Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Postage Due Package with a Twist

I was not going to write about this particular situation until I received an unexpected message from the seller.

A few weeks ago, I had to go to the post office to pick up a postage due package. Fortunately, I had to wait in line to send an international package via first class mail, so I was not inconvenienced by having to pick up the package. The postage due was $5.18. The seller had used a priority mail flat rate box, wrapped it in brown paper, and sent it via media mail.

Upon opening the package, I discovered that the box was a used box. USPS sees any use of priority mail materials for other classes of mail as a violation, but in this case, the box had already been used for its original intended purpose. The seller was simply recycling the box and had not defrauded the post office.

Since my bid for the books was at least $5.18 above my winning bid, I decided that I was not out any more than I was willing to pay for the books in the first place. Furthermore, the box was used, so why bother the seller about the situation? For those who think it odd that I would not take it up with the seller, I have had some sellers respond in a very negative, irrational fashion. Recently, I decided only to contact sellers when I feel the extra postage amount made my purchase too expensive. I don't enjoy being attacked when I have done nothing wrong.

Fast forward one week, and I received a message from the seller. He asked me if I had received all of my books. I had purchased several lots of books from him. He stated that he had received a "strange letter" from my post office about how media mail is only to be used for books. Since he did not know what the letter meant, he was concerned about whether I had received the books.

Of course I knew why he had received the letter. This is the response I sent.
I have received the books. I have not opened the box of ----- books since they arrived today, and I just got home.

This is interesting that they sent you a letter, and I know why. The first package you sent me (-----) was a flat rate priority box that was wrapped in brown paper. My post office pulled off some of the brown paper and sent the package on to me postage due because of the priority box. I had to pick up the package at the post office and had to pay $5.18 postage. It had messages stamped on it saying that priority mail supplies are only to be used for priority mail, etc.

My post office is overly vigilant about inspecting incoming media mail packages for violations, so I have to pay postage due on packages fairly frequently. I usually tell the sellers and ask to be reimbursed because most of them are using new priority supplies. I noticed that the box you used appeared to be a used box, and I don't see a problem with that. Additionally, I was willing to pay a little more than the opening bid for the ----- books anyway and would have paid more if someone else had bid, so I decided not to tell you about it. I guess I should have since my post office decided to tell you, especially since it sounds like the letter didn't explain the true situation.

The post office sees it as a violation for even used priority boxes to be reused for other classes. I don't agree with the policy on used boxes, but that is how it is. I just accept it.

I will be leaving you positive feedback and fives on the DSR ratings, so you have no need to worry about anything. I always run behind on feedback, which is why I haven't left it yet.
The seller thanked me for the information since he did not realize that he was in violation of the rules. He reimbursed me for the $5.18. He thanked me for being understanding about his mistake and told me that he was refunding me because he would not have felt right if he hadn't. Isn't that a great seller?

I am a bit annoyed with the inefficiency of my post office for sending the seller a form letter that did not explain the true situation. They should have two form letters: one for media mail packages that do not contain books and the other for media mail packages mailed with priority supplies. Of course the seller was confused since he knew he mailed me only books. How was he to know what the problem actually was? How helpful is it to send a seller a message informing him of his policy violation yet not telling the actual violation? It sounds like something eBay would do to one of its sellers.


Brandi said...

THAT is a great seller indeed! Quite a few would not have even contacted their buyers to ask if everything was ok. I appreciate good seller so much!

I had one seller give me free shipping because I bought quite a few books from them in seperate auctions, and another seller upgrade my shipping to priority because I suppose they got more out of the books then they intended to.

Really good sellers are hard to come by, and I certainly appreciate the ones I do. :) Heck, 1/2 the time I'm thrilled that books show up in the condition described!


Jennifer said...

You might recall at one point in the last few months that I was having a high percentage of my eBay transactions go bad. My current and recent transactions have been with a great group of sellers who have gone above and beyond. It feels good when everything goes right.

I had another seller apologize for having to send multiple invoices due to a mistake in the first invoice. The seller had everything fixed before I saw any of the messages since I was at work, but it felt good to know that the seller was concerned about the multiple failed attempts and wanted me to have a good experience. It is the opposite of all the times when sellers send wrong invoices, and I can't get the sellers to understand how to fix them. I love having a seller who fixes the invoice before I know of a problem.

Now if everything could keep going this great!

Jennifer said...

Oh, and I had yet another seller apologize for delaying one day in getting the package mailed! Such great service!