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Topic: Can Post Office Refuse Media Mail?

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Subject: Can Post Office Refuse Media Mail?
Date Posted: 4/22/2010 2:54 PM ET
Member Since: 3/8/2008
Posts: 1
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I sent my husband with three books to mail today- I wrapped them separately and used the PBS mailing label (that says media mail, but didn't included printed postage), and the clerk insisted that the books had to be sent first-class (more than $5 a piece!). There was nothing accompanying the books (no ads, craft items, or anything).

He caved and mailed one of the books first-class, but I need to go back with the other two, and I want to be prepared. Could there be something I was doing wrong? Can the post office flat-out deny you the right to send something via media mail?


Any suggestions on what i should do? I'm thinking about filing a complaint, but don't know how to go about that, and just want to make sure there isn't something I did wrong on my end.

Date Posted: 4/22/2010 5:26 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
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There is no reason they can't go media mail. Unless when asked your husband said there was a note or something non-media mail in there with the books. 

And how heavy were these books that they wanted to charge $5 each? That wold be more like Priority.  A standard paperback could go for around $2.41 first class. 

Were you trying to reuse Priority mailers? Those can only go Priority even if they are being recycled.

Date Posted: 4/22/2010 7:06 PM ET
Member Since: 8/25/2009
Posts: 706
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Were they thin, like kid's books?

Date Posted: 4/22/2010 11:11 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 602
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The most expensive first class option is $3.26, so if they were trying to charge over $5 a piece it must have been Priority Mail or Parcel Post.




If you were trying to use/reuse Priority Mail packaging, you can't do that, they have to charge you the Priority Mail rate. I can't think of any other reason why they would try to charge you more. 

Date Posted: 4/22/2010 11:21 PM ET
Member Since: 8/25/2009
Posts: 706
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If it was too thin to go as FCM parcel w/Delivery Confirmation, it would have to go as Priority.

Date Posted: 4/23/2010 12:26 AM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Carrie, from the above comments it's obvious the size of the books could be important.  Standard 'pocketbook' and 'hardcover' sizes should all be fine going Media Mail (singles and multiples)...which is 99.95 percent of books.  A few of the smaller sizes actually slip under the wire for minimum size (recycling a bubble mailer can help with that).  

Unfortunately, your problem could also be an uninformed postal employee.  In which case you may need to speak with a superviser and/or be firm that you are using the correct rate.

ETA - IIRC the only legit reasons to refuse Media Mail:
1.  Minimum size rule (and it's quite small)
2.  Maximum weight (70 lbs ?)
3.  Non-qualifying content.  USPS site has the Media Mail guidelines, basically bound printed matter (including recorded CD's & DVD's, excluding magazines & books with advertising, personal correspondence, blank books, etc.)  FYI, the second PBS sheet is a packing slip not correspondence.  If your clerk looks confused, don't even declare it b/c some postal employees are not well trained enough to know the difference.  Packing slips are specifically allowed per USPS regulation.

Last Edited on: 4/23/10 12:34 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 4/25/2010 6:58 PM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2006
Posts: 382
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*giggle* its interesting to see how many husbands are sent to the post office by their other half and the postal clerks

try to charge them more postage  that's not the first husband be confused by the post office

(a good reason to use PBS preprinted stamps -all you need then is to drop them into any blue collection box)

Date Posted: 4/29/2010 11:43 AM ET
Member Since: 7/18/2005
Posts: 209
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LOL Mark.  When it comes to packages my wife takes them herself.  I think she doesn't want me to know how much she spends sending stuff to grandkids all over the place.......

Date Posted: 5/13/2010 12:01 PM ET
Member Since: 2/23/2009
Posts: 96
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I've had the clerks try to tell me that packing slips are personal correspondence. I had to stand my ground and insist that the item I sent was indeed meeting media mail guidelines, and that a packing slip isn't considered a personal letter. A supervisor had to give approval before the clerk would finish the transaction at media mail rates.  I do printable postage from this site to avoid a lot of these issues.

Date Posted: 5/13/2010 6:34 PM ET
Member Since: 4/11/2007
Posts: 1,640
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My husband mails 90% of my packages, never had an issue. If I go to an unfamiliar post office I will always say, "Hi, this needs to go media mail. it's just a book." then smile. Never had an issue. If it's a smaller book sometimes it is cheaper to mail first class. I'll ask for both rates in those cases, so I can decide.

Date Posted: 5/14/2010 8:42 PM ET
Member Since: 2/11/2007
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I wouldn't get into the packing slip thing at all, telling them firmly "Just a book!"

Date Posted: 5/14/2010 10:43 PM ET
Member Since: 11/4/2009
Posts: 47
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When I go, I always tell them I am only sending just a book. No liquids, perishables etc. Just a book in a wrapper. Then they ask me if I want stamps. :)

Date Posted: 5/15/2010 7:39 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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We hear that happens sometimes Jennifer, that's why I agree with John...just don't mention the packing slip.  Some USPS clerks are not very knowledgable and will argue with you about it, but IIRC US Postal Regulations specifically allow a packing slip or inventory list in Media Mail.