I recently discovered one of the worst business rip-offs, and it’s straight from your friendly United States Postal Service, the creator of my most recent packaging woes and the place millions of Americans turn to every day for stamps, packing and parcel service.
If you’ve sent something via snail mail you’ve probably seen the media mail option beneath the plethora of priority, first class, and overnight choices. Media mail is specifically for books, CDs and the like, and is always the cheapest option. The only drawback is if you’re sending a package that doesn’t fit into the category, although of course who hasn’t broken a few rules and slipped a non-media mail complying item through media mail anyway? Simple choice, right? Turns out, the postal service is hiding a lot of information. Here’s 6 reasons you should NEVER use media mail, or as I jokingly call it: Forget Your Crap Mail.
- No insurance
Most things you send USPS are insured for free by the post office up to $50, at which point you have the choice to pay extra to insure it for its full amount. But with media mail, there is no insurance. If an item is lost or damaged, you won’t be compensated for it and are right out of luck. Hope whatever you were sending wasn’t worth more than a quarter.
- No tracking number
There is no automatic tracking number that comes with media mail. Some shippers may purchase a tracking number that provides slightly more information (such as exactly when the package arrives at its destination or if it was undeliverable), but it won’t tell you much more, making it essentially a waste of money and leaving you clueless to the whereabouts of your precious Harry Potter collector’s book.
- Media Mail is not Forwarded
When you complete a change of address form with the USPS before a move, the local post office will forward your mail for 12 months following the move to ensure nothing is lost as you contact everyone who sends you mail. This includes periodicals, regular mail, signed mail, and all other classes EXCEPT media mail (or “bound printed mail” the obscure term postal workers use to keep you from noticing what a scam media mail is). This bottom of the barrel class will not be re-routed, is good as gone, and subject to either being returned to the sender (if you’re lucky) or most likely, whatever becomes of it (quote courtesy of my local postal worker). So say goodbye to that signed Jason Aldean CD your sister bought you, you’ll never see that again.
- Claims cannot be filed for Media Mail
Because packages sent via medial mail are not insured, claims cannot be filed against them. It is not the USPS’s obligation to be responsible for it. Tracking number or not, you cannot file a claim once a media mail package has been lost. All those fantasies you had about sending sassy, angry complaint letters will have to stay in your head.
- They Can Search Your Mail
With nothing to account for, media mail can quickly become easy bait, especially since the post office has the right to open or search a media mail package if they suspect that it contains a non-compliant item. They can also search it because sometimes they “just come open during shipping” (quote also courtesy of my local postal worker). Hope that wasn’t a conspiracy book you were sending.
- You’ll Be Waiting Forever
While this may not be a problem with something that’s not needed anytime soon, be aware that media mail can take up to two weeks, sometimes longer to arrive at its destination, versus the 2-4 days it would take as standard mail. In other words, you might have more gray hair and crow’s feet by the time it reaches the destination.
Conclusion? You get what you pay for. Media mail is very popular among online sellers like independent vendors on Amazon, who choose the cheapest shipping possible in order to maximize profits. Saving three or more dollars on a package that no one is responsible for just isn’t worth it. If the package is lost or sent to the wrong address, you’ll be stuck trying to locate a package that the USPS no longer wants and never cared about, hence “Forget Your Crap Mail.” You and the seller will lose money, time, and value using a service that should be inactive. People rarely mail things of no value, so it wouldn’t make sense to ship using an option that gives you no way to ensure, track, forward and defend your property. And you don’t want to rely on the USPS customer service, which leaves VERY MUCH to be desired. In an age where private parcel services are taking over and the USPS is closing like an automatic gate, you might want to re-think your use of the USPS, and at least disregard Media Mail altogether.