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Testing the limits: Just how far can you push the US Postal Service? (
391 points posted 3 days ago by raldi

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trivial 17 points 3 days ago*

I've always wondered, if the post office returns envelopes missing stamps, then could one mail letters for free within a small area by just affixing an incorrect return address?

berberine 13 points 3 days ago

Yes, if there is a return address, the post office will return something to you if the proper postage is not affixed.

Sometimes, they will send it to the recipient but make the recipient pay.

I have been on both ends of the missing stamp issue. And, to send a letter without postage on purpose as mangleon said, is mail fraud but, on a letter it'd be hard to prove you left the stamp off on purpose.

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trivial 2 points 3 days ago

How far might the USPS be willing to deliver a letter without postage?

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mjd 10 points 3 days ago

I tried that about twenty-five years ago, but they returned the mail to me rather than to my intended recipient. I think perhaps they deduced what was happening by matching the "recipient" address (me) with the location from which I mailed the letter.

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mangleon 16 points 3 days ago

That's called mail fraud. A felony, though you'd never get in trouble for it unless you abuse it on a huge scale.

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breakneckridge 4 points 3 days ago

I tried this when I was at summer camp, but it didn't work because it was too obvious in those circumstances. But hey, I was only a kid, you gotta give me points for creativity and ballsiness!

I made the return address out to be my family's address in another state and I made the mail to address incomplete and undeliverable and I put a fake stamp on it. But when you're in a camp in the middle of nowhere, the mail man comes to pick the mail up, and he knows all the mail is coming from the camp, not some other state altogether, so they just returned it to me in my camp mail because I had return addressed it to my last name, so they knew it was me. It was fun though.

So I believe mail will only be returned to sender if the return address is in the area that the letter was sent from.

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pornholio21 1 point 2 days ago

MBNA's credit card statements used to come with a payment envelope which had the same address (MBNA's PO Box) printed on both the "To" and the "From" areas.

I was always tempted to send my check without a stamp, but I didn't want to risk a long delay in payment, so I never tried it myself.

But, they stopped printing their address on the upper left of the envelope (it's three blank lines now, like most payment envelopes), I'm guessing because too many people realized the same thing and were sending their bills without postage.

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lahuman8 -3 points 3 days ago

me too - never tried it though.

brilliant article

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jubjub123 4 points 2 days ago

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frukt 7 points 3 days ago

Never-opened small bottle of spring water. We observed the street corner box surreptitiously the following day upon mail collection. After puzzling briefly over this item, the postal carrier removed the mailing label and drank the contents of the bottle over the course of a few blocks as he worked his route.

The sordid scallywag!

derefr 5 points 3 days ago

I wonder if he would have drank it had the cap been even slightly tampered with on that bottle of sulphuric ac--I mean, water.

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stunt_penguin 43 points 3 days ago

Jonny was a postal worker but Jonny is no more cause what he thought was H20 was H2SO4

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weegee -8 points 3 days ago [comment score below threshold] show comment
rjcarr 2 points 3 days ago

USPS has been good for me except once. Mailed a small package of about $30 worth of stuff about 60 miles and it was never received or returned. Put a tracer on it and still nothing? Nothing else to do ...

Johnnyping 8 points 3 days ago

Gotta learn to let it go man...just let it go...

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inkieminstrel 2 points 3 days ago*

It hasn't been good to me. This very week, I had a time sensitive document sent to me before noon on Saturday via Express Mail. The document had to travel from DC to Philadelphia (a 3 hour drive), and Express Mail is supposed to be next-day for most locations. For $15, I got the document yesterday (Thursday) afternoon. I probably would have gotten it faster if we had done First Class for $0.39.

They also managed to lose a hand-made quilt sent from my grandmother to her great-grandson in the system for somewhere on the order of 6 months.

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flyinglunatic 9 points 3 days ago

This article was published in 2000. Post 9/11, they should repeat the experiment.

talkincat 9 points 3 days ago

You want these poor saps to end up at Gitmo?

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eliadiodati 7 points 3 days ago

You should see what the UK postal service had to put up with recently:

Dailylife 8 points 3 days ago

They kind of suck for mailing the suspicious articles. Postal Inspectors get called at all hours of the day and night to check suspicious packages. It's possible they pulled one out of bed in the middle of the night for their experiment.

Also, the copyright on the article is 2000. I bet this would be a lot different now.

kogus 2 points 3 days ago

You mean a government agency actually works? My understanding of the world is falling apart....

shrykk 16 points 3 days ago

What a wonderful article (the reason I read reddit).

My favourite is the brick wrapped in brown paper - eventually received as "a plastic bag containing broken and pulverized remnants of brick". The DEA had smashed the brick to check for drugs inside :)

stunt_penguin -1 points 3 days ago


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lowtone94 -3 points 3 days ago

This is an old article(20Cents for a mailing!!!!), however still extremely funny.

medullaoblongata 1 point 2 days ago

That's 20 cents for mailing a postcard, which is at a different rate than mailing a letter. The price of postage for a postcard was 20 cents until mid 2001.

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mjd 5 points 3 days ago

A few months ago someone sent me a plastic ball, about two feet in diameter, on which they had written my address in magic marker.

jemfinch -1 points 3 days ago

My neighbor has three bunnies.

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joshdick -10 points 3 days ago [comment score below threshold] show comment
sabernar -7 points 3 days ago [comment score below threshold] show comment
berberine -4 points 3 days ago

I'm surprised that any of the stuff was actually delivered considering that any postage over one pound, by law, is supposed to be taken to an actual post office for mailing. This is so a postal clerk can verify that it's not a bomb or something dangerous. Technically, nothing should have arrived and, since there was no return address (another requirement by law) it all should have ended up in the dead letter office.

I'm sure that the postal workers involved got a laugh out of it all and thought, "what the hell, send it."

uptime -2 points 3 days ago

This article is at least 10 years old. Odds have dropped since 2001 on some of this stuff working.