Toledo Talk

Mail Carrier Question

I heard some neighbors disputing whether our mail carrier is supposed to pick up our outgoing mail in addition to dropping off the incoming. I was surprised: everyplace I've lived, it's never been a question. Mailboxes come with outgoing letter clips and special flags to alert the carrier that mail is inside the box; sometimes we'd leave a short stack under the box, or whatever.

But now I discover a colleague in Illinois replaced her mailbox with a giant porch basket -- which the carrier has been using for five years to dump mail into. Her reasoning was that they don't pick up mail anyway, so there's no need to maintain an official box.

The neighbors here were saying that our carrier DOES pick up mail and he's doing us a mighty special favor. Another (50-year resident of the neighborhood) never leaves mail out -- he always takes it to the nearest drop box. He says picking up mail is not part of the carrier's job.

What say ye, TT?

And on a side note, does the USPS realize that some folks don't have any idea of what basic level of service is to be expected? :-)

created by viola on Aug 21, 2013 at 09:56:16 am     Comments: 16

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I've always been under the impression that the mail carriers are supposed to take outgoing mail.

In fact, I'm pretty sure I remember seeing that they will even take packages for you. I know that you can request for your mail carrier to leave Priority Mail and other shipping boxes at your home. We had some dropped off for us once when my husband was selling several items on eBay. You can place your request on the USPS website and your postal carrier will drop them off for you at a future date.

posted by mom2 on Aug 21, 2013 at 10:13:21 am     #   1 person liked this

I always thought they were supposed to pick it up...I've always lived in the country and we had a real mailbox...when I moved to Toledo I wasn't sure how to manage the little flip box on our porch that we have...what I do is when I have outgoing mail I use a binder clip and clip it to the outside of it...our mailman always picks it up :)

posted by stooks on Aug 21, 2013 at 10:48:15 am     #  

I've always thought it was a requirement for them to pick it up. In the subdivision I live in we don't have individual mailboxes anymore. Everything is a shared community box that has 6 or 8 locked boxes for the houses right by it (there is one every 4 houses on the street). Any outgoing letters are put in a drop box that is included in the community box, anything larger I just setup delivery on and they come by and get it.

posted by JustaSooner on Aug 21, 2013 at 11:12:34 am     #  

Maybe this will help, maybe it won't."

Rural Carrier Duties and Responsibilities

132.5 All Classes of Mail

"Accept, collect, and deliver on the route all classes of mail, including registered, insured, certified, extra services items, COD, Priority Mail Express, and delivery confirmation mail."


City Delivery Carriers Duties and Responsibilities

132 Collection on Letter Routes
132.1 Collection from Customers
132.11 Accept letters handed to you by customers for mailing, providing that postage
is affixed. Go to the porch or door to receive this mail from the customer.
132.12 Collect prepaid letters placed next to, in, or on private mail receptacles when
delivery is being made at that point.
132.13 Accept for mailing prepaid small articles

posted by justphillips on Aug 21, 2013 at 11:54:18 am     #   1 person liked this

^^ This.

I occasionally leave pre-stamped outgoing mail hanging out of my mailbox and the carriers cheerfully pick it up. Never had a problem.

posted by historymike on Aug 21, 2013 at 12:16:34 pm     #   2 people liked this

Now, with regard to the mailbox: I think it would be easier to wheel my recycling bin to the front door and use that. On most days my mail consists of little more than ad circulars, unsolicited insurance / credit card / mortgage offers, and other useless crapola. Virtually all of my bills are paid electronically, and all of my relatives who mailed cash for my birthday either: a) passed away; or b) stopped doing so when I was about 12.

posted by historymike on Aug 21, 2013 at 12:19:03 pm     #   1 person liked this

When I had a pick up box on my block, I never left outgoing mail at my house for carriers to pick up. However, they certainly are supposed to pick up outgoing mail.

However, it is more common along rural routes. If you live in the city, the carrier probably just doesn't want to do it.

Be careful as your mail may end up in a dumpster or first shipped to Alaska, Indonesia or another far away place before going where intended.

posted by 6th_Floor on Aug 21, 2013 at 12:49:19 pm     #  

Never underestimate the risk of leaving outgoing mail in your mailbox. With identity theft and risk of losing personal information, this could be a nightmare. Especially if your mailbox is at the street, makes it quite easy for people.

posted by Hoops on Aug 21, 2013 at 12:54:50 pm     #   1 person liked this

100% spot on Hoops.

posted by 6th_Floor on Aug 21, 2013 at 01:16:53 pm     #  

Hoops posted at 12:54:50 PM on Aug 21, 2013:

Never underestimate the risk of leaving outgoing mail in your mailbox. With identity theft and risk of losing personal information, this could be a nightmare. Especially if your mailbox is at the street, makes it quite easy for people.

Hmmm... the same could be said of any mail, though I suppose if an envelope was sticking out of a box, it might be slightly more tempting for people to rifle through your mail. However, the stuff I occasionally leave is inconsequential anyway - important stuff I take to the post office or ship FedEx.

Or, more often than not these days, I scan to PDF and email the item when possible. This is faster, cheaper, and has less risk of the wrong person getting my info.

posted by historymike on Aug 21, 2013 at 03:53:49 pm     #  

I basically receive only junk mail (incoming) and I mail one piece out per month. It's a bill for which I have no other good payment options.

It's my understanding that they are only required to pick up outgoing mail IF they have mail to deliver to that address on that day.

posted by gamegrrl on Aug 21, 2013 at 04:17:10 pm     #  

I would always pick up outgoing mail I saw along my route, whether the customer had mail that day or not. I believe most of my coworkers would do the same, unless they simply don't see it because there's no mail to deliver.

posted by mailmanrandy on Aug 21, 2013 at 04:51:16 pm     #  

We replaced the curb mailbox with a huge one on a new pole the year we moved to this truck route. The mail lady loved it. She asked The Hub, 'Are you guys going to have packages to send out?' and he said, no, probably not, this was for incoming. She was ecstatic and said she wished everybody had a big box like ours, she'd have to make fewer trips up to doors with packages. She reminded him to put up the flag if we had anything to go out, packages or letters, so she'd know to stop if she didn't have anything for us, so there you go. :)

posted by nana on Aug 21, 2013 at 08:46:19 pm     #  

Our mailman takes outgoing mail when we do put it out... never had a problem with that.

posted by toledolen_ on Aug 21, 2013 at 11:01:48 pm     #  

If the Postal Service is losing money every year, how about doubling the rate on bulk mail. If the bulk mail drops off maybe we could do without a few carriers and just deliver every other day. I get a box full of crap almost every day and about four things a week worth keeping.

posted by AmericanPie on Aug 22, 2013 at 10:55:15 pm     #  

I suspect they wouldn't stay in business if all they had to deliver were the good things. It seems like bulk mail pays the bills these days -- very few people write letters anymore.

posted by viola on Aug 23, 2013 at 08:55:04 am     #