7

Some companies that send junk mail include a "business reply" envelope. This allows the junk mail recipient to send a "reply" through U.S. mail at the originator's expense.

In fact these business reply envelopes can be filled with heavy junk and given to the U.S. Postal Service in order to impose additional postage costs on the junk mailer (perhaps discouraging them from further junk mailing). If a person did that could he be found liable for damages in a civil action? Or does it run afoul of any criminal statute? Are there any examples of either?

  • How on earth would the recipient know who returned their envelope with a "stone" (or whatever)?? Surely the sender wouldn't write their return address on anything?? – Scott Jun 1 '16 at 22:06
  • 3
    @Scott - The idea is to "give them a taste of their own medicine." If they knew who was doing it they could simply remove that addressee from their lists. Amusingly, at least for a time, some junk mailers tried to make it look like their business reply envelopes were coded so that they could tell who was sending stuff back in them, along with vague threats that "misuse may result in legal action." Made me wonder also what, if anything, they could legally do. – feetwet Jun 1 '16 at 22:50
  • 1
    I actually have worked with direct mail for over 20 years... so I've seen a lot. The reality is, if the recipient's name is actually part of the reply portion, malicious returns never happen. On blind reply pieces... you'd be disgusted and amazed at what gets returned. – Scott Jun 1 '16 at 23:26
  • There is an intelligent mail barcode option (which by the standard should be unique for at least 180 days) for business reply mail so if a mailer invested in the tech, they could possibly trace a BRM to a specific letter they sent (and they might for a "John Wanamaker half the money I spend on advertising...." marketing analysis). I don't believe the USPS would care as long as you don't send explosives, aerosols, weird powders, etc. pe.usps.com/text/dmm300/505.htm#1224365 – user662852 Jun 1 '16 at 23:27
0

Two questions. Since the answer to the second answers the first I will go out of order

If a person did that could he be found liable for damages in a civil action? Or does it run afoul of any criminal statute?

As far as the post office is concerned, per Domestic Mail Manual 505 1.3.1 your heavy boxes shipped Business Reply Mail (BRM) are considered waste. Mailing the box with BRM as a label would not be a crime as long as you did not improperly ship prohibited items, like ammunition, or were trying to commit another crime such as sending a bomb or drugs through the mail, but it would be thrown out or returned to you. See: customer support ruling

If a person did that could he be found liable for damages in a civil action? Or does it run afoul of any criminal statute?

Unless you wasted the post offices time with excessive bulk mailings of junk or any of the reasons given before, not likely.

0

No, prepaid envelopes are literally prepaid. The company that sent them was charged a flat rate by the post office in most cases. They aren't paying after the mail is sent.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.