PCH Deals With False Alarm Over Leaky Package

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Publishers Clearing House worked yesterday to clear up confusion after a package of detergent it was shipping ripped at a postal processing center and drew the attention of a postal inspector because of fears of mailed anthrax bacteria.

Early yesterday, The Associated Press reported that consumers in Minnesota and Louisiana had called authorities after receiving packages from Publishers Clearing House containing a white power. PCH denied the report.

The Associated Press later issued a revised report saying that the complaint issued from a single consumer in Minnesota who called postal inspectors after receiving a leaky package.

The package, containing Oxyclean household detergent, ripped at a U.S. Postal Service processing plant and began to leak, said Chris Irving, senior director of consumer affairs for Publishers Clearing House, Port Washington, NY. A postal inspector later became concerned and called PCH to confirm the contents of the package.

Publishers Clearing House complied, Irving said. After opening the package, postal inspectors confirmed its safety.

The package was sent in fulfillment of a customer order and not as a sample, Irving said. No other incidents of this nature involving Publishers Clearing House have been reported.

Publishers Clearing House has not canceled any mailing in light of recent anthrax attacks by mail but is reviewing its standard security practices. A postal inspector in St. Paul, MN, issued an advisory to other inspectors yesterday that PCH is shipping detergent by mail.

"There's nothing to be alarmed about in that package," inspector Jeanne Graupman said. "Just the timing of it wasn't very good."


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