Packing lists now violate USPS standard for media mail


Thank you all very much. Your input has made my day. I’m usually a huge advocate of USPS, but sometimes it seems as though my local office is out to get me. It feels like they resent people printing their own postage at home, & do all they can to find issue with the packages. Last year they started returning priority mail envelopes with books in them, claiming I was using the envelope as a “pouch.” I stormed into the post office demanding to talk to the manager, asking her to show me in writing where it says I can’t mail a hardcover book in a priority envelope, as long as the envelope has not been altered in any way. Ultimately they had to admit they were wrong. But it still held up my customer’s packages several days.


“Just curious, when you got the packages back had they been resealed adequately?”

Actually, there was no indication that the packages had even been opened. I assume the card was seen by x-ray of the package. But USPS reserves the right to open & inspect anything marked “media mail.” I have received inspected/opened media mail packages in the past & they have always been appropriately resealed. Generally I am very impressed with the service provided by USPS. Just have had a few personal run-ins with my local office.


I had this discussion with USPS a few times.
One clerk was “holier than thou” demanding nothing in a media mail package but a book (or media item).

I called the toll-free customer service and they had me talk to consumer affairs.

According to USPS and the DMM (domestic mail manual), you ARE allowed to include a packing slip/invoice inside a media mail package.

You are NOT allowed to have advertisements.

Content Standards for Media Mail

  • 4.1*
    Qualified Items
    Only these items may be mailed at the Media Mail prices:

a. Books, including books issued to supplement other books, of at least eight printed pages, consisting wholly of reading matter or scholarly bibliography, or reading matter with incidental blank spaces for notations and containing no advertising matter other than incidental announcements of books. Advertising includes paid advertising and the publishers’ own advertising in display, classified, or editorial style.

Enclosures in Books Mailed as Media Mail
Enclosures in books mailed at Media Mail prices are subject to these additional standards:

a. Either one envelope or one addressed postcard may be bound into the pages of a book. If also serving as an order form, the envelope or card may be in addition to the order form permitted by 4.2b…

b. One order form may be bound into the pages of a book. If also serving as an envelope or postcard, the order form may be in addition to the envelope or card permitted by 4.2a…

c. Announcements of books may appear as book pages. These announcements must be incidental and exclusively devoted to books, without extraneous advertising of book-related or other materials or services. Announcements may describe the conditions of ordering books and may contain ordering instructions for use with a separate order form. Up to three of these announcements may contain as part of their format a single order form, which may be a postcard. The order forms permitted with these announcements are in addition to order forms that may be enclosed under 4.2a. or 4.2b…

Enclosures and Attachments for both Media Mail and Library Mail

An invoice, whether it also serves as a bill, may be placed either inside a Media Mail or Library Mail piece or in an envelope marked “Invoice Enclosed” and attached to the outside of the piece if the invoice relates solely to the matter with which it is mailed. The invoice may show this information:

a. Names and addresses of the sender and addressee.

b. Names and quantities of the articles enclosed, descriptions of each (e.g., price, tax, style, stock number, size, and quality, and, if defective, nature of defects).

c. Order or file number, date of order, date and manner of shipment, shipping weight, postage paid, and initials or name of packer or checker.

Once again for those who did not get the notice, VIDEO GAMES ARE NO LONGER ALLOWED TO BE SENT VIA MEDIA MAIL.

Please note, that’s only a summary of the DMM for Media Mail.
The clerk is dead wrong.


I had an Express package rejected once for a clueless reason. I marched in with the package and regulations in hand and demanded a refund, which I got immediately. Never had another problem. It was actually the local postmaster who had come up with that particular decree. He was replaced shortly after that and our PO has been excellent ever since.


Invoices and packing slips are allowed, however if you include anything else (advertising materials, thank you cards, a note to the buyer) it is considered first class or priority mail. Even if you hand write “Thank you. Lion’s Books” it is not allowed via medial mail.

I run across this once or twice a year when someone decides to open a medial mail item for inspection. I go into the PO with my print out of the policy (you can find it on their web site or see combinola’s post) and explain the issue. The excuse I get is oh they put the “new people” or “part timers” on inspection and they don’t know what they are doing. They go on to explain that inspection is a hard job and mistakes happen. So why do they put newby and part timers on that job?


Just curious, when you got the packages back had they been resealed adequately? I had an expensive book lost in the mail recently. The customer got the mailer and was incensed that it had only a flimsy piece of tape on it. I always use multiple strips of tape including filament tape. I think the PO opened it, didn’t reseal adequately, and the book fell out.



According to the DMM, notes like personal messages and greetings related to the main item ARE able to be enclosed with Media Mail. I think this would cover a basic thank-you note. Even a note stating “Happy birthday!” is fine. What I’m guessing they don’t want to find is a hand-written letter to your sister about what’s going on in your life.

5.2 Incidental First-Class Mail Attachments and Enclosures
Incidental First-Class Mail matter may be enclosed in or attached to any Media Mail or any Library Mail piece without payment of First-Class Mail postage. An incidental First-Class Mail attachment or enclosure must be matter that, if mailed separately, would require First-Class Mail postage, is closely associated with but secondary to the host piece, and is prepared to not interfere with postal processing. An incidental First-Class Mail attachment or enclosure may be a bill for the product or publication, a statement of account for past products or publications, or a personal message or greeting included with a product, publication, or parcel. Postage at the applicable Media Mail or Library Mail price for the host piece is based on the combined weight of the host piece and the incidental First-Class Mail attachment or enclosure.

Loose Enclosures
In addition to the enclosures and additions listed in 5.1, 5.2, and 5.4, any printed matter that is mailable as Standard Mail may be included loose with any qualifying material mailed at the Media Mail or Library Mail prices.

5.4 Written Additions
Markings that have the character of personal correspondence require, with certain exceptions, additional postage at the First-Class Mail prices. The following written additions and enclosures do not require additional First-Class Mail postage:

a. The sender’s and the addressee’s names, occupations, and addresses, preceded by “From” or “To,” and directions for handling.
b. Marks, numbers, names, or letters describing the contents.
c. Words or phrases such as “Do Not Open Until Christmas” and “Happy Birthday, Mother.”
d. Instructions and directions for the use of the item mailed.
e. A manuscript dedication or inscription not having the nature of personal correspondence.
f. Marks to call attention to words or passages in the text.
g. Corrections of typographical errors in printed matter.
h. Manuscripts accompanying related proof sheets and corrections of proof sheets including corrections of typographical and other errors, changes in the text, insertions of new text, marginal instructions to the printer, and corrective rewrites of parts.
i. Hand-stamped imprints, unless the added material is in itself personal or converts the original matter to a personal communication.
j. Matter mailable separately as Standard Mail printed on the wrapper, envelope, tag, or label.

Edited by: Hit the Books on Mar 26, 2016 12:35 PM


I ran into that problem at my post office a few decades ago. Some employees seem really hostile to media mail mailers. Back when I was a book selling I was bring in about 25-50 packages a day (back before online postage) and two of the employees actively harassed me, said that “people like me” where destroying the post office.

Printing out the regs, talking to the station manager, etc didn’t help. I had to climb all the way up the chain of command to get the two nitwits transfered.

A good tool is to talk to other mailers at your post office, the other Amazon and Ebay sellers are always easy to spot. Troublesome clerks never limit themselves to just annoying one customer.

Always complain in writing, or if you have a verbal conservation, follow up with a written letter of understand confirming the discussion. Total PITA, but a paper trail gets results.


Yes, they certainly were wrong. You can always quote their slogan back to them, “If it fits, it ships.” I ship hammers in the flat rate envelopes and like it or not, there is nothing they can do about it.

As someone else stated, they are very poorly educated. It is my belief that one person will say something in the break room, whether correct or not, and it will spread throughout the building and soon becomes fact.

Edited by: Red Sky on Mar 26, 2016 12:31 PM


You fill your post office tubs with packages.
You tape the scan form on top.
You set them on the counter.
You get a nod of acknowledgement from the nearest clerk.
You go home.
There is no “dealing” with anyone.


Some magazines and scripts qualify. What will disqualify them is if they contain advertising. You could probably defend the advertising inside a fifty year old commercial magazine as educational/historical material but not without having to jump through some hoops to get a ruling.


Here is a chart from USPS which explicitly states that magazines are never eligible for media mail, regardless of age…

+Media Mail - Is it eligible? Jan 2013+


+New magazines+


+173.4.1.a Advertising is not eligible for Media Prices+

+Old magazines+


+173.4.1.a and Customer Support Ruling PS-091-Age of documents is irrelevant+



How did they know?

I’m not saying to lie to them, but I have found that the less that I talk to postal employees, the better that I am.


You have won the battle but you are losing the war. Just put your packing slips or invoices inside the package to avoid any delays to your customers. There is no doubt in my mind, your local post office will continue this wrong practice. Your late shipments will cause complains from your buyers.


A decade ago my local PO had 1 clerk who made it her mission in life to open EVERY media mail package put in front of her… and i’m not exaggerating. If you shipped 75 books… she opened all 75 packages. She was so consistently nasty, that everyone nicknamed her the book Nazi. If you mailed in a bubble poly bag, the pkg was so destroyed that you had to take it home, redo it and lose a days time and of course the next day she would do it again to the same package that you just fixed. It was really a no-win situation. In the beginning, I would just let other customers go around me while I waited for a different clerk but after so many arguments with her being unreasonable, I think she had it out for me. She would walk down to whatever window I was at and still open and destroy my packages even though she was waiting on someone else. I finally started shipping all my Media Mail in the next town over.
In 3 decades of shipping, I have found that shipping issues always occur in larger cities or bigger Post Offices. Small Towns with small Post Offices are always more friendly and helpful.
And yeah… the coffee and donuts thing is a must! I leave treats and sticky notes at the end of my PO box. In return, my PO lady spoils me and over the years we’ve become wonderful friends. She’s now my walking partner and we occasionally meet up for lunch.


“And it may sound easy, but nothing could be harder. It will test your head, and your mind, and your brain too.”


I recently bought some batteries on Amazon. I purchased a name brand and received a generic brand. When I asked to return them, the seller sent me a media mail label. (I don’t recall if it was sent to me using media mail.) I refused to return them with that label and the seller eventually sent me a regular label.

The BS that Amazon Sellers achieve on a daily basis amazes me.


It’s all open to case-by-case rulings if you feel like taking the time to justify it as “educational materials”. And there is the matter of definition as there are books that appear to be magazines and magazines that are constructed like books. Even differentiating between an educational date book and a calendar is an ongoing process. The only widely disseminated policy (deliberately vague in the interest of administrative simplicity) is this:

  • Perfect for sending books and educational materials.

[Commercial Pricing Available|]

h4. Rules & Restrictions

  • Maximum weight is 70 lbs.
  • The material sent must be educational media. Video \ games, computer drives, or digital drives of any kind are not items \ qualified for mailing at Media Mail prices.



Was that in the late 90’s, early 2000’s? That is very similar to the issue I had. Including the clerk butting in on other windows. He was the one I had to get transferred - he ran that PO like a tyrant even though he was not the manager - the manager and the other clerks all seemed afraid of him.
All the employees and the manager seemed to much more relaxed after he was transferred.

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