No Postage Neccessary if mailed in the U.S.

If I place the postage paid envelopes I receive in the mail for the various promotions or gimmicks in the mail with an item I was saving for heavy trash day, would the item be shipped to the solicitor? OK. Maybe that is too ambitious. What if I simply sealed the envelope and dropped it in the mail? Would the solicitor incur any additional cost, other than the labor devoted to processing replies to these promotionals? Would this be a valid or efficient way to resist the onslaught of junk mail?

As I understand it… and I may be wrong… the company only pays postage when someone sends them back a reply. There’s a bar code on the envelope that shows when it was processed by the Post Office.

So I think you would cost them a few cents (they get a cheap bulk rate) and whatever labor costs to open and “process” the envelope.

Cecil answers.

We discussed this issue, and Cecil’s column recently here.

Should have searched first. Thanks. My shredder came to a smoking halt while I was trying to shred a store of junk mail that I don’t want in the trash unless it is shredded. Amazing that people want more of this stuff. I think I will send the envelopes off. I have about 15 of them. :smiley:

What do you expect that to do?

It will: [ul]
[li]increase costs for the junk mailer by a tiny, un-noticed amount.[/li][li]make their day a bit harder for the underpaid folks who have to process these returns.[/li][li]Increase mail volume, thus further slowing down letters the rest of us mail (and possibly leading to more frequent postage increases).[/li][li]Do absolutely nothing to reduce the volume of junk mail you receive (even if they wanted to, how could they stop sending to you? You only sent them an empty envelope, no name or address included.)[/li][/ul]

You’d be better off ripping them into tiny pieces, or tossing them into your fireplace – that wouldn’t hurt anybody, and you would get some satisfaction out of it.


I get lots of junk mail, and most I just toss after giving it a quick glance. But one I noticed had the words “Do not discard” on it: so presumably they wanted me to keep some random credit card for ever. Since they didn;t want me to discard card it, I just stuffed it back into the return envelope, with words scribbled on it to the effect of: “You don’t want this discarded, so here it is back so you can keep it. And I don’t want this credit card offer either.” :wally (So I hope they have that wonderful document kept in long-term storage somehere – they wouldn’t discard it would they? :smiley: )

We get a lot of this crap mailed to our office because we have lots of business travelers in the office. Today I saw an envelope from Capital One that said "Warning: Tampering with this envelope or its contents may result in legal action. " There was also a bar code and a 13-digit serial number on it (first two digits were zeroes), labelled “CUSTOMER LOCATOR CODE”.

Strangely enough, sending it back with nothing but what they sent me (blank, un-“tampered” contents) and leaving the bar code on it seems to be the only way to win here.

If I destroy the bar code, however, I’m subject to this vaguely stated “legal action” – but they can’t track me.

I suspect this is a warning to a would-be interceptor of the mail, rather than the intended recipient.

Indeed, were it otherwise, you’d be in trouble for simply opening the enelope (could be construed as tampering), no?

A postal worker chiming in. As others have stated, sending empty business reply mail (BRM) to the solicitor will not have the desired effect. They do not have to pay for the postage for any empty/prank envelopes that they receive.

On an interesting side note however, the postage rate for BRM is significantly higher than an ordinary first class piece. I haven’t seen the rate charts recently, but it is something on the order of 3 times the first class rate (approx. $1) per piece. Not that I advocate this, mind you :D, but if one was to reply with fictional names/addresses, in enough numbers, I imagine that they would feel the pinch.

Wait a minute. They don’t have to pay if the envelope is empty or doesn’t contain a legitimate response? The post office doesn’t know what’s in it, and so incurs the costs of delivering it, and then the business just tells the post office, “We got x number of empties this month, so knock that much off our bill?” Doesn’t seem quite right to me, what’s to prevent wholesale fraud on the part of the business, claiming that some large percentage of their BRMs were pranks?

I send them back with all the labels I rip off of mattresses…

The only thing I can think of is maybe a weight issue, where a running tally is made of those envelopes weighing x amount, with the weight of the envelope itself tared.

But that doesn’t quite sit right with me. So how does the USPS know whether the envelope has a response (legit or not) in those pieces?

Count me among the dubious on this one. If you check out the recent thread on BRM and BRM revenge you’ll find cites to materials from the USPS. None of them mention a rebate for empty/prank envelopes. Can you point us to something that discusses this policy?

Currently pegged at 97 cents per first class piece.

All right, I’ve scoured the postal manuals, but I can’t find the applicable regs about refunds for fraudulent BRM pieces.

This leads me to believe that either:

  1. They exist, but I just haven’t found them, or

  2. There are no specific regs, just general guidelines.

If anyone is curious the Postal Service’s page regarding BRM can be found here.

On our internal website there I found several things that allude to refunds. Most notably perhaps is PS (form) 3613: Refunds From Advance Deposit Accounts (Mar., 2000).

I believe that since they obviously don’t want to return funds, the post office doesn’t go out of their way to advertise the policy. However, I imagine that as long as the customer does not claim an excessive amount of fraudulent BRM, the PO probably doesn’t think twice about issuing a refund.

The long and short of it is this: I have been with the USPS for a long time, and while I have never worked specifically in a BRM unit, I have known and talked with enough people to know that, either officially or unofficially, refunds for fraudulent BRM is indeed postal policy. I ask that you trust me on that.

What about this:

or this:

The links above are to archived versions of the rules, but here is a link to the current one (pdf, which is why I included the other links).

These seem to suggest that the only refund a BRM customer can get is one for unused affixed postage–not per piece fees.

It seems that, indeed, the PO does not give a per piece refund. I still assert that, unofficially at least, it does (or at least did) happen.

Oh, and Gfactor, good job coming up with those cites. I spent several hours combing our interal sites and while I found oodles of info on BRM (more than I ever wanted to know), that key bit managed to elude me. Kudos again!

Here are some videos about this prank:

Postal Regifting for Fun:

How You Can Help Save Jobs and Stick It To The Man For Free:

Spreading Ron Paul’s message with flyers by returning pre-paid junk mail envelopes:

I have printed out jokes that I enjoyed reading and mail it back in the envelopes. I have also printed out newspaper articles that I read online and mailed the articles back in the envelopes.