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Topic: The Media Mail Nightmare Continues ....

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Subject: The Media Mail Nightmare Continues ....
Date Posted: 9/5/2007 3:55 AM ET
Member Since: 8/14/2007
Posts: 131
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I recently went to a smaller PO rather than the main office I usually frequent. The clerk asked me three times if there was anything other than books in my Media Mail packages. Then she proceeded to tell me that the USPS opens Media Mail packages to make sure that only books are inside!!!!

Is this really the case? The way I tape my book packages, the addresses will be torn off if anyone tries to open them.

Has anyone else had this happen to them? I can't believe that they are so untrusting that they think I'll lie to save 40 cents on postage.

Could this be why so many book transactions are lost in the mail?

Date Posted: 9/5/2007 5:20 AM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2005
Posts: 6,421
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I don't believe it is in anyway why books are lost, because when they open a package to inspect it, if it does not wrap back up nice and secure, they put it into a plastic bag and send it on.

As to whether it's real or not. Absolutely!

Why? Because of thousands of eBay sellers and other people that not only save that .40 cents, but several dollars to tens of dollars at a time by using Media Mail instead of Parcel Post.

A 10 pound box going MM costs $5.19 sending it Priority if it fits in the one-rate box is only $8.95, but if it doesn't fit, then it goes Parcel at $12.12 or Priority at $16.95  BIG DIFFERENCE and definitely more than .40 cents! Then multiply that times thousands of people deciding they aren't in a hurry and they'll use the slow media mail rate and save a ton of money. Yeah, you get the idea.

Lastly, yes, I have had several packages opened on their way to me. They either have a sticker on them or arrive in the plastic bag with a note.

Date Posted: 9/5/2007 8:14 AM ET
Member Since: 2/28/2007
Posts: 2,164
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Yes, they are allowed to inspect media mail and they do.  However, I have never had it happen to me in the 50 or so books I've received, and I've never had a book go lost en route in the 50 or so I've mailed out.  So, does it happen?  Yes.  Is it a big deal?  Not really.

Date Posted: 9/5/2007 9:24 AM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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Last Edited on: 1/16/12 12:42 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/5/2007 9:54 AM ET
Member Since: 1/21/2007
Posts: 2,024
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I never received something inspected but I got inspected big time last year before Christmas. They opened 6 of my envelopes. The clerk took her time and, well, there were 40 people behind me with only two open counters. I thought that was really embarassing. :-S
Date Posted: 9/5/2007 12:50 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
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this is why I wrap the book in the wrapper, it is pretty obvious that this is a book and not something else...or at least it is obvious to me!

Date Posted: 9/5/2007 4:40 PM ET
Member Since: 1/11/2007
Posts: 1,534
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I received a PBS package yesterday that had been opened, inspected, and resealed.  It was stamped on the package that it had been inspected. 

Date Posted: 9/12/2007 1:30 PM ET
Member Since: 7/31/2006
Posts: 189
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As far as I am concerned, the Post Office has a right to inspect packages taht are marked media mail.  They also have a responsibility to make sure they are resealed (or rewrapped so that they're secure) and arrive at their destination despite inspection.  If they inspect packages and find cheaters, good for them!  That is one less postal increase that we'll have to pay (ideally).

Date Posted: 9/12/2007 1:46 PM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2005
Posts: 379
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They obviously have a legal right, which I fully support. The Domestic Mail Manual, section 173 covers Media Mail, though, and I don't see anywhere in there where it says the USPS can choose NOT to inspect it and still require a postage upgrade.

Am I missing it or can someone point me somewhere else?

I don't mind letting them check up on me to make sure I'm not misusing MM; I most definitely mind them choosing not to actually make the check and treating me (well, my package) like I broke the rules.

http://pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/173.htm to DMM 173 (Media Mail regs)

Date Posted: 9/12/2007 3:31 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,234
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Mary - so someone made you pay a higher rate without checking what was in the package? Was the wrapping any USPS shipping products from higher level of service? That is the only reason that I can see that they would be able to charge more without confirming that the product really wasn't media mail.

Date Posted: 9/12/2007 3:38 PM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2005
Posts: 379
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No, it hasn't actually happened to me, thanks. But from what Brandy posted above, it COULD happen and I'm trying to understand how.

I know they can require you pay Priority Mail rates if you're using PM wrappers or boxes, even if you're recycling (using previously used stuff).

Not a problem and I'm not trying to be argumentative, just trying to understand...

Date Posted: 9/12/2007 5:04 PM ET
Member Since: 3/19/2007
Posts: 105
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I think the comment came from Brandy originally not Mary.   From reading her post it sounds like Brandy may be a postal employee.  Mary was just pointing out that she didn't see anything in the regs covering more charges without inspection.  

I know all of the employees at my local P.O. and they deal with the MM abuse quite a bit but have never questioned any of the packages that I've brought in.  I don't think any of the packages that I've received have been inspected either.

Date Posted: 9/14/2007 5:32 PM ET
Member Since: 1/15/2007
Posts: 35
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I've only had one show up as inspected.  It happens, but not enough to really effect my MM usage.  If it happened every time or even every other day it would be annoying, but once in all the trades I've ever done seems rather reasonable.

Date Posted: 9/15/2007 12:51 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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Yes I am a postal employee, I have been a window clerk as well as a parcel clerk. There is a rule that says that if it is packaged in such a way a to be difficult to inspect, we can upgrade without inspecting it. NO we are not going to look at a package with some tape on it and say its to hard to inspect so we'll upgrade it, but if it's mummified in tape and its going to take more than a minute or so to open, we have to wonder why it's so hevily concealed. I average about 85% on the packages that I inspect. 85% of the time when I open a package, it's either not media mail or it's misused priority supplies. In the last 5 years I've probably marked up ( postalese for charging more postage) 5 or 6 packages because they were packaged so I couldnt inspect them easily. That is out of the hundreds that I've inspected.

In our PO we dont regularly inspect packages, just when we get suspicous. And we ALWAYS have 2 employees on hand to witness that nothing gets taken out of the packages. I can usually spot a misused priority box or tyvek a mile away, I have seen them wrapped in paper, duct tape, flipped inside out, spraypainted, ....


we do try to use some common sense, I have NEVER inspected a PBS package because I can feel the book thru the paper, but if I felt something lumpy in it ( teabag, tassel of a bookmark,....) that would make it more likely to be opened. (I would probably let something like that slide, but thats just me) Id rather catch the big fish, get them for $s not a few  cents that we would get from a 8-9 oz package.


Date Posted: 9/15/2007 1:47 PM ET
Member Since: 5/29/2007
Posts: 13,347
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I use the PBS wrapping and make sure the logo is showing.  I also tell the clerk, before they ask, I am mailing a book for a book club I'm in, and I've never ever had a problem.  Now perhaps it's just good luck on my part and not my proactive words and actions, but so far so good.

Date Posted: 9/15/2007 5:28 PM ET
Member Since: 5/10/2007
Posts: 5,526
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Brandy, I thought I read somewhere (either in this thread or another one) that if someone were to include a bookmark or something that wasn't media that it was ok as long as it wasn't the largest % of the package.  so a bookmark or maybe a tea bag (which would be a cool idea with Laura Child's tea shop series) would be ok (from what I remember)

Date Posted: 9/15/2007 7:59 PM ET
Member Since: 7/18/2005
Posts: 209
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No Leslie, that isn't OK.  Media Mail is just for that.  An invoice, short statement,  etc. as long as they pertain to the book.  Tea bags, book markers, etc. are not considered Media.

As I've posted a few times, media mail was started to give people access to books.  It is a heavily dicounted rate (after you get past the first few ounces anyway) and it is offered for that purpose only.  As it is the USPS loses money on most Media Mail.  They take a dim view of people using it to mail stuff that should go as First Class, Priority, or Parcel Post.

Something customers sometimes have a hard time grasping is that mail classes are determined by content, not what the customer wants to do.  A customer can always upgrade to a higher class, like sending a baseball to someone First Class or Priority but they can't go down by sending parcel post articles (like the baseball) as Media Mail.  First Class material (letters, correspondence, etc,) can't be downgraded to Parcel, Media, etc.

Date Posted: 9/17/2007 2:14 PM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2005
Posts: 379
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Brandy, I wasn't trying to be argumentative, or accusing you of anything. I apologize if you felt attacked, that was not my intention.

When you or Steve have a moment (I know, yeah right <grin>), I'd be interested in the citation where I can find that rule. It's not in section 173 of the DMM.