Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Detached label mailings
are a tricky matter

Question: I frequently receive advertisements from vendors, such as MidWeek, on a postcard-sized "detached label" with the accompanying U.S. Postal Service regulations, which require that it be "delivered together with its accompanying postage paid mail." Why is this required? Who pays for the postage? And what happens when I contact my local postmaster if I don't receive the accompanying mail?

Answer: MidWeek is an example of that kind of mailing that most people probably are familiar with, noted U.S. Postal Service spokeswoman Felice Broglio.

In that case, there is the detached label with the delivery address and postage markings and there is the actual piece of mail to be delivered -- e.g., the MidWeek publication. The mailer pays for both pieces to be mailed.

"Both parts must be delivered together, otherwise (the mailing) is incomplete," Broglio said.

For such a saturation or mass mailing, it's just not feasible to have addresses directly placed or printed on each copy of the paper, she said. On the postal service side, bulky newspapers cannot be sorted by route.

"It's not practical," Broglio said. "The only way to deliver it efficiently is to take bundles of it and have it (available) to pick up one at every box."

In the meantime, carriers have the address cards to refer to and to know when "to lean back in their bin of MidWeeks to go with the detached label. That's how it's done. It's more of a logistical problem with handling something that large that's a saturation mailing. It's more complex than people realize."

As for what happens when you call your local postmaster (i.e., your neighborhood post office) when you don't get the paper or product, "they will make every attempt to redeliver one, provided they have some left at the end. The numbers are supposed to be sufficient, but sometimes there is a problem and there could be isolated cases of shortages."

Another example of a mass mailing with a detached label is when a company sends free samples, Broglio said.

Q: Attached is the envelope in which our state income tax refund was sent. You can see that the right side of the "window" was slightly torn and bent, so that it is possible to see the amount of our refund. Can you check to see if this means someone at the post office is tampering with our mail? My son's refund check envelope also was in this condition.

A: Without actually seeing it, Postal Service spokeswoman Felice Broglio said the tears most likely were caused by a machine that sorts letters.

"If (the envelope) went through a machine, it's common," she said, noting she's seen similar tears on letters she's received. That possibility becomes even more probable because the tears are so uniform and because the same thing happened with your son's mailed refund.

"The flap catches on a machine somehow," leaving two even tears that fold back, Broglio said.

However, if you still suspect that someone might be tampering with your mail, call the postal inspection service at 423-3790.

Got a question or complaint?
Call 529-4773, fax 529-4750, or write to Kokua Line,
Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210,
Honolulu 96813. As many as possible will be answered.
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