USPS Slammed for Overcharging Customers at Post Offices
PEOPLE IN CERTAIN AREAS SAY THEY'RE BEING WRONGFULLY FORCED TO PAY POSTAL FEES.
Tension between the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) and its customers is nothing new. While we rely on the USPS for daily mail service, problems have been mounting for some time now. The agency has been accused of withholding mail and making it easier for thieves to steal checks, among other alleged infractions. And now, the Postal Service has found itself in hot water for a different reason. Read on to find out why some customers say the USPS is overcharging them.
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The Postal Service has been steadily raising prices.
Everyone is feeling the weight of climbing postal costs these days.
Back in July 2022, the Postal Service raised its First-Class Mail prices by approximately 6.5 percent. And just over a month ago, First-Class Mail was hit with yet another price hike—this time by 4.2 percent. That same day, the agency also increased customer costs for P.O. Box rentals and shipping services.
"As operating expenses continue to rise, these price adjustments provide the Postal Service with much needed revenue to achieve the financial stability sought by its Delivering for America 10-year plan," the agency said in a press release about its new prices for 2023.
Now, the USPS is being accused of overcharging.
P.O. Box customers say they're being overcharged.
The Postal Service is facing backlash over pricing problems in Pennsylvania. Some customers in the state say they're being wrongfully charged by the agency for P.O. Boxes, local NBC-affiliate WGAL in the Susquehanna Valley region reported on March 1.
Phil Boyer told the news outlet that he recently found out his neighbors in Brownstown, Pennsylvania, were paying for P.O. Boxes that should be available at no fee, because mail delivery isn't offered on their street.
"There are people that have been paying for 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 [years]. One gentleman has been paying for a box that should have been free for 50 years," Boyer said.
According to WGAL, the issue isn't isolated to this one area of Pennsylvania: The news outlet also found the same thing happening in two more Lancaster County towns, Adamstown and Maytown.
"We have to have the post office box. If I'm forced to have a box, we shouldn't have to pay for it because you're forced to have it," Adamstown resident Jeremy Motter said.
According to Motter, frustrations only grew when Adamstown customers discovered a notice at their post office about the recent price hike for P.O. Boxes.
"I'm, like, well, hold on. This is ridiculous," he said. "I don't want to be a premium stop. I don't want to have to pay extra, especially when people get their mail delivered for free."
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The USPS says customers who do not receive delivery can get a free P.O. Box.
For many postal customers, P.O. Boxes serve as a "premium service offered for a fee to anyone who requires more than free home delivery or general delivery," per the USPS. The cost may vary based on where you live, the size of your P.O. Box, and your rental time period.
But some customers—like the residents in Lancaster County—have no other option, because the Postal Service does not deliver to their home address. And in that case, they should be eligible for a free P.O. Box, according to the agency's website.
P.O. Boxes are offered "for no fee to customers who are not eligible for carrier delivery," the USPS states in its Domestic Mail Manual (DMM). A spokesperson for the Postal Service told WGAL that it is reviewing cases in Brownstown, and offering to refund a portion of charges to some customers.
But Boyer said that when he reached out to the agency with multiple calls and emails, they acknowledged that none of the residents should be paying a fee. "The post office is admitting or has admitted that everyone should be getting a free post office box," he told the news outlet.
In a statement to Best Life, a USPS spokesperson said, "To customers whose physical addresses are not eligible for any form of USPS carrier delivery service, Group E PO Box service is provided for free. This service is consistent with the USPS responsibility to provide universal mail delivery. Customers who feel they may qualify for a free Group E PO Box should address their concerns to their local Postmaster for review. If discrepancies are discovered, we take all measures to resolve the error as soon as possible."
This is not the first time customers were charged when they should not have been.
As it turns out, customers paying for P.O. Boxes that should be free is not an isolated problem.
Over in Colorado, Buena Vista resident Mary Ann Uzelac had been arguing for years that residents were being unfairly charged for P.O. Boxes, The Colorado Sun reported in Sept. 2022. According to the news outlet, the town of about 3,000 people does not receive USPS delivery, but had not been getting P.O. Boxes for free.
"When I first moved here 18 years ago, I paid $24 for the box. Then it went up to $26 and then $28 and $32. It grew steadily and you don't feel the impact of that—until it started doubling. I thought 'well, this is never going to end and it's getting worse,'" Uzelac told The Colorado Sun.
James Boxrud, a spokesman for the USPS, told the outlet that Buena Vista residents would be able to get P.O. Boxes for free in 2023, starting on Jan. 2—which was confirmed by a press release from the agency.