Delivery or pickup? Why Mail Carriers aren’t carrying to some in town

Above: For the safety of their drivers and equipment, the post office has guidelines for snow clearance. This clearly doesn’t meet it! (Image posted to Flickr by bunnygoth)

I’m as sick of blogging about snow as you probably are of reading about it. But I have another item to share.

A reader, frustrated that his mail was being held by the local post office asked me to follow up.

As we all know, the old post office creed* hasn’t stood up to this winter. But I didn’t realize that the delivery was impeded beyond the days of the storms.

According to the reader’s complaint, many elderly residents have had to drive to the post office to pick up their mail recently. The post office has safety standards for cleared areas around mailboxes. Given the size of our snowbanks, it’s too much for many to keep up with.

A contact with the US Postal Service provided the diagram and explanation below:


During and after a storm and throughout a severe winter like we are experiencing, Postal Service employees will make every reasonable, safe attempt to deliver mail to each and every address on their routes. For successful mail delivery, we ask for the cooperation of our customers to keep their streets and mailboxes clear so that our employees return home safe at the end of each work day. 

Letter carriers are cautioned about delivering mail to locations where safety issues – such as icy roads, snow-packed paths, mud or moving waters, leaf piles, road debris – create perilous conditions. Unsafe conditions in the approach to a mailbox can result in property damages or injuries to our carriers and vehicles as well as to property or people in the neighborhoods we serve.

We take the safety of our employees and the communities we serve seriously. Where that safety may be compromised, we do support holding mail until a remedy is made. If a letter carrier feels threatened by a hazardous or unsafe condition, the employee reports it to his or her immediate manager or Postmaster, who investigates the situation. The customer involved is notified of the problem and is given the opportunity to fix it. This can be in writing using such tools as the attached diagram or verbally, when a customer calls or visits their post office to retrieve mail on hold.

So, if your mail has been held hostaged, that’s why. For those of you fit enough to deal with your mailboxes, you might want to see if elderly neighbors on your street need a hand.

*Old Post Office creed: Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds

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9 years ago

Does a reasonable attempt include breaking a patron’s mailbox and pretending you have no idea why it’s hanging by a thread?

I'm just sayin'
9 years ago
Reply to  Bill

Sure it was the mailman and not a snow plow? I have seen a LOT of those mailboxes! Also, if there was snow in front of it and he/she made the attempt to come in close to access the mailbox and a tire got caught in the snow pile, it could have sent the truck into your box. In that case, it would not be the mail deliverers fault, but the fact the snow was not removed properly for safe access. I have seen our mailman get out of his truck and walk through a snow bank to deliver someone’s mail! Now that is dedication!!!

Mederick Black
9 years ago

This “Post Office creed” predates the post office by a couple thousand years and has never been adopted as such by the USPS. Get real! Shovel your box!

9 years ago
Reply to  Mederick Black

My box is completely accessible.

9 years ago

A string of mailboxes on our street were shoveled out approximately the same amount but none of them to the diagram above. Mail was delivered to about half of them. We were one of the days but none of the rest that week. When I asked about it, I got the note above. We gave up and didn’t even shovel out after the last storm.

This is also following up on lots of mail that we’re getting for addresses that aren’t ours. Including a Sunday Delivery box from Amazon which the USPS delivers. I wonder if our mail ends up god knows where too.

9 years ago

Our mail delivery people absolutely rock! If people can’t be bothered to shovel out, then they shouldn’t expect delivery. And, don’t blame the postal service for your broken mailbox. Look to the plows who block the end of our driveways!

9 years ago

When I saw this post from Beth I felt terrible for our poor mail carrier. Ours and our neighbors’ mailboxes are grouped together and we shoveled like the “no” picture. S/He is still delivering the mail and we appreciate that. I tried to shovel some more to look more like the “yes” picture but it is so frozen and hardened I can’t. As far as mailboxes getting knocked off — mine did too. I don’t know how it happened but don’t fault anyone with this too-much-snow winter. We are all doing the best we can. Thanks goes to the plow drivers and mail carriers who keep working in these difficult conditions.

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