Newman! >:\

07.25.05 | 4 Comments

You can’t see my crinkled angry face, but I’m making it.

I sell things on eBay and half.com from time to time. I recently sold a book. The United States Postal Service has a service called Media Mail® that has special eligibility requirements for permissible contents. Books at least eight pages are eligible. Per my customer’s shipping request and the rules of Media Mail®, I sent the book at the Media Mail® rate. I have never and would never abuse this service.

So imagine my surprise when I received a letter from the Postmaster of my local post office stating that my recent mailing did not qualify for the Media Mail® rate. It goes on, listing the rules, all of which I followed. Then, at the bottom of the letter, hand scrawled is “Used Priority Envelope.” I can only assume by this insufficiently descriptive phrase that someone has taken issue with my choice of envelope.

As I mentioned, I regularly ship via the USPS. During a particularly abundant string of auctions on eBay, the nice lady at the post office noticed my frequent visits there and gave me an enormous stack of Priority Mail® envelopes so I could package my items at home and save time. Very kind of her. As a Priority Mail® customer, one gets envelopes, boxes, and tape as appropriate for one’s items. I understand that if I use a Priority Mail® envelope, I pay for the service. In this instance, I did in fact use a Priority Mail® envelope; however, it was one that had an incorrect address from a previous eBay auction, and, not one to waste an otherwise perfectly usable envelope, I had turned it inside out and placed my bubble wrapped book inside (along with a standard sized Post-it® note with a simple “Thank you for your purchase” message to my customer, just so we all know what was in the total package). My shipment said nothing about being Priority Mail®, and the item inside was eligible for Media Mail®. I am legit.

Nowhere in any description I found of the Media Mail® service is anything said about in what the eligible item may or may not be packaged. Per the rules, I know that my package is subject to inspection – that’s fine, because I have nothing to hide. The fact is that I followed the rules, and if they’re going to take issue with a recycled envelope, they should say so in their rules.

Historically I have had absolutely nothing against the USPS; quite the contrary. I regularly use their services to ship cookies and other items to friends and family, and it is my shipping method of choice when I buy and sell online. My Granddad was a letter carrier for thiry eight years before he retired, so USPS employees generally have a special place in my heart. I have always felt that the long lines and sometimes surly service at the counter were things I could overlook.

But now, as this letter tells me, my package has been sent to the recipient postage due. I have contacted my customer to explain what happened and to say that I will reimburse him for any postage due; I’m sure everything will work out just fine, but how embarrassing. I’m writing a letter to my unnamed and mysterious “Postmaster” to point out that I did nothing wrong.

The whole thing has really soured my opinion of the place.


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