Monday, May 10, 2010

Misuse of Priority Mail Supplies

I wish people would quit using priority mail supplies for media mail packages.

The priority mail markings were partially visible along one side of the box, which made it that much easier for USPS to notice the problem.

I debated about contacting the seller, which is what I normally do. In this case, I decided not to worry about the extra $8.22 that I had to pay to receive the package. This was one of those transactions in which the seller bungled the description and got significantly less than the books are worth. The seller charged only $4.00 media mail postage, obviously not aware that eBay allows sellers to use the calculator to charge more than that amount. The seller paid $7.08 to ship the books media mail, taking a loss on postage.

Since the seller undercharged me in the first place, I really only had to pay $5.14 more than the seller's postage cost. This is still too much, but as I stated, the books sold for well below value. I decided not to worry about it.

On the same day that I received this package, I received two other packages. One of the other packages had brown paper wrapped around a priority mail box. That one made it through without getting noticed. If that package had been inspected, I would have had to have paid approximately $9.50 to receive it. So, two out of the three packages received on this particular date had priority supplies misused for media mail.

I received one or two packages during the previous week in which sellers used priority supplies for media mail. It seems to be more common than it once was. I guess these sellers do not realize that they can buy boxes from in bulk for under $1.00 each when purchasing quantities as low as 25 boxes.


beautifulshell said...

I also wish people would quit using flimsy cardboard envelopes for books - one arrived empty today for me. :(

Jennifer White said...

That's horrible! I hate it when something like that happens, because I know I will never receive the book.

I received another package today which consisted of a priority mail box turned inside-out and mailed media mail. This one was not caught by USPS.

Paula said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paula said...

I don't mind if the seller turns a *used* Priority Mail box inside out for media mail, as I consider this recycling. But when they use a *new* Priority Mail box, let's be clear - it is stealing. People wonder why postage costs keep rising - well, the theft of Priority Mail supplies for other uses is one reason. And we all end up paying for it in the end.

I have a tip for anyone who needs free boxes, or any packing supplies (such as peanuts or bubble wrap): join your local FreeCycle group online and respond to an "offer" or post a "seek" message for the items you need. FreeCyclers try to keep things in use in our communities by re-using and recycling items that might normally get thrown away. Packing supplies are common items that get recycled in this manner. Everything is free, but one of the rules is "No reselling" - the items are supposed to go to others who can use them themselves.

Jennifer White said...

From 1997 to around 2002 or so, I recycled all boxes that I received in the mail. I quit because the process of turning the boxes inside-out and making them durable enough for a second mailing became too time-consuming. I also found it to be too difficult searching through the stack of boxes that I had flattened to find boxes that my orders would fit in.

I reused the priority boxes for media mail, and I always kept the original postage on them so it was obvious that the boxes had already been used. Before I quit recycling boxes, I learned that the postal service does not like the priority boxes to be reused for media mail. While it seems a bit extreme, I believe that USPS has instructed employees to classify media mail packages with any priority markings as postage due regardless of whether the box was used already.

Once I realized this, I quit reusing the priority boxes for media mail. I did not want to give the appearance of doing something wrong, even though the boxes were used.

I still save some of the priority mail boxes, but only for the occasional priority shipment. I purchase four sizes of boxes from Uline, and these boxes cover all of my media mail shipping needs. It has made my life much easier than when I recycled boxes.

Sellers also take the priority mail labels that come on rolls and use them as tape inside media mail packages. This disgusts me. These people are so cheap that they save having to use six or eight inches of tape by taking priority mail labels to affix bubble wrap around books.

Anyone selling items on the internet should be able to afford using six to eight inches of tape. If not, then those people should not be selling on the internet.

The postal service is planning to discontinue Saturday mail because of a huge budget deficit, and people are taking complimentary supplies and using them instead of buying their supplies.

Paula said...

Today, I received 2 books totally unwrapped inside a brand new priority mail box which was wrapped in brown paper on the outside - P.O. did not catch it. I really detest it when sellers do this!

Also, I received another package today in a very unexpected way. Could've cried when I saw it. It was sent by USPS but instead of being in my mailbox, the UPS guy (*not* the post man - UPS delivery man) rang my bell and told me he found it in the middle of the street a couple of blocks from my house. The envelope was wet, opened, and obviously had been run over by cars, and the book inside badly damaged. (see pics below)

The ebay seller who I bought this from states in her item description: "Seller is not responsible for any damage done to the item once the item leaves the possession of the Seller." I contacted the seller anyway, optimistically hoping for an amicable solution. Ebay sellers can *say* all they want that they are not responsible for getting the item to the buyer in the stated condition, but they *are*. Sellers can purchase insurance to protect their product in transit, or accept that they will be responsible for a full refund if the goods arrive damaged or are lost. This item didn't even have delivery confirmation. If the UPS guy hadn't been kind enough to bring it to me and explain, I never would have received it. I feel sorry for the seller as it was not her fault, but I still expect my full refund. What do you think of this and what would you do in this case? I did go to the P.O. but they won't do anything of course because it was not insured.

Jennifer White said...

That is pretty bad. I've had some bad damage to items received, but that is worse than any I can remember offhand.

I agree that the seller is responsible. This is why I always use a box, although I understand that a box offers no protection from being run over by a vehicle. Sometimes no matter how well an item is packaged, damage will occur.

Even when the seller is not at fault as in this case, the seller still owes a refund. If the seller does not agree to fully refund your purchase, file a claim against the seller. I hate having to do that, but sometimes it is necessary. EBay is changing it to where sellers are going to be evaluated by how many claims are filed, so the seller should be willing to refund you. Sure, the seller won't be happy, but that is a cost of doing business. Some transactions result in a total loss, and the buyer should not be the one to take the loss.

Paula said...

Oh, yes, this unfortunate example shows exactly why all collectible books should be shipped in boxes and certainly not just thrown into a bubble envelope! Although boxes aren't indestructible, especially if they get wet, they offer more protection and are harder for the postal workers to damage, ignore, lose, or misplace. Also, if the package has a delivery confirmation number, I think it is handled with more care as the P.O.'s accountability is increased, and the tracking can pinpoint where a problem occurred. In addition, Delivery confirmation numbers give us seller proctection. I think it's well worth the 19 cents extra that I pay when I generate my shipping labels through Paypal.