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.