You May Be Breaking The Law with Your Mailbox
Today I saw a post on Facebook which struck my curiosity. A person in the Hudson Valley had received a notice in their mailing box which had obviously been placed their by the sender not the USPS. It was in an envelope that had not been mailed. The letter invited the resident, no name was on the letter, to an informational meeting about their neighborhood. The recipient of the letter posted it to see if anyone else had receive a copy of the notice.
As you can imagine because it is on Facebook there were plenty of comments but the one that struck my curiosity was the one who said it was illegal for that letter to have been placed in the mailbox. Yes, you heard me, illegal. I had no clue about this law of the mailbox, so I decided to checkout the facts myself. Turns out it is illegal.
You know the saying, "you learn something new every day". Well it held true today for me, I actually learned a lot because of a Facebook comment that caught my attention. I decided to google some information and I did indeed find out that according to USPS.com not only is it illegal to place something with no postage in your mailbox, it is also illegal to even lean something against it.
"No part of a mail receptacle may be used to deliver any matter not bearing postage, including items or matter placed upon, supported by, attached to, hung from, or inserted into a mail receptacle. Any mailable matter not bearing postage and found as described above is subject to the same postage as would be paid if it were carried by mail." (USPS.com)
Now that I know this I have the answers to even more questions like; Why do people stuff things in my porch door? Or why does the phone book get throw in the middle of my driveway? Turns out all this time people have been placing things on my porch or between the screens in the door so they weren't breaking the law. Who knew? The funny thing is I can't even count how many times in my life I have told someone to "just leave it in the mailbox" having no clue they could be subject to a fine and that includes my neighbors returning a borrowed item. Just last year I told the Girl Scouts to leave the cookies in the box, they didn't they went on the porch.
So how did this all start? Well according to an article I found from OUPblog.com it dates back to 1934. Apparently companies discovered it was cheaper to deliver a bill rather than mail it. So, they did just that, they drove the bills around and left them in people's mailboxes. Soon after the post office put a stop to that according to OUPblog with a new law passed through congress call the "mailbox restriction" law and the rest is history. Or is it, now that we can get our bills via email?
The weird thing in all of this is if we want mail we have to buy and maintain a mailbox but once it is up and running it belongs to the USPS.