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Topic: Nonmachinable Letter

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Subject: Nonmachinable Letter
Date Posted: 12/15/2012 11:18 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 602
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I'm trying to mail a single air freshener (bacon-scented!) to someone, and hoping to send it as a non-machinable letter. 65 cents (it's under 1oz) versus almost $2 as a parcel. 

I made a mini padded envelope for it, but I think it might be too thick. I took it to the PO today to test thickness, but of course the thing with slots is no longer where the public can access it, and the line for the counter was seriously 20+ people. Out the door. 

We have a package window, so I buzzed there and asked the guy. He didn't know, but a different employee was there whom I recognized as a window clerk. He told me that you can't send rigid items as a nonmachinable letter. 

I know that's not true thanks to my activity on SwapaCD, where they somehow think it's a good idea to tell people to send CDs sans case as a nonmachinable letter. Mine always arrive broken. But whatever, that's a different rant. I also checked online before going to the PO and it asks if your letter contains a rigid object and just says that makes it nonmachinable. 

Anyway, padded envelope + air freshener... do you think it's more than 1/4" thick? 

Also, how strict are they about the shape being irregular? It was cut from a larger padded envelope, so it's recangular shaped, but I can't say that it's absolutely perfect. 

Any tips? I think I'll try a different PO on Monday.

mistie -
Date Posted: 12/16/2012 4:01 PM ET
Member Since: 9/27/2007
Posts: 2,024
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padded envelope + air freshener... do you think it's more than 1/4" thick?

I just pulled out a new, small bubble envelope I have here - definitely more than 1/4".

If you put the airfreshner in a christmas card (mainly from the protection of the "cardboard") - it should be fine to go as a non-machineable letter them.

Date Posted: 12/17/2012 9:54 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 602
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Thank you! I found some leftover Thank You cards from our wedding 4 years ago, I slipped it in one of those and will try to mail it tomorrow. 

Date Posted: 12/20/2012 10:22 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 602
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So I really don't want to be _that_ customer, but this post office is going to drive me bonkers. After Christmas I will be filing a complaint via USPS.com requesting that they educate their window clerks. *sigh*

So I get to the post office, intending to use the APC, but there is a line of three people for that, and about 3-4 people in line for the counter, which by some miracle actually has 3 clerks working at it. I decide to go to the counter because it will be faster, and lately the the part of the APC that prints small postage keeps breaking, so I didn't want to wait for that only to end up at the counter anyway. 

When I get to the counter, I realize maybe this is not the best idea. The clerks are: the guy who told me I can't send rigid things as nonmachinable letter, the very rude lady whose English is poor and whose knowledge I've never been impressed with, and the guy who hates me (see the "Post Office Craziness" thread).

I end up with the guy who hates me. He weighs the letter and tells me it will be 90 cents. I give him a puzzled look and ask if it weighed over 1 oz. He says no, so I ask why it is 90 cents. After some confusion I get him to explain that he is sending it as a large envelope. 

This is a tiny thank you card envelope, 3.5x5 or whatever. It is both too small and too rigid to go large envelope rate. If it's not eligible for letter rate with a nonmachinable surcharge then it's going to have to go as a parcel, so I wanted a reason why it wasn't eligible. He held up the slot, and it fit through, it was less than 1/4" thick. I'm just baffled and he was being prickly. 

Finally he throws his hands up in disgust and says he always has problems with me and that he'll send it the way I want it, but that it will probably arrive postage due. He slaps 65 cents on it and storms off to get the package I needed to pick up. 


I seriously spent a good hour of my life reading the USPS website and DMM to make sure I was mailing the stupid air freshener the right way. If I had some of my facts wrong, then tell me what I got wrong... 

I guess if I need to go to the counter, I will mail stuff from the closest PO to me (whose clerks seem nice and competent, but the lines can be long there), and only use this one to pick up mail from my PO Box :(