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Comics and Media Mail


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 It's been an increasing problem, in general, with sellers trying to pass off(mail) comics as media mail. Just FYI, the Postal Inspectors are opening packages and making the customer pay for the additional postage, not fair to the customer who already paid for the first class postage fee in the first place. Do not send comics media mail please, the Postal Inspectors will catch you.

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I think the cost for mailing needs to be looked at overall.  I would like to see it established that books have to be shipped at least First Class and Media Mail not be used at all.  

I've been under the impression that comics aren't supposed to be sent via Media Mail anyway.  I just paid almost $14 to get 4 books shipped (two transactions, my own fault.) and the seller has sent them Media Mail.  Kind of bad form, when you think about it.

 

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12 hours ago, Steve Dahms said:

I think the cost for mailing needs to be looked at overall.  I would like to see it established that books have to be shipped at least First Class and Media Mail not be used at all.  

I've been under the impression that comics aren't supposed to be sent via Media Mail anyway.  I just paid almost $14 to get 4 books shipped (two transactions, my own fault.) and the seller has sent them Media Mail.  Kind of bad form, when you think about it.

For what it is worth, I hear what you are saying, and I cannot disagree with you.  It is indeed very bad form on two fronts: you were charged much more for shipping than the seller's cost, and you received a slower shipping service than what you paid for.  

You are correct that periodical comics are not supposed to be sent via Media Mail b/c of the advertising contained in them.  Books without advertising can be shipped via Media Mail.  Occasionally there will be a story of a postal clerk who denies a Marvel omnibus' eligibility for Media Mail, but those are supposed to be allowed.  I assume that magazines (which are now sold on AA) cannot ship via Media Mail, but prose books (which are also sold on AA ) can still go via Media Mail.*  

Sellers may not know (or care) that when USPS inspects the contents of a Media Mail package (doesn't happen often, but it doesn't *never* happen), if the inspector determines that the contents do not qualify for Media Mail the *recipient* of the package gets charged the additional postage that is due.  So a seller that sends periodical comics via Media Mail is asking the buyer to assume some risk of additional postage costs.  Also bad form.  

IMO if you feel that an AA seller shipped at a substantially lower shipping service than what AA requires so that they could pocket the cost difference (which is what it sounds like for your situation), you can (and should!) indicate this when you leave feedback on AA for the transaction.  If you *really* feel like you got badly overcharged for shipping relative to the shipping service that the seller actually used, you can also contact AA support via email and politely tell them the specifics of your experience.  If this is a recurring problem related to a specific seller(s), then AA needs to know.  

    

*Another nudge to the folks at Human Computing that it sure would be helpful for buyers and sellers if books and magazines were browsable in sellers' store inventory pages on AA.  This should have been in place when magazine and book sales first went "live" on AA.  

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And I will take this opportunity to repeat some things that I have stated multiple times:  

What mailing service types are recommended/permitted is not fully clear to sellers for several reasons: 
(1) The Atomic Avenue shipping calculator does not tell sellers what shipping method it used to calculate the shipping reimbursement to the seller.  Sometimes it is easy to tell, but sometimes the number that comes out is a real head-scratcher.  More transparency there would help sellers, I think. 
(2)  I suspect that sometimes the AA shipping calculator isn't savvy about USPS insurance thresholds or charges.  When shipping via Priority Mail, insurance is free for package value up to $50... but the charges can add up once you get up above that $50 mark.  IMO exactly zero AA packages should be shipped via USPS Priority Mail without being fully insured. 
(3)  The Atomic Avenue help pages need an update.  For example, the AA help pages refer to Parcel Post mailing when we were told some time ago that Parcel Post wasn't an option any more.  

As a seller, I can tell you that sometimes (especially with orders that are large both in terms of high $$$ and physical size) the shipping calculator undershoots by a decent amount.  In those cases, I typically elect to just eat the extra postage costs.  It is poor form to go to AA and ask them to bug the customer for a postage adjustment after that customer thinks that they completed their full order... and three-way email conversations (me, AA, and the customer) take time to resolve themselves, and I make it a point to get my packages in the hands of the USPS by the next business day.  

I will say, however, that once in a while AA substantially overshoots the shipping reimbursement.  I just filled an order last night that cost me ~$20 to ship including full insurance... but the AA calculator billed the customer $36.  I asked AA to make the adjustment at their end.  But not all sellers do that, some will just pocket that difference and that's just uncool.  

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  • 1 month later...

I just made my first orders last month. One order (I kept some packaging) had free shipping with X minimum order it was media mail, the other was $9.45 Shipping on a $10.24 order and sent media mail for $3.19. Besides pocketing over $6.00, now finding it is illegal and I could have been charged additional postage on arrival. Really makes me more aware. E-bay was pretty cool in the 1990's but really started to bite at the turn of the century.

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So long as sellers ship an order so that the buyer receives it within the specified time, sellers may use any shipping method. Some sellers may use additional packaging for protection in order to guarantee protection for the comics, or may use an economical method in order to be able to keep their prices low.

We strongly recommend looking for sellers who provide free shipping once a certain price threshold has been reached. You can find these sellers by looking for the free shipping box next to their user ID, and clicking on the user ID (or placing one of their items into your shopping cart) will show you how much you need to buy for free shipping.

If you have more questions about the shipping method the seller used, you can contact the seller directly. To find the seller’s contact information, log in to Atomic Avenue and click the order number under the Purchases bar. You will see the seller’s contact information on the order page. If you have a preferred method of shipment, you can contact the seller before the item is shipped. If the cost of shipping, packaging and insurance via that method is higher than you paid, the seller may request additional funds from you.

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I think it would be helpful if AA made it more explicit to sellers that they are responsible for following postal regulations, i.e., periodical comics that contain advertising should not be sent via Media Mail:  "Media Mail packages may not contain advertising. Comic books do not meet this standard."

This is not a new issue, it was suggested some time back by other AA users.  

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IMO, the implication that the burden is on buyers prior to making a purchase to investigate whether sellers pocket extra money from improperly using media mail sounds kind of like, "hey, if the sellers can get away with it, then so be it."  

Since Atomic Avenue takes the approach of determining shipping charges to the buyer rather than allowing the seller to do so, it should be possible for Atomic Avenue to explicitly tell the buyer and the seller the shipping method used for that calculation.  If at that point the seller elects to chisel a few extra bucks out of the system by using media mail, then the buyer can call them out in feedback etc... and claims that a seller is improperly using media mail that can be fact-checked using the tracking number that the seller is required to enter when they mark an order as 'shipped."  

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  • 4 weeks later...

Another case in point; I just ordered $160 worth of books from a seller, paid almost $19 in shipping, and they're being sent Media Mail.  A quick "ballpark" check of how much that might cost shows under $4.

I asked that it be sent Priority instead.  Developing...

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If you are unhappy with the shipping method, you should contact the seller directly. Be aware that some sellers may factor the shipping price into their prices, and have lower-priced comics as a result. If you shop on a site like Amazon or eBay, you may see some items priced extremely low, but with a shipping cost that is more than the actual shipping cost. If Media Mail shipping is always unacceptable to you, you may wish to buy from a seller with higher prices who guarantees shipment that will not be USPS Media Mail. As always, Atomic Avenue encourages buyers to take advantage of free shipping, as offered by many of our sellers when you meet their specified threshold. When the buyer pays nothing for shipping, and the seller covers the entire cost, there is rarely an argument about the shipping method. Sellers can ship by any method as long as it gets to the buyer within the expected time range, and many buyers may use UPS or EasyShip for large orders, as these can be more economical than any USPS method.

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Posted (edited)

I don't have a problem with Media Mail the Postal Service does, the postal inspecter opens a package and then slaps a fee on it. and I just don't see  it, I'm not happy about it especially when I've already paid it up front, so it's the postal service that has got an issue with it not me. Postal regulations stipulate it does not allow comic books to be sent Media Mail it's in violation of federal law that's not my rule that's there's ,sellers need to follow it, end of  point.

Edited by KENNETH J. FIKE
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