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Thursday, 01 May, 2008

Don’t Re-Use US Post Office Boxes
(with comments)

Warning: Don't Reuse That USPS Priority Box, It's Illegal.

7 News in Denver reports that a Colorado man has been officially warned that reusing a United States Postal Service "Priority Mail" cardboard box is a violation of federal law. We're not even talking about mail fraud but simply reusing them for other types of shipping. Could reusing these boxes actually be a federal crime? Find out more about this outlaw...

Like many others, Gary Adler reuses these boxes after receiving them or sometimes just finds them near the dumpster. Typically, he turns the box inside out to so that it's brown on the outside, then uses the box as a normal shipping box. However, the postal service says this is against postal regulations and if he does it again he could be charged with misuse of postal property. Nicole Reiter of the USPS said, "Our Priority Mail and Express Mail boxes are, bottom line, supposed to be used for that service. That is what they are intended for." She also claims this regulation is actually helping the customer, "enforcing the no-recycling rule would keep postal rates low for everyone."

I just checked the USPS site, and this is correct.

The terms of Agreement for the use of United States Postal Service shipping supplies is as follows: I understand that Express Mail service, Priority Mail service, Global Express Guaranteed, Express Mail International and Priority Mail International packaging is the property of the United States Postal Service and is provided solely for sending Express Mail, Priority Mail, Global Express Guaranteed, Express Mail International and Priority Mail International. Misuse may be a violation of federal law.


Permalink | Posted in General |
  1. By wally the duck. Comment posted 01-May-2008 @08:32am:
    Isn't it a big step from "Misuse may be a violation of federal law." to "you are violating Federal law"?

    If they haven't printed the prohibition on the package or required you to agree to the terms when you buy the product, they don't jhave much to stand on.
    The inanity of the regulation and the pitiful attempt at defending it is a whole different thing.
  2. By Kenton. Comment posted 01-May-2008 @08:50am:
    I bought a CD from a well known online CD retailer and they shipped it to me in an inside-out USPS Priority box.
  3. By Steve. Comment posted 01-May-2008 @09:15am:
    The problem is that people (ebayers, for example) pick up those boxes for free at the post office and ship their stuff first class. So, they get free shipping supplies. Yeah, you could say they should let you re-use the boxes, because they've already been paid for, but then what stops the ebayers from just scuffing up their new, free boxes and shipping them first class or media rate?
  4. By Joe. Comment posted 01-May-2008 @09:20am:
    I agree - it really ticks me off when I get someone charging more than shipping cost, then stealing USPS supplies, after all, we all end up paying for that.
  5. By wally the duck. Comment posted 01-May-2008 @09:48am:
    Steve and Joe - well, the answer to that seems pretty trivial.
  6. By another larry. Comment posted 01-May-2008 @09:48am:
    I've done it too
    Now I know better
    So from now on I won't use my return address
  7. By Indigo Kid. Comment posted 01-May-2008 @10:11am:
    Surprise! If you let people pickup stacks of boxes for free, they might not use them for what you intend. So instead of acting intelligently and make them purchase the box with postage attached, you let them walk out the door with arms full of free boxes. So now you need a stupid law to cover you stupidity...

    Common, let's go for Change and require intelligence in government...

    Oh, what happens if they wrap the box in paper?
  8. By J-Walk. Comment posted 01-May-2008 @10:19am:
    So instead of acting intelligently and make them purchase the box with postage attached

    That would only work for those envelopes and boxes that have fixed postage rates. Otherwise, the postage cost varies by weight and distance.
  9. By wally the duck. Comment posted 01-May-2008 @10:28am:
    "Otherwise, the postage cost varies by weight and distance."

    So standardize it. That is how 1st class mail works and FedEx. One box size = one price up to a max weight limit.
    The complexity of figuring multiple costs soon outweighs the advantage of the added revenue.

    Another simple approach is just to sell the boxes.
  10. By Kenton. Comment posted 01-May-2008 @10:49am:
    USPS has 3 or 4 different size Priority boxes that ship for a flat rate, regardless of weight.
  11. By Randy. Comment posted 01-May-2008 @10:57am:
    I want to turn off my mail. Can I do that. No I cant. the post office keeps littering the front of my hose with trash everyday.
  12. By HopeHope. Comment posted 01-May-2008 @10:59am:
    I am off to the PO today to mail stuff and I will remember not to use one of their pens on the little chain to scratch my ear as I may be arrested.
  13. By another larry. Comment posted 01-May-2008 @11:10am:
    If I'm going to pay for a box it should be big enough to live in
  14. By decibelcat. Comment posted 01-May-2008 @11:25am:
    By Randy:
    I want to turn off my mail. Can I do that. No I cant. the post office keeps littering the front of my hose with trash everyday.

    Here are three things you can do to keep much of that unwanted junk out of your mailbox:

    Write to:
    The Mail preference Service
    Direct Marketing Association
    P.O. Box 9008
    Farmingdale, NY 11735
    and ask for the form for stopping mail. Be sure to include your address.

    Go to: http://www.advo.com and you can get them to stop putting that big pile of mail you get every Friday with the "Have You Seen Me" card.

    and finally visit: http://www.junkbusters.org for more information about what you can do.

    It took about an hour's worth of my time to do. Nowadays, I receive less mail in a week than my neighbor does in a day. Even my letter carrier has noticed.

    Good luck with getting your name removed from Republican mailing lists at election time. For some reason, the Democrats will willingly remove your name if you nicely ask them.
  15. By wok. Comment posted 01-May-2008 @11:33am:
    test -
  16. By CORNHOOLIO. Comment posted 01-May-2008 @11:57am:
    OK. If the packaing is USPS property, then we should not have to pay for it. Just postage for me, thanks.
  17. By Blue. Comment posted 01-May-2008 @02:40pm:
    Australia Post just charges for packaging materials. They don't attempt to recoup packaging costs from the postal charges.

    Therefore we are free to reuse the boxes to our hearts content.

    Trying to manage a bad assumption with a strong law is just stupid.
  18. By Bisbonian. Comment posted 01-May-2008 @08:54pm:
    Trying to manage a bad assumption with a strong law is just stupid.

    Have you been to a U.S. airport lately?
  19. By Blue. Comment posted 02-May-2008 @01:28am:
    ROTFLOL Bisbonian
  20. By Gary Adler. Comment posted 12-May-2008 @12:16am:
    HOLD ON!All of you are making assumptions!The boxes we RECYCLED already had been USED,sent Priority Mail & paid for!The outer portion of the boxes had postage & mailing labels attached.The employees at 2 local post offices have been saving USED boxes for our nonprofit for years.These are USED Priority & other USED boxes left in the lobby of the post office for trash.The recipients of these boxes emptied them,leaving them for trash.USED postage labels were removed for privacy of the recipients & the boxes turned inside out for reuse.NO ONE is stealing new,unused postal service boxes,or taking them by the stacks!The postal regs states that these priority and express boxes can only be utilized to ship priority & express mail,however the regulation does not state that USED boxes in the GARBAGE can't be REUSED.IN FACT-the boxes are clearly marked "PLEASE RECYCLE".The postal service got their money the first time around!We'd rather use our funds to help charities, then buy new boxes.
  21. By LateNightLarry. Comment posted 14-May-2008 @03:00pm:
    Gary Adler wrote: ... the regulation does not state that USED boxes in the GARBAGE can't be REUSED. IN FACT-the boxes are clearly marked "PLEASE RECYCLE".The postal service got their money the first time around!

    "PLEASE RECYCLE" means to place the used boxes in the recycling can, not the trash can... However, if the box is in good shape, and ALL previous labels AND postage can be removed or covered, you can use them again for PRIORITY MAIL or EXPRESS MAIL, as per the box label and you want the recipient to know how cheap you are. You CANNOT turn the box inside out OR wrap the box in plain paper and mail it at Parcel Post or other cheaper rates. That's what is illegal. The boxes themselves are made from recycled material.

    When the office I work at catches eBay shippers turning boxes inside out, we make a point of recalculating the postage to Priority rates and collecting the additional postage due from the addressee... makes them SO mad... at the shipper.
  22. By Mary. Comment posted 14-May-2008 @04:02pm:
    Just one simple question: Why?

    If the point is to keep the material from going into the landfill, what is wrong with the idea of reusing it to ship something through the mail, providing that it's no longer marked with USPO labels?

    We waste so darn much stuff in this country, this seems just plain ridiculous to me.
  23. By LateNightLarry. Comment posted 14-May-2008 @06:22pm:
    Mary,

    I can't answer that question... I didn't write the rule. I would guess that it's because so many people WILL try to use the box for something other than the intended class of mail (Priority or Express). As far as I know, the other carriers have similar rules. Also, we would not accept a box from another carrier (UPS or FedEx), and they wouldn't accept USPS boxes, primarily to avoid confusion on the type of service I think.

    Personally, as long as the box was being reused for Priority Mail, the previous address and postage were removed or covered by a label, AND the box was in good condition, I accepted them at the window.
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