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Wed Nov 16 2016 11:13:19

Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes

By: Ina Steiner

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Cramming an item into a USPS Priority Mail flat rate envelope is okay, but the Postal Service is warning employees and customers that while a small bulge is okay, "a fully stuffed kangaroo isn't."

In a post called "Battle of the bulge - Guidance offered for overstuffed envelopes," the USPS said the practice of "manipulating or reconfiguring a Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelope by exceeding its capacity" will not save shippers money.

"Here's why: Although these packages can be accepted, they must be weighed and zoned accordingly using the regular Priority Mail price - not the flat-rate charge."

The USPS said that according to postal regulations, you can use tape 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."

The USPS's old slogan for Priority Mail was, "If it fits, it ships," but with its recent reminder advising postal workers to battle the bulge, be extra careful not to over-stuff.




Comments (17) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes   Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes

by: 27tcle This user has validated their user name.

Wed Nov 16 12:04:46 2016

Protip: Get the padded flat rate ones instead of the paper ones. A few cents more on postage but worth it. If your item is heavy, wrap it in paper and cardboard to blunt the edges then put into the FRP envelope making sure there is as little play as possible in the envelope. It won't tear through if you do this.

So long as the mailer seals where it's supposed to it ships.

Used to ship tungsten carbide dies in them. Also, the glue on these is extremely strong, and extra tape is not needed.

Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes   Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes

This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Wed Nov 16 16:30:08 2016

I agree that the Priority Mail Flat Rate Padded Envelope is the way to go as you can fit in much more for an extra 35 cents. And I often wondered how the USPS can say it can weigh up to 70 pounds as I can't imagine anyone fitting 70 pounds worth of stuff in the regular Flat Rate Envelope.  

Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes   Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes

by: exdwh This user has validated their user name.

Wed Nov 16 17:45:54 2016

This is not news. Policy has not changed. Opening the sides and reconstructing the container is pretty blatant. Overzealous clerks are more of a problem than bulging envelopes. Your best bet is to avoid as many extra USPS employees as possible. We take our packages directly to the regional sorting center. Nothing is ever rejected or surcharged.

Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes   Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes

This user has validated their user name. by: Rexford

Thu Nov 17 06:39:49 2016

So I guess they dropped "if it fits it ships".  LOL

Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes   Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes

This user has validated their user name. by: Marie

Thu Nov 17 14:42:17 2016

Yes I agree.  This isn't new.  If it fits without modifying the envelope or box, it is fine.  But as soon as you have to modify it so your item fits, you've are using the wrong envelope or box.

Definitely not in the best interest of any Ebay seller to do this as it will cause you issues with your buyer when they notify you they had to pay additional postage to get there package.  Or  declined the package because of the extra postage due.  It is just not worth the headaches it can and will cause.

Do it the right way the first time will save you more time and money that trying to save a few cents.  It is just not worth it.

Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes   Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes

by: Bobodaclown This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 17 23:47:50 2016

Had issues with over zealous clerks in the past. The Postal Explorer Magazine put out contradictory info from the DMM. Ended calling Washington, they sent a message out to all offices.
Here's the link to the info below:
https://about.usps.com/postal-bulletin/2016/pb22435/html/upd
t_002.htm
Nothing
new. Here's the info:
DMM Notice: Proper Use of Flat Rate Containers

Employees are reminded of the proper use of Priority Mail Express® and Priority Mail® Flat Rate envelopes and boxes (containers).

According to Mailing Standards of the United States Postal Service, Domestic Mail Manual (DMM®), when sealing a Flat Rate Envelope (FRE) or Flat Rate Box (FRB), the container flaps must be able to close within the 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. The weight restriction for domestic Flat Rate Envelopes and Boxes is 70 lbs.

If an FRE or FRB is presented at the office of mailing and the customer has manipulated or reconstructed it, the container is accepted using weight and zone — not the Flat Rate price. A customer is not required to repackage an item unless the contents are fragile and would be at risk of damage during processing and transit.

Below are a few typical questions and answers:

Q. Is tape allowed?

A. Yes, tape is allowed on the seams and flaps of an FRE or FRB. Tape is allowed to reinforce the flaps of an FRE within its normal folds and of course to properly close a FRB.

Q. How much tape is acceptable?

A. Tape is permissible as reinforcement on the seams and flaps of a FRE or FRB to make sure the container does not break open during processing and transit. However, tape should not “encase” the FRE or FRB. Note that if a customer is using a printed Click-N-Ship® label or PC Postage Vendor label, extra tape is allowed to properly attach it to the envelope or box.

Q. What about bulges?

A. As long as the FRE or FRB can close “within the normal folds,” bulges are not a problem. “Flat” refers to the price, not to the shape.

Q. What if the FRE is too thick?

A. There is currently no maximum thickness for a FRE. “Flat” refers to the price, not to the shape.

Q. What if the FRE is stuffed so full that it’s shaped like a cylinder?

A. As long as the FRE can close within its normal folds, and as long as the sides of the FRE haven’t been reconstructed, for example by being slit and having a gusset inserted, it is fine. “Flat” refers to the price, not to the shape.

Q. What if a skillet is packed in an FRB and the handle sticks out?

A. A small bump-out of the box is okay, but if the handle actually sticks out of the box or the box is reconfigured to accommodate the skillet, it cannot be considered as a FRB    

Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes   Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes

by: BobNJ This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 17 23:49:38 2016

I have another twist on this issue. I was using USED flat rate priority mail envelopes as a stiffer inside a regular business size envelope to mail small flat items and apparently the post office scanners were picking up the barcode on the cardboard mailer INSIDE my envelope. I was given a very stern warning by the local post office to stop that practice or they were going to start charging me the Priority Mail rate.

Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes   Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes

by: Bob V. This user has validated their user name.

Thu Nov 17 23:55:08 2016

This is nothing new.  I was told most of this years ago at my local PO.

BobNJ, you should be very careful not to have any visible bar codes on packages or showing through.  With so much scanning going on you don't want to risk one being improperly interpreted.

Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes   Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes

by: Eagle This user has validated their user name.

Fri Nov 18 00:10:25 2016

BobNJ You shouldn't be using the flat rate or any priority cardboard envelope tape or box as packing material. You agree to use said material only for the shipping of Priority mail. Be happy if they only charge you a Priority rate because I want to say it's a fairly stiff fine of a few hundred $$$ to use for anything else if the postmaster wants to pursue it?

Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes   Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes

by: cash4clothesbozeman This user has validated their user name.

Fri Nov 18 01:17:27 2016

old news

Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes   Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes

by: imbloated This user has validated their user name.

Fri Nov 18 01:49:23 2016

I reported a shipper to USPS consumer affairs for using NEW express mail envelopes as padding. His response was if I brought him the package, I, the receiver, would have to pay the express rate. This is the reasoning of our government bureuocrats.

Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes   Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes

by: 1FerretsTreasures This user has validated their user name.

Fri Nov 18 04:46:56 2016

At an eBay live years ago, I was told, as above, you could use tape to secure across the flap - but no reshaping or reconfiguring envelopes (or boxes). But then had FRE's rejected for putting tape across the flap by my local clerks being told I could ONLY ''add tape to add security at the edges on the 'tabs.''' Which is rather different and far less accommodating!

So as with many things, it depends on the training of the clerks.

Re: imbloated 's issue with his complaint that was not my experience. I brought two complaints direct to my local postmaster for postal misuse of the mails and materials. One for a 20lb printer! shipped to me via media mail and another for use of priority packaging within plain packaging. He took both examples and all the details with thanks for the report.

Maybe he just tossed. Who knows. But was gracious and appreciative.

Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes   Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes

by: epuise This user has validated their user name.

Fri Nov 18 09:42:56 2016

I ship bulky items in FRE, but, mine wind up smaller when folded down, the flat often seals over the address box. Also, do know that "flat rate" Priority will be given "second fiddle" to full postage Priority if it comes to loading trucks.

Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes   Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes

by: rapidreader This user has validated their user name.

Fri Nov 18 17:48:42 2016

Unless they post the DMM rules at every postal counter (as listed by Bobodaclown's link & posting shows) you will always run the risk of some postal employee giving you grief over the Flat Rate Envelope's. Their training is inconsistent in most cases.

Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes   Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Sun Nov 20 13:41:37 2016

Be fair:  

Unless they post the [fill in the blank; applicable] rules at every [fill in the blank; customer service] counter (as [fill in the blank; official standards] shows, you will always run the risk of some [fill in the blank; applicable agency/company/orginazation] employee giving you grief over the [fill in the blank; issue/procedure at question]. Their training is inconsistent in most cases.

Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes   Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes

by: ZZ This user has validated their user name.

Mon Nov 21 16:24:37 2016

Get legal flat rate envelopes online. They don't have these at your local PO. They fit a lot more stuff and cost the same with eBay shipping.

As for clerks, I remember the days when I used to have to use them. There was this one egg shapped clerk who actually sent one of these back to my home because I taled the corners for support. This clerk always pretended he was a supervisor when he was a lowly clerk and was bounced around from office to office as even the other clerks couldn't take him for long. He loved to say no and pretend he knew the rules, but in reality even the lawyers haven't got time to learn all the rules and requlations

Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes   Warning: Don't Overstuff Priority Mail Flat Rate Envelopes

by: alaska This user has validated their user name.

Fri Mar 3 22:38:12 2017

Well, I just got a phone call from an upset Amazon customer. When my book arrived the post office charged him a $16.50 ''over stuffing'' charge (postage due) on a legal flat rate envelope. The book easily fit in the legal flat rate envelope with plenty of overlap of the flap. The envelope was not changed in any way to make it larger. This is totally bogus. I've asked him to try to get his money back by showing it to the postmaster.  



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