Can I send this candy fetus via media mail?
June 26, 2011 8:40 AM   Subscribe

Can I send this candy fetus via media mail?

At the request of a friend I picked up last night a grotesque Flaming Lips candy fetus thing that has a usb drive encased inside of it. The drive has songs on it. I need to mail it to him. Since it's technically media, can I send it media mail?
posted by cog_nate to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yes. Here's the list of restrictions. 3.2 e has to do with sound recordings. You probably already know this, but MM takes longer and the packages are usually treated poorly.
posted by iconomy at 8:47 AM on June 26, 2011

No, you cannot. The regulations iconomy linked to talk about what other things, besides the media itself, can be in your package. Basically, you can send an invoice or a short note with your media, but nothing else. Candy fetuses are not on the list of approved items. Sorry.
posted by decathecting at 8:50 AM on June 26, 2011

also, i'm pretty sure those fetuses are gummy and you don't want something gummy sitting in media mail in the summer.
posted by nadawi at 8:51 AM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth, I have never been asked to declare what's inside packages I've sent media mail. A friend of mine once moved cross-country, and mailed boxes of stuff (stuff that included things like clothing) to her new place via media mail. I'm not saying it's the Right Thing to Do, but it is possible. But, like others have already mentioned, it takes longer; if your item is perishable, it's probably a bad idea.
posted by phunniemee at 8:59 AM on June 26, 2011

3.2 i says: Computer-readable media containing prerecorded information and guides or scripts prepared solely for use with such media. I think it would qualify.... ?

Are you wanting to send this MM because it's cheaper, or because you think it would be cool to have 'media mail' stamped on the package? Because it isn't that much cheaper, and the longer it spends in the mail system, the longer it stands a chance of getting wrecked. I sell old books online and I use MM very sparingly. It took over a month to send a book to a friend 20 minutes away from me.
posted by iconomy at 9:00 AM on June 26, 2011

Well, you have two possibilities. One is that they don't inspect the package, in which case it doesn't matter what you put in it. The other is that they do inspect the package. If they do, do you think the inspector is going to realize that your candy fetus is a sound recording?

I wouldn't send it via media mail.
posted by phoenixy at 9:05 AM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm going to disagree with decathecting here and say that your item is "Computer-readable media containing prerecorded information and guides or scripts prepared solely for use with such media."

As you've decribed it, it's a candy fetus that encases the sound recording on a USB drive, correct?

Now, that said, keep in mind that media mail is only going to save you money on heavy packages. Also keep in mind that whether your package is letter-of-the-law compliant [which I think it is] it still could be opened and inspected and you might get stuck arguing with a postal employee over something that, in the end, would only be saving a buck or two.

Here are some media vs. first class prices

6. oz.
media mail: 2.41
1st class: 2.22

12 oz.
media 2.41
1st class: 3.24

17 oz.
parcel post: 5.15
media: 2.82
posted by jessamyn at 9:05 AM on June 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Technically, no. If there's anything but the media -- candy counts -- it's not eligible. But they won't shoot you for asking, and the clerk may not give a damn.
posted by Etrigan at 9:23 AM on June 26, 2011

Not an answer, but relevant: from years of mailing thousands of books via media mail, and thousands of other things via first class, I can verify that media mail takes on average 1-2 extra days to arrive. Longer delays do happen, but rarely.
posted by jessicapierce at 9:34 AM on June 26, 2011

As a postal employee, I'm going to advise against media mail. Better to ship it first class.
posted by Telpethoron at 9:39 AM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

The intent shown in the postal guidelines is that anything other than the media itself, with few exceptions, is forbidden (one exception is that you can include one postcard per book). A candy skull is not a recording medium, so no.

Similarly, a computer doesn't seem to qualify for media mail despite having a hard drive.

Your package may fail other quantifiable tests too:

373.1.3 Shape, Flexibility, and Thickness

Flat-size pieces that do not meet the standards in 301.1.3 through 301.1.4 must be prepared as parcels.

posted by zippy at 10:06 AM on June 26, 2011

I've had some bad experiences with media mail---admittedly, this was with books, but the packages were treated very badly, and one package didn't even make it, it got messed up so much. I wouldn't think that what you are describing is so heavy that media mail would make sense...

Why not just send it priority mail?
posted by leahwrenn at 10:46 AM on June 26, 2011

Technically, the candy around the drive disqualifies this from Media Mail.

But more than that, I don't think your friend will thank you for sending it that way. Media Mail can take longer, even a LOT longer (I've seen some things take 3 weeks to go cross-country, not sure how far you are sending yours). The outer gummy will almost certainly soften and melt in that time. At the very least it could lose its shape in the process.

I also thought it couldn't be all that big, but then I saw a pic of the fetus gummy that makes it look likes it is larger than a hand! What size box would you need to mail this monstrosity, do you think?

Priority Mail Small Flat Rate Box $5.20 8-5/8" x 5-3/8" x 1-5/8"
Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Box (1) $10.95 11" x 8-1/2" x 5-1/2"
Priority Mail Medium Flat Rate Box (2) $10.95 13-5/8" x 11-7/8" x 3-3/8"

As you can see, once you get to that bigger size, you pay almost double. So size DOES matter, when it comes to mailing anyway.
posted by misha at 4:22 PM on June 26, 2011

In my opinion, sending such an item Media Mail is against not only the rules, but the spirit of the rules. Don't cheap out and go this route--the PO, can, though probably won't, inspect your package, and the recipient would then owe the difference between MM and First Class. In addition, it would be just one more drop in the bucket that may finally overflow and convince the financially-ailing USPS that Media Mail should be abandoned, ruining a great service for people who ship media and only media.

Upon pricing, I'll bet your package ships just as cheaply, or more so, by another method, anyway.

(Note: I have had no trouble in hundreds of Media Mail packages, either in time of delivery or treatment of such packages; my issue is definitely an "abuse of the system" worry, rather than "the PO doesn't handle these packages with respect" issue.)
posted by thebrokedown at 7:40 PM on June 26, 2011

Response by poster: Shipped it Priority Mail this morning. Cost a few dollars more, but it'll get to him faster. Thanks, everyone.
posted by cog_nate at 11:41 AM on June 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

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