■ BY MARCY SHORTUSE
Problems with the mail are still prevalent on the island (according to several new missives that have come through to the Beacon office), so we thought we would give you an update on the situation. After a conversation with a long-time postal employee who doesn’t work on this island, as well as two other postmistresses from off-island mail distribution points, some new information has come to light.
After receiving no email or phone response from the regional USPS administrator Sherry Jude, we have another number for you to try. It is a postal inspector number, (877) 876-2455. If you have tried Sherry as well and gotten no response, this might be a new approach to your mail problems.
A relatively new service USPS offers is called “customer agreement for PO Box service enhancements.” This agreement with the United States Postal Service specifically helps those who cannot get their mail any other way (i.e., places with no home delivery service). With this service the patron has the option of using a street address of the post office location for a mailing address, in addition to using a PO box. For example, if the Post office is located at 434 W. 4th Street, and you have PO Box 313, your mail would be addressed to 434 W. 4th Street, #313, Boca Grande, FL 33921.
Note the pesky hash tag that our post office administrator has told us not to use. This is directly from the Postal Service, so in the upper administrative offices they do honor the hash tag/number sign (in speaking with the Grove City Post Office and the UPS store next to the Cape Haze Publix we learned that they will put deliver mail whether it has a hash tag or not).
The form specifically states, “Please note that you are limited to this address format, including both the # sign and your PO box number.”
When a package is delivered to the general delivery address you have given (the post office’s address with your # 313 next to it) you will receive a slip in your PO box that tells you an item is ready for pickup.
Postal administration has actually said using the word “box” in the address for this instance is detrimental, as companies that do not deliver to PO Boxes have computers that read that word and consider the address to be invalid.
There is another service offered by the USPS that might help. It is called “Signature on File,” and is great for businesses or individuals that receive numerous packages at once. With the service you can place your signature on file with the local post office that eliminates the need to wait in line to sign for a package. When you sign up for the program you authorize the post office to automatically use your signature for signature-required mail. This includes Priority Express Mail, insured mail more than $200 (including electronic return receipt) and signature confirmation packages.
If you are interested in obtaining the USPS forms for PO box additional services, go to usps.com/pobox/customer-agreement-for-premium-po-box-service-enhancements.pdf.
These services have been added, as has the “Informed Delivery” option, which allows you to sign up and see what mail is coming to you before it even arrives. That service can be downloaded through the USPS as an app on your phone as well, and it shows the postal patron grayscale images of letter-sized mail, as well as some color images. You can also sign up for email notifications.
For that service go to informeddelivery.usps.com.
According to post office administration, if you have a small PO Box and are having problems with your overflow mail being thrown away because the box is full, post office regulations dictate that a customer is allowed to go six months without checking the box. That means postal employees should be holding mail for you, not sending it back or throwing it away.
Make sure all visitors staying with you who get mail have the sender address it to “Care of” or “c/o” the boxholder’s name. While many facilities will still deliver the mail if only the visitor’s name is listed, is has been proven that this post office will usually not follow through.
In one letter that came to the Beacon office on February 27 a Boca Grande postal patron had been given two completely different explanations of how to address a letter to a visitor to someone’s home who is not listed on the PO Box registry for that box number.
The postal customer explained they had turned in paperwork for a long-term visitor to be added to the PO box – twice – but mail was still being returned. Then the visitor had to pay shipping on a “free shipping” package because they were not listed on the box.
Another visitor was told that a U.S. Passport was not accepted as a form of identification to be listed on a PO Box. According to the government web site for the United States Post Office two forms of identification are required to be listed on a post office box including, “a valid driver’s license or state ID card; a military, government, university, or recognized corporate ID; a passport, alien registration card or certificate of naturalization; a current lease, mortgage, or deed of trust; a voter or vehicle registration card; or a home or vehicle insurance policy.
We are still taking your letters and emails about your post office problems, with the hope we can help you get some answers to questions not easily answered.