I think this one might be a bit out of Miss Manner’s realm of expertise so I pose it to all of you.
A friend mailed me a small gift, a holiday music CD in a thin cardboard sleeve. Instead of taking it the post office and alerting them that it needed special handling, she simply dropped it in a mailbox with stamps on it and a “do not bend, please hand cancel” note on it. I know some people don’t realize that writing “do not bend” or “hand cancel” on an envelope doesn’t automatically ensure that the USPS will see it without your calling attention to it it specifically at the counter so it was an honest mistake on her part and I can’t really fault the USPS either. She should have had them postage the letters at the counter so they would have been able to ensure they were processed correctly but not everyone is post office savvy.
But because of this, the USPS ran the envelope through the machine like a normal letter and the CD got destroyed, cracked into hundreds of tiny pieces.
So if I may extend this question to a more general situation:
If a friend or family member sent you a gift and it arrived broken/destroyed, should you tell them?
My gut reaction is to say, no, don’t tell them. It will only make them sad that the item didn’t arrive as they intended and there is nothing they can do about it after the fact. It is, after all, the thought that counts, not the gift.
Also, they might feel obligated to replace the gift by sending you a new one which is completely not necessary.
But on the flip side, if, as in a case like this, if the issue was due to poor packing or a lack of understanding of shipping policies, letting them know what they did wrong could be helpful.
Would the embarrassment of knowing their glass ornament arrived shattered be worth it if they knew to pack next year’s in bubble wrap?
How many years should we all let this friend send out shattered CDs before someone says something? I cannot help but feel bad that she not only bought CDs but also paid extra for postage only to have it all have been for nothing.
So I turn this dilemma over to you. If it had been you on the receiving end of a broken gift, what would you do?
Better yet, if you had been the gift sender, would you want the recipient to let you know?
Does how well you know the sender and their age have anything to do with your answer?