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Topic: "Return to Sender" Dilemma

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Subject: "Return to Sender" Dilemma
Date Posted: 12/19/2014 10:38 AM ET
Member Since: 7/8/2009
Posts: 228
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Ok, this is a first for me.  A PBS member asked for a book on my bookshelf.  I printed the pdf and mailed the book from my job using the PBS label.  The book was just sent back to me via "return to sender" -- it was mailed first class from my job, not media mail.  It would appear that the person is no longer at the address given to PBS, has since re-located out of state, and the forwarding time has expired, per the USPS.

Question:  do I now spend money to re-send the book to the forwarded address?  Is it not the responsibility of the requestor to update their address in the system?  I have emailed the PBS member twice but no response.  Remember -- since the book was mailed first class, the USPS sent it back.  If I had mailed it from the post office media mail the USPS would not have sent the book back.  And suggestions would be helpful.  Thanks so much!

Date Posted: 12/19/2014 11:10 AM ET
Member Since: 8/3/2009
Posts: 545
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The relevant document from the Help Center:

A book I sent was returned to me!

The most common causes for a package to be returned to sender:

  • The 13-ounce rule: The package was over 13 ounces and bore only stamps for postage, and you did not mail it by handing it to a USPS employee.
    • This is a USPS regulation if postage stamps are used for postage and the package is over 13 oz in weight.
    • The regulation does not apply to packages sent with printed postage
    • You can remail the package from the PO in this case, without adding new postage to the package.
  • Incorrect Address. Caused by 
    • transcription errors if you hand-wrote the address
    • the requestor mistyping his/her address in his/her account or not updating an old address
    • USPS error
  • Insufficient Postage Caused by 
    • Insufficient postage on the package
      • did you check and adjust the weight on the wrapper settings page before printing? this will ensure that the correct postage and postal rate will print out
      • did you forget to add postage to the package? Don't laugh - this can happen, even to the best swapper! Please read I forgot the postage! for more information about this.
    • Failure to write MediaMail on the package if the PBS Wrapper was not used. 
      • USPS will charge First Class rate if MediaMail is not specified. 
      • The PBS Wrapper will print out with FIRST CLASS for packages weighing 7ounces or less; packages over that weight will print wrappers marked MEDIA MAIL
    • Writing First Class on the package if the PBS Wrapper was not used.
    • Reusing Priority Mail materials (this is not permitted by USPS unless you are paying priority rate!) but applying Media Mail or First Class postage.
    • USPS error.
  • Moved, no forwarding address Caused by
    • The requestor moving before the book arrived (Media Mail is not routinely forwarded, unlike First Class mail!)
    • USPS error.
  • Address illegible Caused by
    • the wrapper tearing and the TO address being lost or obliterated
    • printer ink running because of exposure to the elements
      • to prevent this problem, you can apply a layer of clear shipping tape over the printed address portion of the wrapper.  Remember not to tape over stamps!
    • Poor handwriting (if you hand-wrote the wrapper)
      • to prevent this problem, carefully copy the address information clearly onto the wrapper - or print the wrapper from a printer.

If the book was returned to you through an error on the requestor's part, you can ask him or her for an extra credit (or money for the postage) to re-send the book,

If the book was returned to you through USPS error, you can take it to the PO in the packaging in which it was returned, and explain the situation - that it was returned in error from a current, deliverable address.  They can check the address and if it is correct and the book was returned through USPS error, they can send it again "under cover" from Post Office to Post Office, without requiring more postage.

If the book was returned to you because you forgot postage or the address was illegible, etc:

  • You can reprint the address using the "RePrint Wrapper" button on the transaction on the Books I've Mailed tab on your My Account page.
  • You should use the  button on the transaction, to let the other member know about what happened.
    • Then if the book is declared "lost" by the system before it arrives, the other member knows it is coming and does not re-order it.
    • The requestor can mark the book received when it arrives (if it has been declared "lost" by then it will need to be marked received from the Transaction Archive).

What to do if your book is returned to you:

If the book has NOT been declared Lost in the Mail yet: you should contact the requestor using the button on the active request on your My Account main page, to let him/her know that the book was returned, and to confirm the address. 

  • You should not re-send the book if it is damaged.  If it is damaged, contact us to cancel the transaction.

    • If the book has already been declared Lost in the Mail, you do not need to contact us to cancel.
  • You are not obligated to re-send the book to the requestor if this happened due to a problem with the requestor's address.   If the book was not damaged when it came back to you, and you do not want to re-send the book to the previous requestor, you can simply repost it. 

    • If you do not get a reply message from the requestor within 5 days of your PM, contact us.

To re-send the book:

  • You can reprint the address using the "RePrint Wrapper" button on the transaction on the Books I've Mailed tab on your My Account page.
  • You should use the  button on the transaction, to let the other member know about what happened.
    • Then if the book is declared "lost" by the system before it arrives, the other member knows it is coming and does not re-order it.
    • The requestor can mark the book received when it arrives (if it has been declared "lost" by then it will need to be marked received from the Transaction Archive).

If you mailed with Printable Postage and you need to generate a new wrapper:

  • Since you can't print postage again - it's illegal to use printed postage twice - you need to use the "mail to a friend" option to create a new postage-paid wrapper.
    • If the return was USPS's fault, you can mail "under cover" to the other PO for no additional postage, so you should take the package to your local PO and explain what happened.
  • To generate a new postage-paid wrapper by creating a "mail-to-a-friend" (noncredit) swap for the book:
    • Detailed Instructions on how to do this are in Can I send a book to a friend/alternate address?
    • Basically, you choose this option from the More Options menu on the Book Details page and supply the name/address, then choose postage when printing.
    • This will print new postage and you can use that to remail the book.

If the book HAS been declared Lost in the Mail: you should contact the requestor to find out what happened to cause the book to be returned (if the reason is not clear) and to make sure that the requestor still wants the book (and that the address is correct) before remailing it. You can use the button on the "lost" transaction in your Transaction Archive (linked from the top of your My Account page) to send a message to the requestor.

  • If the requestor no longer wants the book (if he or she has gotten another copy from someone else after yours was declared lost, for example), you should REPOST it to offer it to the rest of the club for swapping.
  •  If you do not get a reply to your PM

    • do not re-mail your book - you should repost it to your Bookshelf if you do not get consent from the requestor to re-mail the book.  If you repost and the new request is from the same member, contact us for help.

  • If you do not receive a reply to your PM within 5 days, contact us for help.

Please note: If the requestor still wants the book, and you re-send it, it may be declared Lost in the Mail before it arrives. 

  • The requestor can mark it received from the Lost transaction in his or her Transaction Archive, and you will get credit.
  • When she or he does this, if he or she notes the postmark, you may get a "late postmark" email - the system can't tell that the late postmark is from RE mailing the book.  Don't worry if you get one of these emails - as long as you do not have a habit of late mailing, one of these emails will not affect your account at all.

Date Posted: 12/19/2014 1:28 PM ET
Member Since: 8/25/2009
Posts: 704
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Media Mail is returned to sender but the sender would have to pay postage due to get it back.

Date Posted: 12/19/2014 9:49 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Yes, if you had used Media Mail the book would have been returned postage due.

IIRC from the PBS guidelines posted above, you should pm the requester and ask if there has been a postal error (yes, it is their responsibility to keep their PBS address current).  You should also contact PBS admin, include the information what was noted on the returned package and also the transaction number. 

Then feel free to repost your book and mail to another wisher.

Even if  you don't hear from TPTB, the information is in their records and counts against the receiver.

Date Posted: 12/20/2014 1:59 AM ET
Member Since: 8/20/2007
Posts: 1,020
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Here is a link to the above-cited Help Doc

A book I sent was returned to me!

 

Date Posted: 12/20/2014 3:01 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2007
Posts: 2,272
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As others have suggested, I would contact the requester to verify their address. If it is correct, you can have the post office resend it at no additional cost since it was their error. If the requester did not have a valid addres, like they had moved and assumed that the post office would forward it, then they need to give you another credit to send the book back out to them. If they requested a book without a valid address, I would let PBS know as it is the requester's responsibility to keep their address current. This has happened to me more than once and it is a very frustrating experience.

Date Posted: 12/21/2014 12:12 PM ET
Member Since: 4/28/2009
Posts: 9,750
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I have had 2 things returned to me that I sent to PBS members with correct addresses and PO was wrong about their addresses being wrong. Was able to resend both times with PO paying the postage.

I would doubt the 'past forwarding order' date possibility as the member would have had to have moved months ago without ever updating their address in their account info. Since this wasn't an automatic fulfillment of a WL book on auto-request, the member is obviously 'active' so in my mind, it's more likely to be a PO error.



Last Edited on: 12/21/14 12:17 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 12/21/2014 2:09 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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"... I have emailed the PBS member twice but no response..."  This is the sticking point.  Even if the PO is in error this time, the OP has few options if the requester is not answering messages (which is why PBS requires a response to Problem Swap communications).  Without a response, I would not chance mailing the same book to the same address again.  With a response and the receiver confirming the address, yes you can mail again.



Last Edited on: 12/21/14 2:10 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 12/30/2014 3:47 PM ET
Member Since: 7/8/2009
Posts: 228
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Thanks for all the replies and helpful suggestions.  I emailed the librarian at PBS and the issue has now been resolved.  Happy New Year wishes to all!