Here Are The Tattered Remains Of An Attempt To Mail Some Textbooks

Victoria mailed some textbooks worth $275 in what seemed like secure packaging. The postal service returned the packaging to her, but the textbooks were never seen again. She opted not to insure the package, figuring that no one could do that much damage to heavy hardcover textbooks. She was overly optimistic.

Dear USPS,
Thank you so much for sending me such a nice letter to apologize for any inconvenience you may have caused when you lost the contents of the package I sent through your high-quality shipping service.

Thank you also for sending back the damaged, empty package (as pictured) that looks like it has been drop-kicked by a postman that “went postal” and then thrown into a puddle of water, driven over by said postman followed shortly by him/her tying the package behind his delivery truck and dragging it back to the post office at high speeds on a gravel road and upon arrival immediately sending it through an industrial sized paper shredder then proudly stamping the ridiculously ruined package with “”damaged by the United States Postal Service” and “return to sender”.


Because it is apparent that I am a valued customer and you handle my parcels with such care I would like to inform you that due to the inconvenience that you would like me to kindly understand (of which, for the record, I do not even come close to doing). I am now out $275.00 (plus $4.99 for the package, eighty cents for delivery confirmation and 6 plus dollars for you to ship with quality and care) for the textbooks that were placed in a package that was hand-picked by a post office staff person as the “best” way to send them.

When taking this damaged package back to the same staff person to show her what happened she immediately referred me to her supervisor. The supervisor then looked at it amazed and said “this is the second one of these in two weeks I’ve seen this happen to” followed by a thorough explanation of why he thinks this happened and blaming these, apparently unattended, belt lines that courier the mail through the “system”.

He asked if we had insurance to which we told him no because we thought it would be virtually impossible to ruin these hardcover textbooks (and quite honestly it had to take some work to lose them as well) and did not want to spend an extra 10 (or more??) dollars on insurance since we already spent 6 dollars on shipping alone. He ended the conversation by apologizing for the inconvenience (I’m seeing a trend here) and assuring us there is nothing that can be done.

I asked him if there was a complaint/appeal line that could go higher up the chain since he was basically just trying to get us out the door as quick as possible. He told us there is a complaint number but all that they will do is send him an email and, as we can see, he is already aware of the issue. I then stated “well we will just make sure we do as little business with the Post Office in general as humanly possible and explained to him that we send out a lot of items on a pretty regular basis. What was his reply, you might wonder
? “I don’t blame you one bit”

Thank you for helping me to understand better why USPS is going broke. It’s because of kind, helpful, caring, quality employees such as this man who takes pride in the company he works for and also wants to provide the best customer service possible to help me feel like a valuable customer whose mail is safe in their hands!!

Sincerely, another highly satisfied (and sarcastic) customer


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  1. QuantumCat says:

    I once shipped 4 PS2 games and naively assumed something similar–the packaging was sturdy enough they’d make it there intact. Instead, the USPS delivered 2 empty parcels that were obviously ripped open–the recipient and I both called our local USPS to see what could be done, but after we mentioned it wasn’t insured they just shrugged.

    I insure anything I send via USPS now.

    • DariusC says:

      That’s nothing, I sen’t a $1,500 piece of glass art, advised on the packaging by USPS and stamped fragile and glass all over, arrived broken and because the customer just gave the piece to them, I never got it back to me. No report = no insurance. Guess who refunded the money? Paypal. Thankfully everything is well documented in the event that find it fruitful to pursue the money. I personally, would rather never do business with Paypal ever again. And I have. USPS + Paypal suck.

      • jebarringer says:

        Was it properly packaged? I’ve seen many people complain about broken items, when it turns out they tossed a supposedly fragile item in a box with a couple wads of newspaper. I’ve also seen fragile items – securely packaged and well padded – knocked from shelves six feet off the ground, and the item is perfectly fine. Here’s a packaging tip: if you can’t drop the box w/ item from chest height, you’re probably not packing it properly.

  2. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    They ‘lost’ a $275 textbook?

    Yeeeeah I don’t think so…

    • belsonc says:


      Victoria mailed some textbooks worth $275…

      • Flik says:

        Mr. Fixit has apparently never taken college-level accounting classes? My textbooks were $160,00, $145.00, and 2 @ $90.00 each. Not bad for a 10-week course.

        • Anathema777 says:

          Huh? I don’t think Mr. Fixit disbelieves that textbooks are expensive; I think he’s insinuating that they may have been stolen and re-sold.

        • Bsamm09 says:

          Just wait. If you are taking the CPA exam the courses are very expensive and once licensed, CPE is expensive too. Hopefully your firm will pay.

          • benson304 says:

            Free review materials + reimbursement of one set of exams (aka they only pay for the parts when you pass) + $5,000/$3,500 bonus if you pass within 1 or 2 years of starting + and free CPE for life = the only perks of Big 4 accounting.

        • Eyeheartpie says:

          He’s not drawing attention to the price. Notice the quotes around the word “lost”.

      • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

        One textbook or several, they’re still worth something, and could probably fetch a decent price on Craigslist.

  3. Flik says:

    I had the same thing happen with textbooks and the USPS — twice. Both times I got the ripped packages back, and the books were never seen again. I filled out the claim forms for the damage, mailed them in, waited, waited some more, blah, blah, blah, yackity schmackity…. Yeah, that worked.

    After that I started making the extra effort to drive to the UPS office to ship packages.

  4. BettyCrocker says:

    The USPS processes millions of letters and parcels a day (as do it’s competitors). A certain percentage are going to have problems and even if it’s only a very small percentage (as do it’s competitors), it’s going to suck if it happens to you. You were offered insurance and opted out. You made the wrong choice.

    I rarely blame the OP but in this case? You mailed something worth several hundred dollars and didn’t insure it? Really?

    • milty45654 says:

      Yeah same thought. Why do you not insure something worth that much? Every service is bound to have issues a percentage of the time. You rolled the dice and lost. They don’t offer insurance because they do things perfect; they offer it because shit happens.
      I’m sure the snarky email will result in something though. Personally I’d try acting civil to recover some damages than using sarcasm right off the bat.
      OP FTL

      • ChuckECheese says:

        My guess why she didn’t insure for that much is because she was mailing them into some textbook-buying service, and was going to get back about $5 or $6 per book. So in a way, the books were worth $275, but in another way they were worth only $12.

    • Fubish says: I don't know anything about it, but it seems to me... says:

      This is true. Shit happens and I’m sorry she lost her books… BUT the post office handles BILLIONS of pieces of mail and a very tiny fraction get lost/damaged. I certainly am not an post office apologist, but mailing expensive items without insurance is nuts.

      • TheMansfieldMauler says:

        It’s true, a tiny fraction get lost or damage. A larger fraction get stolen by postal workers.

        • Not Given says:

          I lost 2 free coupons for 20 oz bottles of Coke. I got the ship notice for 3 and only one showed up, usually I would get them all at once.

      • Tyanna says:

        If such a tiny fraction of them get damaged and lost, why isn’t there better support for when it happens? Why not make the customer feel like this is a rare occurrence and won’t happen again?

        Instead, they admit it’s happened twice in the two weeks just at that post office. They also don’t seem surprised and agree with the customer when the customer says they will take their business elsewhere.

        Good customer service could have saved this situation. A refund of the shipping costs and perhaps a $50 voucher may have made this customer’s experience better. And if this sort of thing happens as little as you imply, that is a small price to pay.

        Instead, bad customer service has turned a customer sour. Not something you want when your company if floundering.

        • StarKillerX says:

          Yeah, but then we would have just read a letter that stated “They ‘lost’ my $275 textbook and then claim this never happens and only offer me $50 reimbursement” instead of the one above.

    • Farleyboy007 says:

      Typically i would think you insure against damage, not the package tearing open and the parcel falling out. That 6 dollars you pay for shipping is to make sure your parcel gets to it’s destination, any insurance is to make sure it gets there safely. if 6 dollars only made sure the envelope made it there, i’d stop using USPS as well.

    • kc2idf says:

      The percentage was high enough that it was what triggered me to start using electroinc bill payment through my credit union . . . because USPS kept losing my payments. I know this for a fact because they told me so, including photocopies of the errant cheques.


      Now I pretty much only use them for Netflix, and less and less so these days as the things I want to watch become more frequently streamable.

      • Not Given says:

        I pay 6 monthly bills through bill pay, four of them are sent through the mail by the bank.

        • kc2idf says:

          Three of my way-too-many bills are, likewise, but I think it enters the mail stream at a more reliable point. I think these were getting lost at my local PO.

    • badgertale says:

      Can someone please tell me what “OP” stands for?

  5. kranky says:

    Don’t want to be “that guy” who blames the OP, but a padded envelope is simply not appropriate packaging for a heavy book. That was just asking for trouble. Heavy items need to be in a box.

    You can ship a 4-pound book with Media Mail for under $4. $300 of insurance is $4.85, nowhere near “$10 or more”.

    • Worstdaysinceyesterday says:

      That being the case, the USPS employee who directed her to use this method and this packaging is culpable to a certain extent. The OP was ill advised.

      • elangomatt says:

        Do people actually go to the post office with items they want to send with no idea how they are going to package them? The only way I would do that is if I knew I was only going to be using an envelope or one of the priority services that they have boxes for. I still put this on the OP for the poor packaging because the USPS person only has a few options for the “best” way to send something, especially if the OP wanted to ship them as cheap as possible (as evidenced by the no insurance). If the packaging might have been made out of plastic (or even tyvec maybe) she probably would have been ok, but more than one probably heavy hardcover textbook in a paper envelope padded with fibers? They never stood a chance!

        Oh, and for $11 (envelope and shipping costs), isn’t that starting to get into the range where a flat rate priority box might have been available to her?

        • DariusC says:

          USPS advised me on shipping expensive glass and it ended up broken after being assured it would make it there on time. Cost me $1500 in Paypal’s eyes, so now I have to deal with Paypal. The customer was partially to blame for just giving the package to them rather than making sure a report was done. Sadly, I was told it had to be shipped back before a report could be made. It was the wrong instruction as the report should have been done at the post office at the receiving end.

          • SabreDC says:

            Unfortunately, I have to disagree with you. The buyer has a number of protections in place in the event that the goods they received are damaged/lost/etc. A refund from the payment processor, in this case Paypal, is one of the many options they have and it is a perfectly valid one for the buyer. In some cases, one remediation may require a prerequisite attempt (i.e. a credit card may require you to try and return the product to the merchant first). But Paypal does not require the buyer to try to correct the issue with the delivery service before using Paypal’s protections. It is at the buyer’s discretion as to which protection they want to utilize. It is unfortunate that they chose one that has a more negative impact on you. But your use of Paypal as a payment processor also assumes that you are in agreement with their protections that they offer to buyers. As a seller, you need to be okay with your buyers using any of the offered protections from Visa, Mastercard, AmEx, Paypal, the postal service, etc. Otherwise, it is up to you to limit with options the buyer has.

    • Mulva says:

      My first thought was Media Mail as well – I’ve shipped many, many soft and hard cover books this way for an online book swap site, sans insurance, with simple and sturdy kraft paper wrapping (and lots of shipping tape) and no problems. Very inexpensive.

      Unfortunately, the USPS tends to guide the less informed towards the more expensive options, including their packaging.

      • mearow says:

        I always use a box. It costs a tiny bit more in postage but the box protects the book so much more. A heavy textbook, definitely use a box. Just the weight of the book will start to tear the envelope. A tear in the envelope can catch on something and rip it wide open.

        Also, tuck the invoice or an extra print out of the address inside the book. Then if the book comes separated from the package, there will be an address to send the orphan book to. (If the USPS actually cares–they probably just toss it, but I try.)

        And there is no place to complain about government services, except the ballot box.

  6. The One ME says:

    I had the same thing happen with international shipments to Mexico and Canada. Filled out all the forms they told me to at the desk, they even handed them to me. I payed for insurance. Then when the empty packages came back two months later I went to them for insurance claim.

    They told me because I used the wrong customs forms they weren’t actually insured even though I paid for it. I explained that they gave them to me and they didn’t care.

    I ended up taking the USPS to small claims court and winning $283 for the cost of shipping, the contents insured value, and court fees. The whole process took four months.

    • Not Given says:

      Good for you. Did they show up? Did they pay up or did you have to foreclose on a post office building?

  7. Hoss says:

    Now there’s a good reason to use the flat rate box which includes both tracking and insurance

    • EdK says:

      According to , insurance is available for an extra charge on those flat rate boxes.

    • Guppy06 says:

      Um… no?

      Domestically, the flat rate for Priority Mail only covers the cost of shipping, at least domestically. If you’re looking to get insurance, you’ll have to pay extra. Tracking will also cost extra if you’re getting it at the counter.

      If you use Priority Mail internationally, provided it’s neither the small flat-rate box nor the flat-rate envelope, it does include tracking and a measure of indemnity.

      If you’re looking for “tracking and insurance included” domestically, however, you’re talking about Express Mail, the expensive “overnight” option which comes with those features whether you use the flat rate or otherwise.

      • Such an Interesting Monster says:

        I seem to remember something about how Priority Mail includes up to $100 in insurance. Anything beyond that and you have to pay. But I could be wrong, it’s been awhile.

        • Guppy06 says:

          You’re thinking of Express Mail, which comes with $100 of insurance automatically. Priority Mail only includes a bit of indemnity (which varies) when it’s an international parcel.

  8. tsukiotoshi says:

    Ah yes. One month last year I received two parcels from the USPS that were pretty seriously damaged. The first was a package from my mother full of random items and a check. It arrived with a huge slash in the middle that had been repaired with packing tape. The only thing missing was, of course, the check! Then a few weeks later my mother overnighted me a time sensitive object. They promptly lost the package and told my mother they had no idea what had happened to it but would call her when they found it. It showed up 4 days later looking like it had been run over by a truck, though thankfully the contents inside were OK. I will give USPS credit on that one because they did refund my mom’s money.

  9. Swins says:

    1. You used a padded envelope for books. DUMB!
    2. You did not insure valuable items. DUMB!
    3. I’m guessing the money spent on your education was worthless because you seem pretty clueless.

    • tsukiotoshi says:

      You seem like a nice and not at all oddly judgmental human being.

    • Dont lump me into your 99%! says:


      Ill advised, sure, maybe even neglectful….but DUMB???? Take a deep breath in, and exhale slowly and all will be well.

    • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

      You seem like a charming and completely reasonable human being.

      No, wait… I was thinking of that other thing.

  10. Herbz says:

    I still don’t get how a shipping company can take your money… destroy the items… mark it as “whoops we destroyed it”.. and still not be liable for it.

    You should take USPS to small claims court.

    • damicatz says:

      You can’t sue the USPS unless they allow it because they have sovereign immunity. They can break the law with impunity and not have to answer for it.

      • levelone says:

        So you didn’t notice that comment above about someone taking USPS to small claims court and winning?

  11. CalicoGal says:

    I wish the guy who was in line in front of me at the post office yesterday who indignantly snatched his box off the scale and marched out after the clerk kindly suggested that he replace the paper masking tape on his box could see this article.

  12. Snullbug says:

    Years ago some luggage company had a commercial touting that their luggage could survive “savage baggage handlers” represented on screen by a live gorilla. Consider all shipping companies, not just USPS to be infested with savage baggage handlers. See the variety of videos on YouTube of delivery men, airline employees etc. trashing packages as a matter of course. Package insurance is just like health insurance – you may get along without it for a while but eventually you’ll wish you had it.

    • nybiker says:

      For your viewing pleasure:

      American Tourister is the company.

    • HeatherLynn30 says:

      This is true. My dad used to head the police department at a major airport and, well, let’s just say the baggage handlers routinely had competitions to see who could throw stuff the hardest and farthest. Assume anyone who’s handling your stuff out of your view is doing the same.

  13. SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

    I’ve spent some time a while ago in the USPS Philly processing center. This looks like it got caught on one of the sweeper arms on the way through. At the end of the conveyor belt they have a stack of mail (mostly undamaged) about 2 stories high that someone stands in front of. This person does the same job as the building sized auto sorter that the packages got spit out of. beside him is the pile of “unknown.” Your book is either in the mystic equivalent of this space, or more likely sent to the next post office beside the one it was supposed to go to. They are(in theory!) in zip code order, but there isn’t much of a guarantee for that.

    I think the Philly BMC is closed now anyway.

    • SPOON - now with Forkin attitude says:

      sweeper arms = a mechanical arm that pushes mail into a bin or other conveyor belt for delivery or further sorting with other sweeper arms.

      BMC = Bulk Mail Center. More or less anything over a pound got routed through one.

  14. chizu says:

    To be honest, I’m surprised at how people don’t know how to… Mail stuff and use the post office. I always had people asking me what to do at a post office, or how to mail things.

    People have to realise these packages go through machines along with many many many other packages, ones that are potentially much bigger and heavier than yours. If you are mailing HARDCOVER TEXT BOOKS (hard and pointy edges) in a padded envelope, chances are, things might get torn through in the machines. It’s like shoving several cereal boxes into a plastic bag, chances are the corners will tear through the bag before you get it home.

    I blame whoever gave her the ill-advice, but I also blame her for not having that kind of common sense. I mean, pause and think, heavy hardcover books in a padded envelope, will it really work? If you have doubts, don’t do it! Also, if you don’t want to pay a few dollars more in order to cover $275 worth of goods — you took the chance.

    I mailed many breakable items through the mail before, but because I paused and thought “is this packaging sufficient” and gave it extra care, nothing had been broken before. (This includes mailing a jar of pickles in pickle juice to Japan. Or chocolate sauce to Canada.)

  15. Remarkable Melba Kramer says:

    If the item that you are shipping is worth more than what you are comfortable putting at risk for potential loss, then you need to insure it.

    If the customer was as sarcastic in person as they were in their letter, it would make me not want to give a sh*t even more.

  16. sirwired says:

    What else does the OP expect them to do besides apologize? They offered insurance, the OP didn’t buy it. End of story.

  17. reybo says:

    People without shipping experience, especially if they are short on common sense, should ask at the PO for instructions how to package. The wrapping, whether bag or box, must be strong enough to withstand travel. Paper bags and envelopes do not meet that standard for heavy goods with sharp corners. It’s astounding that anyone would not know that. A postal clerk would have directed her to the tyvek envelopes for sale in every PO, or the boxes. As for failing to insure, duh.

  18. jiarby says:

    The OP made a decision to take a risk, believing that the risk was significantly lower than the cost of the insurance. They lost. Now they are being a crybaby because they were wrong.

    One other thought…. TYVEK!

  19. incident man stole my avatar says:

    In December I mailed something mediamail and all I got back was the label in a sorry we destroyed your package with a letter telling how to contact the dead letter office. Another package sent the same day with 5 cds was ripped to shreds and arrived rubberbanded with only 2 of the cds and no notice of the damage. It’s the first damaged packages I’ve had in years. I blame disgruntled USPS workers.

  20. penuspenuspenus says:

    Those envelopes USPS sells are ridiculously priced. Did you really walk into the post office and go, “How send book?”

    Also, it’s a book.
    1. Box.
    2. Media Mail or Flat Rate Priority.

  21. comedian says:

    There’s a WikiHow on this.

    The preamble?

    “Although not the most fragile of objects, books still need to be packaged well in order to ensure that they undergo the shipping process without damage. Butcher paper and strapping tape alone are not sufficient, and, for hardcover books, neither are padded envelopes. Here’s how to package books for shipping so they arrive in the same condition in which they were mailed.”

  22. SerenityDan says:

    I work in a mail room, those kind of envelopes come in ripped open 9 out of 10 times if there is a heave book inside.

  23. Coalpepper says:

    And they wonder why they’re going out of business?

    • Jules Noctambule says:

      Because the public feels entitled to Nordstrom-level mail service at Wat-Mart prices? If you compare the cost of having a package picked up from your door by USPS and delivered anywhere in the whole world to what it costs in other countries we’re getting a hell of a deal.

    • sirwired says:

      They are going out of business because the cash cow, First Class Letters, around which their entire infrastructure is built to handle more efficiently and cheaply than any other Postal Service in the world, has been dropping like a rock.

      Even if they never lost a single package, the system isn’t built to be a parcel service. The vehicle fleet is too small, the sorting centers designed for letters, they have no air fleet, the trucking fleet is contracted out, etc.

      • Coalpepper says:

        I agree with you on most of that, but if the system isn’t designed for parcels, that’s a major oversight since the USPS had a near monopoly on delivery services for quite some time before real competition like UPS came along.

        Contracting services out isn’t necessarily a bad thing, trucking is actually a good example of that, we have a good freight system in this country, no need to spend money duplicating it.

  24. phsiii says:

    A few years ago, my sister in Canada sent a small package to us (in the US) for Christmas, insured. It didn’t arrive. She had insured it, so she went through the process and got reimbursed. Four months later, it arrived, looking brand-new — completely undamaged. All we can think is that it fell off of some belt and hid for several months.

    Despite the fact that she’s the kind of person who feels guilty if someone gives her a penny too much in change, she opted NOT to try to return the money to Canada Post.

    And by the way, if you’ve ever lived in another country, you won’t EVER complain about USPS. The joke in Canada is that the $0.61 you pay for first-class mail isn’t all for delivery: most of it is a storage charge :-)

  25. jayphat says:

    Maybe I’m asking a stupid question but why should she have bought insurance? She already paid money for shipping. Yes, she’s hedging a bet on damage done to the product, but USPS should assume responsibility when they themselves notate the package was torn open in their care and lost. Like me having you pay for a meal upfront and when it never males it to your table “well you didn’t buy the insurance”. Insurance does not absolve the Postal Service from obvious neglect.

    • Snockered says:

      If your food never showed up, you would get your money back. However, you wouldn’t expect the restaurant to pay you back for the cost of the groceries you had to go buy to “replace” your dinner, right?

      She should be refunded what she paid in shipping because that was the service she paid for. The contents of the package are NOT covered unless you insure them.

  26. Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

    For all the flak UPS and FedEx sometimes gets here, I have never had problems with them the likes of which USPS creates on an everyday basis. I worked for a business that interacted with them daily sending large amount of first class mail. Nothing but HASSLE. Not to mention the random objects I would find in the USPS equipment, such as undelivered mail, a satellite dish, and a USB Sprint modem. The mail trays with blood on them was always a particular treat.

  27. ianmac47 says:

    I’m not sure why she would need insurance on this package. This is not an issue of the package having been damaged unless the books were vaporized in an industrial accident / science experiment. Small claims court is probably the answer.

  28. Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:

    Also, the idea that you have to buy insurance from the Post Office for them just to do their job without screwing it up is a comedic tragedy in itself.

  29. EllenRose says:

    I had a package go missing. I talked to the post office people.

    PO: Did you have insurance on it?

    Me: No

    PO: Well, what did you expect?

  30. gedster314 says:

    Two years of my college textbooks were used and were bought from Amazon or Alibris. Not one was lost or severely damaged. To top it off, I resold most of them through Amazon and no complaints or lost shipments. On a side note, 90% of the books I resold I got all my money back. A few, I even made a profit on.

    I will say, more then half of my books came from Amazon and because I am a Student Prime member, those were shipped by 2nd Day UPS. The ones that came by USPS, my complaint is the mail carrier was too lazy to walk up to the door and just left a notice in the mail box even though someone was home requiring a pickup from the office 20 miles away.

    • elangomatt says:

      Side note on the profiting thing from text books thing. A few years ago I bought a lightly used textbook from Amazon, it arrived looking like a new book so I used it for my class. I work at that college so I was helping the head of the bookstore set up for the buyback at the end of the semester. I mentioned that I wasn’t going to try to sell my book back to the bookstore since I got it online. She asked what class it was and begged me to sell it back to the bookstore since it was a previous edition and she was having trouble getting any new books. I paid around $15 for the book on Amazon, the bookstore at my college bought it back for $65. Just shows that something is wrong with our college bookstore system.

  31. dush says:

    USPS is going broke because of Congress, not because of poor service.

  32. Jimmy37 says:

    Let’s see. The op send very heavy text books in a plain paper package, and expected it to make to the recipient? The paper stuffing will protect the books, but what will protect the package from the handling equipment and keep it from coming apart as the package is bounced around??

    The package should have be wrapped in shipping tape. Once around in each direction, and each corner to reinforce them.

  33. maxamus2 says:

    Gee, how many billions of pieces of mail do they send? I EXPECT a problem or two. And chances are, this package fell off the truck by accident and got beat up by some traffic and then someone turned the package in to the post office. I do not think such a smarmy letter to the post office was necessary.

  34. patty says:

    Personally, I think the Postal Service was really pissed this past holiday. Photo Albums were stuck in Postal Hell. I had to contact the vendor to work out the problem and later we got the photo albums. Needless to say the items have to go back into the postal service because they were not delivered when they were suppose to.

  35. Razor512 says:

    Same thing happened to me, though in my case, the package and the contents were completely mangled when it was returned to me. To me, the postal service should be responsible for the package when it is in their care.

    When they do this, it is the equivalent of you bringing the item to the post office to be shipped and after paying for shipping and not paying insurance, they destroy the package in front of you.

    The crazy thing is the damage was not by mistake, it was done by a worker, the reason for this is the damage was in different locations. When I shipped using a flat rate box, I first packed the book in a large padded envelope (the international kine which has the fabric like material that is hard to rip), I then put it in a plastic bag. I then used packing peanuts and placed the item into the flat rate box. (I do this for all books valued over $100 when selling on amazon, and even though they only offer me like $3 for shipping, I still use the priority mail.

    The damage to the item leads me to believe that a worker randomly selected my box to see if there was anything worth stealing, and when they saw just a boring book, they put it back in and attempted to damage the packaging to make it look like some kind of accident. The plastic was stretched by blunt objects (eg fingers), there was an attempt to damage fiber packaging but it failed, the bubble wrapping was ripped in half and the book was ripped.

    For a conveyor belt to do this, it would have had to rip each layer of packaging individually then put the items back in.

    Also postal workers do steal mail regularly, especially free samples.
    There is one local postal worker who when I see him at the laundromat, he will have a bag full of random detergent samples. If he is doing that, I am sure many other workers are doing similar things as it is difficult to take mail off of the line unless you are doing it with many other workers.

    I have given up dealing with USPS to ship and avoid them where ever possible when ordering items. Their customer service is constantly getting worst, (this will make it more expensive to ship since a flat rate box is generally cheaper than mailing an item of the same size using UPS or fedex).

  36. markvii says:

    I’m tempted to blame the OP for not buying insurance. However, I can see how a customer would think “why should I pay extra for you to do your job correctly?”

  37. ancientone567 says:

    You don’t need insurance because they are insured as a company. Just send them a bill for all damages and if they refuse to pay the bill take them to small claims. Don’t forget to save the evidence. You paid for a service and they did not provide it. CASE CLOSED!

  38. Razor512 says:

    Also wanted to add that it is difficult to sue any organization that has government ownership (USPS, state colleges, etc)

    Small claims court wont allow you to sue the organization directly, instead they make you head to another government office where you have to get permission to sue the state.

    When I tried to sue my college because they canceled a class on the first day and refused to return the $450 for that class (happened about 1 year ago and I still never got the money, even though I have letters from the college stating that the class was canceled)

    I tried to take the college to small claims court and sue for the $450
    the small claims office said that I cant sue the college directly because it is a CUNY college, I have to sue the state.

    So I ended up going to another government office, paid the fee then they denied the the case, meaning I was disallowed to take them to court.

    When ever any organization has government protection, customer service goes down significantly and that is because it is nearly impossible to sue them.

    I tried emailing consumerist about this they ignored it (but had no problem posting a bunch of other stories which caused users to say “slow news day”). Usually it is harder for cases such as this to be denied by the government when it gets media attention.

    In addition to that canceled class case, there is also the case of the college retroactively increasing tuition for a semester for which I have already paid classes in full and took the classes.

    If any consumerist mods are here, please tell me if consumerist has a policy against taking any story/ cases involving state run colleges.

  39. NewsMuncher says:

    I had a package of checks arrive in the mail. It looked like they’d been run over in a mud puddle and chewed up by a dog. At least, until I pulled out the checks. Which were in perfect condition. I still don’t understand how that’s possible.

    • elangomatt says:

      It is easy, when you ship something it should be packed so that it can withstand all but the worst that the shipper can do with a package. If it was anything like the way my checks are delivered, there were probably at least 3 layers of cardboard from the checks to the outside of the box.

  40. britswim04 says:

    And that’s why I ALWAYS ship valuable items in boxes and not envelopes.

  41. Naeva says:

    My company processes a lot of book returns, we’re talking thousands and thousands of book returns, for one major book company. The post office delivers books to us, a lot, that aren’t even addressed to us, as in, they just see a book, bring it to us. So we have crates and crates of people’s books that we can’t return to a company, can’t return to a client, can’t do anything with. I wouldn’t be surprised if something similar happened in this case.

  42. sadie kate says:

    I see a lot of OP blaming for not having the insurance, but frankly, insurance means jack shit to the USPS. I sent several Christmas present to my Dad’s family a few years back. He noticed the large box was pretty dinged up when it arrived, but didn’t pay much attention, just unpacked the gifts and put them under the tree. It wasn’t until I received thank-you notes for his stepkids that I realized several items had gone missing from the box (as they only thanked me for some items, and I joked with my dad they must have not liked the other ones – he was like, what other ones?). I had insured the package, and filed a claim, but because my dad had discarded the box, they said they couldn’t verify I had packed it correctly. They claimed I had probably forgotten to tape it, and some of the gifts must have just fallen out. Because that was more likely than them squashing the box and wrapped gifts falling out from a whole.

  43. HeatherLynn30 says:

    USPS insurance is really cheap. Always get it when you’re shipping anything of value. It’s better to be out $4 or so than $275.

  44. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    Note to self – value over $100 buy insurance.

  45. SmokeyBacon says:

    I have received that type of envelope damaged before – luckily only one item was missing and the company replaced it but boy, they make a huge mess – that padding they use in them gets everywhere. And it doesn’t seem like the right kind of package for a heavy item like a book to be sent in – the stuff I had was light, but books – I can totally see them ripping it.

  46. krunk4ever says:

    Like others, I’ll have to put the blame on the OP for not purchasing insurance.

    What many people don’t seem to understand about purchasing insurance is that by purchasing insurance, you’re letting the shipper know that the contents of the package has actual value and PLEASE TAKE CARE OF MY G*DD*MN PACKAGE.

    USPS probably does billions of packages a day and it’s not unlikely to imagine s small percentage getting damaged or lost during transit. How do you let USPS know to take extra care of your package? Insurance – because they know if it’s lost or damage, they’re on the hook for a lot more money.

    Imagine shipping a pebble vs shipping diamond ring. The shipper charges the same amount for delivery. Sure, both items are probably very sturdy and won’t get damaged during shipment, but one package obviously needs extra care.

    One can argue that the shipper should insure every package by default, but then that’ll just mean increased prices for people who just want to ship a worthless pebble will have to foot the increased cost to have your package insured.

    Even USP’s default insurance of $100, wouldn’t have covered the entirety of your shipment.

    • Razor512 says:

      If you purchase car and insurance and you order the cheapest package which is only liability insurance, thus damages to your car are not covered. and because of that, the CEO of the company comes to your car bashes it with a sledge hammer for an hour. Who is responsible for the cost of the damage, you or the person who took a sledge hammer to it?

      (in the current works, the person who causes the damage is responsible for the cost (check out a show just the peoples court or any other live court show with real cases) If you damage something then you are responsible for the damages

      Shipping insurance is for if something happens to the item after it has left USPS care, eg the postal worker leaves your package in the rain and your book gets completely soaked.

      It shouldn’t matter if you have insurance or not when the damage is clearly caused by them.

      Imagine starting a daycare service using the USPS terms of service

      “We will take care of your kid for the day but if you don’t want us to use him or her as a punching bag, you must pay extra”

      You should not be required to pay extra in order to have a company do their job correctly, the original purchase price cover getting the item from point a to point B unharmed, what ever happens before point A and after point B where the package is not in USPS care is what the insurance should cover. With it is in their care, then the original shipping cost should cover it’s getting to where it needs to go and remain unharmed within their system. If they cant do that then they should cover the cost of the item as well as the original shipping price as services were not rendered.

      Only issue is it is hard to sour any organization that is partly government run.

  47. SoCalGNX says:

    The kind of package in the picture would not be the kind to hold any kind of book. Had she wrapped it securely in plain brown paper with many pieces of packing tape on each side, she would have had no problem. Can’t feel sorry for her at all.

  48. neilb says:

    2 months after sending a package of rather pricey cloth products, we got that same mangled bunch of packaging. The recipient was out the goods and we were out $90.
    Now I work under the pretense that USPS REQUIRES insurance, boxes, and way more freaking packing tape than is reasonable. Imagine how hard that package would be to destroy if it had 5 wraps of packing tape on it…wrapped across each direction. I also photo the pre-shipped state in case they give us a hard time about it.
    Heck, I even use a small piece of packing tape on the backs of important envelopes now.

  49. impatientgirl says:

    On the rare occasions I use them, I insure it.