USPS Magically Turned My Documents Into This Motorcycle Part

Martin sent some documents to his parents in Germany via USPS Priority Mail, but somehow what arrived was the pictured motorcycle kick starter inside a ripped envelope.

He writes:

I used USPS Priority Mail International to send a couple very important docs to my parents in Germany last Friday. The flat rate envelope arrived on Tuesday this week in Germany. Unfortunately, the envelope is wrapped in a plastic bag and contains a metal item (kick starter for motorcycle I think) that I didn’t send and an apology from the Postmaster.

After talking to the supervisor at my Post Office, who by the way told me I shouldn’t send metal items in the flat rate envelope (I showed her a picture of what was received in Germany.) I was directed to for a claim.

At I find out for international claims I have to call 1-800-222-1811. The customer support and their supervisor tell me that no tracking is possible when using the small and the flat rate envelope for Priority Mail International. On top, they are not even interested in the item that I received by mistake. Of course, a claim cannot be made since there is no tracking number.

Martin wants his documents back, so if you’re out there hoping for a kick starter and got his stuff instead, drop us a line and we’ll help you and Martin arrange a swap.


Edit Your Comment

  1. Yoko Broke Up The Beatles says:


  2. StuffThingsObjects says:

    I guess your documents just had to bike the dust.

  3. farker says:

    I would think that since it wasn’t insured nor did it have a tracking number, he’s probably SOL.

    • edman007 says:

      USPS is different, they are backed by federal laws, if you can prove it happened within the USPS you can probably find someone liable and get paid (and it could easily end up in someone seeing jail time). However, since it is international, it could very well have nothing at all to do with the USPS, if that is the case there may be a whole lot of other problems, and the person receiving the package would probably have to deal with it.

  4. Dover says:

    This happened to me once domestically: my textbook magically became a bunch of gay porno mags, also in a ripped up package wrapped in a plastic bag with a note from the postmaster. I had the Amazon seller send me another copy, but I always wondered how it happened. Did the two packages happen to spill their contents at the same time and the postal worker swapped the contents? Or was it theft? Or a more sinister plot to erode the country by replacing random pieces of mail? The world may never know.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      I KNOW. One time I ordered a huge pack of bibles and they just sent me porn. Filthy, disgusting, hot, nasty, disgusting, exhilarating, blood-pumping, vile, awesome, hair-palmingly amazing, omg-getting-so-turned-on-whenever-I-think-about-it porn.

      Imagine my surprise when the next three shipments of bibles were similarly screwed up.

    • Azzizzi says:

      I had something similar happen with a box I shipped myself from one location to another. I packed it myself. When it arrived, it was obviously damaged. I don’t think anything was missing, but it had some additional items, like Korean stationery in it. I figured my box and another box were damaged and someone accidentally added the other person’s contents to mine.

  5. Xenotype51 says:

    Ta Da!

  6. goodfellow_puck says:

    Odd. If you buy your Priority postage online the tracking is included, but for international you still have to go into the PO to hand it in (and fill out the customs forms, if you don’t have any at home). If you buy your postage in the PO, you have to pay for tracking separately. Insurance is not available for international. The best you can do is send it “Registered Mail” which I think is about $13 extra, but only covers cost up to $43. Of course, with documents insurance is sorta moot…

    • Phil Villakeepinitrreal says:

      1) No, what they give you is not tracking. It is Delivery confirmation. The name says exactly what it is, and it is nothing else. They’re not being catty with the names here, so why does everyone think it is something more than what they call it?

      2) Delivery Confirmation does not work internationally. Express Mail tracking does, but DC is a US service.

      • koalabare says:

        1) Because most of the time it is just as good as tracking from other companies. Recent example:

        Detailed Results:

        Delivered, November 03, 2010, 11:50 am, BAKERSFIELD, CA 93308
        Out for Delivery, November 03, 2010, 8:57 am, BAKERSFIELD, CA 93308
        Sorting Complete, November 03, 2010, 8:47 am, BAKERSFIELD, CA 93308
        Arrival at Post Office, November 03, 2010, 8:27 am, BAKERSFIELD, CA 93308
        Processed through Sort Facility, November 03, 2010, 2:21 am, SANTA CLARITA, CA 91383
        Processed through Sort Facility, November 01, 2010, 6:53 pm, SPOKANE, WA 99224
        Acceptance, November 01, 2010, 2:24 pm, CHENEY, WA 99004

        • Phil Villakeepinitrreal says:

          Yes, and you get more than you expected. That does not make it the purpose or the norm, and the information on Delivery Confirmations *says* as much.

          Just because you get more than expected does not mean you should consider that extra service provided to be part of the deal or take it as being the intended purpose.

    • Package Man says:

      Insurance is actually available for international shipments via the USPS, just not on First Class parcels. It has to go Priority Mail or better to be eligible for insurance.

  7. AmPriS says:

    They have discovered Alchemy!!

  8. pecan 3.14159265 says:


  9. pyrobryan says:

    I love how parcel delivery services can just say “Sorry, you paid us to provide a service and we failed to do so, but since you didn’t pay our extra fee, we lost your package and aren’t going to do anything about it. You lose.”

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      1. Lose customer’s package
      2. Laugh at them and say they should have paid for extra service
      3. Customer goes to another courier service
      4. ALL courier services have similar policy
      5. Customer goes back to competing on price, and they’re going to be damn sure they pay the fee.
      6. USPS is the cheapest.
      7. …
      8. Prof– no, wait… claim to congress you’re still losing billions of dollars a year and you need to raise rates and cancel weekend deliveries.

      • Package Man says:

        FedEx and UPS at least give you $100 in insurance up front and they almost always pay it out if a package is lost or damaged. The shipper has to screw up pretty bad for them not to. My UPS driver who used to be in management at UPS said their attitude is to go ahead and pay the $100 to keep the customer happy if that’s all they insured it for. If it’s insured for more, they’ll do a bit more thorough investigating.

    • ellemdee says:

      I shipped $50 in gifts domestically via Priority Mail with another $20 for shipping & delivery confirmation and the postmaster basically shrugged when I complained that the recipient never received the package. Delivery confirmation said that it had been delivered, but the recipient had a locked mailbox (condo) so it’s highly unlikely it was swiped. If it had been insured, they might have investigated (since it would cost them money to pay a claim), but since it wasn’t, I got the “eh, what do you want me to do about it?” treatment. I have a feeling that, even if a package is insured, they probably look at the cost of investigating the claim and just pay it off instead of looking for the package if it’s under a certain amount.

  10. DerangedKitsune says:

    And even with tracking, postal services just don’t give a shit.

    I’ve had 2 packages that Canada Post claimed were delivered to my appartment (we use the standard entryway post-boxes for that), but that must have somehow fell into the postman’s pocket because I never got them. No signiture on file, as no one had to sign for them. Of course all they care about is that tracking shows they were delivered, and since I was only the recipient and not the sender, I could sit on it and spin. Since tracking showed it was delivered, no one would help me by replacing what was stolen. Pissed me off to no end :|

  11. Dan T. says:

    Recently I got one of my Netflix envelopes in the mail with a post office stamped message on it that it was damaged in shipment, and it looked like the envelope had been hand-resealed, and in fact the part with my address on it was ripped in a way that didn’t even fit the rips on the rest of the envelope, so it was apparently taken from a different envelope entirely. Inside was a DVD that wasn’t the one Netflix said they had shipped me. I can only presume that the person who was supposed to get that one got mine instead. I returned the DVD to Netflix, and used the website feature to note that I received an incorrect shipment, and got shipped another copy of the DVD I actually wanted. In a few days, the original shipment was noted as returned, so I presume whoever got the DVD I was supposed to get returned it too.

  12. Beppo says:

    Was it from a ’68 Triumph Scrambler?

  13. UCLAri: Allergy Sufferer says:

    It’s USPS. You’re lucky you got someone who knew what an envelope is, let alone was willing to listen to you in between songs on his iPod.

  14. tofupuppy says:

    My company shipped a product to one of our customers (print material). The customer received…a box full of gummi snakes. She called customer service, who didn’t believe her and asked that she send it back. Which she did. And we received back our branded shipper stuffed to the gills with gummi snakes. Embarrassing and strange.

  15. MrEvil says:

    You know how the Hope Diamond was delivered to the Smithsonian?

    Registered mail.

    Registered mail is a secure service and I think it’s secure across international borders. Don’t know what all you can have sent via Registered mail though.

  16. Package Man says:

    My mom sent some items to Iceland via First Class International and they never arrived. The USPS basically told her to take a hike. If it’s important, send it FedEx or UPS. It’ll cost more, but you get tracking from end to end and above all, accountability.

  17. loueloui says:

    Next week in the Consumerist- Gunther says important documents make a poor kick starter, requests refund.

  18. loueloui says:

    UPS once almost got me sued and/or arrested. I was an expert witness in a felony assault trial which was a third strike for the defendant, and would have put him away for life.

    I had prepared an affidavit, and sent it to the defendant’s attorney via UPS next day air with plenty of time (weeks) to get there. I tracked the package, saw it was delivered, and thought nothing more of it.

    Because of a mistake in the summons it read Wednesday, but it had the correct date which was on a Friday. Wednesday came and went and I didn’t hear anything about the trial. It was a routine testimony, so I asumed everything went fine.

    Friday morning at about 10:00 A.M. I get a phone call from the attorney asking me when I would be there. I told him I sent the affidavit, but he said he never received it. I check the tracking again looking for a signature, and I now see it says ‘exception’ under the status. I had to literally run out of the house, and drive 150 miles one way to testify in person in 3 hours or risk contempt of court.

    I arrived 20 mintes late, but luckily the Judge was really cool, and I had the presence of mind to print a copy of the tracking log to show what happened.

    To be fair, I did an EECB, and reached someone with some sense who realized how badly they messed up, and she sent me a check for $150 for mileage, and accommodations. This was good, but risking jail was definitely NOT worth it.

  19. hotcocoa says:

    I need a kick starter but don’t have his documents…
    Can we still work something out? Yes? No? Maybe?

  20. skapig says:

    Anything sent internationally through the postal service is a risk. They only handle getting the parcel to the destination country where it is handed off to the local postal service. If something goes wrong, you’re SOL more often than not.

    Private carriers such as UPS maintain custody throughout the entire process and are therefore far more accountable. Of course the price of their international service offerings reflect this.

  21. coren says:

    So what’s the postmaster apologizing for?