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Topic: PO Rule/Puzzle: Package must be mailed matching return address ????????

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Linda S. (thk) - ,
Subject: PO Rule/Puzzle: Package must be mailed matching return address ????????
Date Posted: 5/28/2008 11:06 PM ET
Member Since: 10/4/2006
Posts: 317
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My sister and I moved to an apartment complex.  There are small PO-box-type boxes for the apartments. Not much room for books.  And I get a good deal of other mail, too.

So I got a "real" PO Box at the PO half a mile away for my own mail.  (BTW:  I have MY OWN ZIP code.  Each box apparently has a unique ZIP+4 code.)  The ZIP for the PO Boxes is also different from that of street addresses near the Post Office -- nnn09 instead of nnn08.  Changed my PBS address to the PO Box.

I've been mailing books from the apartment's outgoing mail box, all of them with pre-printed postage, for the past several weeks.  This afternoon, the mail carrier came knocking on our door with the most recent one.  She traced me through the apartment office.  She said the PO folks have been worrying about the packages I mailed; she and her supervisor gave been discussing what to do about them. 

According to her, there is a PO security rule that packages (??or all mail??) must be mailed from some place that matches the return address on the piece.  According to her, I must either change my return address to the apartment mailbox, or mail the outgoing packages from somewhere else.  She said I should probably drop them in at the PO itself, preferably handing them over the counter.  This way the drop-off point and the return address will match.

I'm having a real hard time figuring out how this will improve national security.  As best I can figure out, she thinks the reason for the rule is that a terrorist might be faking the pre-printed postage, and trying to lay a false trail.  She wasn't sure if dropping them into the blue box across the street from the apartment was OK, or dropping them in the blue box in the parking lot of the Post Office.  She also did not know that the nnnn09 ZIP code belonged to the nearby Post Office boxes.

Have any of you run into something similar? 

Or for PO employees, do you have an informed opinion?  Can you give me a reference?

Date Posted: 5/28/2008 11:39 PM ET
Member Since: 11/13/2005
Posts: 510
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I imagine the real concern is actually which post office is getting the credit for the preprinted postage.

Individual post offices are evaluated on the amount of business they do, such as how much postage they sell over the counter.  They are also credited with all the postage printed by postal meters that are assigned to ["licensed by"] that post office).  Individual stamps.com accounts are assigned to the post office for a particular zip code, which doesn't have to be the zip code in the return address - but the packages are expected to be dropped off within the area of that post office.  The regulations allow for occasional exceptions, but the bulk should be sent from the specified PO's zone.

I don't know how the deal between PBS and Indicia works this aspect, but I expect it is probably based on the zip code in the return address.

When I travel, it isn't uncommon for me to send packages back to myself using two addresses (home and work) as the destination and return addresses - because obviously, I want the package to get to me, not sent back to where I was!  Never had a problem.

 

 



Last Edited on: 5/29/08 1:12 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/29/2008 10:16 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
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I don't know that they are 100% accurate on that.  Otherwise my letters that I mail from work (on the other side of town) would be returned.  I agree with Bret that the PO get credit for the mail processed but not sure how that affects this situation.  Hopefully the mail carrier is just misinformed

Date Posted: 5/29/2008 6:36 PM ET
Member Since: 2/10/2008
Posts: 1,080
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It used to be a rule that the mailed from zip was supposed to match where you mailed it. Usually you can change the mailing zip when you enter the information to print a label. After realizing this was causing many headaches, the rule went away. Now it is prefered or recommended but not required to match the mailing zip to the location where you mail it. Talk to the supervisor at the station where you want to mail the packages out. It should not be a problem.

I have heard of local post offices enforcing some odd rules that are not national standards. I am guessing it is more likely a newer employee trying to do a good job and getting a few current rules confused.

Date Posted: 5/29/2008 9:44 PM ET
Member Since: 6/15/2006
Posts: 1,691
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Can you still mail from your home address if you just use a return address label (street address) over your printed label (PO Box)?  I get tons of them throughout the year.  You'd have the convienence of being able to mail from home & printing the postage via PBS.  The PO would see your address on the packages, too.  Win, win.

Try www.vistaprint.com for a free set (you pay minimal postage).  They are one of my favorite places to get personalized items -- notepads, greeting cards, notecards, post-its, you name it, they have it.

And you can always put them in the blue box across the street from the apartment because they don't bear stamps.

I ran into something similar when my regular carrier was on sick leave.  The sub said that your mail is from a known adresss when it is mailed from your residence.  But if she saw you on the street, she couldn't just take your mail because at that point you aren't mailing from a known residence.  Of course, this was when the 13oz  with stamps rule went into effect and I've since bypassed all that nonsense by using PayPal and putting my outgoing mail in the blue box across the street.

Peg D. (muummom) - ,
Date Posted: 5/29/2008 10:57 PM ET
Member Since: 10/16/2007
Posts: 270
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Two things I know for sure:

#1  You don't have to mail a package, etc., from the post office of your zip code because we have four zip codes in this town and only two post offices.

#2  You can hand a post-person your package with either stamps (up to 13 oz) or paid postage, because I have done both. 

 Edited because my brain wasn't thinking.  I quit using stamps a year ago.  They were a lot of fun to use, but getting to the post office is too difficult.  And Husband is willing to drop them off in a Blue Box on the way to work.

 



Last Edited on: 5/31/08 11:58 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/30/2008 6:32 AM ET
Member Since: 2/6/2006
Posts: 1,186
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#2  You can hand a post-person your package with either stamps or paid postage, because I have done both.

Over 13 oz. and stamped only must be taken to the PO and handed to a counter clerk.

Linda S. (thk) - ,
Date Posted: 5/30/2008 6:45 AM ET
Member Since: 10/4/2006
Posts: 317
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Ange,

That's a great idea (adding another return-address label).  I checked to see if PBS would let me have different mail-to and mail-from addresses, but did not see a way.  Thanks for pointing out a low-tech creative alternative.

Date Posted: 5/30/2008 6:51 AM ET
Member Since: 2/10/2008
Posts: 1,080
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#2  You can hand a post-person your package with either stamps or paid postage, because I have done both

This changed not long ago. Carriers are not allowed to pick up stamped mail packages anymore. Dumb rule but it is there anyway. Used to be they could pick up if they knew you and the address.

Loop hole - if you give the carrier money, they can take it and give you a receipt the next day.



Last Edited on: 5/30/08 9:10 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/30/2008 9:37 AM ET
Member Since: 1/31/2006
Posts: 1,402
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This changed not long ago. Carriers are not allowed to pick up stamped mail anymore.

My carrier picks up stamped mail every day.  Many of my bills go out like this, birthday cards, regular letters...he even picks up air mail letters for my family overseas...However, anything over 13 oz. must have traceable postage to be picked up.  I've never heard that they weren't allowed to pick up any stamped mail, that just wouldn't make sense...why have stamps?   FWIW, I've been told by various postal workers that carriers are not required to pick up mail as their job is to deliver mail, but my carrier insists it's his job to pick up as well as deliver.  Very lucky me  :  )

oh, and as for the OP, I've always been told that zip codes should match if going from your home, but that it didn't matter if the package was blue boxed or dropped at the PO (the whole purpose of blue boxes being that people could use them en route to somewhere else...)



Last Edited on: 5/30/08 9:40 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/30/2008 11:31 AM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
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Mine takes stamped mail as well (cards, bills, etc) however I try not to mail bills or anything important from my box because of mail theft. 

Date Posted: 5/30/2008 9:08 PM ET
Member Since: 2/10/2008
Posts: 1,080
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My typo, I meant stamped packages over 13 ounces. (Note to self, do not post when half asleep, and always proofread.)

Date Posted: 5/30/2008 10:08 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,188
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I have lived in my house for 11 years and never once mailed any outgoing from my zip code. I mail all of my stuff either from work or one of the post offices near work. All of them are in a different town and zip code.

I think it has to do with the fact that they are not getting credit for handling the prepaid package and therefore don't want to deal with it.  Blue box it if they don't want to take it.

Date Posted: 5/30/2008 10:36 PM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2006
Posts: 382
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I live at 90066 and I have always mailed my PBS books from 90292

(its the zip code next door so to speak never had a problem

at least you have printed postage (APC or PBS) you can take to any post office  or even put into

 a blue box (if it will fit)

 

Date Posted: 5/31/2008 4:12 AM ET
Member Since: 5/27/2006
Posts: 11,985
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My printed postage has my home address on it, but 90% of the time I blue box them at the PO near my office or the mailman who delivers our street mail takes them.  My office is about 35 miles from my house and I've never had a problem with printing from one zip code and mailing from another. And I've easily mailed out over 500 books.



Last Edited on: 5/31/08 4:12 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 5/31/2008 5:01 PM ET
Member Since: 8/12/2006
Posts: 387
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I very seldom mail from my actual zip code, since the post office in a different zip code is closer to my house and in a direction I go several times a week. I've never had a problem. I live in a place where everyone knows everyone else, though, and one of the employees at the PO I usually go to lives just up the road from me and is old friends with my in-laws, so I think that helps.

Date Posted: 6/1/2008 11:20 AM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,496
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I'd just drop the outgoing stuff in the blue box across from your apartment.  I blue box all my outgoing mail, I don't trust leaving anything outgoing in my box.

Date Posted: 6/2/2008 12:09 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2005
Posts: 10,714
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If this were true then you could never mail anything from a blue box other than the ones located within your zip code - which is obviously not the case. I personally use the blue box in front of our Walmart, which is more than half an hour from my house.

Date Posted: 6/3/2008 10:05 AM ET
Member Since: 2/6/2006
Posts: 1,186
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Loop hole - if you give the carrier money, they can take it and give you a receipt the next day.

That's for rural carriers, Patti. Don't expect a city carrier (letter carriers in uniform) to take your money and do a mailing for you. We're not required nor expected to do this.

Date Posted: 6/7/2008 1:28 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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FWIW, I've been told by various postal workers that carriers are not required to pick up mail as their job is to deliver mail,

 

That is true. If the carrier has mail to DELIVER to the house, they will pick up mail, but if they have no mail to deliver they are not required to check for outgoing mail. Their job is to deliver the mail, taking your outgoing mail to the PO to save you a trip is just an extra benefit for you. Some carriers have collection pionts on their routes that they ARE required to collect the mail from, usually at a set time every day. the carriers scan a barcode inside the collection box to tell the supervisor what time the mail was collected.

Date Posted: 6/7/2008 5:36 PM ET
Member Since: 2/27/2008
Posts: 2
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I've noticed that when I print postage from paypal, that it asks me if I'm going to mail it from a different zipcode than the return address and what that zipcode is.  But, this may just be related to the DC-tracking.

Date Posted: 6/8/2008 9:12 PM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2006
Posts: 2,024
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Perhaps the rule is that if you mail from home you have to use a zip that matches that home?  In other words, it's okay to mail from a PO or a blue box with a different zip, but not from a private residence?  Hmmmm.

Date Posted: 6/8/2008 10:17 PM ET
Member Since: 4/30/2008
Posts: 11
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I think it really helps to make a point of talking to the people who collect the mail in your building/town/rural route.  I have made a point to thank the rural route carrier who will collect printed-postage PBS packages from my home mailbox and to thank the manager of the post office as well.  All of them were surprised that anyone thought to say thank you...

Antonia B.