammers and protect revenue.  Granted he said common sense should also come into play and if the package looks like a book maybe thats not the one you pick to inspect - but if the package is a cylinder then maybe that would be a good one to open and inspect.  Probably a matter of time and how various units are staffed or upward instruction that they maybe have to check off that they do so many a day/week.

Date Posted: 8/5/2010 4:17 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,171
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Haven't heard that e-bay actually participated in the Media Mail snafu, but many e-bay sellers are known to deliberately ship Media Mail even tho they know contents do not qualify.  IIRC it was posted awhile back that WI actually 'busted' a large e-bay seller for MM fraud and that escalated the paranoia.  Unfortunately for us legit book peeps, Media Mail rates are not well understood and frequently abused.



Last Edited on: 8/5/10 4:18 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 8/5/2010 6:30 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
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Yeah I am sure eBay proper did not actually encourage people to commit fraud.

Date Posted: 8/5/2010 6:40 PM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2006
Posts: 28,074
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E-Bay may not have sanctioned using MM but many of their sellers use it to ship all kinds of things.

Date Posted: 8/12/2010 3:08 AM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2010
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Date Posted: 8/12/2010 2:21 PM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2006
Posts: 28,074
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I found out yesterday that the new inspection rules start 8-16 and it is nation wide not just my post office or state. I talked to the  postmaster at my P O and she  told me it is due to the large amoung of fraud that they know is happening with media mail.  First offense - a warning, second offense - a more strongly worded letter, third offense - access to online postage sites will be restricted.    I was assured that packages that look like books - the two page wrapper packages for example -  will most likely never been opened but odd shaped packages or boxes will be the main targets for inspections.  If as senders or receivers we get packages or reports of our packages that have been opened for inspection and arrive with damage, we should call 1-800-275-8777 and report the problem. 

Date Posted: 8/12/2010 5:07 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,171
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Thanks LaVonne, that's good info...I'm keeping that phone number for reference, JIC.

Date Posted: 8/12/2010 6:25 PM ET
Member Since: 8/25/2009
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it is nation wide not just my post office or state.

 

I'm a Postmaster in New York and this is the first I've heard of it.

Date Posted: 8/12/2010 7:24 PM ET
Member Since: 9/13/2006
Posts: 28,074
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Diane - that is interesting.   Makes me even more suspicious that it is my state which is what I first thought when told about it. 

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