Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of EcommerceBytes.com
Wed Jan 12 2022 20:15:02

The Mystery of Missing USPS Padded Envelopes

By: Ina Steiner

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Rumors abound about the fate of the USPS Priority Mail Flat Rate padded envelope. A seller who relies on free USPS supplies tipped us off to the disappearing postal packaging on Tuesday, sending us a link to the USPS store that showed the padded envelopes were no longer displayed. (See update at the bottom of this post for the official word from USPS.)

She also pointed to some threads on Etsy where sellers were discussing the tragedy. One thread describing the difficulties of finding the padded envelopes was started in August 2020, but it was recently resurrected when sellers once again had problems obtaining the supplies.

While the product page for the padded envelopers on USPS now displays a "page request not found" message, we were able to find a description of the mailer on the USPS website. 

On the FAQ page for "What Priority Mail Flat Rate® Envelopes Are Available," it displays the following description for padded envelopes:

Priority Mail Padded Flat Rate Envelope
All Priority Mail Extra Services except Registered Mail are available for this product.
Size:  12½ inches by 9½ inches (with the flap closed) - The envelope is lined with bubble padding to provide a little extra protection to the package contents.

So desperate were sellers that they raised the issue on today's eBay weekly chat session. (An eBay moderator responded: "I reached out to the shipping team and they weren't aware but will try to bring it up the next time they meet with USPS. Thanks for the heads up. If they come back with anything I can share, I'll let you know.")

Is it a supply issue, or a discontinuation? Typically the USPS announces when a product is going to be discontinued. We've seen plenty of warnings for months about the Postal Service discontinuing *prepaid* PM flat rate envelopes - but what sellers are discussing this week are *padded* - not prepaid - PM flat rate envelopes. 

We reached out to the Postal Service today and will update this post when we receive a response. Our reader said, "Like many online sellers, I depend on these to keep costs down." Hopefully the USPS will have some good news and will be able to clear up the mystery.

UPDATE 1/13/2022: We've been going back and forth with a USPS spokesperson since yesterday. This afternoon he confirmed in an email: "We are NOT discontinuing this product. Padded flat rate mailers are available again on our website." (We have a question back as to why it had disappeared from the USPS website in the first place.)

Here's a link to the USPS website where you can order the padded envelopes.

Comments (26) | Leave Comment | Permalink
Readers Comments

Perminate Link for The Mystery of Missing USPS Padded Envelopes   The Mystery of Missing USPS Padded Envelopes

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Wed Jan 12 21:12:24 2022

Never mind that,
A bunch of us in this area are experiencing missing mail for the last 3 weeks.
Prison is too good for the people perpetrating this.

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by: ebayout This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 13 00:10:55 2022

I buy 700 sq ft of bubble wrap on Amazon for $47.
That's 6 cents a sheet. 1 or 2 sheets will pad a std flat rate envelope.
Are things that tough?

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by: itsjustasprain This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 13 00:12:51 2022

It's a discontinuation by USPS. If you read further up in that Weekly Chat, you will find a link to a screenshot someone posted from a USPS page in which the padded envelopes are shown with a notation of "Discontinued" and "Not Available":

https://community.ebay.com/t5/Shipping/Are-USPS-Pad
ded-Flat-Rate-Envelopes-out-of-stock-or-no-longer/m-p/32612100#M406504

One
theory is that they are finally cracking down on widespread abuse of the free padded envelopes getting used as padding inside shipments instead of for the revenue mail that was intended.

Perminate Link for The Mystery of Missing USPS Padded Envelopes   The Mystery of Missing USPS Padded Envelopes

by: owl3606 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 13 00:42:29 2022

A theory is just that, a theory. Is there a theory coming up for the Small Flat Rate boxes that some sellers use as a packing material?  

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This user has validated their user name. by: cfrphoto

Thu Jan 13 00:44:32 2022

The new, lofty $9.65 Priority Mail 2-Day™ Padded Flat Rate Envelope rate is still posted on the USPS web site.

Perminate Link for The Mystery of Missing USPS Padded Envelopes   The Mystery of Missing USPS Padded Envelopes

by: leavingNY This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 13 01:07:19 2022

This will hurt sellers. I depend of them for many of my items being shipped. I am hoping it is just a supply shortage similar to the NYS DMV. When you register your vehicle in NY you get a sticker to put on the inside of your windshield. After two weeks of paying for the registration renewal online, I got an email from the NYS DMV stating they do not have any window stickers and to use the temporary registration paper that I needed to print up and display on my dashboard. OK - so these fees are increasing all the time, but NY does not have the all important sticker we need to prrevent us from being pulled over by the police ?

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by: Actual Seller This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 13 02:34:06 2022

Pretty sure they are getting rid of them so they can charge you $12.67 to ship jeans across the country instead of $8.

Boycott USPS.
Stick to UPS.

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by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 13 02:46:30 2022

I dunno about this, but I will be sure and pickup what padded envelopes I can from my local PO's.  There's a shortage of everything, including my favorite oranges, the CUTIE oranges.

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by: Jono77 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 13 04:02:16 2022

There's no such thing as free padded envelopes here in the UK.

Personally I think bubble bags are responsible for lots of damaged goods. I use cardboard envelopes. Not board backed envelopes or bubble wrap.  

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by: cvsharkey This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 13 06:08:16 2022

I see that the Express Priority Padded envelopes are still available, as are Tyvek envelopes. I do see many eBay sellers using the padded envelopes as packing materials. Maybe part of that is because newspaper for packing materials is no longer available, as they've all gone out of business. Personally, I HATE Styrofoam in any of its forms. Get a lot of that, too.

I count heavily on flat rate. And so do my customers, as they are the ones who pay for shipping. If packing in a "personal choice of boxes" had a rate close to flat rate this might not be an issue. I do see how standard size boxes are to the benefit of the vehicle transporting them.

Just don't know the answer here. Although, I always thought the weight limit of 70 pounds for flat rate was a bit high. I mean, really? What would that be? Lead?  

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by: pace306 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 13 07:08:48 2022

Didn’t know this was an issue :(

I use them from time to time and am down to my last 4.

Time to start the hunt for what ever’s left in my area!

Perminate Link for The Mystery of Missing USPS Padded Envelopes   The Mystery of Missing USPS Padded Envelopes

This user has validated their user name. by: LasVagueness

Thu Jan 13 07:41:38 2022

Inflation and supply chain issues have undoubtably impacted ‘free’ mailing supplies. Since petroleum is used to make polyethylene it makes sense plastic-based supplies would be curtailed, temporary paused, or discontinued.

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by: UB This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 13 09:10:01 2022

USPS discontinued the PREPAID STAMPED flat rate envelopes, this was announced in August until supplies last.

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This user has validated their user name. by: epuise

Thu Jan 13 09:31:34 2022

@ebayout wrote:
I buy 700 sq ft of bubble wrap on Amazon for $47.
That's 6 cents a sheet. 1 or 2 sheets will pad a std flat rate envelope.
Are things that tough?
- Has nothing to do w/ Bubble Wrap, which I & many buy/use, has to do w/ the fact that one can save up to $3.00 shipping a small heavy box from NY to CA if one inserts it in a PFRE... which is WHY, I bet, USPS wants to discontinue it.

Perminate Link for The Mystery of Missing USPS Padded Envelopes   The Mystery of Missing USPS Padded Envelopes

This user has validated their user name. by: MainelyVintage

Thu Jan 13 10:21:27 2022

Very interesting. We do not need them right now, having received them in eBay orders even as recently as this week -!

My husband and I wonder where they are manufactured, as the FR padded envelopes do not say.

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by: eBaySince2006 This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 13 10:36:44 2022

My last batch of Padded Envelopes were defective. They didn't come with a seal so I had to tape them shut. Now they disappeared. I'm hoping they will be back soon.

In the meantime I just ordered the Priority Mail Tyvek Envelopes and some bubble wrap off Amazon and I'll make my own padded envelopes.

Perminate Link for The Mystery of Missing USPS Padded Envelopes   The Mystery of Missing USPS Padded Envelopes

This user has validated their user name. by: MainelyVintage

Thu Jan 13 10:38:59 2022

According to the USPS they are being resized:

https://about.usps.com/postal-bulletin/2021/pb22581/ht
ml/info_002.htm

It
is the last line, length is being sized down by 1/8". Supply chain issue? Odd that they removed them from the store. Perhaps it will be some time before they are available?

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This user has validated their user name. by: iheartjacksparrow

Thu Jan 13 13:33:43 2022

That's sad if they've been discontinued. I don't use them that often, only once or twice a year, but they are great for mailing a stack of magazines since the envelopes can sort of wrap around, unlike the regular PMFREs.  

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by: thecollectiveMind This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 13 13:40:05 2022

re ''they are finally cracking down on widespread abuse of the free padded envelopes getting used as padding inside shipments instead of for the revenue mail that was intended.''.  Unfortunately, USPS free supplies are GROSSLY abused by unscrupulous sellers, driving up the cost of shipping for everyone.  Just today, I received a calendar shipped via Media Mail (already a no-no) in a poly envelope protected by being sandwiched in a Priority Mail Box 4.  As an online seller since 1999, I see this happening time and again but more so in recent years as people seem to have no problem defrauding the US Post Office.  The first victim was free Priority Mailing tape - too many people were using it for just anything and everything.  So it's not only padded envelopes people are using for packing, it's boxes too - how hard is it to recycle a piece of cardboard for the same purpose?  It makes my blood boil since these irresponsible actions cost us all.

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by: ValueAddedResource This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 13 16:07:38 2022

Priority Mail Flat Rate Padded Envelopes are back up on the USPS website and available to order now.

https://bit.ly/34ODKV0

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