Dear Ms. Cards Etiquette,
I just received a letter back from the post office with a message scrawled in pen on the front “can’t send”. I’m wondering what this means.
Well, Confused, I have to say, that sounds a little cryptic. Usually the post office will use official rubber stamps with reasons as to why something cannot be sent.
Since the only way the post office can get all of the mail sent to all of the places in the US and world in a timely manner, it does most of its letter sorting with machines, and there are some restrictions on what will fit through the machinery. If the letter didn’t meet the guidelines as to what can fit, then it may not be able to be sent.
Yes, the post office does do some envelopes by hand, but there is an extra charge for that, and your mail could take longer to send. Also, if you do not have enough postage to send something you could get your letters returned.
I’m thinking in your case, however, your letter didn’t fit into the machinery.
Some of the reasons your letter may not have made it through the mail:
- Did you use the correct stamp? The postage just went up recently, and you may have not put enough postage on your envelope.
- It may have been too small. Items less than 3 1/2 inches tall by 5 inches wide won’t fit into the postal service machine.
- The letter is square. You can send square items through the mail, but this is done for an extra fee.
- The letter may have been too stiff. Envelopes must be able to bend enough to go through the round rollers of the machines.
- Clasps on an envelope: Did you use the brown envelope with the metal clasps that are often used for intra office mail? If so, this may be another reason the letter was not able to be sent.
- Was the address written in a non-normal way? That is, was the address written parallel to the shorter side of the envelope instead of the long side? If so, the machine probably couldn’t read the address and had to kick it out.
For more information about what can be sent and how much it will cost, please visit the postage calculator at the US Postal Service’s web site: http://postcalc.usps.gov/.
You may also want to click on the little question mark next to the types of mail (letter, postcard etc) for information as to what can and cannot be sent.