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Topic: Received note from carrier asking me to NOT use blue box

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Subject: Received note from carrier asking me to NOT use blue box
Date Posted: 9/15/2012 1:08 PM ET
Member Since: 12/31/2009
Posts: 3,995
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I'm kinda fizzed over this. Here's the back-story;

There are two blue mailboxes near my house, both are an equal distance away. Which box I use depends on whether I make a left or a right at the corner of my street. That's the only criteria I use when deciding which box to drop my book packages in.

I usually use the box to the right, since that's the one I have to pass when walking my dogs or when I'm on my way to work. I only use the one on the left when running errands or visiting family on my days off. 

Lately, I've had a lot of book orders, most of which I took directly to the post office. Other orders have been trickling in though, and I just happened to use the left-hand blue box a lot over the past two weeks. I have never dropped in more than four packages at a time, and I never drop in larger packages. Just normal single-to-double book sized packages.

So...

I got a hand-written note in my mailbox yesterday. Although it's not signed, it's apparently from the mail carrier that empties the blue boxes in the afternoons. He/she informed me that I was not to use the box to the left any more, as it was meant for another neighborhood and my packages were causing it to become overfilled. The box for my neighborhood is the one to the right and I'm to use only that one regularly from this moment on, or delivery of my packages "might be delayed." What? Was that a thinly veiled threat? He/she also gently suggested that I haul my lazy carcass on over to the post office any-and-every time I had packages larger than envelope size, because it is apparently my responsibility to regularly inconvenience myself in order to make this person's life as easy and stress-free as possible.

This wasn't a "hey there, can you do me a big favor" type of friendly note, which I would have happily complied with. It was a "don't ever do this again, you're being a complete and total ass and I'm about to make your life difficult" smack on the mouth note, which makes me want to stuff the box daily just to be spiteful. 

I've never heard of this. I have been mailing my packages in the late afternoon, just before the scheduled pickup, and the forbidden box in question is usually close to empty. It's NEVER full. I have also dropped letters/packages into all different random mailboxes I spotted on a corner while driving in the city. They're for anyone, right?

I called the hotline. The woman told me to continue using whatever boxes I want (of course), she took my information, and told me they would look into it. I'm still a bit worried that using the wrong box is going to make my packages mysteriously vanish though. 



Last Edited on: 9/15/12 1:11 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 9/15/2012 8:19 PM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2008
Posts: 3,489
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I would keep using the blue box as well. It sounds like a lazy postal worker that doesn't want to do his or her job. I'd send a copy of that note to the local post office as well.

 

 

Date Posted: 9/16/2012 12:12 AM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,167
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Consider calling your local postmaster and very politely inquire about regulations.  If they are having overfilling or other in-house problems, word would have come down from the postmaster her/himself.  You can get a feel for the local situation, then if the answer isn't satisfactory complain farther up line.

And I agree, a message worded 'as a favor to your neighbors and postal staff, please...' would have been much nicer than the treat you received instead.  Consider complying anyway tho, b/c a spiteful postal carrier could make your life miserable. 

We've seen posts on similar situations (neighborhood blue-boxes) and IIRC there's not really any 'ownership' to these things...all blue boxes are for all postal customers.  And that's one of the perks of prepaid postage, you can blue box it anywhere...not just at the Post Office.

ETA - the few times I've watched employees empty a blue box, there's been a tub in the bottom which they take out and replace with a fresh/empty one.  Maybe the carrier is referring to an overfull interior tub, in which case they may need to scoop out the loose mail and toss back inside the tub.  Whining about it?...now that's lazy. 

As a customer, I would consider a full box...one that is full to the point that you cannot fully open and close the tippy door on the backside.  Now those are scary b/c motivated theives could easily reach in and fish out mail.



Last Edited on: 9/16/12 12:22 AM ET - Total times edited: 3
Date Posted: 9/16/2012 2:21 PM ET
Member Since: 6/20/2010
Posts: 94
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That's ridiculous!  If this guy doesn't want to do this job properly, I'm sure there are plenty of others who would love to have it.  As the others suggested, I would contact the local post office witha copy of the note and continue using whichever blue box is more convienent to you.  Postal boxes are for anyone who has mail, not matter where they're from.  I could be from California and use a blue box in New York and it shouldn't make a difference.

Date Posted: 9/16/2012 2:45 PM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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Lisa, could you possibly type the note up and post it here, not just your interpretation of what it says. As a postal worker for many years, I have found that people misinterpret and misunderstand things all the time. 

 

Are you prepaying for postage or using stamps? If you are using stamps, that might be where the "delay" is coming from. They would have to seperate the stamped packages and take them to a scale(that is on-if it's after closing time, the window scales are not operational) and weigh them up and then mark them up as passing or failing the AvSec rules. (AvSec= aviation security) 

 

If I could see what the note says, I can answer to the specifics, not just guessing. 

Date Posted: 9/16/2012 2:55 PM ET
Member Since: 12/31/2009
Posts: 3,995
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Sure Brandy, I can type it up word-for-word when I get home from work.

I use prepaid postage and weigh my packages myself before printing the labels.

Date Posted: 9/17/2012 10:47 AM ET
Member Since: 5/16/2009
Posts: 7,662
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I would have been on my way down to the P.O. the very next day with that note in my hand to file a complaint with that office's supervisor, in addition to the phone call you've made. That's completely ridiculous. As long as you are following the rules for what's allowed to go into the blue box, then you're doing nothing wrong. I'm sure there's no such thing as a private USPS blue box that can only be used by a certain part of a neighborhood! It should be easy enough for them to figure out which employee has done this, and to correct this problem for you. That employee's job is simply to collect the mail, not to decide who gets to use that box.
Date Posted: 9/17/2012 11:56 AM ET
Member Since: 12/31/2009
Posts: 3,995
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Here's the note, with misspellings and errors:

Please no longer use the box on Comly road for your large packages. There is a box closer to your house on Templeton. that is there for your area any your mail needs to go there and not overfill the other one. If you keep doing this I am afraid your mail will be delayed. It would be better for you to take any boxes to the post office there is one in the mall and it is only a few minites away if you drive there.

 

The post office I would need to go to for a complaint is not near me (the mall office mentioned is a tiny drop-off center) and, from past experience, the people working there are not pleasant, helpful, or even very bright. It is large and always very busy, and I've seen the staff shout at people across the room, bark orders, and show zero tolerance for any questions or delays in getting to the next person in line.

I called the 800 number, explained everything, gave full information including my address and the location of the drop boxes, and dictated the note word-for-word. The woman on the phone was friendly and concerned, and assured me that it would be looked into and dealt with. So I see no point in calling or showing up in person for a confrontation with an over-worked petulant office worker at this point. I'll save that unpleasantness and inconvenience for when/if this isn't being resolved.

 

Date Posted: 9/17/2012 12:59 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,167
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These things seem to work differently in different postal regions.  But I doubt the mall branch is where your incoming mail comes and is sorted (or outgoing mail collected and dispatched)....That's the branch you should locate and talk with the postmaster (supervisor). Some of them are as untrained and uncooperative as their staff, but most should should do fine.   Although there might be some obscure local reason postal staff has requested you use a different blue box, but at this point your note writer merely appears lame and lacking in training (and grammar skills). 

And oops, I see you already know which post office services your area and they are not known for pleasant customer relations (I feel lucky to have an excellent and friendly postal branch).  So the phone call was probably your best bet, and we've been told that they take these complaints seriously.  The most you might do from here is download a paper complaint form, fill it out, attach a copy of your infamous note, and mail it in.

Regarding going to the mall merely to mail a few small prepaid packages?  WTF?  What sane person would brave mall traffic, parking, gas prices, inconvience, and crowds to mail a package that can easily be dropped in any blue box?  Those are the exact reason prepaid postage exists!  Seriously, some of the rural (and otherwise backward) branches need to drag their caveman selves into the new century.

A quick google search shows USPS advertises "Skip the trip to the Post Office".  In addition, besides their own Click & Ship option, USPS online has links to three authorized prepaid postage venders (E-bay, Stamps.com, and Endicia) and they also ALL advertise "eliminate trips to the post office."  (IIRC PBS is affiliated with Endicia).



Last Edited on: 9/17/12 1:00 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 9/17/2012 1:05 PM ET
Member Since: 12/31/2009
Posts: 3,995
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Those were all my thoughts exactly Denise. And I'm not even remotely rural, or even suburban. I live IN PHILADELPHIA, in one of the most heavily populated areas of the city. These aren't uninformed contract postal workers dealing with far-flung remote pickups. They're under-trained mass-hired over-worked city dwellers with no common sense and hugely swollen entitlement glands. Seems that every time I see a postal truck in my neighborhood, it's a different person.



Last Edited on: 9/17/12 1:08 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 9/17/2012 4:43 PM ET
Member Since: 5/1/2007
Posts: 6,557
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I don't understand how your books could be filling up the blue box unless it's not being emptied as often as it's supposed to be. 

If I had gotten a note like that, I would have just thrown it away.  It's not signed and doesn't appear to be "official".  I would not have thought it was from a postal worker.

Date Posted: 9/17/2012 4:58 PM ET
Member Since: 12/31/2009
Posts: 3,995
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I don't understand how your books could be filling up the blue box unless it's not being emptied as often as it's supposed to be.

They're not full. Usually, when I drop a book into either of my neighborhood boxes, you can hear a *CLANG* when they hit bottom. In fact, the box I was told not to use any more is on a corner by a wooded lot, so there are a lot less houses near that one. It probably gets used a lot less often than the others in the immediate area. My guess is that the collection box just happened to be a little too heavy for his liking on that day, or maybe I'm not the only person using it for their packages, so he decided to vent by blaming the person who put the horrible heavy paperback books in there. For all I know, he could have written several passive aggressive notes to several people in the neighborhood.

Date Posted: 9/17/2012 5:26 PM ET
Member Since: 3/12/2007
Posts: 2,244
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i'm so glad i've never dealt with these kinds of things. i use the blue boxes almost 99% of the time. the ones in the shopping plaza where i work are where i use them, and it's a different county even from where i live. i have filled the boxes up to the brim a few times, but never once have had a problem. i thank my lucky stars for that city's postal workers!

Date Posted: 9/18/2012 8:14 AM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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Lisa, Yeah, you have every right to complain. There was no misunderstanding on your part with that note. The very best way to complain is through the web site. it generates a "case" that is emailed to the proper manager. If it's not handled  within a certain timeframe (I think 72 hours) it generates another report sent to the manager's boss and the manager is "called on the carpet" for not solving it. 

 

For all, If you go in to complain, the window clerk can't do a thing except listen to you rant. If you call the station, there is no "trail" ,they can, and do "forget" about your complaints often. I don't know what happens to the 1-800 number complaints, but I have never seen any get to the station. The best way is through the web site. If you want to complain, do so in a way that leaves a trail, in a way that the manager can't "forget" about you.

 

 

I don't understand how your books could be filling up the blue box unless it's not being emptied as often as it's supposed to be. 

 

Jean, that is impossible. EVERY collection box in the country has a barcode on the inside that must be scanned everytime the box is collected. That way there is a record that the box wasn't collected early or that a box wasn't missed. the reports are run every evening and if one was pulled early or missed, someone is sent out to recollect and rescan it. 

Date Posted: 9/18/2012 1:44 PM ET
Member Since: 12/28/2006
Posts: 14,167
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"...no common sense and hugely swollen entitlement glands..."  ROFL

Date Posted: 9/18/2012 1:50 PM ET
Member Since: 12/31/2009
Posts: 3,995
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Thanks Brandy. I'll do the website complaint right now.

Date Posted: 9/25/2012 12:24 PM ET
Member Since: 7/13/2005
Posts: 5,201
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Had I been the recipient of that note, I would have been tempted to leave a reply for the letter carrier saying something to the effect of, he should be GLAD if the blue box is full of mail because isn't the decline in postal mail causing the fiscal shortfalls in the USPS budget, and he should consider a large volume of mail as job security.

I may not have had the cojones to actually give the letter carrier such a response, but I'd want to.

Date Posted: 9/26/2012 7:33 AM ET
Member Since: 7/30/2007
Posts: 4,275
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Actually Clarinda, what is causing the fiscal shortfalls is that in 2006 Congress passed a law requiring USPS to prefund retirees healthcare,75 years in the future, within 10 years. That law pulled out 5.5 Billion (BILLION---with a B) per year, every year, since it went into effect. Every year the USPS has had an "operational profit" meaning they brought in more money than they had expenses, but were forced to deposit 5.5 Billion into the Treasury. This year was the first time we had a "operational loss" before the prefunding. 

Date Posted: 10/19/2012 9:26 AM ET
Member Since: 11/14/2010
Posts: 220
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Lisa, please let us know if you hear anything back on your complaint.

Date Posted: 10/24/2012 7:37 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2007
Posts: 11,439
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I almost exclusively use blue boxes for mailling because the only PO in our town is 32 blocks from my house in a direction I rarely go.  However, there is a blue box right out in front of the store I work.  I either use that one or a driveup one in a grocery store parking lot.  I know exactly what size packages I get get into the boxes and I've never had a problem, even dropping in book boxes that weigh a couple of pounds.

Subject: Wow
Date Posted: 10/31/2012 2:55 PM ET
Member Since: 11/5/2009
Posts: 1,083
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If I got a note like that, I would be livid.  I'm quite sure there are no "rules" about what blue box you can and/or should use.  

I don't use the blue boxes at all.  If my books won't fit in my mailbox, I leave a note in my box asking the carrier to do a front door pickup.  This is a service offered by the USPS and they encourage you to use it.  I just leave the books on my front porch and the postal worker picks them up and leaves my mail for me.  I frequently talk to my mail carrier and she has never complained about my pickup requests.

 

 

Date Posted: 12/10/2012 10:24 PM ET
Member Since: 1/19/2009
Posts: 61
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We are extremely rural and are totally in the new century. Sorry, but we have to comply exactly the same as city folks. We aren't dumb out here, but we do have lots of room to move around.

Subject: Blue Boxes
Date Posted: 12/11/2012 1:55 PM ET
Member Since: 11/18/2005
Posts: 5,418
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I use blue boxes all the time. Either the one at the PO, the one a few blocks from the PO-with the bigger opening or the one right in front of the main door or the Walmart I work at....

Date Posted: 12/27/2012 8:50 PM ET
Member Since: 11/11/2005
Posts: 753
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I am SO lucky.

I have a tiny rural post office (they close over the lunch hour cuz they have only one employee). On Christmas Eve, I showed up at 12:30, because I didn't realize the PO closed at noon. The gal was still inside and hadn't left; she came outside the building to collect the book package from me!

Like I said: lucky!

Date Posted: 12/27/2012 11:47 PM ET
Member Since: 5/25/2009
Posts: 598
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Susan that's how my last PO was. The old Postmaster even called me on a Saturday once (he came in to put mail in boxes, but didn't open the window that day) to let me know I had a bunch of packages, and let me pick them up from him that day. 

Now I live in a big city and share a PO Box with my mom at a very busy post office where most of the clerks are rude and not very well-versed on the DMM. I guess when you have those fancy computers to calculate everything for you, you don't need to know as many things in your head.