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Mon Mar 10 2014 17:15:17

eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restrictions

By: Reader

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Dear Ina,
Apparently there is controversy once again over Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes (not the new padded ones but the original chipboard envelopes). At the center of this controversy is the following, found on the USPS website.
 
Beware of 'Priority Mail pouches'
Employees reminded of Priority Mail flat-rate policies
Posted 2/27/14 at 4:43 p.m.
USPS is reminding employees to watch out for customers improperly turning Priority Mail Flat Rate envelopes into pouches to increase their capacity.

Some customers are using social media to demonstrate how they enlarge flat-rate envelopes to take advantage of the expanded capacity while paying a lower price. However, postal regulations prohibit customers from reconfiguring Priority Mail Flat Rate packaging.

According to the Domestic Mail Manual, tape may be used on the flaps and seams to reinforce the container; “provided the design of the container is not enlarged by opening the sides and the container is not reconstructed in any way.”

If a customer has manipulated or reconstructed a Priority Mail Flat Rate envelope, the item should be weighed and zoned accordingly. The package can be accepted, but must be priced at a regular Priority Mail price - not the flat-rate charge.


What is interesting is the fact that the instruction from USPS tells counter staff that the package "must be priced at a regular Priority Mail price - not the flat rate charge." Seems to me, if a FRE has been converted into a "pouch" then the proper rate would be for the Flat Rate Padded Envelope on which there is no restriction about "pouching".
 
Either way, the memo from USPS directly conflicts with their "If It Fit It Ships" advertising for Priority Mail.
Regards,
Ric

Comments (15) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr   eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr

by: Xander This user has validated their user name.

Mon Mar 10 21:25:47 2014

We had this happen to us once a few years ago. The flat rate envelope was around 1-1/2'' thick and the customers post office decided to charge the receiving customer the difference between regular priority mail and the FRE which was around $18.00 more.

The customer contacted us stating we owed them eighteen dollars right away.

I can understand their concern but the parcel really should be returned to sender for postage due instead of billing the receiver outlandish regular rate postage.

If the USPS needs to maintain a strict stance as to how a FRE is used, it needs to do so by assuring the the initial post office is the one to reject incorrectly packaged FRE's and not further down the line. If shippers need to learn what is acceptable and what is not, the limitations need to be well defined and not loosely written or some post office employees will be making judgement calls which vary from one post office to another.

The postal service needs our support but should not try to convert ''in transit'' flat rate envelopes to regular Priority rates. In our business, we NEVER even use regular priority mail rate domestically. Everything is either flat rate or Regional rate.

And Ric makes a good point, it should be converted to the padded flat rate envelope price instead of std priority rates.

eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr   eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr

This user has validated their user name. by: elpereles
Web Site

Tue Mar 11 11:12:56 2014

It is an old ''controversy'' or issue. The problem is that some people is still sending solid items in this envelopes when it is suppose to be used only for documents, magazines, and any material with uniform thick and with the ability to bend.

I still getting items in the regular envelope when it can be fix inside a Small Flat Rate box without problem.  

eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr   eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr

by: Bidonmine This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 11 11:36:06 2014

elpereles wrote: "It is an old ''controversy'' or issue. The problem is that some people is still sending solid items in this envelopes when it is suppose to be used only for documents, magazines, and any material with uniform thick and with the ability to bend. "
-----------
There is no postal regulation stating what you have just said. You can ship anything in a flat-rate envelope as long as you do not "re-configure the envelope".

eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr   eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr

This user has validated their user name. by: WOODJUNGLE! ON EBAY

Tue Mar 11 11:38:32 2014

If you are trying to game the system and get caught, that's on you.  If you've got half a brain, I'm sure you'll figure a work around as the USPS is completely incompetent and has such a lack of oversight, it's pretty easy to get things past them.

eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr   eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr

by: PowerSeller2007 This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 11 12:23:37 2014

USPS application of rules down to the post office location are very inconsistent at best.

I now ship with pouches now.  Though the postal clerk rejected my Flat Rate Envelopes a few times for not being Flat envelopes, I have always seen them accepted others' with bulging and tapes Flat Rate Envelopes.  

Favoritism and  Discrimination factors could not be ruled out.

I have overpaid postages everyday on my packages, but a few times my parcels are returned for 4 cents postage.

Our Asian competition paid 10% of our postage cost and with tracking.   USPS delivered these to US household.  

eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr   eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr

by: Sierra This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 11 12:47:10 2014

If you want to be charged flat rate padded envelope pricing, then USE a flat rate padded envelope. It's really that simple!

eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr   eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr

This user has validated their user name. by: Tula

Tue Mar 11 15:06:02 2014

Maybe they should specify a maximum allowed thickness for these envelopes. Just last week, I received a shipment of vitamins in one of these - 4 bottles in one of those flimsy cardboard envelopes that had been mangled into a pouch-like shape. IMHO, it's too flimsy for packaging such solid items and people should be using boxes or at least padded envelopes for things like that.

eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr   eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr

by: spooky This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 11 16:55:10 2014

someone sent me a fairly large, heavy cast iron doorstop in a flat rate cardboard envelope. it made it OK but I am shocked the seller ever tried it. Certainly was against the postal rules.

eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr   eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr

by: comet This user has validated their user name.

Tue Mar 11 22:49:59 2014

I ship an item in a---spoiler alert!--I am hereby confessing to Criminal Activity!  Avert yer eyes!!!!---USPS Priority Mail box that is roughly the size of a VHS tape.  I have tons of them as they arrive FREE.  However---the COST to ship these with the lightweight item I use them FOR---a 4 to 6 OUNCE package depending on WHICH PO weighs it!!!---item is packed in tissue;  bubble wrap;  one business card added.  And then THIS is inserted into a POLY MAILER.  But----

If I used the actual BOX I would have to charge my customer about $7 (I think this is current rate)  or---I can ship for $3 in  the poly mailer I PAY for and SAVE the customer $$$.  My customers LIKE this.  

Depending on WHICH of many PO's I go to this is counted as a PACKAGE;  an ENVELOPE; Would you like this to go as Priority for 5 CENTS more?  Or ---the latest from the Bizarro World of the USPS--Would you like this to go EXPRESS OVERNIGHT for a MERE $50.00????

Um gee I'm gonna have to pass on that one thanks.

The PO itself seems unable to DECIDE what this package IS and how MUCH to charge--not so much an issue in the US but I sell a LOT of these overseas. Almost EVERY time I have to go take the packed item---I now have one ready and waiting at all times!!!!---to a PO and get the COST to ship to whatever  country the buyer is from.

IF I sell this on ebay with their crackheaded demand that it be REGISTERED and TRACKABLE---falls over laughing---then this can be $29.00.  Or--not.  The last few went for $17.00.  What the web site claims IS the right amount--so what WERE the PO's charging FOR here????  And again--there are PO's I WON'T use to send this item because of this nonsense!

Not ONE of the overseas packages I have EVER sent this way has been TRACKABLE.  Not.  One.

Any wonder I try and "steer"  overseas buyers OFF of ebay for this one?  

Hmmmm---wonder if that whole "Overseas Registered and Trackable" is part of the New And Not Improved ebay Spring Seller Hell Announcement???


eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr   eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr

by: whosaidwhat This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 12 07:05:13 2014

Almost everyone on here wants to think that sellers or anyone using these FRE are scamming the system.  Do you all realize that there would be less business for the USPS if FRE packaged this way was not allowed.  About everyone on here except a few and the authors of that press release via USPS Lite Blue says if they do this style packaging with FRE that they should be charged actual Priority weight cost.  First of all the boxes & envolopes are allowed a maximum weight of 70 lbs.  So the concern is> that if the item is packaged this way that they pay actual weight cost for their 2-3 lb or less item shipped.  But if the item weighs 10 lbs in this envelope somehow or weighs 70 lbs in a flat rate box that since this is allowed somehow that the USPS is better off with these high weighted items in a flat rate box/envelope than the person packaging their item creatively within the FRE?  

In the mailability area of the policy manual it says that items placed in envelopes that are bulky and loose have to be contained within something else within and have a uniform shape to it (not flat neccessarily) as to prevent items from breaking through envelope and possibly injuring employees etc.  

For the post office to have this article notice internally is a disgrace to many sellers who use these envelopes the way they do to stay in business.  And if I were a betting man, it seems like postal employees on here who are clueless and think this is what is effecting the bottomline of your company.

If you really want a solution that will overall hurt the USPS business more and a thousand or so ebay sellers, eliminate the FRE envelope and just provide a standard same shaped envelope and charge by weight instead. 1 lb $5.60 and go up from there.  Because there is no way if you stick to only documents that this envelope should weigh more than 1 lbs.  

If all the FRE haters of people who package their items this way and who work for post office/USPS really want to find cost savings within the organisation's shipping company, maybe you should have letter carriers look at for packages that are manipulating the weight on their packages to get them to people cheaper.  My mother received a package 18x12x5 that weighed 3 lbs and was marked as like 10 oz and shipped First Class Mail.  It was a computer magnify screen cover that she returned.  If the postal system can't monitor this within the shipping hubs thats really bad news.  Because the shipper was a Amazon seller and whether mazon or Ebay sellers that ship alot of packages they don't have someone checking weighing every package and these items are all on one scan sheet.    If no one buys my item because I now have to use a Regional Box A to ship it which automatically charges a 2 lb Priority Mail cost which can cost $7.50-$8.60 I won't have people buying my $10 item with shipping cost at 75-80%.  Maybe I should find a product the weighs 60 lbs to ship in a Priority Flat Rate Box because my shipping cost would be $12.00 instead of $48.00.

And look> tell me what 70 lb item could ship in the FRE???

Here's what the USPS policy makers say: Any amount of material may be mailed in a USPS-produced Priority Mail Flat Rate Box or Flat Rate Envelope. When sealing a FRB or FRE, the container flaps must be able to close within normal folds.  Tape may be applied to the flaps and seams to reinforce the container, provided the design of the container is not enlarged by opening the sides and the container is not reconstructed in any way.
 

eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr   eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr

by: doboy This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 12 08:23:29 2014

Dismantling a flat rate envelope and retaping the sides and top to enlarge its capacity is stealing--pure and simple.  Circumventing any postal rate such as shipping a set of dishes media rate is steaing--pure and simple.  Continued practices of this nature can result in a charge of felony.  Stealing from the government is a felony.  The USPS had to stop providing Priority shipping tape as people were taking it in droves to pack for moving.  People were inverting the boxes to ship first class and parcel post in order to circumvent the priority charge.  This is why all boxes are printed with priority on the brown inside.

This is a no brainer.  Package it as the USPS requires and you won't have a problem.  Why would anyone want to purposely steal?  Or is this just a habit as well as a sense of entitlement?

eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr   eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr

by: rudestar This user has validated their user name.

Wed Mar 12 18:08:25 2014

Just got my first Priority Flat Rate Envelope returned for extra postage. Was not enlarged.
Will be packing all my flat rate boxes with free cardboard from now on.

eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr   eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr

This user has validated their user name. by: thehosst
Web Site

Thu Mar 13 00:35:18 2014

The USPS is also returning packages if the label was printed on a Saturday or Sunday, forgetting that what keeps them alive are small business owners which don't have 225,000 employees like they do. However, they have no issue when we use stamps which can be purchased and used anytime, nor have an issue delivering a package 2 or 3 days later.  

eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr   eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr

This user has validated their user name. by: thehosst
Web Site

Thu Mar 13 01:22:09 2014

The link I added is for the USPS, here is part of the description:

See Rules & Descriptions:

When sealing a Flat Rate Envelope or Flat Rate Box, the container flaps must be able to close within the normal folds.

eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr   eBay Sellers Question Priority Mail Envelope Restr

by: SuppliesGuy This user has validated their user name.
Web Site

Wed Apr 23 19:54:54 2014

I have never ran had a package come back for lack of postage (knock on wood).  But I also dont over stuff my envelopes or padded envelopes either.  Just an FYI if you are wanting to save some money without reshaping boxes or envelopes.  Go to USPSSavings.com and fill out their form.  They will send you a free stamps.com pro account and better pricing than any of the other competitors.  For instance I only pay $4.95 for a flat rate envelope.  And I don't pay a monthly fee for Stamps.com



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