B-37688, DECEMBER 11, 1943, 23 COMP. GEN. 417

B-37688: Dec 11, 1943

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FEES ON MAIL MATTER ADDRESSED TO INDIVIDUALS IN CERTAIN FOREIGN COUNTRIES IN WHICH SUCH SERVICES ARE NOT AVAILABLE IS ATTRIBUTABLE TO FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF POSTAL EMPLOYEES. 1943: REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 15. IN WHICH IT WAS HELD THAT THERE WAS NO LEGAL AUTHORITY FOR THE REFUND OF REGISTRY. WHICH WAS ERRONEOUSLY INSURED. WHICH WAS ERRONEOUSLY ACCEPTED AS A C.O.D. ANOTHER PACKAGE WAS MAILED AT THE NEW YORK OFFICE AS AN INSURED PACKAGE. A PACKAGE MAILED AT NEW YORK FOR DELIVERY IN COLOMBIA WAS ERRONEOUSLY REGISTERED. THERE IS PROVISION FOR INSURANCE OF PARCELS TO COLOMBIA. WAS ERRONEOUSLY INSURED. IT IS NOTED THAT COMPTROLLER GENERAL BROWN CITED WITH APPROVAL A DECISION OF FORMER COMPTROLLER OF THE TREASURY TRACEWELL.

B-37688, DECEMBER 11, 1943, 23 COMP. GEN. 417

POST OFFICE DEPARTMENT - MAILS - REFUND OF INSURANCE, ETC., FEES ERRONEOUSLY COLLECTED INASMUCH AS THE COLLECTION OF REGISTRY, INSURANCE, AND C.O.D. FEES ON MAIL MATTER ADDRESSED TO INDIVIDUALS IN CERTAIN FOREIGN COUNTRIES IN WHICH SUCH SERVICES ARE NOT AVAILABLE IS ATTRIBUTABLE TO FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF POSTAL EMPLOYEES, SUCH ERRONEOUSLY COLLECTED FEES MAY BE REFUNDED. 19 COMP. GEN. 123, DISTINGUISHED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL WARREN TO THE POSTMASTER GENERAL, DECEMBER 11, 1943:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 15, 1943, AS FOLLOWS:

THIS DEPARTMENT HAS BEFORE IT APPLICATIONS FOR REFUNDS OF FEES IN A NUMBER OF CASES, THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF WHICH DIFFER FROM THE CASES WHICH FORMED THE BASIS OF THE DECISION OF YOUR OFFICE DATED JULY 31, 1939 (B- 4397), IN WHICH IT WAS HELD THAT THERE WAS NO LEGAL AUTHORITY FOR THE REFUND OF REGISTRY, INSURANCE, AND C.O.D. FEES.

THE FIRST CASE INVOLVES A PARCEL ACCEPTED FOR MAILING AT THE NEW YORK POST OFFICE ADDRESSED TO A MEMBER OF THE BRITISH MIDDLE EAST FORCES, WHICH WAS ERRONEOUSLY INSURED--- THERE BEING NO PROVISION FOR INSURANCE OR REGISTRATION OF PARCEL POST MATTER ADDRESSED TO THE BRITISH MIDDLE EAST FORCES.

A SECOND CASE INVOLVES A PARCEL MAILED AT NEW YORK ADDRESSED FOR DELIVERY IN CANADA, WHICH WAS ERRONEOUSLY ACCEPTED AS A C.O.D. ARTICLE. THE REGULATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT PROVIDE FOR INSURANCE OF PARCELS ADDRESSED TO CANADA BUT NOT FOR C.O.D. SERVICE.

ANOTHER PACKAGE WAS MAILED AT THE NEW YORK OFFICE AS AN INSURED PACKAGE, ADDRESSED FOR DELIVERY IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC. PARCELS FOR THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC MAY BE REGISTERED BUT NOT INSURED.

A PACKAGE MAILED AT NEW YORK FOR DELIVERY IN COLOMBIA WAS ERRONEOUSLY REGISTERED. THERE IS PROVISION FOR INSURANCE OF PARCELS TO COLOMBIA, BUT NOT FOR REGISTRATION.

A PACKAGE CONTAINING PRINTED MATTER, ADDRESSED FOR DELIVERY IN THE UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA, WAS ERRONEOUSLY INSURED. SUCH MATTER MAY BE REGISTERED BUT NOT INSURED WHEN INTENDED FOR DELIVERY IN THE UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA.

BY REFERENCE TO THE DECISION OF YOUR OFFICE ABOVE REFERRED TO, IT IS NOTED THAT COMPTROLLER GENERAL BROWN CITED WITH APPROVAL A DECISION OF FORMER COMPTROLLER OF THE TREASURY TRACEWELL, HOLDING THAT THERE WAS AUTHORITY TO REFUND "POSTAGE ERRONEOUSLY AND ILLEGALLY COLLECTED.' ALTHOUGH THE INSTANT SERIES OF CASES INVOLVES FEES IMPROPERLY AND ILLEGALLY COLLECTED.' ALTHOUGH THE INSTANT SERIES OF CASES INVOLVES FEES IMPROPERLY AND ILLEGALLY COLLECTED RATHER THAN POSTAGE, THE CASES IN PRINCIPLE WOULD SEEM TO BE ANALOGOUS TO THAT WHICH FORMED THE BASIS OF COMPTROLLER TRACEWELL'S DECISION.

YOUR DECISION IS REQUESTED AS TO THE PROPRIETY OF REFUNDING THE FEES IMPROPERLY COLLECTED IN THE INSTANCES CITED ABOVE. A PROMPT DECISION IN THE MATTER WILL BE APPRECIATED.

IN DECISION OF JULY 31, 1939, B-4397 (19 COMP. GEN. 123), REFERRED TO IN THE ABOVE-QUOTED LETTER, IT WAS HELD (QUOTING SYLLABUS):

REGISTRY, INSURANCE, C.O.D., AND RETURN-RECEIPT FEES, AND FEES PAID FOR THE PURPOSE OF RESTRICTING THE DELIVERY OF REGISTERED OR INSURED MAIL TO THE ADDRESSEE OR HIS ORDER, MAY NOT BE REFUNDED WHERE THE MAIL MATTER INVOLVED IS WITHDRAWN BEFORE DISPATCH AT THE MAILING POST OFFICE. IT IS TO BE NOTED THAT THE SAID DECISION RELATED TO CASES WHERE MAIL MATTER HAD BEEN WITHDRAWN BEFORE DISPATCH AT THE MAILING OFFICE, THERE BEING NO FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE POSTAL SERVICE. AS A PARTIAL BASIS FOR THE CONCLUSION THEREIN REACHED, THERE WERE QUOTED EXCERPTS FROM THE ACT OF JUNE 28, 1932, 47 STAT. 340, AND THE ACT OF JUNE 18, 1934, 48 STAT. 992, PROVIDING THAT THERE SHOULD BE NO REFUND OF CERTAIN FEES IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY FAULT OF THE POSTAL SERVICE.

IN THE CASES REFERRED TO IN YOUR LETTER, SUPRA, THERE WAS NO VALID BASIS FOR THE COLLECTION OF THE INVOLVED FEES IN ANY AMOUNT, INASMUCH AS THE SERVICES FOR WHICH THEY WERE COLLECTED WERE NOT AVAILABLE. COLLECTION OF THE FEES UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES OBVIOUSLY RESULTED FROM ERROR OR LACK OF PROPER INFORMATION ON THE PART OF AN EMPLOYEE OR EMPLOYEES OF THE POSTAL SERVICE. THE GENERAL RULE IS THAT FEES IMPROPERLY COLLECTED AS THE RESULT OF FAULT OR NEGLIGENCE ON THE PART OF OFFICERS OR EMPLOYEES OF THE GOVERNMENT MAY BE REFUNDED. 1 COMP. GEN. 267; 4 ID. 518; 5 ID. 306; 6 ID. 812; 8 ID. 480; 10 ID. 364; 15 ID. 93; ID. 481. ACCORDINGLY, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT REFUND OF ERRONEOUSLY COLLECTED FEES SUCH AS THOSE REFERRED TO IN YOUR LETTER APPEARS PROPER.