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Topic: Problems with Post Office opening all packages of books before delivery

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Subject: Problems with Post Office opening all packages of books before delivery
Date Posted: 2/8/2014 3:37 PM ET
Member Since: 1/5/2009
Posts: 3
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In the last 2 months I've had 2 shipments of books in boxes that usps wouldn't deliver unless 1 one paid 35.00. The other was 9.00. I sent scrapbook idea books and another book. Then just got a message from another girl today who said hers had been opened. It also was a thin how to book. I had taken these to the post office with the PBS printed shipping tag which also stated media mail. The lady questioned me about the contents if they were media mail. I told her that PBS wouldn't let you list a book on the site if it was not media mail. They cannot have any ads in them which I knew. I had 7 different PBS things to mail and was questioned about each. I felt I was in Russia with KGB spying on me. I have 3 members of my family who works for the post office. I am going to be contacting my US Rep. regarding this matter. Then they didn't even return the boxes.

Cathy A. (Cathy) - ,
Date Posted: 2/8/2014 6:23 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2005
Posts: 4,139
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USPS is allowed to open and inspect any package that's labeled Media Mail. They are also allowed to question you about the contents when you send Media Mail packages. So it's really not worth your time to complain about these things. Also, the PBS system would allow you to list a lot of things that can't legally be sent Media Mail. There's nothing in the programming to stop you, and there are many things in the database that don't qualify for Media Mail; it's only the site rules that say you can't use some of the existing listings and the USPS certainly doesn't know whether or not you're following another website's rules.

If USPS wants to charge you more than standard Media Mail rates for a package, then you need to ask them what exactly in the package is violating the Media Mail rules. Are you reusing Priority Mail boxes? That is not allowed unless you pay the higher Priority rates. If you did post something and you find out later that USPS won't allow you to send it via Media Mail, then you can always just bring it home and cancel the transaction instead of paying the extra postage. $35.00 is pretty ridiculous and no Media Mail package should cost that much.

If you receive a PBS package that has postage due, you are not required to pay it. You can simply refuse it.

Date Posted: 2/8/2014 7:17 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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Cathy has it right, the post office is well within their rights to question you about the contents when you are trying to use this very low cost service. Many people try to use it for things that it is not meant for  

They are also well within their rights to inspect any Media Mail package to verify that the contents are in fact qualifying materials.

If a package is marked up postage due, it was either not totally media mail...you can't mail a big box of books plus some other stuff..the other stuff disqualifies it from Media Mail. OR it was in a Priority mail box. Even if the box is reused, or flipped inside out or whatever, it always has to go Priority Mail.

Date Posted: 2/8/2014 10:31 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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What Cathy (and Brandy) said yes  Packages sent Media Mail rate are subject to inspection (if USPS chooses).  Not sure why you have incurred additional fees unless something was mailed that did not qualify for the Media Mail rate...in which case it should have been marked on the package. 

If your local PO is giving you a hard time, talk to your local postmaster about the situation.  If unable to resolve the matter at the local level you can locate your regional postmaster.

Date Posted: 2/8/2014 10:55 PM ET
Member Since: 9/9/2009
Posts: 916
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Engage your US Rep  - that seems frivolous for them to be involved in one persons not well defined shipping complaint - I think they would have more important items to focus on.  Do remember that if you are not happy with the USPS experience you are always able to use UPS and FedEx shipping options and perhaps those will better meet your needs.  Perhaps you should broaden your shipping options and determine if you have a better experience with some of the other parcel shippers.   You might not be able to call your congressman if UPS or FedEx provides a negative experience, but its worth a try for you find a shipper that better meets your needs.

Date Posted: 2/9/2014 11:46 PM ET
Member Since: 4/6/2008
Posts: 1,036
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I went to the PO on Friday.  I have mailed 100's of media mail packages.  They all know me by name.  They have recently employed a new postmaster.  On Friday,  I was told that they will be opening media mail packages for inspections.  Which I already knew that USPS can and does that with media mail.  But, I have not had a problem with any of my outgoing or incoming packages. (That I know of.)  I thought the new postmaster was enforcing it.  But, evidently, it must be everywhere.  Maybe there are so many more media mail packages being mailed now with PBS, Swapadvd, and the other booksite I use.

Date Posted: 2/10/2014 7:08 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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No, its a Nationwide thing, a certain percentage of Media Mail must now be inspected. The upper management has basically said that they can and will pull the reports off the computers that shows how many Media Mail packages the unit accepts and they will compare that to the inspection logs to see that a minimum number are being inspected. I guess they have caught a few mailers abusing Media Mail and they think this new inspection push will catch more abuses.
Date Posted: 2/10/2014 10:30 PM ET
Member Since: 9/9/2009
Posts: 916
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It might all come back to Sarbanes–Oxley Act (SOX) that the House/Senate passed in 2002(?) to "..individually certify the accuracy of financial information..."  So USPS has had to certify and account and verify that various classes of mail are all financially sound.  Much of the work to this point has been to shore up and ensure that large mailer drop shipments are all accurately accounted and paid for at the various postage rates.  You all see it, various mail that comes at a "presort" rate that is less then the going first class rate - why do they get a discount - because they are work sharing as large mailers and taking on various parts of the sortation process.  General public provides randomly mixed mail that is going to all US and other destinations mixed.  Large mailers may be able to create a pallet(s) full of mail originating in Dallas and destinating in Denver and another pallet of mail going to Chicago, etc.  Large mailers - think all the Publishers Clearning House mailings that go out, multiple credit card offers, large ban k statements - these mailers maybe drop a million plus pieces at a time.  I think Bank of America in Dallas typically brings 6-8 truckloads of mail into Coppell. Thus USPS does not have to individually sort these pallets of mail and just put them on the truck or plane from Dallas to Denver and Chicago - thus worksharing and saving a handlings at Dallas (less individual piece work).  So thru this certification of financial accountability over the last several years they have discovered mailers short paying mailings (claiming they are mailing 500,000 pieces when in fact they have deposited 723,000 pieces so some number not paid for via their postage due account) and/or not making up correctly for a discount - so that can be corrected (example-  you mailer cannot have Detroit pieces in your Chicago make up so make up Detroit on its own so USPS doesn't have to rehandle in Chicago and if you don't have enough Detroit pieces to make up then you need to pay full rate on).  Now that USPS is getting all the mailers drop shipments certified and corrected to pay their actual postage I'd imagine they can now concentrate on the other classes of mail such as media mail to ensure it meets the SOX requirements - much harder to find more of one off smaller mailer discrepancies, but that doesn't mean that they can disregard the law and not ensure financial accountabily of.  There are documented large scale eBay members inappropriate usage of media mail rates - so if a specific rate is offered and can be checked then it is time it is - just more of a needle in a hay stack to look for one off users abusing - but need to meet the SOX law and be accountable across the board.

Date Posted: 2/11/2014 2:05 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Yes, there is alot of abuse of the Media Mail rate....some big e-bay and large shippers have been caught deliberately frauding USPS this way.

If your PO is making more inspections, you might inquire as to their re-sealing methods.  Some seem to do a good job and others so sloppy that further USPS handling will damage the contents.  Keep in touch with your senders and receivers so you know if your packages are arriving damaged from inspections...if so you can and should report the situation to your local postmaster and also USPS via the website.

Date Posted: 2/11/2014 3:59 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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Denise, I really don't think it's USPS employees opening and resealing that's a problem. It's senders that don't package well in the first place and the package breaks open in shipping, then someone "assumes" that it was opened for inspection.

 

I have been in at least 25 post offices in 2 states-( I was a relief clerk, a very rare job I don't know if it even exists anymore, but I went from branch to branch and covered when they were shorthanded) and EVERY unit has 2" clear packing tape to reseal packages in the re-wrap area. Packages were always sealed up as well, or better than the sender shipped it. 

Date Posted: 2/11/2014 7:52 PM ET
Member Since: 9/9/2009
Posts: 916
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The whole packaging of parcels and correct tape and secure packaging is why I toured the PBS NTX bookclub at the Dallas NDC so they could see first hand the various stresses that media mail and parcels in general endure during parcel sortation.  It will not be just your package travelling in the sortation system.  But imagine hundreds of other parcels first loaded on top of your parcel in a container.  The containers which are probably 6 feet tall are then all dumped onto a conveyor belt dropping parcel on top of parcel.  The packages travel high speed conveyors and can sometimes be caught in pinch points between two belts as they traverse belt to belt which can cause tearing of weak points.  Packages drop and are singulated so reader can obtain an OCR read of address, if not they are pushed off with a tilt tray or pnuematic arms to a keyer and down a slide into another container with many parcels and weight surrounding.  And then travel via truck to a destination sort center and start the dump, conveyor, sortation process again until they are distributed to your delivery unit for throwing (and I mean throwing literally) off to individual carrier routes and then delivery.

Date Posted: 2/13/2014 11:16 PM ET
Member Since: 8/11/2005
Posts: 1,604
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Last Edited on: 2/10/15 9:23 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 2/14/2014 12:55 AM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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I've heard it both ways Brandy.  I've certainly seen (and heard of) some very inadequate customer package wrapping which often fails enroute.  But PBS members do report packages they've received after postal inspection (with the official insert)...most are properly resealed, but a few are not.

Date Posted: 2/15/2014 8:27 PM ET
Member Since: 10/30/2010
Posts: 495
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Depends on the Post Office. My P.O. goes by the rules. NO magazines can be sent using Media Male due to the ads in the magazines. A possible exception might be MAD MAGAZINEor something similar. Also, they are not at all shy about punching holes in the packages to see what is inside. 

Date Posted: 2/16/2014 12:43 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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According to the DMM Greg, I don't think 'punching holes in the packages' is the official method of inspection.

Date Posted: 2/23/2014 11:22 AM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2006
Posts: 2,552
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i have received many packages "checked by officials", that were not -reclosed properly.  And it was obvious, with most of them, that originally they had been wrapped very well.