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: Ina

Thu Jan 13 16:57:14 2022

See update in the post above - official confirmation from the USPS.

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

by: Snapped This user has validated their user name.

Thu Jan 13 22:01:44 2022

“… weight limit of 70 pounds for flat rate was a bit high. I mean, really? What would that be? Lead? “

Key blanks.  Diving (or lifting) weights.  Machine (auto, boat, cycle) parts. Tools.  So basically, yes.  If there’s a way to get your ‘money’s worth’, folks will find it.

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

by: skl3255 This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jan 14 00:11:33 2022

I just ordered the PM Padded envelopes today from USPS.  Don't stress on rumors.

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

by: BurglePork This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jan 14 13:44:50 2022

@thecollectiveMind

I sorely miss that Priority Mail tape 😔😡
People that misused it cost themselves (and us) so much money, since we've now all had to buy shipping tape for years for all the packages we could have used that free PM tape on. And it marked the box as Priority! I don't think that gets missed very often but the fewer chances it has to happen, the better.

I don't buy much online so I haven't gotten a shipment with misused PM supplies in years and years, but you can bet that if I did, I'd march right into my local PO and report it. I have no sympathy for that. If a seller is too cheap to BUY supplies, find a free source!! I only have to pay for supplies when I sell 30+ units of the same product during the holidays. I easily scrounge more than enough to ship all the one-off items. There's SO much unwanted dunnage out there, *if you look for it*.

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

by: itsjustasprain This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jan 14 16:36:44 2022

@owl3606:
> 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?

There's a difference between using one SMFR box inside what is presumably a PFRE to protect the item, and mashing up 4 or 5 PFREs inside another box because the seller is too cheap to just use bubblewrap as God intended.

More generally, I don't know why this was being treated as "theory" or "rumor" or whatever when the USPS flat-out labeled the PFRE as "Discontinued" (using that very word) on their own website. The fact that they have backtracked is good news anyway. (Yes, I used the word "theory" myself, although I was referring to reasons why the PFREs had been labeled as Discontinued, not doubting whether the USPS website was correct in the first place.)

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

by: Sierra This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jan 16 10:34:39 2022

Since padded (and flat rate) Priority Mail envelopes are being discussed, I wanted to ask a question. I'm pretty sure I know the answer but someone in a FB group strongly disagreed with me, so I wanted to ask ...

The question is whether padded Priority Mail envelopes can be used as packing material inside of another mailer which IS being sent Priority Mail. This person said that since her package was still being sent Priority Mail her mail carrier or postal clerk (I forget which) said it's ok to use the padded envelopes for packing material! I strongly disagreed and finally had to stop participating in that discussion.

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