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Subject: Can you ship board games by Media Mail? rss

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Darian Tucker
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The Media Mail restrictions read:

The Post Office wrote:
Media Mail is not sealed against postal inspection. Regardless of physical closure, the mailing of articles at Media Mail prices constitutes consent by the mailer to postal inspection.

Media mail is used for certain types of books, films, manuscripts, printed music, printed test materials, sound recordings, play scripts, printed educational charts, loose-leaf pages and their binders consisting of medical information, video recordings, educational reference charts, and computer-readable media.

Video games, whether on CD-ROM, diskettes, or similar software, or playable systems including computers, do not meet the standards for Media Mail. Storage devices such as "portable hard drives", "thumb drives", "flash drives", "jump-drives", and "USB drives" for use with computers are not eligible for Media Mail prices. For specific eligibility please see DMM 173.3.

The maximum size of an item in combined length plus girth (distance around the thickest part) is 108 inches.

Mark each package "Media Mail" in the postage area.


Based on that description, it sounds like it could really go either way. Board games are not explicitly prohibited, but they don't exactly fit the criteria for being acceptable, either. I've been thinking about listing some board games on eBay with Media Mail shipping to attract buyers due to the reduced price, but I don't want to get caught and the buyer is forced to pay the shipping cost difference upon delivery or something. I am thinking that I can get away with it by saying I am sending educational games if the post office calls me up or something. Do you think they would be smart enough or know enough about board gaming to know the difference?
 
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Dave, or "Phineas" or "Tolstoy" or,
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There is the letter of the law, and then there is the spirit. In my opinion, and based on some of the wording in the regs, Media Mail was designed to help schools and libraries and so forth save money on shipping. I think shipping games that way violates at least the spirit and intent of Media Mail, if not the regs themselves. But that is just my opinion, and I know for sure that others think differently.
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Scott M.
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Bits, plastic, wood or dice are not media...

You get busted,, it will cost you your package.
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Stokes
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Don't do it. Don't ever do it.
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I would never ever recommend doing this.
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Jared
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If you really want to find out for sure, take your package unsealed to the post office and show them the contents and ask. They'll say no.
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Anything where you have to use the words "don't want to get caught" or "get away with it" is a bad idea.
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Darian Tucker
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ashkai wrote:
Anything where you have to use the words "don't want to get caught" or "get away with it" is a bad idea.


Yeah, probably. However, I did think of an even stronger loophole. I read the full article referenced under the restrictions (DMM 173.3) and it stated that "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."

I am taking that to mean that I can mail pretty much anything that is printed (so board games would count as they contain both printed rules and pieces) as long as I am mailing something that is acceptable by Media Mail standards. In other words, if I ship a textbook in the package with a bunch of board games, this is fine. Am I reading that right?
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Jeff G
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What others said - bad idea. It isn't that it "can go either way". Nothing in either what you quoted, or on the USPS website, would suggest it is permitted.

Plus, if I bought something from a vendor on Ebay, they tried to push it through media mail, and I had to suffer a delay and additional postage because they got caught, I would be furious. I would absolutely leave negative feedback and complain to Ebay over something like that. It would be simply unacceptable.

Especially if you're putting your reputation as a vendor on the line, it simply isn't worth saving a couple of bucks. Never, ever, EVER use "well, I probably won't get caught" as a justification for a business decision. You're just begging for trouble if you do.
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Darian Tucker
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Lyear wrote:
What others said - bad idea. It isn't that it "can go either way". Nothing in either what you quoted, or on the USPS website, would suggest it is permitted.

Plus, if I bought something from a vendor on Ebay, they tried to push it through media mail, and I had to suffer a delay and additional postage because they got caught, I would be furious. I would absolutely leave negative feedback and complain to Ebay over something like that. It would be simply unacceptable.

Especially if you're putting your reputation as a vendor on the line, it simply isn't worth saving a couple of bucks. Never, ever, EVER use "well, I probably won't get caught" as a justification for a business decision. You're just begging for trouble if you do.


To be fair, the buyer himself actually requested it. I explained the risks and he said he would be fine with it on the off chance that he could get it for a cheaper price. It is a not insignificant cost difference. The games he wants to buy would cost him about $27.29 shipping by Standard Post, but only $9.25 shipped by Media Mail. I was considering listing Media Mail as one of the shipping methods available but also including Standard Post/Priority Mail as an option and warning the buyer with a message after the auction about the risk they are taking if they elect to choose the Media Mail option.
 
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Jeff G
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SparkingConduit wrote:
ashkai wrote:
Anything where you have to use the words "don't want to get caught" or "get away with it" is a bad idea.


Yeah, probably. However, I did think of an even stronger loophole. I read the full article referenced under the restrictions (DMM 173.3) and it stated that "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."

I am taking that to mean that I can mail pretty much anything that is printed (so board games would count as they contain both printed rules and pieces) as long as I am mailing something that is acceptable by Media Mail standards. In other words, if I ship a textbook in the package with a bunch of board games, this is fine. Am I reading that right?


Dude. Seriously. Stop. Do you really want to put yourself in a position where you have to defend yourself against the Federal Government? Is that really the hill you want to die on?
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Not even a deck of cards counts as media mail. Don't do it.
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Timothy Rush
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Don't try it. I once won a sizable lot of CCG cards on eBay - sizable enough that the seller undercharged for shipping, and decided to try and prevent their own loss by sending it Media Mail... by throwing some magazines on top of the cards to try and trick the USPS if the opened the box.

The USPS had none of that, and held the box ransom until I paid the remaining postage they said they were due. I then made the seller refund me that much money so they still ate the extra costs. (If the seller originally had just stated they needed to up the shipping cost, I'd have gladly paid. Instead, as someone without a car, I had to arrange special transport, etc, and so they were going to pay for severely inconveniencing me by their dishonesty)
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Jeff G
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SparkingConduit wrote:
Lyear wrote:
What others said - bad idea. It isn't that it "can go either way". Nothing in either what you quoted, or on the USPS website, would suggest it is permitted.

Plus, if I bought something from a vendor on Ebay, they tried to push it through media mail, and I had to suffer a delay and additional postage because they got caught, I would be furious. I would absolutely leave negative feedback and complain to Ebay over something like that. It would be simply unacceptable.

Especially if you're putting your reputation as a vendor on the line, it simply isn't worth saving a couple of bucks. Never, ever, EVER use "well, I probably won't get caught" as a justification for a business decision. You're just begging for trouble if you do.


To be fair, the buyer himself actually requested it. I explained the risks and he said he would be fine with it on the off chance that he could get it for a cheaper price. It is a not insignificant cost difference. The games he wants to buy would cost him about $27.29 shipping by Standard Post, but only $9.25 shipped by Media Mail. I was considering listing Media Mail as one of the shipping methods available but also including Standard Post/Priority Mail as an option and warning the buyer with a message after the auction about the risk they are taking if they elect to choose the Media Mail option.


And if the USPS decides to seize the package and the buyer files a chargeback for non-receipt, who do you think Ebay or the customers credit card will side with, them or you? Is that also a battle you want to risk having to fight?
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The USPS is very strict on their Media Mail qualifications and frequently open up packages marked media mail.

This is due to the fact that many people before you have tried to work the system to save money.

What they mean by printed matter... and what they will say is printed matter is only things meant to be read really... books, magazines, newspapers, etc.

However, you are certainly free to make your own choices.
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All that happens if they catch you is a recalculation of the price and the difference in postage due will need to be paid by the recipient before they release the package. Also, some lazy assholes who work there may talk some trash about how whoever sent it really screwed you.

And yes, they are dicks about media mail. I got nastygrams from the USPS in boxes of CDs I sent media mail (but no fee).
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Darian Tucker
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Lyear wrote:
SparkingConduit wrote:
Lyear wrote:
What others said - bad idea. It isn't that it "can go either way". Nothing in either what you quoted, or on the USPS website, would suggest it is permitted.

Plus, if I bought something from a vendor on Ebay, they tried to push it through media mail, and I had to suffer a delay and additional postage because they got caught, I would be furious. I would absolutely leave negative feedback and complain to Ebay over something like that. It would be simply unacceptable.

Especially if you're putting your reputation as a vendor on the line, it simply isn't worth saving a couple of bucks. Never, ever, EVER use "well, I probably won't get caught" as a justification for a business decision. You're just begging for trouble if you do.


To be fair, the buyer himself actually requested it. I explained the risks and he said he would be fine with it on the off chance that he could get it for a cheaper price. It is a not insignificant cost difference. The games he wants to buy would cost him about $27.29 shipping by Standard Post, but only $9.25 shipped by Media Mail. I was considering listing Media Mail as one of the shipping methods available but also including Standard Post/Priority Mail as an option and warning the buyer with a message after the auction about the risk they are taking if they elect to choose the Media Mail option.


And if the USPS decides to seize the package and the buyer files a chargeback for non-receipt, who do you think Ebay or the customers credit card will side with, them or you? Is that also a battle you want to risk having to fight?


Not really, which is why I came here to ask this question. I'm not upset by some of the more caustic responses, but I've never used Media Mail before and didn't realize the USPS erred on the side of strictness rather than looseness. My feeling was that if board games weren't accepted, they would explicitly say so like they did for video games and computer media, so I didn't realize that not listing it as prohibited meant that it was subject to seizure or paying an additional cost. I thought that board games might count because there are actually some edutainment board games out there that might qualify, though I did realize that this might be a stretch.
 
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this is an often asked question, I just keep pointing them to

Using USPS media mail to ship games?

where it's been discussed to death... simply answer is no... and even if you get away with it media mail can take up to a month sometimes, it's the lowest priority... and subject to inspection by the usps anywhere along the way.

also why sell on ebay when you can sell here on BGG for a lot less, no listing fees and only a 3% commission if you do
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The short answer? NO

The long answer? NO

Some RPG manuals might qualify, but a board game does not.
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Darian Tucker
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JeffyJeff wrote:
this is an often asked question, I just keep pointing them to

Using USPS media mail to ship games?

where it's been discussed to death... simply answer is no... and even if you get away with it media mail can take up to a month sometimes, it's the lowest priority... and subject to inspection by the usps anywhere along the way.

also why sell on ebay when you can sell here on BGG for a lot less, no listing fees and only a 3% commission if you do


Mainly because I want to sell my games quickly to clear space and stuff can languish on the Geek Market for months even at the right price. I considered a Geek Auction, but I'm just not interested in going to that effort. I hate the high eBay fees, but I don't want to list something on here for $20 when it might sell on eBay at $30 and I'll make more overall.
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Ron Lacer
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Quote:
And yes, they are dicks about media mail. I got nastygrams from the USPS in boxes of CDs I sent media mail (but no fee).


I'm surprised to hear that about CDs. I have been sending phonograph records (45s) via media mail for several months now. I have been up front with telling the Post Office clerks what I was sending and they said it was allowed. It is odd they allow one form of music media and note another.
 
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Lyear wrote:
What others said - bad idea. It isn't that it "can go either way". Nothing in either what you quoted, or on the USPS website, would suggest it is permitted.

Plus, if I bought something from a vendor on Ebay, they tried to push it through media mail, and I had to suffer a delay and additional postage because they got caught, I would be furious. I would absolutely leave negative feedback and complain to Ebay over something like that. It would be simply unacceptable.

Especially if you're putting your reputation as a vendor on the line, it simply isn't worth saving a couple of bucks. Never, ever, EVER use "well, I probably won't get caught" as a justification for a business decision. You're just begging for trouble if you do.
Lyear wrote:
Dude. Seriously. Stop. Do you really want to put yourself in a position where you have to defend yourself against the Federal Government? Is that really the hill you want to die on?
Lyear wrote:
And if the USPS decides to seize the package and the buyer files a chargeback for non-receipt, who do you think Ebay or the customers credit card will side with, them or you? Is that also a battle you want to risk having to fight?

Dude... okay... we get it... you are not in favor of the OP using Media Mail for games.
Are you done condescending to the guy as if he were pondering using 8-year-old girls as drug-mules for an international drug-smuggling cartel?
Your (angry, self-righteous, unnecessarily confrontational) position has been expressed. We get it.
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I didn't get that at all. I think others were trying to point out that the idea was bad, and the reasons why it was bad.

fightcitymayor wrote:
Lyear wrote:
What others said - bad idea. It isn't that it "can go either way". Nothing in either what you quoted, or on the USPS website, would suggest it is permitted.

Plus, if I bought something from a vendor on Ebay, they tried to push it through media mail, and I had to suffer a delay and additional postage because they got caught, I would be furious. I would absolutely leave negative feedback and complain to Ebay over something like that. It would be simply unacceptable.

Especially if you're putting your reputation as a vendor on the line, it simply isn't worth saving a couple of bucks. Never, ever, EVER use "well, I probably won't get caught" as a justification for a business decision. You're just begging for trouble if you do.
Lyear wrote:
Dude. Seriously. Stop. Do you really want to put yourself in a position where you have to defend yourself against the Federal Government? Is that really the hill you want to die on?
Lyear wrote:
And if the USPS decides to seize the package and the buyer files a chargeback for non-receipt, who do you think Ebay or the customers credit card will side with, them or you? Is that also a battle you want to risk having to fight?

Dude... okay... we get it... you are not in favor of the OP using Media Mail for games.
Are you done condescending to the guy as if he were pondering using 8-year-old girls as drug-mules for an international drug-smuggling cartel?
Your (angry, self-righteous, unnecessarily confrontational) position has been expressed. We get it.
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Jared
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SparkingConduit wrote:
The Post Office wrote:
For specific eligibility please see DMM 173.3.


Did you actually ever go look up DMM 173.3 (referenced in the quote in the original post)?

http://pe.usps.com/cpim/ftp/manuals/dmm300/173.pdf

Quote:
4.0 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.
b. 16-millimeter or narrower width films, which must be positive prints in final form for viewing, and catalogs of such films of 24 pages or more (at least 22 of which are printed). Films and film catalogs sent to or from commercial theaters do not qualify for the Media Mail price.
c. Printed music, whether in bound or sheet form.
d. Printed objective test materials and their accessories used by or on behalf of educational institutions to test ability, aptitude, achievement, interests, and other mental and personal qualities with or without answers, test scores, or identifying information recorded thereon in writing or by mark.
e. Sound recordings, including incidental announcements of recordings and guides or scripts prepared solely for use with such recordings. Video recordings and player piano rolls are classified as sound recordings.
f. Playscripts and manuscripts for books, periodicals, and music.
g. Printed educational reference charts designed to instruct or train individuals for improving or developing their capabilities.Each chart must be a single printed sheet of information designed for educational reference. The information on the chart, which may be printed on one or both sides of the sheet, must be conveyed primarily by graphs, diagrams, tables, or other nonnarrative matter. An educational reference chart is normally but not necessarily devoted to one subject. A chart on which the information is conveyed primarily by textual matter in a narrative form does not qualify as a printed educational reference chart for mailing at the Media Mail prices even if it includes graphs, diagrams, or tables. Examples of qualifying charts include maps produced primarily for educational reference, tables of mathematical or scientific equations, noun declensions or verb conjugations used in the study of languages, periodic table of elements, botanical or zoological tables, and other tables used in the study of science.
h. Loose-leaf pages and their binders consisting of medical information for distribution to doctors, hospitals, medical schools, and medical students.
i. Computer-readable media containing prerecorded information and guides or scripts prepared solely for use with such media.

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rocksnrolls wrote:
Quote:
And yes, they are dicks about media mail. I got nastygrams from the USPS in boxes of CDs I sent media mail (but no fee).


I'm surprised to hear that about CDs. I have been sending phonograph records (45s) via media mail for several months now. I have been up front with telling the Post Office clerks what I was sending and they said it was allowed. It is odd they allow one form of music media and note another.


Yeah, CDs are allowed, explicitly. I assume that's why they didn't try tack on postage, I think they just like posturing and discouraging the use of MM.
 
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