"No postage necessary..."

When you have a return envelope from a company that says “No postage necessary if mailed in the United States,” has the company already paid the postage for that envelope or do they only pay when the envelope gets used? Or does it depend?

What brought this question to mind is something that happened at work last week: a co-worker saw me putting 3 Netflix envelopes in the mail, and said that she always sends all of her discs back in 1 envelope. I asked her what she does with the leftover envelopes, and she said that she throws them out. So it got me wondering whether Netflix has already paid for those envelopes, and therefore she’s “wasting” $0.39 (or whatever their rate is) every time she throws one away, or whether they only get charged for the envelopes that get used and therefore I’m the one wasting money.

(I’m really not concerned about Netflix making or losing money on U.S. postage, I’m just curious now about these kinds of envelopes. :))

I’m pretty sure that the company only pays for the postage if it is actually used. That’s why a good tactic for junk mail is to mail the damn stuff back to them (on their dime) filled out with gibberish of course.

You might tell your friend that putting all her discs in one envelope is tempting fate - that will be the envelope that gets lost, or tears open in the mail because it’s overstuffed.

As for the postage, they only get charged as it comes in - the business’ post office either counts or bulk weighs the envelopes and enters charges accordingly. For really small accounts, they’ll just say “You got six envelopes this week, pay $x to get them.”

Be aware that if your returned package is too heavy it won’t be delivered and may get you in a certain amount of trouble. Also be aware that the people who open those envelopes have absolutely no control over the mailing policies of the companies so being a jerk toward them is, well, jerkish.

The only Netflix disk I’ver ever had lost in the mail was, oddly enough, returned in the same envelope with another disk (which Netflix did get). So now, unless I’m short an envelope for some reason, they all go in separate envelopes.

I always put 2 or 3 discs per envelope when I return them to Netflix, and I’ve never lost a single one.

Hey, I didn’t lose it. THe post office did. Or whoever took it out of the envelope at Netflix. Not me!

That doesn’t really change the fact that my experience has been different from yours.

Well, companies pay a penny or two actual printing costs to produce those envelopes. But then they pay postage only on the ones actually delivered by the Post Office.

No, it’s not a good tactic. Two reasons:

  • as Otto said, the poor minimum-wage serfs who open & process those envelopes have nothing to do with the outgoing junk mail, so they can do nothing about it. Heck, they probably work for a fulfillment company several states away from the origin of the junk mail.
    Besides, if you only have ‘gibberish’ in it, how would they ever find your name to remove it from their mailing lists, even if they tried?

  • companies don’t have to pay for Business Reply envelopes containing ‘non-mailable material’. (That’s why pasting a return envelope to a brick is pointless.) So if you mail them an envelope full of ‘gibberish’, they can ask for a refund from the Post Office for the postage charges. But the Post Office has already spent the money to deliver it, so they have to eat those costs. Or, rather, pass them on to all other customers by occasionally raising the cost of a postage stamp.

So I have a textbook. It is an International Student Edition. It has, on a big bold red label, “NOT FOR SALE IN THE UNITED STATES”.

It contains a satisfaction survey, which you can send back to them free of charge, but get this, only if mailed within the United States. WTF?

Thanks! :slight_smile: