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Topic: Are the rules for contract stations different?

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Leo A. - ,
Subject: Are the rules for contract stations different?
Date Posted: 11/6/2014 3:45 PM ET
Member Since: 10/16/2006
Posts: 13
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I recently moved, and the post office most convenient to me is a 'contract postal unit' located in a supermarket.  I love it in the fact that it's open 8-8 six days a week, and 10-6 on Sunday, so I have plenty of time to drop off packages.  (I still use stamps...)

However, the most recent time I dropped off books, one package was a three book shipment weighing about 2 lbs.  It was returned to me today with the sticker "Please mail in person at a post office because it weighs over 13 oz"...

Do I have to go to a regular post office to drop these off? They can't accept these at a contract station?...

Date Posted: 11/6/2014 4:30 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2014
Posts: 2,793
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Leo, I don't know what a contract station is.

If you mail a package over 13 oz. with stamps you must hand it to a PO clerk at the counter.  That's the 13oz rule. 

If you use electronic postage you may drop it in the box.

why? Because E-postage has tracking. 

Date Posted: 11/6/2014 4:42 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2009
Posts: 138
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I don't think the rules are different.  I have done a lot of mailing at the supermarket.

I did have one time where the clerk at the supermarket added stamps (and a tracking label!), and it was returned to me due to that rule.  I took it to the post office and explained the situation.  They reshipped it at no charge.



Last Edited on: 11/6/14 4:50 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Leo A. - ,
Date Posted: 11/6/2014 5:33 PM ET
Member Since: 10/16/2006
Posts: 13
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Valerie:

A contract postal unit is in essence, a post office franchise.  https://about.usps.com/suppliers/becoming/contract-postal-unit.htm

I know all about the 13 oz rule.   I've been mailing books out long before the 13 oz rule was established.  And the reason I use stamps is that it's cheaper for media mail than e postage. 

I just was under the impression that a CPU acted in that respect like a regular post office.

Date Posted: 11/6/2014 6:57 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2014
Posts: 2,793
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I see, so there is a real person handling the transaction and they add a tracking sticker?  I guess it was returned to you by mistake. I would do what Betty did and ask the PO to fix the situation. 

Date Posted: 11/6/2014 11:00 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Yes, for this purpose the CPU should function same as a regular USPS branch.  If your 2 lb book package was mailed with stamps and dropped in a collection bin, it was rightfully returned. Over 13 oz. with stamps must be passed over the counter, either PO or CPU.

If mailed with printed postage or counter postage (inc. APC) , regardless if it was dropped in collection bin or passed over the counter, it was correctly mailed and the PO is in error.

ETA - no expert, but logically this is how the CPU should work.  But obviously doesn't because Brandy knows! 



Last Edited on: 11/8/14 2:28 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 11/7/2014 12:00 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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Yes the rules are different. They are not postal employees and your mail isn't considered U.S. Mail (with all the legal protections thereof) until the CPU gives the mail to an actual post office employee. As far as the Post Office is concerned, it's no different than you giving your mail to the neighbor to mail for you. 

The rule is that packages over 13 oz, bearing stamps, must be brought to a postal worker at the counter, so they can do the AVSEC (aviation security questions and inspection of box for any hazardous markings ) clearance on it.

 

personally, I wouldn't do anything other than buy stamps at a CPU. They are poorly trained, underpaid, and like I said before, your packages don't have the legal protection of being US Mail until they are handed over to the post office, so the risk of theft and rifling are much greater. 

Date Posted: 11/7/2014 3:24 PM ET
Member Since: 2/13/2009
Posts: 138
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Thanks Brandy!  That is good to know.

It was definitely a surprise when my package made it all the way to the destination city but was returned. I did not know if the clerk made a mistake by adding stamps or if the post office made a mistake by not noticing the tracking label.

Date Posted: 11/8/2014 2:31 AM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Yes, odd it made it to the destination city.  I thought 13 oz returns were done immediately at the acceptance Post Office, how would enroute units have any idea how it was received?

And FYI the AVSEC questions....I've seen many packages handed over the counter to a postal employee without questions, just thank you and have a nice day.

Date Posted: 11/8/2014 10:56 AM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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there are "things" that are done to packages that are accepted over the counter with stamps, so if those "things" aren't done, any postal worker down the line can tell, and anyone of them can/will return it. 

The sorting plants are very automated, it is very likely that no human eyes saw the package at the plants- which is why the whole "someone opened the package at the plant and took what they wanted" is so irritating to hear, It just shows that the person has no idea how the packages are sent.

And FYI the AVSEC questions....I've seen many packages handed over the counter to a postal employee without questions, just thank you and have a nice day.

 
 
 

Those people are probably "known customers" If they mail frequently, and they have been spot checked enough for the clerks to recognize them on site and know that the postage is always correct, then yeah, they aren't going to be made to go through the checks. If they went to a post office they don't frequent a lot,  they would have to be spot checked.