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Topic: Do I need to wrap a cereal box before I mail it?

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Subject: Do I need to wrap a cereal box before I mail it?
Date Posted: 10/31/2007 2:01 AM ET
Member Since: 12/21/2005
Posts: 1,012
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I hope this isn't too silly a question, but I couldn't easily find the answer so here goes:

I have an order that fits well into a large oatmeal box--do I need to disassemble the box and reassemble it inside out (so that it's "blank") or do I need to wrap it?  Or can I just tape the mailing label on and send it as is?

Thanks in advance for any insight those of you who work for USPS or who're more familiar with what's allowed can provide!

Date Posted: 10/31/2007 2:16 AM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2005
Posts: 6,421
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Nope, the only time you have to wrap or cover a box would be one that has special instructions for the original contents. Such as if you had a box that originally held glass and it is marked Fragile all over it. Or had something that required a special temperature restriction, or other special handling. Because if any part of those special requirements can be seen or become visable, the PO is required to treat it as tho the original contents are in there, and that will result in a rate change, and will become expensive.

I've received shoes, cereal, diapers, oatmeal, and a variety of other things, all of which look remarkably like books :)

Bast -
Date Posted: 10/31/2007 7:21 AM ET
Member Since: 6/4/2006
Posts: 547
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Actually, yes, you are supposed to cover all markings on the box. (Sorry, Sherry!) Many post offices have a poster up that says the following: If you are reusing a box, cover all previous labels and markings with heavy black marker or adhesive labels.

This is from the USPS site: http://tinyurl.com/fjvls

I personally use brown tape from wal-mart to cover the previous labels and marking.

 

And if the oatmeal box isn't corregated, the odds of it arriving are lessened as it's not really meant for mailing.

 

 

Date Posted: 10/31/2007 11:17 AM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,800
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The only writing I've ever been asked to mark out are bar codes.   I've mailed in all kinds of boxes and never been even questioned by them.  I think a cereal box for a book would give them the same protection plain paper would and maybe a bit more.    You can NOT use a box that has held alcohol!  

If you are reusing a box, cover all previous labels and markings with heavy black marker or adhesive labels. I take that to mean any labels and markings put on their by the PO.     I could be wrong - have been so before!



Last Edited on: 10/31/07 11:20 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 10/31/2007 12:30 PM ET
Member Since: 6/19/2007
Posts: 12
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It is basically up to the PO, my PO is VERY laid back, lets me do whatever, but I have used other "uptight" POs that want everything to look pristine. 

Date Posted: 10/31/2007 1:05 PM ET
Member Since: 3/13/2006
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I've been on the receiving end of packages like these and the senders always have turned the box inside out.  It's worked great!

Bast -
Date Posted: 10/31/2007 8:16 PM ET
Member Since: 6/4/2006
Posts: 547
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Cozette - you're probably right re: the cereal box thing - I've just seen some 'horror stories' in regards to mailing. :) And yes, as Paige says, it depends on the post office, really, but the word is that you're supposed to cover everything. *wry grin*

Date Posted: 10/31/2007 10:57 PM ET
Member Since: 12/21/2005
Posts: 1,012
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Hmm... thanks very much, everyone!  It sounds like it *might* be OK, but it will depend on the leniency of my PO... I might give it a try and see.  I do often flip the boxes inside out, but I don't know if I have the energy to do that tonight--too much Halloween-ing with the kids earlier today! ;)  I'll let you know how it turns out...

Date Posted: 10/31/2007 11:27 PM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,800
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I DID send a huge set of books once in a Baby wipes carton and the gal at the post office gave me a hard time about it!   I could hardly believe it.   She said IF I used a baby wipe box then I had BETTER be mailing baby wipes and nothing else!!! YIKES!!!!!  Her supervisor soon straightened her out and the books I mailed arrived fine.   This was not at my normal PO and when I told them about it, they thought it was hilarious!     LOL  Like they said - depends on where you are doing your mailing, I guess.

Date Posted: 11/1/2007 12:52 AM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2005
Posts: 6,421
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Sheri, when the PO says previous labels and markings, they are referring to those which could be construed as part of the mailing instructions, not all exterior information on the box.  If the box is something that has been mailed or shipped before, it may have a barcode, shipping instructions, or various other instructions or references to the contents, but those are the only kinds of things you need to worry about. I've received tons and tons of boxes from cereal, shoes, computer parts, etc. You've never received any kind of reused box? Anything but a priority or express box can be reused, and you only have to black out anything having to do with specific restrictions regarding handling or contents that are restrictive.

Date Posted: 11/1/2007 5:14 PM ET
Member Since: 8/24/2005
Posts: 504
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To be on the safe side when I re-used a box with a particularly loud graphic design and to make the mailing label stand out among the original writing and pictures on the box, I wrapped the box in wide painter's tape. I think it was purple so it was garish but it obscured the original box and gave an extra layer of reinforcement to the box.

The receiver commented on it but the USPS didn't and that's all I was looking for.

 

Date Posted: 11/1/2007 8:33 PM ET
Member Since: 12/21/2005
Posts: 1,012
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OK, well, it worked at my PO today--I used a large (warehouse-size) Wheat Thins box and a similarly sized oatmeal box without turning them inside out.  I did use plenty of packing tape and placed the mailing labels on the bottom end (the side without any writing or graphics on it).  I'll assume they're fine unless I hear from the recipients otherwise :)

Thank you again everyone, for all your help!

Date Posted: 11/4/2007 3:33 PM ET
Member Since: 10/6/2005
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Just an FYI there was a thread about this in the PBS ?s forum not long ago and someone mentioned that we really shouldn't be using food boxes to ship because what if someone has serious allergies to the contents of the item that was originally in the box - the kind of allergies that even the leftover scent can trigger a reaction.

Date Posted: 11/4/2007 4:30 PM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,800
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I am not unsympthatic to those with allergies.  However, if your allergy is that servere I HOPE you have conditions so I'd know to be extra careful.    I can not second guess everything I might use to send a book.    And this isn't aimed towards you Bren - I know you are just passing the message along.      

Date Posted: 11/4/2007 4:49 PM ET
Member Since: 12/18/2005
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I reuse Amazon.com boxes a lot. Their boxes have barcodes, which I black out. I also black out the Amazon logo (the bent arrow?) so the receiver won't be confused as to where it's coming from!

Date Posted: 11/5/2007 11:43 AM ET
Member Since: 5/29/2007
Posts: 13,347
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I believe SherRY is correct.  I just mailed a box today that I reused from Amazon and I only blacked out the bar codes.  Went into PO and mailed it thru a mail clerk and it was easy peasy.

Date Posted: 11/5/2007 12:53 PM ET
Member Since: 1/24/2007
Posts: 50
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I found out the hard way about marking out bar codes and the like on packages. Be sure to mark out the ORM statement on packages. I re-used a box from a beauty shop and didn't mark that out. I shipped an eBay purchase to a lady by Fed Ex who needed it in a hurry. Anyway, Fed Ex sent it back to me as the ORM marking denotes aerosol sprays which can't go by air. 

Vicki C.

Date Posted: 11/7/2007 6:13 PM ET
Member Since: 12/21/2005
Posts: 1,012
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Thanks for the reminder about allergies, Bren--I do agree with Cozi that those with such severe allergies should likely have conditions that make them clear.  And thanks to everyone else with helpful info on which markings to be sure to obliterate :)  And I did hear from one recipient that their package arrived safely, so hooray!

L. G. (L)
Date Posted: 11/11/2007 7:01 AM ET
Member Since: 9/5/2005
Posts: 12,412
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I have reused a number of boxes from various things such as Pepsi, Cheerios, toys, diapers (outer wrap), etc.  Sherry is correct in that the only things you have to mark out are things that could interfere with shipping such as previous labels, bar codes, symbols, etc.

 

Date Posted: 11/11/2007 11:58 AM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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Last Edited on: 1/16/12 11:13 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 11/11/2007 6:06 PM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,800
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I certainly agree that if the books moves in the package - envelope or box - then it will tear.   I assumed that no one would just put the book in the box and send it.   I was imagining cuting the box to fit around the book and taping it securely.   Shifting around is not good no matter what the books is wrapped in.

Date Posted: 12/3/2007 11:22 PM ET
Member Since: 11/28/2007
Posts: 285
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The big thing we at the P.O. insist on having marked out is Liquor boxes! A lot of people pick up boxes at the liquor store to mail things in because they're very sturdy and well-made. The problem is that you not only can't ship alcoholic beverages thru the mail, if you use the boxes everything on the box that refers to the brand name and the contents must be completely blocked out. I've had to return a box to one of my favorite customers for this reason, even though I knew right away what was in the box (books, of course.)