Discussion Forums - USPS Postal Regulations USPS Postal Regulations

Topic: Leaving unstamped items in mailbox

Club rule - Please, if you cannot be courteous and respectful, do not post in this forum.
  Unlock Forum posting with Annual Membership.
Subject: Leaving unstamped items in mailbox
Date Posted: 1/25/2009 4:20 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 2,433
Back To Top
This isn't a PBS thing, but I thought I'd ask here, rather than in CMT, since it's got to do with post stuff. :)

We've got some dingaling in the neighborhood that has put about 100 pages in 'newsletters' in our mailbox since the beginning of the year. She was sending out bi-weekly newsletters starting October of last year. She doesn't mail them, just sticks them in there. I went to visit her and asked her to cease this activity, but it didn't get through. I know that this isn't a legal activity, but I'm wondering what recourse there actually is. Is there any way to report this? I asked my mailman, but he said he didn't know and would ask.

She just started sending out promo packs for all of the neighborhood businesses, so I'm now getting thick envelopes with fliers, business cards, etc. a few times a week.

I'm sure it seems like a petty thing to be worried or irritated by, but it's really getting quite excessive and annoying. Short of digging up the mailbox, is there anything to do about this?

Mendy -
Date Posted: 1/25/2009 4:38 PM ET
Member Since: 6/16/2005
Posts: 8,262
Back To Top

I think that it's illegal.  I imagine that you need to contact your local post master and speak with him/her on the matter to be sure and see what to do next.  I did a search and this popped up:

3.1.3 Use for Mail
Except under 3.2.11, Newspaper Receptacle, the receptacles described in 3.1.1 may be used only for matter bearing postage. Other than as permitted by 3.2.10, Delivery of Unstamped Newspapers, or 3.2.11, no part of a mail receptacle may be used to deliver any matter not bearing postage, including items or matter placed upon, supported by, attached to, hung from, or inserted into a mail receptacle. Any mailable matter not bearing postage and found as described above is subject to the same postage as would be paid if it were carried by mail. [D041.1.3]


Last Edited on: 1/25/09 4:38 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/25/2009 5:13 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 2,433
Back To Top
I know it's illegal, but I haven't seen much on where to file complaints or report it. I've thought about packing everything up with a copy of the official regs, I can't see that that'd do much good.

Thanks for your response. I'll call the head honcho at the local post office, tomorrow, I think. :)

Date Posted: 1/25/2009 6:24 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,220
Back To Top

Maybe taping the official regs onto your mailbox lid would give her the hint?

If you don't mind pissin' her off by getting her in trouble, call some of the local businesses that she is including in her packets and let them know that she is breaking postals regs by putting advertising for their business in your mail box without paying postage. I would suspect they'd be calling her to cease. I bet she is being paid to do it and cutting costs by ignoring postal regulations is not going to set well with those that are paying her.

Date Posted: 1/25/2009 8:07 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,672
Back To Top

I'd start by having a chat with your local postmaster about it and if they can't or won't do anything, you can always go up the line to their boss until you get someone that'll have a chat with this lady about how she's doing something illegal by putting stuff into your mailbox.

Date Posted: 1/25/2009 8:21 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
Back To Top

It's illegal to put unstamped items in mailboxes, it's a federal offense. That's why you sometimes see bagged items hanging from mailboxes, or pearched on top, 'cause it's illegal inside.  So a serious discussion with your local postmaster is in order, and above if that doesn't get results.

You can also purchase a locking mailbox.  The comment about notifying the other businesses is a good idea, they may wish to know of the possible legal liability she is incurring on their behalf.

Besides, this sounds really annoying.  It's neighborhood harrassment!

Date Posted: 1/25/2009 11:14 PM ET
Member Since: 8/23/2007
Posts: 26,510
Back To Top

Do you know which mail box is hers?  If so then start sticking everything she sticks in your mail box back into hers. Maybe she'll get the hint.  Especially if you can recruit a couple of other neighbors into doing the same.  Do you have a homeowner's association or property manager?  Maybe a complaint to them would help.

Date Posted: 1/26/2009 3:16 AM ET
Member Since: 1/1/2009
Posts: 1,924
Back To Top

Please do not put anything back in her box! You do not want to always break the law! LOL Though I think that is very funny!

The last place we lived, everyone put things on the door, even the avon lady. Everyone knew it was not legal to put anything in or on the mail boxes. I would keeping calling around till you find someone who can help you!

Date Posted: 1/26/2009 9:17 AM ET
Member Since: 12/29/2008
Posts: 667
Back To Top

Heh.  In our neighborhood, our mail is delivered to a "superbox" by the entrance of the neighborhood.  We put up a small mailbox at the door of our house specifically for the neighborhood association statements, etc... And they refused to use it citing the postal regulations.  So I went to them and reminded them... This is NOT an official mailbox, USPS doesn't deliver to it.  Eventually they saw the light and started using it.  Before, they would just shove the papers under the front door, and our energetic dogs would destroy them.

So yeah, some people actually follow postal regulations... even when they don't apply.  Sorry your neighbor is being such a bonehead.  I would expect that a call to the postmaster would go a long way towards getting it fixed.

Date Posted: 1/26/2009 9:57 AM ET
Member Since: 2/10/2008
Posts: 1,080
Back To Top

The Postmaster or supervisor should take care of the problem for you. Do not open anyone's mailbox other than your own. The carrier should know to pick up a percentage of the items (when it is delivered all over like you are talking about) and give them to the supervisor. The person or business can be billed for the estimated postage owed and fined for using the mail boxes. Normally a warning is given first and then if the problem continues bills are sent.

Date Posted: 1/26/2009 11:56 AM ET
Member Since: 2/5/2007
Posts: 30,804
Back To Top

Our mailman picks up anything left in the box, takes it to the post office and it's return to the sender POSTAGE DUE!  Bet a few of those would stop it in a hurry!

Date Posted: 1/26/2009 5:10 PM ET
Member Since: 9/21/2006
Posts: 2,817
Back To Top

Great Idea Cozi!!!  It is illegal and it is a federal offense, punishable by fines and/or federal prison, not jail, time.

Very rarely, we do door to door (flyer) advertising in our local neighborhood.  Our employees are told to never touch a mailbox, door knob  or a door/screen, including the gararge.  Just drop the flyer on the porch.  I heard that our local city is going to impliment a permit or license fee for this type of advertising. Some cities around here already do this.

Date Posted: 1/26/2009 5:34 PM ET
Member Since: 12/6/2008
Posts: 245
Back To Top
I too also know that this behavior is illegal. I think it is a good thing to contact these businesses as they are now accomplices by association and allowing this behavior. Even if they don't officially sanction this behavior they still can be sued or even jailed as it is a federal offense.

As a kid I worked as one of those annoying people who put things on the door so I know this is true. The business I worked for was very specific to not leave it in the mail box and why. I wouldn't be in trouble (I was just a kid) but they would be in serious trouble.

Date Posted: 1/28/2009 11:19 PM ET
Member Since: 10/23/2005
Posts: 7,719
Back To Top

I hope you can get someone at the PO to let her know about the illegality of this and get her to stop. In the meanwhile, I would bag up all the crap she leaves and go dump it on her porch once a month, along with some of the other ads that make their way to your house. Rip off your address first and wait for the cover of darkness, though!

I get menus stuck in my door every week. The same pizza place and Chinese restaurant, every week. The other day I heard them coming up the stairs and opened the door and scared the kid to death. I dont think I will get anymore menus, at least until someone else gets the job.

Last Edited on: 1/28/09 11:20 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/29/2009 6:20 AM ET
Member Since: 2/6/2006
Posts: 1,186
Back To Top


Standard procedure for your letter carrier is to take two of those flyers back to the office and turn them in to the supervisor. (The carrier dates the items, notes the neighborhood where they were collected and estimates how many flyers were in the boxes.) The supervisor will contact the person, explain that this is against postal policy and advise them that if they continue this practice, they will be charged the actual amount of postage required if they had mailed them. This usually stops the person.

Contact your local office to complain.

Hope this helps.

Date Posted: 2/3/2009 1:08 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 2,433
Back To Top
I called the post office last week, and the superviser was very accomodating. He's having our mail carrier drive around and pick up everything she'd left in all of the boxes, and it is being sent back to her, postage due.

He also suggested, if it continues, filing a police report. We'll see what happens!

Thanks for all of your input, everyone!