A-62451, SEPTEMBER 16, 1935, 15 COMP. GEN. 214

A-62451: Sep 16, 1935

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THE SENDER IS ENTITLED TO THE C.O.D. 1935: THERE WAS RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF MAY 28. PARCEL (JS-4) WAS MAILED BY J. FEE IN LIEU OF THE SEVENTEEN-CENT FEE WHICH SHOULD HAVE BEEN COLLECTED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF 39 U.S.C. 246. THE ERROR WAS DISCLOSED WHEN A CLAIM FOR INDEMNITY WAS FILED AND AT THAT TIME THE POSTMASTER COLLECTED THE DEFICIENCY IN THE C.O.D. THE CLAIM WAS THEREUPON APPROVED FOR PAYMENT IN THE SUM OF $6.60 AND CERTIFIED TO THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT DIVISION OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE ON A JOURNAL DATED NOVEMBER 14. SUBSEQUENTLY A "STATEMENT OF DIFFERENCES" WAS RECEIVED FROM THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT DIVISION. THE ATTENTION OF THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT DIVISION WAS IMMEDIATELY CALLED TO THE FACT THAT UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF 39 U.S.C. 246.

A-62451, SEPTEMBER 16, 1935, 15 COMP. GEN. 214

POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT - C.O.D. PARCELS - FEES AND INDEMNITY WHERE A LESSER AMOUNT HAS BEEN COLLECTED FROM THE SENDER OF A C.O.D. PARCEL THAN THE FEE PRESCRIBED FOR COLLECTION AND INDEMNITY BY SECTION 211 (B) OF THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 28, 1925, 43 STAT. 1069, AS AMENDED BY SECTION 2 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 28, 1932, 47 STAT. 341, AND A CLAIM FOR INDEMNITY ARISES, THE SENDER IS ENTITLED TO THE C.O.D. VALUE INDICATED AT THE TIME OF MAILING, THE POSTMASTER AT THE SENDING OFFICE WHO MADE THE MISTAKE BEING RESPONSIBLE FOR COLLECTION OF THE ADDITIONAL FEE INVOLVED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, SEPTEMBER 16, 1935:

THERE WAS RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF MAY 28, 1935, AS FOLLOWS:

A C.O.D. PARCEL (JS-4) WAS MAILED BY J. A. SPARKS, AT MINNEAPOLIS, NORTH CAROLINA, ON APRIL 2, 1934, ADDRESSED TO THE GOLDEN PEACOCK COMPANY, PARIS, TENNESSEE. THE CHARGES ON THE PARCEL AMOUNTED TO $6.60. HOWEVER, THROUGH SOME OVERSIGHT THE CLERK WHO ACCEPTED THE PACKAGE COLLECTED ONLY A TWELVE-CENT C.O.D. FEE IN LIEU OF THE SEVENTEEN-CENT FEE WHICH SHOULD HAVE BEEN COLLECTED UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF 39 U.S.C. 246, AS AMENDED. THE ERROR WAS DISCLOSED WHEN A CLAIM FOR INDEMNITY WAS FILED AND AT THAT TIME THE POSTMASTER COLLECTED THE DEFICIENCY IN THE C.O.D. FEE FROM THE SENDER. THE CLAIM WAS THEREUPON APPROVED FOR PAYMENT IN THE SUM OF $6.60 AND CERTIFIED TO THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT DIVISION OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE ON A JOURNAL DATED NOVEMBER 14, 1934.

SUBSEQUENTLY A "STATEMENT OF DIFFERENCES" WAS RECEIVED FROM THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT DIVISION, INDICATING THAT THE CLAIM HAD BEEN APPROVED IN THE AMOUNT OF $5--- EXCEPTION BEING TAKEN TO THE COLLECTION OF AN ADDITIONAL FEE AFTER THE LOSS HAD OCCURRED. THE ATTENTION OF THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT DIVISION WAS IMMEDIATELY CALLED TO THE FACT THAT UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF 39 U.S.C. 246, AS AMENDED, THE COLLECTION OF THE FEES PRESCRIBED THEREIN WAS MANDATORY-- THERE BEING NO AUTHORITY OF LAW FOR THE COLLECTION OF A FEE FOR VALUE LESS THAN THE AMOUNT OF THE C.O.D. CHARGES. IT WAS POINTED OUT THAT WHILE IN THE INSTANT CASE IT MIGHT APPEAR THAT THE COLLECTION OF THE DEFICIENCY AFTER A LOSS OCCURRED WAS UNUSUAL, A GREAT MANY SIMILAR CASES HAD ARISEN WHERE THE PARCELS WERE DELIVERED AND CONSEQUENTLY NO INDEMNITY CLAIMED OR ALLOWED BUT WHEREIN THE SENDERS WERE REQUIRED TO MAKE GOOD THE DEFICIENCIES BETWEEN THE FEES ACTUALLY COLLECTED AND THOSE WHICH SHOULD HAVE BEEN PAID.

ON APRIL 2, 1935, THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT DIVISION OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE REPLIED, STATING IN PART:

"* * * AS NO ADDITIONAL INFORMATION HAS BEEN RECEIVED THEREON, THERE IS NO OCCASION TO MODIFY THE SETTLEMENT MADE ON JOURNAL A OF NOVEMBER 14, 1934.'

THE DECLINATION OF THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS TO APPROVE THE COLLECTION OF THE DEFICIENCY IN THE FEE PAID AND THE FULL RECOGNITION OF THE CLAIM IS TANTAMOUNT TO THE APPROVAL OF AN ACT CONTRARY TO LAW (EVEN THOUGH THE VIOLATION OF LAW WAS THE RESULT OF MISTAKE). THE REQUEST IS ACCORDINGLY MADE THAT THE RULING OF THE POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT DIVISION OF THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE BE RECONSIDERED AND THAT THIS DEPARTMENT BE ADVISED AT AN EARLY DATE WHETHER ITS VIEWS WITH RESPECT TO THE PROPER COURSE OF PROCEDURE IN THIS AND SIMILAR CASES ARE NOT CORRECT.

PARAGRAPH (B) OF SECTION 211 OF THE ACT OF FEBRUARY 28, 1925, 43 STAT. 1069, AS AMENDED BY SECTION 2 OF THE ACT OF JUNE 28, 1932, 47 STAT. 341, PROVIDES:

(B) THE FEE FOR COLLECT-ON-DELIVERY SERVICE FOR DOMESTIC THIRD- AND FOURTH-CLASS MAIL SHALL BE 12 CENTS FOR COLLECTIONS AND INDEMNITY NOT TO EXCEED $5; 17 CENTS FOR COLLECTIONS AND INDEMNITY NOT TO EXCEED $25; 22 CENTS FOR COLLECTIONS AND INDEMNITY NOT TO EXCEED $50; 32 CENTS FOR COLLECTIONS AND INDEMNITY NOT TO EXCEED $100; 40 CENTS FOR COLLECTIONS AND INDEMNITY NOT TO EXCEED $150; AND 45 CENTS FOR COLLECTIONS AND INDEMNITY NOT TO EXCEED $200.

IT APPEARS THE AMOUNT TO BE COLLECTED ON DELIVERY OF THE PACKAGE AND REMITTED TO THE SENDER WAS CLEARLY STATED ON THE PACKAGE AS $6.60. FOR THIS SERVICE, AND INDEMNITY, UNDER THE ABOVE-QUOTED ACT THE FEE PRESCRIBED WAS 17 CENTS. THE COLLECTION OF A LESS AMOUNT BY THE POSTMASTER AT THE SENDING OFFICE WAS CLEARLY ERRONEOUS, THERE BEING NO PROVISION OF LAW AUTHORIZING THE COLLECTION OF A FEE ON A VALUE LESS THAN THE VALUE STATED ON THE C.O.D. PACKAGE, THEREBY REDUCING THE LIABILITY OF THE GOVERNMENT TO THE LESSER AMOUNT IN THE EVENT OF LOSS; THERE BEING A DISTINCTION BETWEEN C.O.D. SERVICE AND INSURED MAIL IN THIS RESPECT. IN THE FORMER CASE THE SENDER IS REQUIRED TO PAY THE FEE PRESCRIBED FOR THE VALUE OF THE C.O.D. SHOWN ON THE PACKAGE. IN THE LATTER, UNDER THE PRESENT REGULATIONS, THE VALUE OF THE INSURED ARTICLE IS NOT SHOWN ON THE PACKAGE AND THE SENDER HAS THE PRIVILEGE OF INSURING THE CONTENTS OF THE PARCEL FOR THE FULL VALUE OR ANY PART THEREOF PAYING THE FEE COVERING THE AMOUNT OF PROTECTION OR INSURANCE HE DESIRES TO PURCHASE. FOR EXAMPLE, IF AN ARTICLE SENT BY INSURED MAIL IS ACTUALLY WORTH $25, THE SENDER MAY REQUEST AND PURCHASE INSURANCE FOR ONLY $5, PAYING THE FEE (5 CENTS) FOR INDEMNIFICATION IN EVENT OF LOSS ON THE $5 VALUATION--- THIS IS A FREQUENT PRACTICE--- WHILE IN THE CASE OF A C.O.D. PACKAGE OF THE SAME ACTUAL VALUE, IF THE SENDER DESIRES PAYMENT FOR THE GOODS HE IS FORCED TO PLACE THE ACTUAL VALUE THEREON AND PAY THE FEE ACCORDINGLY. THEREFORE, IN THE INSTANT CASE AN ACTUAL C.O.D. VALUATION OF $6.60, THE AMOUNT THE SENDER INDEMNITY IF LOST, BEING PLACED ON THE PACKAGE THE POSTMASTER AT THE SENDING OFFICE HAD NO DISCRETION BUT TO CHARGE THE LAWFUL RATE OF 17 CENTS, AND HAVING ERRONEOUSLY CHARGED ONLY 12 CENTS IT BECAME HIS DUTY TO COLLECT THE BALANCE FROM THE SENDER OR PAY FROM HIS OWN FUNDS THE DIFFERENCE OF 5 CENTS, THE SENDER IN ANY EVENT IF LOSS OCCURRED BEING ENTITLED TO RECEIVE AS INDEMNITY THE FULL AMOUNT STATED ON THE PACKAGE AS THE VALUE THEREOF.

IN THE CASE OF THE INDEMNITY CLAIM OF J. A. SPARKS PAYMENT HAS BEEN MADE IN THE AMOUNT OF $5 AND NO PROTEST OR REQUEST FOR REVIEW HAS BEEN RECEIVED FROM THE CLAIMANT. ACCORDINGLY, NO FURTHER ACTION ON THIS PARTICULAR CLAIM IS REQUIRED AT THIS TIME.