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ADeMartino
10-17-2013, 04:29 AM
I had to mail a certified letter today, so I stopped at the post office. I just recently moved to a fairly small town, which has one tiny post office. There’s never more than one person on duty at the counter, and naturally that means a line. Not usually too bad, though – it’s not like I have to do this more than once every few months.

But today…..ugh.

The problem was the guy directly in front of me. He wanted to mail a package. If you taped one shoebox to the top of another, you’d come up with something approximating the size, shape, and general proportion of his package, so…. Not exactly a ‘small’ parcel. The issue was he wanted to insure it for like $1800.

Problem: the place he wanted to mail the package to was in some far-away land – Umbulagoozafrakimastan or something. Insurance isn’t going to do him any good – and despite several attempts by the clerk to explain the problem, he just couldn’t fathom it. And to top it off, he was just really rude – essentially telling her that she ‘didn’t know what she was talking about.’

The problem is, while the USPS can accept the package for shipment, they aren’t going to be the agency delivering it. The USPS does not operate in foreign lands, with the exception of US military installations and embassies. The package goes on a plane, and when that plane lands in Umbugaloozafrakimstan, it will be the Umbugaloozafrakimastanian post office that will (theoretically) take charge and deliver the package. Therefore, the USPS cannot accept responsibility, because it’s not unlike handing the package to a complete stranger. And let’s face it – there are some countries where the postal system is essentially a bureaucratic black hole into which packages and letters vanish forever without a trace – and we’re not even considering the issues involved with customs!

After listening to the clerk explain this for the fourth time to someone who was clearly not interested in comprehending what he was being told, I finally suggested that he take his package to UPS or FedEx. The difference is those are GLOBAL companies, and are not reliant on foreign governments to complete delivery. The company that accepts your package for shipment is the same company that delivers it, and there’s tracking and accountability from start to finish. The clerk agreed with this suggestion.

His response? “They’re too (expletive deleted) expensive!”

Really. So you think it’s less expensive to send an item that you feel is worth $1800 to a foreign country via a system that will not – indeed, CAN not – accept responsibility for it?

Brilliant, dude. Let’s count the sins:

1. You’ve been a complete and monumental jerk the entire time you were here.

2. You’ve ignored repeated attempts – from a person who deals with this sort of thing on a daily basis, and again from a neutral party – to explain what a bad idea this is.

3. You’ve made your final decision based solely on cost – COMPLETELY IGNORING the more secure options, without any regard at all for the possible consequences.

Say….. I’ll bet you’re in management, ain’tcha?

Sandiercy
10-17-2013, 05:50 AM
Hey, a new word of the day!

Umbulagoozafrakimastan

Skarredmind
10-17-2013, 10:53 AM
Oh. In that case, yes, we can insure it for $1800.00. Total cost $2500.00.

Problem solved.

Pixilated
10-17-2013, 07:40 PM
And when it doesn't show up at his destination ... of course it'll be the fault of the luckless clerk who "didn't know what she was talking about" and will now be upgraded (downgraded?) to "didn't know what the *%#!!! she was doing!!" And he'll want to sue for a gazillion dollars for loss of the item, pain and humiliation, and general random bitchiness.

peoplesuck
10-17-2013, 08:36 PM
....
Problem: the place he wanted to mail the package to was in some far-away land – Umbulagoozafrakimastan or something. ....
The problem is, while the USPS can accept the package for shipment, they aren’t going to be the agency delivering it. The USPS does not operate in foreign lands, with the exception of US military installations and embassies.

You can insure USPS packages with international delivery.
http://pe.usps.com/text/imm/ab_toc.htm
Rates vary by destination country, typical maximum coverage is 2,499.

Destinations with no insurance possible: Ascension, Burma (Myanmar), Canada [but only if your shipping Bees], Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Falkland Islands, Iran, Kiribati, North Korea, Pitcairn Island, Somalia, Sudan, Tristan da Cunha

Its possible he was right, just going about it in a very unhelpful fashion.

Shalom
10-18-2013, 01:08 AM
Destinations with no insurance possible:


OK, I can see some of these making sense.

Ascension, Tristan da Cunha

Both of these are UK military facilities. I don't know if there are any civilian population there. Mail might have to go through military channels.

Burma (Myanmar), Cuba, Iran, North Korea,

are all countries whose governments are on the outs with the USA (although Burma/Myanmar has been improving slowly, if I can believe the report on the radio the other day). The latter three you couldn't even call on the phone until recently (except for Gitmo).

Canada (but only if your shipping Bees),

OK, that also makes sense. Shipping wildlife by mail is inherently risky. I can't imagine that mail carriers are all that thrilled to be carrying bees, anyway.

Equatorial Guinea,

I had no information about this beyond what I just read in the Wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equatorial_Guinea), but that source implies that it's a small country with oil money and heavy censorship, whose president seems to think he owns everything therein.

Pitcairn Island,

Can you even ship anything to Pitcairn in the first place? I thought they get a couple of supply boats a year and that's it.

Somalia,

No functioning government, thus nobody to accept responsibility for the mail should it go missing.

Sudan,

War zone. Send at your own risk.

Falkland Islands, Kiribati,

OK, on these . . . I got nothing. The Falklands War is finished for a while now, and Kiribati doesn't seem to be much different from the other nearby Pacific islands; stable government, no war going on, good technological base, and so forth. No idea why they won't insure mail going there.

Oh, and I just needed to quote the following: "Kiribati is the only country in all four nominal hemispheres."

lordlundar
10-18-2013, 04:24 AM
And let’s face it – there are some countries where the postal system is essentially a bureaucratic black hole into which packages and letters vanish forever without a trace

I thought we weren't talking about the USPS?:angel:

AccountingDrone
10-18-2013, 09:53 AM
I sent my Romanian buddy an ipod shuffle [they are one of the cheap ones, comparatively. I think it cost me $125US] that was engraved with his name, it was insured, listed as the package contents and it still went astray.

raudf
10-18-2013, 04:16 PM
The USPS does not operate in foreign lands, with the exception of US military installations and embassies.

Not completely sure, but I think if it's going to an APO/FPO or an Embassy, it gets handed off to the military for their scrutiny and then they send it overseas. It may be subject to customs and the laws concerning shipping for the host nations.

I was in Iceland for nearly two years as a kid. There were no mailboxes or mail slots in the doors. Dad had to pick up the mail from someplace located in the supply warehouse. I vaguely remember this, because he took me along a couple of times and I recall it being in the same HUGE building that he worked in. I also remember Mom complaining because one of the letters looked like it'd been opened for closer inspection. Dad also took the mail we were sending with him to work to send it off.

Of course.. letters to Santa were subject to different rules given how close we were to the north pole :p

Doesn't stop the OP's guy from being a goober. I'd rather have a single carrier where ever possible, because then I'd know who to blame if something went wrong!

ADeMartino
10-18-2013, 09:54 PM
Not completely sure, but I think if it's going to an APO/FPO or an Embassy, it gets handed off to the military for their scrutiny and then they send it overseas. It may be subject to customs and the laws concerning shipping for the host nations.

US military and diplomatic installations are considered 'US soil' by treaty, essentially having the same status as any of the 50 states, and therefore (as far as I know) mail to and from such places is not subject to customs - PROVIDED the mail travels via official US channels and not the local civilian postal system.

Embassies probably use diplomatic couriers for mail service.

As for APO and FPO addresses, the mail is indeed handled by military personnel - but those personnel are deputized agents of the USPS. I remember that little tidbit from my Navy days.

peoplesuck
10-20-2013, 12:52 AM
I sent my Romanian buddy an ipod shuffle.... it was insured, listed as the package contents and it still went astray.

Did the insurance reimburse you?

ADeMartino
10-20-2013, 04:38 AM
I sent my Romanian buddy an ipod shuffle [they are one of the cheap ones, comparatively. I think it cost me $125US] that was engraved with his name, it was insured, listed as the package contents and it still went astray.

It went astray because someone looked at the paperwork, saw what it was, and pocketed it. It probably never officially got past customs. Hell, there's a damned good chance it didn't even leave the United States. That customs paperwork is essentially a giant 'steal me' sign - it lets a potential thief know exactly what's in the box.

It's exactly why high-ticket items to foreign countries via the postal service is a bad idea, insured or not. You may not think $125 is 'high ticket', but someone got themselves an iPod, didn't they?

At least with FedEx, DHL, and UPS, there's accountability, because it's all the same company from pickup to delivery.

AccountingDrone
10-20-2013, 10:23 AM
yup insurance paid, though why someone would want a hot pink one with a mans name on it =)

ADeMartino
10-20-2013, 12:45 PM
yup insurance paid, though why someone would want a hot pink one with a mans name on it =)

Even if a stolen item isn't worth anything to a thief personally, there's always someone else who will buy it. The thief could have fenced the device for $10 (or whatever the Romanian equivalent is) and he'd be ahead.

Bear in mind, too, that not every single package gets opened in customs. By the time the thief discovered the color and engraving, he'd already torn open the package.

Personally, I wouldn't care less about the color of an MP3 player if it was legitimately free - if I won it in a raffle, for example. I would not resort to stealing one of ANY color, however.

Sapphire Silk
10-20-2013, 07:33 PM
Both of these are UK military facilities. I don't know if there are any civilian population there. Mail might have to go through military channels.

Tristan is so hard to get to, they only get drop offs a couple of times a year. They do have a very very small civilian population, descended of former soldiers who decided to stay.

OK, on these . . . I got nothing. The Falklands War is finished for a while now, and Kiribati doesn't seem to be much different from the other nearby Pacific islands; stable government, no war going on, good technological base, and so forth. No idea why they won't insure mail going there.

Oh, and I just needed to quote the following: "Kiribati is the only country in all four nominal hemispheres."

The Falklands is a British colony. It's easier to get to than Tristan or Pitcairn, so that doesn't make much sense either. Maybe it has something to do with the fact it's almost all the way to the South Pole, and the Argentines are still really pissed off they lost the Falklands War.

Kiribati is slowly disappearing under the Pacific because of sea level rise from climate change. I guess someone's afraid the mail will be lost at sea

I thought we weren't talking about the USPS?:angel:

Hey, I like the USPS. I use them for everything in the US. I'll even use them to mail to Canada and Western Europe, because the service is good and reasonably priced.

It went astray because someone looked at the paperwork, saw what it was, and pocketed it. It probably never officially got past customs. Hell, there's a damned good chance it didn't even leave the United States. That customs paperwork is essentially a giant 'steal me' sign - it lets a potential thief know exactly what's in the box.

Yeah, that bothered me when I was sending stuff to Western Europe a few years back; sold a lot of gaming stuff over there when I was still selling on eBay.

At least with FedEx, DHL, and UPS, there's accountability, because it's all the same company from pickup to delivery.

And boy, is there! I went to the FedEx office a couple of months ago because I bought one of those NEST thermostats for my house. Apple insists on signed confirmation, they can't just drop off on the stoop the way most of my packages are dropped. So I miss the FedEx guy and have to go to the warehouse to get my package.

You have to pickup in their security shack. You fill out a form and show them your "tried to deliver" ticket with the tracking number on it, plus photo ID.

Several employees came and went to work while I was waiting. They were searched coming in and coming out. I asked how that went at shift change, the guard said it could take awhile, but the company takes security very seriously so it gets done.

So I asked a friend of mine who worked there about a year ago, and he confirmed it. Said it was a minor hassle but you just got used to it.

peoplesuck
10-21-2013, 03:12 PM
You have to pickup in their security shack. You fill out a form and show them your "tried to deliver" ticket with the tracking number on it, plus photo ID.

Several employees came and went to work while I was waiting. They were searched coming in and coming out. I asked how that went at shift change, the guard said it could take awhile, but the company takes security very seriously so it gets done.

So I asked a friend of mine who worked there about a year ago, and he confirmed it. Said it was a minor hassle but you just got used to it.

I highly suggest, if you get a lot of packages, to use a retail mailbox like UPS store or whatnot. They become your mail agents, signing for packages, forwarding, scanning, etc; They can really be a life saver, if they are not open 24 hours many will have package delivery boxes, you let them know you will pick up your packages tonight, and it goes in the package cage, and the key goes in your mailbox.

raudf
10-22-2013, 04:35 PM
As for APO and FPO addresses, the mail is indeed handled by military personnel - but those personnel are deputized agents of the USPS. I remember that little tidbit from my Navy days.

Ah, see, all I had was very vague memories as a kid.. a couple of decades ago. I just remember that we had to go to the warehouse to get the mail :p

I also knew it didn't fully apply to bases inside the US, because in Meridian, we had mail slots in the door and I used to watch the mail carrier drop off the mail. The main reason I remember the mail slots is because of how often I had to break into the house via it, due to keys being locked inside. And occasionally having to do it for the neighbors too. This is the reason I will not have mail slots in any exterior door.. :p

ADeMartino
10-22-2013, 07:22 PM
Hey, I like the USPS. I use them for everything in the US. I'll even use them to mail to Canada and Western Europe, because the service is good and reasonably priced.


Yup. The system has a few flaws, true, but overall, I think it does an awesome job. I can only recall ONE time in my life that it ever took more than about five days to get a letter (based on the postmark) - EXCLUDING, of course, my days in the Navy, where it was not unusual for it take a month or more to get a letter. Not the USPS's fault, of course - the delays were mostly due to the way the supply systems worked.

Considering the sheer volume of mail the USPS handles, and how relatively inexpensive it is to send a letter or package, I cannot speak ill of it. Especially in comparison to the postal system in other countries I've been to.