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The USPS is Cracking Down on "Media Mail"

The United States Postal Service offers substantial shipping discounts for materials sent at Media Mail rates.  The predictable result, especially during an economic downturn,  is that retailers and the general public often try to send non-media items in packages at Media Mail rates.  In the current issue of American Philatelist, Wayne Youngblood, a Director-at-Large of the American Philatelic Society, reports that the USPS is cracking down on these abuses:
Media Mail as a class is not closed against inspection. Thus, our local post office and (in theory) a few others have been opening virtually all incoming and outgoing Media Mail for the past year (since July 1, 2009). Larger post offices are supposed to do spot checks. The explanation is that this enforcement program may eventually go national.

When non-qualifying material is found inside the package, the recipient is charged postage due for the difference from standard Parcel Post delivery (at this point, no additional penalties are being applied).  That difference may easily double or triple the cost of shipping.

The biggest problem for users of Media Mail is that the definition of qualifying items is somewhat vague.  "Advertising" is prohibited in material shipped at Media Mail rates, but advertisements are often incidental components of items that would otherwise be considered media.

The article notes that during these inspections, the USPS is also looking for evidence of inappropriate use or reuse of Priority Mail and Express Mail shipping boxes.

Link (pdf).

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What difference does it make to the post office whether it is media, advertizing or steel. They still have to deliver the package, it weighs the same as a media package would, and it's going to the same address? Duh. Just X ray it would be quicker instead of paying someone to open it. As usual the gov has its head up its butt. I don't understand why they give media a lower price. Must have something to do with someone in politics owning a book store or something.
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This explains a lot. Yesterday I sent off a DVD box set I'd sold on Half that was too heavy to send first class, something you can do with most single DVDs, video games and the like. The jagoff at the counter upsold me to Priority, threatening that the package would be opened, probably doubting that it was what I said it was. I'll make sure not to let that happen again.
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USPS Frustration!

Re: Book Rate states No Advertising. What is advertising?
I am a high school teacher and yearbook advisor. I often sell and ship
old yearbooks to alum. I took a 1941 yearbook to the post office the
other day to ship (at my own expense) to the 1941 graduate who
never got her yearbook. The postal worker only wanted to make my
life miserable, and he succeeded. He kept grilling me-what kind of
book is it? a yearbook? is there advertising in it? can't ship book rate with advertising in it!!, etc.
I told him it was a 70 year old antique yearbook, and probably
had some ads in the back from businesses no longer in existence.
I tried to explain to him that this is no longer advertising, that it is
now memorabilia.
The postal worker was not even listening to me, and was only
determined to ruin my day with his power trip. On and on he ranted
like a broken record.
I finally relented and told him to charge me whatever. At that point
he changed his tune and gave in to me and accepted book rate.
Go figure.
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Customers are abusing the "media" rate all the time and your complaints are that it is not cost effective to check the packaging or that the union workers are sitting around doing nothing. How 'bout the loss of postage (which is the ONLY way USPS derives funds) will eventually be passed on to the consumer via next rate increase.
Your neighbor who fraudently claims they are mailing books on his internet site, so he can pay the lesser of all costs with media rate, is stealing. When is it wrong to hold people accountable?

Anyone that thinks that short paid postage is not a problem needs to realize that its not the one .52 cent short paid package, its the accumulation of all. In one office that can be in the thousands. Last month alone we found over $400 short paid envelopes and packages in one small office. Multiply that by the thousand of offices throughout the nation.
Its stealing and those that steal should be held accountable.
I think its a shame the USPS doesn't charge more for repeaters.
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AS far as I know book rate is only available at the counter....I could never get USPS.com to print a label for it.

Also...a single paperback book and lighter items are actually cheaper 1st class than media rate.
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