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Topic: Post office new state law to cause problems for members?

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Subject: Post office new state law to cause problems for members?
Date Posted: 12/3/2010 1:41 PM ET
Member Since: 10/5/2010
Posts: 196
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I went to the post office today to deliver some packages and not sure how long this has been going on since this is the first time that I had to do this or even heard of it.

The post office had me sign my name on a piece of paper.

After that, they instructed me that all packages regardless of what it is will be open BY post office, taken out, and inspected through machine before post office re-wrap them back up to mail it to receiver.

I'm afraid I'll get an RWAP if the book is damage through this process, or if it goes lost somewhere if they can't find it or if the PO put the wrong book back in the packaging that I used to send the book.

Is there any way around this? And why and when did they started doing this?

Date Posted: 12/3/2010 1:53 PM ET
Member Since: 7/29/2005
Posts: 641
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I know that media mail can be subject to inspection, but I've never in my life heard that ALL packages were subject to inspection without good cause.  That just seems a little weird and a serious breech of privacy. 

Date Posted: 12/3/2010 1:56 PM ET
Member Since: 12/31/2009
Posts: 3,995
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Maybe this particular office had a problem and instituted the rule for themselves. I don't see this happening all over the country. Mail delivery would come to a stand-still.

Date Posted: 12/3/2010 1:59 PM ET
Member Since: 7/29/2005
Posts: 641
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yeah, something doesn't sound right, you should cal 1-800-ask-usps and tell them what happened and if this is going to be an ongoing thing.  From experience, I know that there are certain postal workers out there who seem to think that they can institute their own sets of rules. 

Date Posted: 12/3/2010 2:05 PM ET
Member Since: 10/5/2010
Posts: 196
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Yea, I was starting to think how my mails are going to get to places safely now. I'll give them a call and see what this is.

Date Posted: 12/3/2010 2:12 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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I notice you live in Wisconson, I'm so sorry *hugs* 

FYI your state post master is rather anal and appears to invent regulation at a whim (this saga has been ongoing).  Media Mail is always subject to inspection, it's a requirement of the cheap rate.  Just make sure your packages are are eligible for the rate you choose for mailing (books & pre-recorded media for MM) and you should have no problems.  You do not have to bring your packages in before sealing, nor do you have to open them at the counter (or wait while staff opens them).  There are official USPS procedures for mail inspection, let them perform these duties on their time not yours

Awhile back Wisconson was saying 1 in 5 packages would be inspected, now it's every package?  During the holidays?  ROFL *that's a nice fantasy life*  Seriously, I'm beginning to wonder if the state Postmaster needs therapy, appears to have serious paranoia issues.

If you feel your packages are not adequately re-packaged, complain (loud, long, and to whatever upper management you can contact).

ETA - Here's some links to older thread discussing Wisconson Media Mail nuttiness:

USPS Opening Media Mail

I've had it with the Wisconson PO!

Media Mail Rules

Last Edited on: 12/3/10 2:19 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/3/2010 2:33 PM ET
Member Since: 7/19/2008
Posts: 15,485
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The state of WI has been discussed for over a year on the Post Office thread.  It is due to the regional post master.  It has spread to parts of MI and MN.  It has caused a large number of books from and to that state to go lost.  Be sure to file a lost or theft report for every problem.  Do call the Federal level to complain.  They should think of this as a major customer service problem.  And they aren't.

This is happening to Media Mail in this region.  Some eBay shipper cheated the PO out of millions by using media mail for non media.  You should not have to pay for someone else's fraud.  But everyone in WI is. 

This should not happen for first class mail.  I heard of several folks who are either crossing the state line to mail books or are upping the postage to first class for MMPBs.

ETA  There are very strict federal laws about how to inspect media mail.  These are not being followed.  The counter person is not authorized by federal law to inspect media mail.

Last Edited on: 12/3/10 8:21 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/3/2010 3:21 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2007
Posts: 2,276
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I was at the PO today mailing packages: books and Xmas presents both locally and internationally, and no one said anything to me at all about what you are describing! No explanation, nothing to sign (beyond the usual customs forms for international mail), etc. YIKES! Glad I'm not going to your PO!

Date Posted: 12/3/2010 6:27 PM ET
Member Since: 7/28/2006
Posts: 4,984
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Yeah, sounds like a Wisconsin thing.  Complain, complain, complain whenever there is a problem.  It sounds like it's the only way the PO will ever begin to take notice. 


Edited to fix typos. 

Last Edited on: 12/3/10 6:28 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/3/2010 7:45 PM ET
Member Since: 9/8/2009
Posts: 626
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Well, it must not be statewide (thank god) because I mail books at LEAST once a week and have never encountered a problem, either with my books being inspected or lost.  And I was just in there this week and wasn't asked to sign anything.  So yeah, I'd definitely be calling somebody at the federal level -- sounds like your postmaster is making up his own rules.

Date Posted: 12/3/2010 10:24 PM ET
Member Since: 8/15/2005
Posts: 4,469
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All?  They can inspect media mail, but this is the first I've heard of all..you might ask in the postal forum, there are actual postal employees there who know far more than me.

Date Posted: 12/4/2010 1:12 AM ET
Member Since: 3/1/2007
Posts: 1,883
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I'm in WI too and I gave up using the post office in the town where I live. Too much hassle with media mail. Now I have my husband take the books to the post office in the town where he works. They give him no problems about it.

Date Posted: 12/4/2010 8:46 AM ET
Member Since: 6/1/2006
Posts: 5,073
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I live in WI.

Earlier this week I received a book from a member who also lives in WI.

There was a sticker on the package letting me know that the package was opened and inspected by USPS. (If that sticker wasn't on there I wouldn't have noticed anything because they did a good job of rewrapping it.)

Maybe they (WI) are going to start opening Media Mail to inspect...........hmmmmmm.

EDITED because I can't spell this early in the am without a pot of coffee in me.

Last Edited on: 12/4/10 9:08 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/4/2010 10:13 AM ET
Member Since: 5/15/2005
Posts: 1,328
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A few years ago, my local post office was told to inspect 1 out of every 5 media mail packages. Since then, their staffing and hours were drastically cut. They may still inspect MM packages but I doubt it's every 1 in 5. The Wisconsin issue is the only one I've heard of that took it to extremes and for so long a time. Maybe if they started issuing fines for blatant or continued misuse, it would deter those who are causing the problem. Right now, I think the only punishment is charging the difference between the media rate they paid and the correct mail class rate they should have paid. Make those fines public and that may solve the problem they have with misuse of MM. I know I've purchased non-media items through ebay that were sent media mail, and more often items shipped using priority mail supplies that weren't sent priority mail. Although I can't remember it happening recently.

I'm not sure why the OP was required to sign something since media mail has always been subject to inspection. Maybe they're trying to scare people straight?

If the OP ships smaller books, it may be worth it just to use first class. First class is actually cheaper up to 7 ounces and only 3 cents more than media on an 8 ounce package.

Tough situation because I can't imagine them opening some of my packages without having to use additional packing material. I've had some OCD-like moments where I was sure I mixed up labels and after opening my packages, there was no way I could repackage them using the same materials.

Date Posted: 12/4/2010 10:33 AM ET
Member Since: 6/21/2007
Posts: 2,015
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Last Edited on: 2/3/15 10:20 AM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 12/4/2010 11:38 AM ET
Member Since: 2/9/2010
Posts: 154
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If you check out the USPS and Postal Inspection Service website you find that:

 First Class Mail (letters, parcels and large envelopes marked First Class) CANNOT EVER be opened by postal insectors unless they are granted a search warrent by the Federal Courts. First class mail is protected under the 4th amemendment to the Constitution. You cannot be forced to sign away those rights by a threat of not accepting mail.

Media Mail CAN be opened by POSTAL INSPECTORS. To see if the rate was correctly applied (it is really media that is being mailed at the cheap rate).

Counter clerks cannot inspect mail. They are clerks-not postal inspectors (police). They can mark a package as suspect, but they must accept the package or letter to be mailed the way you want it to be mailed.

I often mail a first class letter at the first class parcel rate so I can get delivery confirmation on it. (Letters cannot have delivery confirmation - they have to be either Certified or Registered to get confirmation of delivery). The clerk will give me a hard time about it from time to time, mentioning that the letter rate is cheaper, but they always accept want I want as long as it meets the rate guidelines.

Date Posted: 12/4/2010 12:58 PM ET
Member Since: 8/25/2009
Posts: 706
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A first class letter does not become eligible to have Delivery Confirmation just by paying the first class parcel rate.  It must actually physically qualify to be a parcel.

Date Posted: 12/4/2010 1:48 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 602
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Oh man, Wisconsin is the worst. Definitely complain as much as possible to USPS headquarters.

Date Posted: 12/4/2010 1:51 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Good stuff there Wayne, thanks for sharing.  I didn't know that First Class was not eligible for inspection nor that counter clerks are not authorized inspectors.  I did know there is a specific guideline for mail inspections and customers are not required to participate.

Could a WI resident clarify what is this form they are being asked to sign?  I get the impression it's just a release that says they understand the Media Mail rate restrictions and agree to inspection and possible penalties???

Date Posted: 12/4/2010 4:48 PM ET
Member Since: 12/23/2005
Posts: 3,020
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One of the post offices near me does that.  I take my books to the one that doesn't.  Maybe you can find a different PO that isn't following those rules so tightly.

Last Edited on: 12/4/10 11:05 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Jodie -
Date Posted: 12/4/2010 4:58 PM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2010
Posts: 31
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I am in WI and I have had to sign the form a few times.  It basically says that I understand that my item must be media and that I consent to a serch of the package.  You also must provide a return address.  It might also say that I agree to pay return shipping, but I don't really pay attention, because I know that my stuff qualifies.  Now I am recognized at the PO and the clerks are very friendly and never hassle me anymore!!

Geri (geejay) -
Date Posted: 12/4/2010 5:54 PM ET
Member Since: 9/2/2008
Posts: 9,094
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I'm in Michigan and just took a big MM package in yesterday.  I got to my sub station just as the mail lady was loading up her truck.  I said I'm just in time, she said yes, just put it on top of that box.  That was the end of it!  Phew!!

Date Posted: 12/4/2010 6:45 PM ET
Member Since: 5/18/2007
Posts: 13,223
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Something about Wisconsin, that's for sure. Lot's of complaints from PBSers who live in Wisc about  its postal regulations.