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Topic: Nationwide crackdown on media mail

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Subject: Nationwide crackdown on media mail
Date Posted: 2/13/2011 9:46 AM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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this shouldn't affect us here, since we all use media mail for it's intended purpose, but the post office is making sweeping changes to how it deals with media mail abuse.

Before if a package was inspected and found to not be media mail, it was marked up to the next postage price appropriate for the contents and sent on postage due.

for the last 2 weeks, postal inspectors (the police force for the post office) has done inspections at the sorting plants and found up to 17 percent of all media mail packages sent were not media.

Now, if a package is found, it is still marked up and sent on postage due, but now a letter is sent to the senders post office and that post office sends a certified letter to the sender, with a copy to the postal inspectors. If they get caught sending something again, the postal inspectors contact them and they are subject to punishment.

I think it should have been done years ago. I think this will stop the e-bayers shipping everything they list media mail.

Date Posted: 2/13/2011 12:20 PM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2006
Posts: 382
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where did you see this , or hear or read this ? you do not meaton   where you just told  this from a postal clerk

since you do not say i think you were  told false informatoon from a postal clerk

Date Posted: 2/13/2011 12:49 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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I AM a postal clerk. I was shown the new letters and the e-mail stating that the inspecters spot checked the last two weeks on Thursday.

Date Posted: 2/13/2011 1:07 PM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2006
Posts: 382
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okay sorry to be  doubting thomas  since us the customers  have heard so many fake rules from postal clerkks

and on a side note i did recive one package which had been inspected 

Date Posted: 2/13/2011 1:21 PM ET
Member Since: 8/25/2009
Posts: 691
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I am a Postmaster and have not been informed of this.  Maybe it is a regional thing?

Date Posted: 2/13/2011 1:25 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,167
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Interesting Brandy, I'm going to ask next time I'm at the post office and see if they have received this notification.  Wonder if it's really national or only regional?

To date, I do not recall receiveing a package that's been inspected.  But PBS members should remember to notify the PO if they receive books that have been inadequately re-packaged after inspection.



Last Edited on: 2/13/11 1:26 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/13/2011 2:24 PM ET
Member Since: 1/15/2007
Posts: 1,410
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I'm astounded that almost 1 in 5 media mail packages are not media.  I'm glad to see the crack down.  I hope that there are some hefty fines levied against repeat offenders.  Once word of that makes it around the ebay forums, folks may think twice before stealing postage.

Date Posted: 2/13/2011 2:30 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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The e-mail I saw said that the inspectors were checking nationwide and that in our area 8% of packages coming into the area were not media and 17% of packages that were mailed from our area were not media., So overall, I dont think it is almost 1 in 5, but I bet it is close. In the e-mail it said they found some packages that contained things that were not even allowable in the mail. One package contained a valentines day gift that included chocolates and a bottle of wine.  I am sure they got a little visit from the inspectors.

Date Posted: 2/13/2011 11:49 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 598
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I am not surprised the abuse level is that high. I think increased enforcement is good for us, even though we could potentially see a few more books go lost due to improper repackaging. 

In general, I don't think the paper mailers are going to get inspected nearly as often as boxes. It's pretty obvious that a book in a paper mailer is a book.

Abuse makes the USPS lose more money, so as long as they can recoup more than the cost of increased enforcement...

Date Posted: 2/14/2011 6:42 AM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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I don't think the paper mailers are going to get inspected nearly as often as boxes.

Your right. An average size box filled with books is going to weigh quite a bit more than what most of these boxes do. Most of our packages here are one book, packaged to show the size of the book.I'm sure the inspectors would look at one of our packages, with a "paperbackswap" logo on it and think, size,shape and weight of a book, probably a book and pass it on without inspection and go on to a large box that is marked "fragile" and sent Media Mail.

Date Posted: 2/14/2011 6:45 AM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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so as long as they can recoup more than the cost of increased enforcement...

It usually takes me all of a minute or two to inspect a package and mark it up for postage when I find one and most of the ones I find are in excess of $10 in extra postage, so I think the post office will recoup much more than the cost of enforcement

Subject: Media Mail
Date Posted: 2/14/2011 8:26 AM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2009
Posts: 2
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I've noticed the last two wrapper's I've printed automatically have First Class postage instead of Media Mail. Does anyone know why this is happening?

Date Posted: 2/14/2011 11:03 AM ET
Member Since: 11/21/2010
Posts: 457
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Last Edited on: 3/23/12 1:52 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/14/2011 12:06 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 598
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" a large box that is marked "fragile" and sent Media Mail."

LOL. That should be grounds for automatic inspection. 

Date Posted: 2/14/2011 12:19 PM ET
Member Since: 10/14/2010
Posts: 577
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Question for Postal Employess:

The little blurb about "Is this fragile, flammable....." that they always ask me, is that federal law or just standard procedure?

I've been wondering about this because it always seems rather stupid to ask me that question after I ask for it to be sent Media Mail.  I don't think this would stop a lot of the abuse but why don't they ask "Is this a book, DVD, ...." instead.

I admit to having sent something throught media mail that wasn't appropriate (would have been back in 2003), but it was through simple ignorance.  Friend had told me it was the cheapest rate to send mail and I took them at their word when shipping my stuff between homesteads.  Found out later that it was reserved for books etc and felt a little chagrined.  I wouldn't have mailed it this way if I had known.  Admittedly I suspect that most of the abuse is intentional rather than through ignorance, (that friend is probably still sending things media mail even though he knows better).

My other question is: I don't own a printer, and don't feel that I would save money by buying one.  I can get a few things printed through other sources, just not for every package I send out.  If they are really cracking down on this would it help to have a set of sticky labels with just the PBS logo on them printed that I could add to each book I send out, or would this really not affect what was searched/lost?

Date Posted: 2/14/2011 6:47 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 598
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It's USPS policy that the clerks have to ask those questions. I've heard they can get in big trouble if they don't, so try not to get too impatient with them. 

I doubt having a PBS sticker would make your package less likely to be inspected. Using a paper wrapper (when appropriate) so that it's SUPER obvious that it is a book is what will decrease your chances.

Date Posted: 2/14/2011 11:11 PM ET
Member Since: 10/14/2010
Posts: 577
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CWC (chuckle with cheer): Yeah, some of the people who are behind the counter here, I know to be very intelligent people from outside the PO, kind of chalked it up to some of the things I've been plus sold in stores (my favorite was buying gluten free flour and was plus sold day old bread at the counter).  You do the job you were hired to do whether it makes sense or not.  Got a laugh from one of them the week I'd been in the PO 4 times in 3 days.  The last time I went in he was about to say the speal and I answered it for him with their wording before he could say it.

Date Posted: 2/14/2011 11:57 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,167
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The little blurb about "Is this fragile, flammable....." that they always ask me, is that federal law or just standard procedure?  Yes Trucker, we all get that question, it's supposed to be standard for postal employees.

Customers are not the only ones with inaccurate Media Mail information.  One day when I was at my PO counter, they were doing some internal tracking.  Apparently someone had just moved into our area and was mailing packages.  Their former postmaster had told them that they could mail any package via Media Mail so long as at least one book was included in the package contents.  They were unhappy that my PO wouldn't honor the rate, and were in fact contacting the old PO to correct their lack of knowledge.

Date Posted: 2/15/2011 7:04 AM ET
Member Since: 8/25/2009
Posts: 691
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I inspected a package marked Media Mail yesterday.  It actually contained car speakers.  Also the weight was understated, claimed 7 pounds, actually weighed 8 pounds, 2.5 ounces.  $5.78 postage due.  The package gets stamped "Opened for inspection by USPS", a note put inside explaining that it was inspected & contents did not qualify for Media Mail, and a letter sent to the sender explaining that it did not qualify. 

Date Posted: 2/15/2011 8:07 AM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2009
Posts: 2
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Thanks Marc B! That clears that up. I thought maybe there was a suspension of media mail or something, but glad to hear there isn't.

Date Posted: 2/16/2011 2:32 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2010
Posts: 262
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I'm actually surprised and pleased to hear that over 80% of packages marked "media mail" are indeed media mail. I love hearing that so many people are behaving honestly - especially when the only consequence of dishonesty has been paying what should have been paid in the first place - so that even if you're caught every time, you don't really suffer.

I do think it would be a good idea to step up the enforcement of this.

Date Posted: 2/16/2011 10:01 PM ET
Member Since: 4/28/2009
Posts: 9,511
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I think ebay and Amazon should ban any sellers who get caught abusing media mail--- that would teach them!

Subject: "Is this fragile, flammable....."
Date Posted: 3/11/2011 11:20 PM ET
Member Since: 9/22/2010
Posts: 2,939
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This question ends with the phrase "...or dangerous?"  When a postal clerk who has gotten to know me asks this, I often reply, "Of course it is dangerous. It is a book. It has ideas in it."

After all, some ideas have started wars, overthrown governments, destroyed religions...

Date Posted: 3/12/2011 6:56 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,167
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This question ends with the phrase "...or dangerous?"    When I get this question at my postoffice, I reply, "only if you don't like the book content"

Date Posted: 3/12/2011 7:34 PM ET
Member Since: 4/5/2008
Posts: 1,869
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This question ends with the phrase "...or dangerous?" 

I have occasionally teased the clerk with "...only if you hit someone with it" since I've told them it's a book when I gave it to them.  They just chuckle because they know I've heard it a zillion times because I've mailed so many books and other packages in the last couple of years.  Then, they tease me back with "...see you tomorrow!"

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