DVDs Lost In The Mail. What Can I Do?

USPS - we aint perfect but its working


Background: MX123 buys back your used DVDs, Video games and CDs.  They issue quotes and free USPS shipping labels from their website.

One on our sellers (Kathy ) recently had the misfortune of having her shipment of DVDs lost in the U.S. mail.

I had some questions for the post office and I would like to share their answers with you.   I spoke with Janice from the Concordia Branch in St Paul who has been managing our account for many years.

Q. Can a shipper have insurance or Delivery Confirmation added to their free MX123 shipping label?

A. Yes and no.

Janice said it will really depend on the clerk that helps you when you bring in your package.  The free shipping labels MX123 gives you is a Return Merchandise Label under permit from the post office and Janice says that it is very rare that a clerk will ever get a request from a customer to add insurance or Delivery Confirmation to one of these labels.   It can be done but it depends on the clerk that helps you and their interpretation of regulations covering this rare request.   Janice told me actually all branches are encouraged to add deliver confirmation tracking to ALL outgoing packages but the customer’s ability to access that info depends upon if they paid for the service or not.   In many cases a clerk will not let you purchase insurance or Delivery Confirmation when using our free label.

Kathy actually was able to get delivery confirmation on her package.  She was able to track her package through the first part of its journey.  But then she lost her delivery confirmation number.  What happened to it?

Her dog ate it.

I’m not kidding. Her dog ate her delivery confirmation slip midway through the route.

A good tip Kathy offers you is “when you get tracking number from post office write it down in a notebook etc.  The tracking number is on such small strip of paper it is very easy to misplace.”

Janice at USPS informed me that it is still possible to get the tracking number for a customer if they lost it.  The key to finding your tracking number depends on the clerk’s ability to track your transaction.  Every branch office has a different way for handling the lookup of old transactions.  Janice told me that transactions may be accessible for 30 days at some offices or even more.  A clerk has different ways to search for old transactions and requires some meticulous work but if a customer paid with a credit card or has a narrow date range from when the transaction occurred it should be easier to locate your transaction.

What Happen to Kathy’s Package?

Janice said that packages that are unshipable due to a variety of reasons (unreadable addresses or box breaking open in transit) end up in Dead Mail in Atlanta, Georgia.  Dead Mail used to be located in several postal hubs around the country but today all dead mail is sent to Atlanta.  Dead Mail is a huge warehouse that is a staging ground for USPS auctions.  That’s where Kathy’s package likely ended up.

The surest way to prevent your mail going to Atlanta is to 1) use plenty of packing tape, 2) ensure your package is packed full and secure with nothing crashing around inside the box, 3) make sure your MX123 free shipping label is printed in regular size font and is readable and secured to your package well.    After 11 years of receiving packages through the mail, getting those three things right will eliminate almost any package catastrophe.

But in Kathy’s case she clearly did those three things.  Kathy shipped her package from where she resides in Texas.  And yet her package was misrouted to Hawaii!  According to her tracking record the package was then rerouted to San Francisco.  That was the last time Kathy was able to look up her package’s tracking info before her dog ate her delivery confirmation slip.

I wanted to bring you this story today because  I wanted to be clear on the risks involved with the mail service.  If you need additional piece of mind when shipping your package to us I want you to know you do have the option of shipping to us directly with UPS or Fed Ex.  Kathy said next time she ships to us she will use another shipper.  Do I recommend using another service?  No I do not.  I understand Kathy’s rationalization after the ordeal she had shipping to us, but I still think the USPS Merchandise Return Labels are the way to go.  When I weigh the higher cost of UPS and FED Ex service, the rising transportation cost, and the decreasing price of DVDs, and the risk, I am pressured to stick with the most economical shipping service.  And I think nothing can beat the convenience of printing out your shipping label and handing off your package to your letter carrier.

USPS.  It ain’t perfect. But it’s Workin.

I’ll take credit for that line.

The Kathy Shipping Discount

I realize our customers (sellers) have a different perspective with this risk than we do.  Sellers, like Kathy, are left with nothing in the event a package is lost, since we can only pay for media we receive.  So even though I don’t recommend using this, I want to present you with this new option when shipping to us.  We will reimburse for other shipping services like UPS and Fed Ex if you have over 10 items if you chose.  The rate we will reimburse you is equivalent to our USPS Media Mail rate on our free shipping label.

Please follow these instructions:

Use this shipping address.

Add “Kathy shipping reimbursement” on your packing list.

Right now it will be just a manual reimbursement system and will not be integrated into our checkout yet.  You will need to pay for the cost of shipping and we will add the shipping reimbursement equivalent to the USPS Media Mail rate to your sell order total.

Weight Not Over (lbs) Reimbursement amount
1 $3
2 4
3 4
4 5
5 5
6 6
7 6
8 7
9 7
10 7
13 9
14 9
15 10
17 11
18 11
20 12
23 13
26 15
30 17
34 18
38 20
42 22
46 24
50 26
54 28
58 30
63 32
70 35