USPS stops delivering woman's mail over technicality

January 14, 2013 7:01:40 PM PST
An East Bay woman is complaining that an arbitrary and inflexible position by the U.S. Postal Service has kept her from receiving her mail for two weeks. The USPS claims it is all about preserving carrier efficiency.

"You had to bend down, and it was inconvenient," Donna Schmitt said. The Piedmont resident says it was a matter of convenience and a good faith effort to replace a mailbox that was rusty and falling off the wall, "And also I thought the post office carrier would enjoy not having to bend so low, so we picked a place that was good for both of us."

But the letter carrier on Schmitt's route was none too pleased, leaving a cryptic sticky note on her box saying the move was against post office policy, without permission. And if the box wasn't put back within seven days, delivery would halt; which it did, December 26.

"Who would want to be in this position to lift up that little cover," said Schmitt's boyfriend, Ev Pelton. He was the one who actually moved the old box and installed the new one, exactly 24 inches up and to the left.

Laura Anthony: "Do you think they overreacted?"
Ev Pelton: "Totally, because I don't think it takes any more time to drop it in the new box location than it did the old box location."
Laura Anthony: "Well, there's one more step, maybe."
Ev Pelton: "Maybe, or maybe not."

Schmitt adds, "I called the post office and the man on the line was very angry with me, and kept hollering and telling me it was against the rules. They said it was an efficiency issue and that it would take her longer to put it in this box than that box."

Schmitt and Pelton even submitted a letter, asking for retroactive permission to keep the box in its new spot. But they never heard back from the post office, until Monday.

Laura Anthony: "Curiously, after we called today, your mail showed up?"
Donna Schmitt: "Yes it did, thank you! We're hoping it will tomorrow, too."

The U.S. Postal Service did not respond to the specific situation, but they did reiterate that it's against policy to move a mailbox without permission.

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