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Topic: Letter from the Post Office

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Subject: Letter from the Post Office
Date Posted: 1/6/2011 8:16 PM ET
Member Since: 4/14/2006
Posts: 156
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Imagine my surprise today when I received a letter from the post office, "respectfully requesting" that I no longer use the blue box near my street for mailing packages.  According to the letter, my packages have been "clogging" the box.  According to the Post Master, it's a residential collection box and not designed to handle packages.  Huh.  Who knew?  It won't be as convenient for me to drive to the post office to drop my books off, but I guess I will.  I don't want anymore nasty grams!  LOL

 

Erica

Date Posted: 1/6/2011 8:48 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,200
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Who signed it? I would be pissed if someone told me I couldn't use a blue box because I was clogging it. Is there anything on it indicating its for letters only? Unless you are cramming too large of packages into the hole and litterally clogging it, it is there to be used and if your package fits it should be fine. I'd probably try to find a level up in the chain of command and complain. You pay postage just like everyone else, why shouldn't you be able to use it?

Date Posted: 1/6/2011 11:27 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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I agree, if your packages drop all the way inside you should be good to go.  Those standard Blue Boxes are large and I doubt letters alone will fill one up in a residential neighborhood . . . although IIRC there's often one of those plastic tubs inside to catch most of the mail, which makes it easy for the postal carrier to empty.  But I've watched USPS employees empty the full ones at a busy PO drive through.  They pull out the plastic tub from inside the blue box, scoop in any loose mail, and replace with a fresh tub. 

We've been told that carriers are not required to pick up packages from rural route boxes (although it's rare to receive a refusal), but blue boxes?  That's their only purpose in life, for people to drop mail into them.  Unless it is clearly marked 'no packages' your carrier is just a whiner.

Bottom line, this sounds silly.  I'd also recommend climbing the chain of command...do a bit of research and find find your regional postmaster.  Send a copy of the letter and ask if it's legit...I'm betting it's not.



Last Edited on: 1/7/11 1:34 AM ET - Total times edited: 4
Date Posted: 1/7/2011 12:38 AM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 600
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I would also recommend taking it up the chain of command a little. That's an unreasonable request, provided that your packages are fitting inside and not getting stuck. 

Date Posted: 1/8/2011 7:03 AM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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If you have so many packages that you are "clogging" up the box, you should have the common curtesy to use another way to mail, be it dropping off at the post office or using free carrier pickup. The box is there for residential collection, its not there for businesses, and if you have so many packages that you are "clogging" it up, you ARE a business.  Your actions are affecting other residents, maybe you have elderly people who have tried to mail something in that box but have been unable to because it has been full of your packages, so they have to drive all the way to the PO to mail a bill or something. I am almost sure another customer or 2 has complained to the PO about the full box, so they decieded to do something about it.

Date Posted: 1/8/2011 3:44 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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Just curious, how many packages do you mail Erica?  And being a member of a book swap club does not make anyone a business mailer.  I frequently wait in line behind business customers at my local PO, they come in several times a week with a minimum of 3 tubs full of packages...don't get me started on the twit that gets in line with her tubfull, waits until she's being waited on at the counter, then makes several more trips out to her car to bring in addtional tubs full of packages, and then proceeds to shuffle them on the counter and basically confuse whichever poor clerk is attempting to assist her (I've considered homicide).

And I'm going to disagree Brandy.  It's a blue box...it's only function in life is to collect mail...everyone's mail.  Blue boxes are huge inside and I seriously doubt Erica is filling it up to the point her elderly neighbors cannot drop additional mail into it.  

A contest.  How many books will fit inside a standard blue box??  A hundred?  Two hundred?  More?

Ice cream bet.  I bet:  1) Erica is not filling up the neighborhood blue box, 2) her neighbors do not know or care what packages Erica is dropping in the blue box, and 3) the only complaint on file is the mail carrier b/c he might need to toss in an additional plastic tub.

Really curious Erica, what the higher-ups have to say about the letter?

Date Posted: 1/8/2011 6:45 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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the OP only has one book posted on her shelf, so its probably not just books that she is sending.  with eBay and esty, she could have tons of other stuff she is shipping.

 

"don't get me started on the twit that gets in line with her tubfull, waits until she's being waited on at the counter, then makes several more trips out to her car to bring in addtional tubs full of packages,"

 

my point exactly, this person is running a business, and should have the common courtesy to use services designed for businesses, so as not to inconvienience you, the regular customer. There are so many services that they could use instead of tying up the lobby.  But no one has common curtesy anymore, and everyone thinks only about themselves.

 

How many books will fit inside a standard blue box??  A hundred?  Two hundred?  More?

 

There are 2 sizes of blue boxes, this one might be the smaller one. the small one takes one "flat tub" (a white tub about 15"X8" and about 12" high. a few packages can fit in it.  If you bricklayed the books inside the blue box, 100 or so MIGHT fit, but when you are dropping them down into the box they are all jumbled up and there is lots of air space between. then you have others dropping large and small envelopes on top. if she dropped 10 packages, depending on the size, it could fill up 3/4 of the box, then if the next person drops some large envelopes they will lay on top of the packages like a shelf. the envelopes keep piling up inside just like pouring something though a funnel, the pile will be much higher in the middle than on the sides. very soon Granny goes to mail a birthday card to her grandson and tries to put it in the slot and it will not go in all the way. I have seen it happen time and time again.

 

 

Date Posted: 1/8/2011 7:04 PM ET
Member Since: 4/14/2006
Posts: 156
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Just to answer a couple questions, I mail 4-5 books every 2 weeks.  I don't do eBay or etsy.  I've been mailing them from this box for about a year.  I *always make sure I hear the "clunk" when I put books in.  In all, this is no big deal to me.  I'll take my books to the PO, but I still think it's rather funny that they actually took the time to chastize me.

 

Erica

 

 

 

 

Date Posted: 1/9/2011 12:35 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 600
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Wow Erika that is really ridiculous. I wonder if maybe some other commercial sender uses your blue box and they got your books confused? You are shipping a very reasonable amount for using a blue box. I would NOT change your routine because of this. You could ignore it and keep using the blue box (and raise holy hell if they return a book for an invalid reason) or you could talk to the postmaster at your PO, possibly higher up if they are not helpful.

Date Posted: 1/9/2011 1:21 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,177
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What Becca said  yes

Date Posted: 1/9/2011 2:41 PM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2009
Posts: 2,016
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And being a member of a book swap club does not make anyone a business mailer. 

yes Although using PBS labels, as the flag icon by the OP's name suggests, might make the USPS think she's operating within a business.

 

should have the common courtesy to use services designed for businesses, so as not to inconvienience you, the regular customer. There are so many services that they could use instead of tying up the lobby.  But no one has common curtesy anymore, and everyone thinks only about themselves.

Can you please point out what some of the "other services" that "businesses" can use instead? I think there's also a difference in the eyes of the post office of whether you are a retail customer (a small-ish business may be paying the same retail rates as the "regular" customer to mail something) vs. a large-volume mailer (that has a business account with USPS).

 

Edited to fix typo.



Last Edited on: 1/9/11 2:42 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/9/2011 7:56 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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If Erica is only mailing 4-5 books every two weeks I do think the post office is unreasonable in this case.

 

Can you please point out what some of the "other services" that "businesses" can use instead?

 

lets see, Click  'n Ship, or Paypal shipping, free carrier pickup, the free shipping supplies that they will mail to you.

 

I think there's also a difference in the eyes of the post office of whether you are a retail customer (a small-ish business may be paying the same retail rates as the "regular" customer to mail something)

 

The post office would like these "small-ish" businesses to use the services I mentioned above instead of tying up the retail window. Even if they are paying the same rate, they are the ones that give the retail window a bad name with the long wait times. The post office would rather give the "small-ish" businesses a 'small-ish" discount to to their business online and free up the window for regular retail business.

Date Posted: 1/9/2011 9:07 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,200
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If you have so many packages that you are "clogging" up the box, you should have the common curtesy to use another way to mail, be it dropping off at the post office or using free carrier pickup. The box is there for residential collection, its not there for businesses, and if you have so many packages that you are "clogging" it up, you ARE a business.  Your actions are affecting other residents, maybe you have elderly people who have tried to mail something in that box but have been unable to because it has been full of your packages, so they have to drive all the way to the PO to mail a bill or something. I am almost sure another customer or 2 has complained to the PO about the full box, so they decieded to do something about it.

...my point exactly, this person is running a business, and should have the common courtesy to use services designed for businesses, so as not to inconvienience you, the regular customer. There are so many services that they could use instead of tying up the lobby.  But no one has common curtesy anymore, and everyone thinks only about themselves.

 

Sorry, but if my post office EVER took this attitude with me they would never never see one more dime from me. I'd mail all my mail from another town and get a post office box there or I'd go to the UPS Store. Businesses are the customers that make the USPS survive and they have a right to use the USPS services just as much as the next person. There is no where on blue boxes or in the lobby posted that businesses or people who mail large quanities cannot use the service.

I really can't imagine that letter was written by someone with any authority, but merely a postal employee who got a complaint and decided to do something without actually checking facts or regulations and for that little old lady who mails a few $0.44 letters could have cost the USPS a customer spending much more.

Subject: Don't use the blue box
Date Posted: 1/9/2011 9:18 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2005
Posts: 5,428
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I would take the letter to the PO and ask WHY??

Date Posted: 1/11/2011 6:54 AM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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I guess I was raised a little bit better. I was always taught that even if you have the right to do something, doesn't make it right. If you are negatively affecting others, you shouldn't do it. This attitude that "I can do whatever I want because I am a CUSTOMER" is just wrong on so many levels to me.

Date Posted: 1/11/2011 12:54 PM ET
Member Since: 1/8/2009
Posts: 2,016
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Can you please point out what some of the "other services" that "businesses" can use instead?

lets see, Click  'n Ship, or Paypal shipping, free carrier pickup, the free shipping supplies that they will mail to you.

 

Actually, Brandy L, the services you mentioned are not necessarily available for every class of mail.

Click 'n Ship does not print out Media Mail rate labels. PayPal shipping would print out Media Mail rate labels.

(There is still the question of getting them into the hands of the post office.)

Free carrier pickup is only available for Express Mail®, Priority Mail®, International services, Merchandise Return Service and Parcel Return Service.
Carriers can pick up other packages, but at least one package must be sent using the above in order for them to come. If your carrier is picking up your Media Mail packages, he or she is extending you a courtesy. https://carrierpickup.usps.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/CarrierPickup.woa

The free shipping supplies are intended for use with Priority Mail or Express Mail only.

So unless you are advocating that small businesses only mail via Express Mail / Priority Mail, International services, or Return services, your proposed solutions would not work, since according to your thinking, those small businesses should not use the blue boxes for drop off. Not every PO has a larger drop off box. I believe one is allowed to drop off online prepaid packages with a retail clerk without waiting in line, but I suspect that you will still say they are "clogging up" the retail line and jumping the queue on top of it. 

The free carrier pickup, free shipping supplies, and "small-ish" discount do not apply only to businesses. Any individual conducting "regular" retail business can also use the online services and receive the discount, free pickup and shipping supplies. Nothing you mentioned applies specifically to small businesses who are paying retail rates (as opposed to large volume mailers with postage meters, imprints, or accounts with USPS). The post office does not distinguish between the small businesses and the private citizen mailing many items.

Perhaps your life experience has you perceiving business mailers as clogging up the system, so your frustration is directed towards them. However, I find that the small business mailers are usually the ones who have the paperwork prepared, know the ropes, etc, whereas the "regular" customers are the ones who have no clue what class of service they want to use (and need a 3-minute run-down, repeated multiple times) and haven't filled out the proper forms before going to the counter. Care to comment on the upbringing of those regular customers?

edited to fix typos.

 

 



Last Edited on: 1/11/11 12:58 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 1/11/2011 1:49 PM ET
Member Since: 8/16/2007
Posts: 15,200
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This attitude that "I can do whatever I want because I am a CUSTOMER" is just wrong on so many levels to me.

I didn't say that she could do whatever she wants because she's the customer. BUT the post office telling her she can't use the services they are supposed to provide because its an inconvenience to them or another customer is BS. A customer should be able to use the services offered and should not be told to go away because they are using the services too much. What kind of business practice is that? Postal workers getting snotty with people who are just using the services that are supposed to be provided is one of the reasosn the USPS is in such a financial hurt. Who wants to go to the post office and get yelled at because they had too many packages that day when UPS will come take them from you and say thank you.

Date Posted: 1/11/2011 3:45 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2010
Posts: 262
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I guess my question here would be, exactly who is it that I am inconveniencing?

If I am, indeed, inconveniencing a number of my neighbors, then naturally I'd like to avoid that if there's a good way to do so. This sounds unlikely in this case.

If, however, it is the postal carrier that I am inconveniencing - well, it's his job to be "inconvenienced" by providing such a service! I wouldn't do anything unreasonable, but mailing my packages the way packages are supposed to be mailed doesn't sound unreasonable to me.

Date Posted: 1/11/2011 6:58 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 600
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I'll point out that carrier pickup is not available to everyone even if you are using Priority Mail, etc. We don't have street delivery here, therefore no carriers! PO Boxes only. Good thing I work from home and the PO is only 2 miles away.

Fortunately for me, I rarely see any other customers in our post office, at least not at the counter. Maybe 1/10 visits or less. I LOVE it. Sometimes I have to ship stuff when I am visiting Seattle, and of course that's when I have international packages. The lines are torture! 

Date Posted: 1/11/2011 9:27 PM ET
Member Since: 7/28/2006
Posts: 4,982
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However, I find that the small business mailers are usually the ones who have the paperwork prepared, know the ropes, etc, whereas the "regular" customers are the ones who have no clue what class of service they want to use (and need a 3-minute run-down, repeated multiple times) and haven't filled out the proper forms before going to the counter.

yes

This is my experience.  I use PayPal shipping for my Etsy packages (it's more conveient) but still have to take them to the PO because they are first class.  So I usually combine my trips with any media mail or international packages I have to send out at the time.  So I have a bag full of 10-20 packages when I got, but most of them are done and require only dropping them off and I always have my forms filled out, etc.  The post office helpers don't even ask me what I need while I'm waiting in line because they know I know what I'm doing.  8 times out of 10 I'm in and out of there quicker with my 10 packages than a regular customer with only 2 or 3 things to mail (or even 1 package if it's registered mail). 

I've had a couple of the clerks tell me they'd rather help me than the "regular" customer they just helped before me because they had no idea what they were doing. 

 

Date Posted: 1/12/2011 9:50 AM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2010
Posts: 220
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Just to clarify, I assume you are talking about those mailboxes that look like R2D2, and not the older ones that are about two feet high, a foot and a half wide, several inches thick, and sit on a post or a wall (like http://tinyurl.com/old-fashioned-usps-box>.

Date Posted: 1/13/2011 9:31 AM ET
Member Since: 5/16/2009
Posts: 8,277
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Wow, Erica- that really stinks!  I'd also be very curious to hear about the resolution of this...

I can't imagine that some random postal employee could just tell you to stop using a public collection box.  IMHO, if the box is designed for residential pick-up, and you're a resident, and there's nothing noted on the box stating that the collection box is for letters only and not for packages, then you have every right to put those packages in there for pick-up!  As long as your packages meet the weight limitation requirements for the collection box (if you're using stamps), and they're not getting stuck in the opening (which it sounds like they're not, because you said you hear the "clunk" when they drop in), then I don't see the problem.  Would they give you a letter like that if you were mailing out 4-5 letters every 2 weeks? I think not.  There shouldn't be any problem with dropping in 4-5 books every two weeks.  I wonder if that box is emptied daily?

I'd make a few copies of that letter, and I'd take one in to the local postmaster and complain.  I'd also get an address for the regional manager, and I'd send them a copy too.  No way should they be sending you something like that... 

 

And I'm sorry, Brandy L., but "how you were raised" has absolutely nothing to do with this... what a silly comment.  Should I not drop a bundle of Christmas cards into a public collection box all at once either, because "I was raised better than that"?  If the postal service sees that the box in a certain area is getting too full, then they should accomodate their customers by either getting a bigger box for that location, or by scheduling an additional pick-up there during the day.  That's called service.

Date Posted: 1/16/2011 9:50 AM ET
Member Since: 5/15/2008
Posts: 193
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I agree with everything posted above, and need to emphasize for Brandy:\

 

The post office WANTS you to use the blue boxes instead of visiting the retail window.  That's why they have been removing staff from the offices gradually over the years.  They WANT you to do everything self-service.   So a local PO asking someone to come inside goes against what the parent "company" wants.

It's a lot cheaper for them to install another blue box, if needed, than to hire a new employee to handle extra customers at the window.  And like said above, the worst customers I have ever been stuck behind ARE the little old ladies who think that it is the job of the clerk to fill out all their forms for them.  PBS users are among the most responsible, having the address in the easiest-to-process USPS format, often with postage already attached.  The local PO still gets credit for handling that package, but they do half the work or less than with those occasional customers like the seniors mailing a gift box to the grandkids.

Until I moved to this small town, I made every effort to avoid the PO, because I would get stuck in a line behind unprepared older customers being helped by clerks who were just counting the minutes to the next lunch break.  Now, I'm in a small town with a PO staffed by only a postmaster and a one day a week clerk.  The service is so, so much better because their biggest mailers use the blue box.

Date Posted: 1/16/2011 9:58 AM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2010
Posts: 220
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It's worth noting that for some reason post offices differ in their quality of service, so if you are in an area where you have a choice of post offices, you may want to check out some of the others.  (We're lucky in that we have at least five that are nearby and in directions in which we run errands, do shopping, etc.)