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Topic: Post Office may have taken my book!

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Subject: Post Office may have taken my book!
Date Posted: 12/12/2010 3:25 PM ET
Member Since: 12/1/2009
Posts: 105
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I've never had this problem before and I'm not really sure how to handle it, to be honest.

I requested a book from CA about two weeks ago. It was a big, 900+ page book. I got a package yesterday that should have contained the book--but it didn't.

Instead of the book, I had about seven little booklets all about Lent and God and some were the same pamplet but in Spanish!

I immediately thought it was the sender that made a mistake, so I PM'ed her. But she swears she sent the right book and had never heard of the pamplets she supposedly sent me and for that reason, she won't give me back a credit.

That's when I noticed on the package there was a stamp--"Package arrived in damaged condition; rewrapped section" from a place in NJ. At first, I was still suspicious of the sender, but I noticed that the rip that had been taped up would have been big enough for the book to be taken out. My theory since then has been that the post office worker took the book out (I mean, it's a pretty popular book and big too) and replaced it with pamplets that may be found in the lobby of any business to try and make it look like that was what was sent.

Honestly, I'm kinda ticked about this. I needed this book for a school report and had to find another book instead.

I have no way to prove that's what happened but I feel like I should have a refund of some sort. Unfortunately, the book was sent to my alternate address so I can't report a problem with it, so no PBS credit refund. And every time I try to call the post office (which was actually a bulk mail center, not USPS) at any time of the day, it goes straight to a machine.

I'm not sure what to do about this situation--should I take a loss? Keep calling the mailing center?

Date Posted: 12/12/2010 6:00 PM ET
Member Since: 5/1/2007
Posts: 6,559
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Sounds to me like the wrapper ripped in transit and the book fell out, then the post office tried to locate what was missing from the wrapper, and assumed the booklets came from the empty package.  It's either a RWAP - Damaged by Post Office or RWAP - against the sender if the wrapping wasn't sufficient for the size book you were supposed to receive.

ETA:  Actually, since you didn't receive the book, it wouldn't be a RWAP.  It shouldn't be marked as received.  Here is the info from the help center regarding receiving an an empty wrapper with no book:

If this is a book you requested, you should not mark the book received, since you did not get the book.  You should contact the sender to let him or her know what happened.  

  • The sender should call 800-ASK-USPS or go to http://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/forms/MLNtRcvd.aspx  and input the information online there. This will help USPS try to recover the book.

    • The form is titled "mail Theft"; this does not mean that you can use it only if you think the book was stolen.  "Received without contents" is an option on the page.
    • The choice to make under "Class" on the form if Media Mail was used is "Parcel Post".
  • If you think that the Wrapping method may have contributed to the loss of the book, please do give (gentle) feedback to the sender; you can refer to All Help documents about bookwrapping if you like. 

  • If you have marked the book received by mistake (or if the system marked the book received for you while you were absent from PBS), you can also discuss this with the sender, who got credit when that happened. See How do I contact another member? for instructions on how to contact a sender from the transaction in your Transaction Archive.

If you have not marked the book received yet, do not do so.  You will continue to get the usual auto-emails from PBS asking if the book has arrived; open and read them, and follow any instructions within. 

If the book hasn't arrived by the 26th day (the 35th day if the sender or requestor is outside the contiguous US) after it was marked mailed, then PBS will declare it lost in the Mail and you will get your credit back.  If the book does arrive after that, you should mark it received from your Transaction Archive.  

If the sender agrees to cancelling the request early (not waiting the full period for the book to be declared "lost"), then she or he can contact us and ask us to cancel the transaction for the book.  (A cancellation in this case will pass your request to a new sender if there is another copy of the book available in the system, or will put the book on your Wish List if there is not another available copy.  If the book was on your Wish LIst before, our cancellation will put you back on the Wish List for this book, in your previous place "in line".)

Last Edited on: 12/12/10 6:06 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 12/12/2010 9:56 PM ET
Member Since: 9/9/2009
Posts: 916
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Bulk Mail Center is a USPS facility - and last year all the BMCs were renamed as NDCs - Network Distribution Center.  These are the standard mail, parcel post, media mail facilities that are highly conveyor mechanized to transport and sort all the various parcels and then they move via surface transportaion only - thus the reduced cost and longer associated delivery times.

And your book wrapping probably broke open and when they tried to determine what items went in what broken packages they got it wrong and somehow correlated the pamphlets to your packaging.  Perhaps they then sent the book along with other broken packaging to someone else - or they couldn't place the book and it will move on to the Mail Recovery Center in Atlanta.  Follow the PBS instructions above, but also look on usps.com and see if you can find the procedure for submitting a claim the the Mail Recovery Center - if or when it shows up there and they can associate such with your claim they would send it to you - but that will not be a near term result if they can make a positive association.

But I doubt a Postal worker took the book.  Too much on the line for them to risk losing there job.  All facilities have either lookout galleries - contained walkways from the ceiling where Postal Inspectors can secretly watch for that type of behavior.  If not the lookout galleries, the facilities have camera surveillence by the inspectors.  And I do know people that have been fired for taken Harry Potter books that have broken out of the Amazon packaging on first day of release.  So book or a highly paid job - I just don't know that what you were waiting on would have been that much of a incentive that a worker happening to be working the damaged mail area would have been a worker that was so desperately interested in having that exact book - could happen, but doubtful and more just a mistake on trying to match many broken packages with many unidentifiable loose contents.

Date Posted: 12/20/2010 7:28 PM ET
Member Since: 1/19/2009
Posts: 61
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I agree with everyone.  There was no conspiracay here by a postal worker.  The USPS is so short handed-no one would have the time to take a book out and fill it with pamphlets.  The book was probably not wrapped well and broke open and fell out.  If the PBS label was not tucked inside the book, there is no way they would know where it should go.

My suggestion is to always make sure there is a strip of good tape all around the package both up and down and sideways.  That way, if the package should tear, the tape will prevent the hole from getting big enough for the book to fall out.  I work in a tiny office and have spent much time applying more tape to packages before they go out.  I happen to have time to do this, but most places don't.

Date Posted: 12/22/2010 7:48 AM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2010
Posts: 754
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This just happened to me as well.  I sent a book out to a person.  She contacted me that she received a book alright, but it was not the right book.  It's not even a book I have ever heard of.  It's Not my book.  It's not like I sent her another one of my books accidentally.  Like I said, this is a unknown book to me.  She checked the label and yep, it's from me.  No, she didn't order that mystery book from someone else and mistakenly thought I sent it.


It's her word against mine.  I know I'm not lying, and I don't think she's lying either.  What happened??  It's one of the very first books I mailed out and I wrapped it in paper.  I KNOW the wrapping was subpar (my fault, I had not started buying real mailers yet to mail books in).  I think the book fell out at the PO.  Someone at the PO maybe had a few lost books laying around and did not know which book went where.  I think they put a book in there and taped it back up again.  I know that sounds crazy, but I have no other explanation for a strange book getting into my wrapper.


Either way I view it as my fault, because I did not wrap it good enough---meaning a real mailer, IMO.



Date Posted: 12/27/2010 1:32 PM ET
Member Since: 4/28/2009
Posts: 10,291
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In NOV I ordered 2 books from the same person. Package broke open and USPS stamped "received damaged" and partially closed envelope to keep second book in place so I got it with just one book. Fortunately the sender kindly returned the credit for the missing book---package was put in an oversize envelope and we long time wrappers know that is the recipe for having a package ripped open!  Books should be wrapped so all the paper or envelope is firmly against the book ends.

Date Posted: 12/28/2010 9:53 PM ET
Member Since: 12/1/2009
Posts: 105
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Yeah, I can see now how the postal system would have dealt with my situation. (I was kind of paranoid at first, to be honest--we'd just had a case here involving postal workers and I jumped to conclusions.)

The member that sent the original book to me didn't seem to care if I received the wrong book, however. I hit the button saying that it was received, looking for the option to report a problem, but since it was sent to my alternate address, there was no option for that. The sender automatically got credit, and when I PM'ed her, she basically told me that it was my problem and she's got her credit and isn't giving it back. (Really, this was the only experience I've had on PBS where the sender/receiver was less than understanding.)

I've filed a search request for the dead mail center in Atlanta. I'll be hoping they'll get the book, but I'm not holding my breath.

Strangley enough, I've gone ahead and ordered another copy from another member and its been quite awhile since shipping and no book. I'm starting to think that this is a sign that I'm not supposed to read that book. indecision

Date Posted: 1/1/2011 9:52 AM ET
Member Since: 1/19/2009
Posts: 61
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Hmmm. Someone that uninterested in seeing that you are satisfied with your order may just be the type who also doesn't care if she wraps the books correctly. I would blame the lost book on her. A well-wrapped book with enough tape to prevent large tears should most always arrive  in fairly good shape.

Date Posted: 1/6/2011 4:31 PM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2005
Posts: 379
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But I doubt a Postal worker took the book.  Too much on the line for them to risk losing there job.

You are assuming they realize there is a risk of being caught. Most petty thieves do not - what do you think the guys who go to jail for stealing $16 from the 7-11 were thinking? "Oh it's totally worth doing time for $16" NOT

The answer to "Is a Harry Potter book worth my civil service job" may indeed be NO, but I'm not convinced they think of the question.

I love my Postal workers and my little post office but I have no illusion that they are all like that - if they were, there would be no need for the glassed in galleries in sorting facilities.

Date Posted: 1/6/2011 8:53 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,226
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Kenneth - for future reference you should not have marked the book received at all. You didn't receive the book you requested you received something completely different so RWAP-wrong book doesn't apply, that's for when its the right content, but wrong "packaging" like binding or an ARC.