ImportantCustomer Information and Your Genealogy

Important  Customer Information

We regret that your mail was not collected or is being returned to you due to heightened security requirements. All mail that bears postage stamps and weighs more than 13 ounces MUST be taken by the customer to a retail associate at a Post Office.

United States Postal Service July 2007 DECDDD2

This notice was attached to a package of genealogy materials returned to my client, who wrote: “…the packet of information that I mailed to you last week got returned even though I mailed it from the post office at work…”

The packet did weigh more than 13 ounces. And it did have a bunch of postage stamps instead of the post office label. The stamps were only partly canceled–two cancel stamps in red.

My reason for having a post office box in the first place is that I travel and sometimes I am gone 3-4 days (don’t put a hold on my mail) and sometimes I am gone for 2-3 weeks (when I do put a hold on my mail).

It gets worse…

Do you recall the anthrax scare that hit our country a few years ago? The episode involving the post office was focused on Florida. I did a large seminar in western Florida and took orders for the new edition of my book Family History for Fun and Profit which was still at the printer’s.

As soon as we got the books, we addressed labels and shipped 43 of them to Florida. In padded envelopes to which we had attached postage stamps. We weighed a book with inserts and envelope. Got the right stamps from the p.o. Stuck them on the envelope and stuffed the bag. Then we delivered all 43 to our post office here to ship them.

Before the week was up, the phone began to ring! People did not get their books. One large order went to the local library system for all of the branch libraries. Not one arrived.

Out investigation revealed that these books must of hit the Florida p.o. system just as they shut everything down because the mail, the p.o., the employees were all contaminated with anthrax!

So we re-shipped 43 books. This time they arrived–we sent them in small numbers. We did not use stamps. The post office used printed postage labels.

How does this affect your genealogy?

There are still many persons who mail paper copies of their stuff to relatives, colleagues, friends, professional researchers like me, and to libraries where their genealogy will be archived for generations to come.

Be wise. This is a time of heightened security. And the US Post Office is required to follow the law. Remember that it was my own p.o. that returned the packet following a 2007 regulation. My client’s work p.o. accepted the mail with all the stamps on it. So I will talk to my guys, and my client will talk to his guys. And you can talk to your guys. (Or gals.)

I recommend that we all take more care.

1) Officially holding the mail if we can’t pick it up every day.

2) Shipping our stuff without using live stamps–even if you live a distance from the p.o. and relay on the mail carrier to pick up your mail.

3) And clearly labeling the package as “GENEALOGY RECORDS AND MATERIALS.”

4) Alerting the recipient by advance letter or email that the packet is coming.

Having to ship genealogy more than once is a drag in time, in lost contact and sharing, and in cost–they don’t always refund your stamps or give you credit for them.

Using lots of stamps is sometimes a marketing technique–recommended by the best marketing organizations in the country. Live stamps usually guarantee that the package is opened. In this case, convenience of postage on hand turned out to be inconvenient. Who would know?

Never. Not once. Not ever have I received that blue notice: Important Customer Information. Never. Who would know?

And I mail a lot of packages weighing more than 13 ounces and thousands weighing less, every year. Since my experience with book orders and live stamps, I have the post office add printed postage labels most of the time. Or I use priority boxes supplied by the post office. Although, my postmaster and his assistants often have me attach live stamps to save them time if I have a big stack of packages to mail all at once. So, who would know?

Well, we all know. Now. Your favorite genealogy evidence guru, Arlene Eakle

PS Current research completed with reports underway:








Reports on these names will be mailed within the next two-three weeks. AE

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