In which a Media Mail package gets some sort of barcode upgrade; but what kind?
September 20, 2011 5:13 PM   Subscribe

Postal Service Filter: What's up with extra barcode stickers next to postage on two Media Mail packages I sent today?

Earlier today I mailed two packages (bubble mailers with one book each, sold on Amazon) via USPS Media Mail to the recipients: one in Pennsylvania, the other in Hawaii. I did not request, nor was I charged for on the receipt, any delivery confirmation or any other sort of tracking. But the clerk still put a separate sticker with a barcode that said "USPS tracking number" above it next to the standard sticker that indicated the postage I had paid.

Has this happened to anyone else? Is it some sort of extra tracking the Postal Service is doing with Media Mail (perhaps related to possible inspection of the packages' contents)? Maybe something for statistical purposes? Or am I missing some other explanation?
posted by midatlanticwanderer to Law & Government (6 answers total)
There was a similar sticker on the Parcel Post package I received today (sent from California to New York), with a 22-digit number and a barcode. I don't have an explanation for it.
posted by shiny blue object at 6:14 PM on September 20, 2011

It sounds like what you have is either a POSTNET or Intelligent Mail barcode. It's an internal method of tracking used by the Postal Service to help improve delivery. POSTNET is being phased out gradually, and will be replaced entirely by Intelligent Mail at some point in the future.
posted by Telpethoron at 6:29 PM on September 20, 2011

Has this happened to anyone else?
Yes, every piece of Media Mail I have brought to the counter in the past few weeks has had one of these stickers applied to it. Someone on paperbackswap said it was the USPS tracking itself. Unfortunately consumers can't use the number to track the package.
posted by soelo at 6:55 PM on September 20, 2011

Response by poster: Might have been Intelligent Mail, thanks Telpethoron.

Thanks for the reports that others have seen it too...
posted by midatlanticwanderer at 7:57 PM on September 20, 2011

My mail carrier said they were counting his mail this week in order to determine pay changes. I don't know if that's just local or more widespread, but maybe they're doing extra tracking for that.
posted by anaelith at 8:21 PM on September 20, 2011

My mom works for the post office, and having sent me a number of packages over the years she mentions that there is a method of internal tracking, but that yes, there is no way for consumers to use this.
posted by andrewesque at 6:04 AM on September 21, 2011

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