EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 14 - May 20, 2000 - ISSN 1528-6703     4 of 9

Alert: Priority Shipping Turned Inside Out

By Michele Alice

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In order to save money (natch!) when mailing a book or videotape, I sometimes will turn a Priority video box inside out and mail the item Special Standard. I save on the cost of the box (it's free from the Post Office), and postage is at least half of the Priority rate (something a customer usually appreciates). I had recently noticed that each video box was now being stamped USPS numerous times on the inner surface, but I hadn't given it any serious consideration.

Well, the other day, I took a couple of books so packaged to my local post office. Upon handing them to the postwoman for weighing, she noticed the USPS letters showing ever so slightly through the brown packaging tape. She said, "You're using Priority boxes for these, aren't you?" I answered in the affirmative, whereupon she informed me that the postal service had instructed its workers to check boxes they thought might be Priority, and if they were being used for anything else, to charge the HIGHER rate!

I questioned whether this applied even though the item being shipped was a book, and she said yes. She accepted the packages at the book rate, but warned that there could be trouble "down the line."

I wanted to double-check this information, so I called the post office in the next town. I explained the situation to the postmaster, and he confirmed that anything shipped in a Priority box (even if the box were inside out) is supposed to be charged Priority rate. In fact, he went further and told me that even if such a box were to make it past my local post office, the RECIPIENT of the box could be charged the extra postage if it was "caught on the other end."

Believe me, the LAST thing you would want is your customer being charged for extra postage! So, though I will still ship books and tapes Special Standard (book rate), I will be sure to use ANYTHING BUT Priority supplies!

About the author:

Michele Alice is EcommerceBytes Update Contributing Editor. Michele is a freelance writer in the Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. She collects books, science fiction memorabilia and more! Email her at makalice @ eBay ID: Malice9

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