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Topic: USPS Damaging Books

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officerripley avatar
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Subject: USPS Damaging Books
Date Posted: 8/1/2007 8:01 PM ET
Member Since: 10/29/2005
Posts: 1,520
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Has anybody else been having this problem?  Starting last May, I have received 4 different PBS books all from different senders in different states, that have been damaged.  They all have been crunched--kind of an accordian-looking crunch--on at least one end, or all the way through, 3 of the 4 so damaged that, although they're readable, I won't be able to repost them on PBS.  (Which is so frustrating: all 3 are on several PBSers wish lists, one has 25 PBSers waiting for it!  Sigh.)  I'm sure that it's not the senders' fault because they came to me from all over and all were well-wrapped; I just know it's gotta be the USPS.  So anyway, after several frustrating phone calls to USPS and a trip to my local USPS office, I finally got ahold of a USPS gal who told me that it's most likely happening at the Sacramento USPS hub--I live in Northern Calif.--and that it's their new sorting machines.  I said, "Well, maybe something's wrong with the machines?"  And she said, "Oh, no; nothing's wrong with the machines; they're new!  It's just the nature of these machines that every time they're run, there are always going to be at least one or two pieces of mail that get caught in them and crunched; it's just the way these machines are designed."  Can you believe this?  And she said "You know, as long as you choose to send stuff Media Mail, you really have no recourse for damaged mail like you would if you had sent it First Class."  It's like somebody said in an earlier post, they really don't want us using Media Mail, do they?

Generic Profile avatar
Date Posted: 8/1/2007 11:15 PM ET
Member Since: 2/25/2007
Posts: 73
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Actually, the other irritating thing here is that unless it is insured, damaged is not covered in either case, so it does not matter which way you send it. Based on that information alone, I would have to guess (and i work for a northern CA post office) that she was basing the machine information on false data. I have not seen increased incidents of this happening in our office.

mpmarus avatar
Friend of PBS-Silver medal
Date Posted: 8/2/2007 4:28 PM ET
Member Since: 6/23/2005
Posts: 379
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You did not talk to the right person, obviously (not your fault, but as Jean pointed out, when that person gave you wrong info on recourse/rates, she revealed that she didn't know what she was talking about). If you call back, ask to speak to a supervisor. Or even someone in machine maintenance!

edited to add 3 phone numbers for USPS in Sacramento
(916) 556-3406
(916) 373-8157
(916) 556-3418

And post your squished books in the Book Bazaar. Very often folks will take books on their WL regardless of condition (I know I will, and I'm not alone). Offer them for free with any order or just free...


Last Edited on: 8/2/07 4:42 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Generic Profile avatar
Date Posted: 8/8/2007 1:42 PM ET
Member Since: 7/15/2007
Posts: 18
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I have only recieved one damaged book and it was very very minimal damage. just a little gouge through the paper and everything on the bottom of the book.

Bravescatz avatar
Date Posted: 8/10/2007 9:25 PM ET
Member Since: 1/12/2007
Posts: 1,305
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I got one a week or so ago just like that. If it hadn't been taped all the way around it would have torn the wrapping. The book was a couple of days from going lost and was mailed when it was posted because of the post mark. So it took forever for them to damage my book and get it to me without even a note of apology.

lilynlilac avatar
Date Posted: 8/12/2007 10:39 AM ET
Member Since: 3/6/2006
Posts: 3,070
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My books are always getting damaged (PBS, ebay, Barnes and NOble, etc) because my mailman literally crams everything in.  I peeked out the window once to see if it was his truck I heard and I literally caught him hanging out his window, cramming stuff into my box with two hands.  He saw me and took off.  I had 3 books, 2 magazines, and a bunch of regular mail.  My box is loose from the post now because I almost ripped it off the post trying to get my items out.  Complained to the PO and never heard anything back (this was well over a year ago.)  Two of those books were brand new, ordered from independent publishers, and worthless by the time I opened the packages and had them in my hands.

Generic Profile avatar
Friend of PBS-Silver medal
Date Posted: 8/12/2007 5:31 PM ET
Member Since: 12/21/2006
Posts: 315
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Michelle: make a written complaint. No, seriously. Write a nice, civil, but very detailed standard business-style letter. Make sure to put your full 10-digit zip+4 code in your return address so it's simple for them to figure out who your carrier is. Include details and dates, if you have them; clear printouts of photos of damaged mail can also help.

Sign it and send it to your regional postmaster (by which I mean, the postmaster for the first three digits of your zipcode -- I live in 60644, so the 606** postmaster is my regional postmaster). The website should have a list of all the regional-and-higher postmasters.

Also make a note of the phone number of the office you send it to. Give it two weeks, then if you don't get a response, *call*. Write down the name of the person who answers the phone (knowing everyone's secretary's name sometimes helps a LOT in terms of getting them to go an extra mile or two for you), and take notes on the phone call. Be polite and calm, but FIRM. There is no reason for your carrier to  be regularly destroying your mail, and the USPS chain of command needs to know about it.

If your first-three-digits postmaster won't do anything about it, go to your first-two-digits postmaster, and so on. Allow a couple of weeks for each round of correspondence (on paper). Be sure to include copies (clearly marked 'copy' and "sent on [the date it was sent on] to [full name of person sent to]") of all previous rounds of correspondence each time you write to a new level of hierarchy.

I guarantee your problem will go away within a couple of months.

TP avatar
Standard Member medalPrintable Postage medal
Date Posted: 8/24/2007 5:05 PM ET
Member Since: 3/24/2006
Posts: 7,188
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I just received a book that looks like a machine ate one side of it.  It's well wrapped in 2 sheets of paper and lots of tape.  The machine managed to rip it's way through the tape even. 

Very frustrating.  I thought a post man who manages to stuff as much as he can into a mail box was bad but book eating machines are even worse!\

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