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Topic: start RWAPing or just adding a comment when recieved?

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Subject: start RWAPing or just adding a comment when recieved?
Date Posted: 3/19/2013 6:48 AM ET
Member Since: 5/16/2011
Posts: 64
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I live at an APO so PBS automatically puts a Requestor Comment about having to fill out and attach a customs form, even describes and gives the form number. Lately, say 4 out of ten book requests have gone "lost in the mail" all because no customs form is attached. The kicker is the sender of at least two of the books had to hand it to a postal worker because they had stamps. So the postal worker saw it was an APO and their machine even blinks it on screen that a form is needed. Somewhere along it's journey it's marked"no form" on the packages which have to be hand seperated for more extensive review (more than just a quick scan) before they are distributed.

That being said, I've gotten emails from senders while the book "was lost" suggesting I mark it mailed. I kindly say when I get it I will. All the while it's their lack of following the RC that made it late. So I add in the additional comments to PBS that the customs form is missing and even let the last person know. "oh well you still got it."

So am I being nit picky? I am about ready to start RWAPing for not following the RC, should I?

Date Posted: 3/19/2013 8:26 AM ET
Member Since: 9/8/2009
Posts: 620
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I would probably create an RC that indicates that a customs form is necessary when mailing.... then there would be no question as to whether you can RWAP it.  Otherwise, I'm not sure what the protoocol is.  I'll be interested to hear what members here with more experience than I have to say about this. 

Cathy A. (Cathy) - ,
Date Posted: 3/19/2013 9:42 AM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2005
Posts: 4,139
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Since you do have an RC, you can report it as a problem and select "requestor conditions not met". However, you cannot ask for your credit back if you get a book that meets the club's condition requirements, and there's really nothing the sender can do to resolve the problem, so what would you actually gain by marking these books received with a problem? You might educate one or two people who will probably never send to an APO again (I've sent out 850 books, and never had a request from an APO/FPO address), but that won't do much to solve the overall problem. 

It's an unfortunate fact of life that there are many people who are unable to read and follow simple directions, and if I were you, I think I'd just decide that making them wait until the book is received to get their credit is punishment enough. You could also change your response to the "please mark it received" messages to indicate that packages are often delayed or not delivered if the sender failed to attach the customs form as specified in the RC.

Date Posted: 3/19/2013 2:01 PM ET
Member Since: 8/3/2009
Posts: 545
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Maybe I'm being cynical, but I'm not sure that if these are people that have managed to ignore the big honkin' RC that PBS automatically attaches to orders going to APOs  - I've gotten it before and it's pretty detailed - that they will pay any attention to your personal RC either. I suppose you could craft something along the lines of "hey, please note the attached RC which tells you about the customs forms; these are mandatory blah blah blah and if they aren't included then the book will be delayed while it's security scanned and may time out, please contact me if you have any questions and need help with the process," with your username. I can't imagine it would make things worse, and it might help with some senders.

(It is a little weird, cognitively, that you need a customs form when sending to what looks like a regular US address, with zip code and all. I'd imagine a lot of people have no idea what APOs are or how that whole system works.)

A note re the PO employees not catching that the form was necessary when the package was sent - at some point in the past, there was a size minimum for APO packages under which you didn't need a customs form. I don't know the details of when that changed or what the limit was, but I distinctly remember sending some MMPBs to APO/FPO addresses and not needing a form, but I did for heavier books. Maybe it was a pound limit? Anyway, the postal clerks may be regressing to the old rules.

Date Posted: 3/19/2013 3:36 PM ET
Member Since: 5/16/2011
Posts: 64
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Thank you for your insight everyone. Guess I've calmed down and have adjusted my RC similar to what Laura suggested. And Laura you could be right about the weight limit at one point for APOs. Just figured they have gotten so strict about Package sizes, it would be hard to over look. Also as it was explained once to me, even though an American postal worker/military member may be the only ones to handle the mail bag, it still arrives at a foreign airport that has its own customs rules.
Date Posted: 3/19/2013 7:14 PM ET
Member Since: 4/28/2009
Posts: 9,723
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I had an APO address in Germany when I joined PBS in 2009--  a number of books on their way to me went "lost" before arriving, usually just a week late.  ALL of them had properly completed custom forms so it's NOT the lack of the customs form that's making them arrive late.

Date Posted: 3/19/2013 7:56 PM ET
Member Since: 2/23/2008
Posts: 170
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I've mailed books to APO addresses and filled out the custom forms. All went lost and were never marked received. That's why I don't mail to APO addresses anymore.

Date Posted: 3/19/2013 8:51 PM ET
Member Since: 1/2/2006
Posts: 575
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I've only ever received one APO request. I took the book wrapped to the PO and argued with the postal clerk about the customs form. She insisted I didn't need one. I did have DC printed from PBS so after arguing and at her instance, I didn't fill out the form. I figured with the DC at least we could follow the progress of the book. To my relief  the book was marked received within 2 weeks of mailing.

 

Date Posted: 3/19/2013 9:35 PM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2009
Posts: 11,807
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Sorry to hear about your problem.  I am an AF Vet and USPS retiree, so I would be happy to mail books to you, if that helps.  I looked at your wishlist but do not have anything you want.  I'll keep an eye out for the ones you are looking for when I go book browsing.

It was true that a while back no customs form was needed, then there became two customs forms and it was easy to get mixed up, especially if it is a small Post Office which does not have POS.  Now I have no idea if they still have two forms or not.

Date Posted: 3/19/2013 9:40 PM ET
Member Since: 8/27/2005
Posts: 4,133
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Just last week I mailed a book to an APO address (this was not a PBS book but a personal package).  I made a special trip to the post office, assuming I needed a customs form.  The clerk weighed it, put the zip code in, and told me this address didn't need a form because it was under 16 ounces.  That didn't sound right, but if it was telling her that on her system I wasn't going to argue.  (I have actually argued with clerks when I knew for sure they were wrong, but on this one I had no idea).

Diane

 

 

Date Posted: 3/20/2013 2:06 AM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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There are currently two USPS Customes forms that I am aware of.  The bigger one is for packages over 4 pounds.  The smaller one says:  Use this form...if ANY of the following applies:

   -The mailpiece weighs 16 ounces or more (4 pound maximum weight limit)
   -The mailpiece exceeds 3/4 inch thick, or
   -The mailpiece contains dutiable contents.

So it would appear that no Customs form is necessary if the pkg is under 1 pound.

Although it's possible to RWAP for not following PBS mailing guidelines (ie scotch tape), I'm not sure what proof you would have of missing Customs documentation if the package never arrives. 

Date Posted: 3/20/2013 6:51 AM ET
Member Since: 4/28/2009
Posts: 9,723
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And putting DC on an APO package to Europe won't do any good.  The packages get handed over to the military in NY so USPS doens't get hold of them til they arrive at the person's servicing USPS office and finally get scanned again. (the zip code for APOs actually looks like a NY zip code)

Date Posted: 3/20/2013 3:03 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Hey Jeanne, I didn't realize APO packages would be scanned at the destination.  I've always figured once they left the US drop point that would be the last scan, so never checked after that. Once again, ya learn something new every day if you're not careful!

Date Posted: 3/21/2013 7:37 AM ET
Member Since: 5/16/2011
Posts: 64
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having had a discussion with my postal workers, it is possible to track them especially with a DC. the packages are all scanned and I have had them tracked through the military system it just takes a bit of leg work on my part and having as much info on the package as possible.

As far as it isn't the lack of customs form that created the late/lost in the mail, why yes it is when it's stamped with "delayed by customs- no form ####". This is how I can confidently say that it's the lack of form because someone is paying attention along the way. 

@Sarah H- sorry to hear you wont mail to APO's anymore. I'll have to keep that in mind.

@Priscilla - thank you for mailing to APO's. I've checked out your shelf a couple of times before, you have alot of books that would interest my husband. so keep posting!

@everyone else- Please send to APO's! we don't always have huge libraries to choose from and book prices can get expensive!  I've promoted PBS & PBS users to alot of people all over the world for the ease of use & selection. please don't make me into a liar!!