We have enjoyed living in Hingham for 21 years and three years ago moved across town to our new house. For close to a year, we received our mail just like everyone else - regularly and problem-free. Then out of the blue we were approached by our mail carrier and asked to move our wall-mount box to a box on post at the end of our driveway. We declined for several reasons: it was less convenient for us; we hadn’t been given a reason why we should move a box that had been sitting in the same spot for 40 years; and, most importantly, the end of our driveway sits on a very dangerous section of road. It’s a narrow, sharp corner on a steep incline. A mail truck stopping at the end of our driveway would effectively block the sight lines of traffic traveling in both directions. In the past year alone there have been two near-fatal accidents on this corner. One involved a car that flew through the air and flipped over leaving the car crushed. Miraculously the driver survived. In the other accident, the car knocked down a telephone pole and left pieces of the bumper and undercarriage behind when the driver fled the scene. The police were able to find her by following the trail of car parts.
After declining to move our box, we didn't give the request another thought until we suddenly stopped receiving our mail. When we called the local branch to find out why, we were told that the Postmaster had determined there were safety issues with our driveway and our mail service had been suspended. We asked what the safety issues were and were told that our driveway posed a “threat to the safety of mail carriers” because they would have to make three-point turns. We pointed out that mail had been safely delivered to our house using u-turns for 40 years but were told that the Postmaster disagreed. So we asked to have a mail truck come to our home and demonstrate but were told that “wasn’t going to happen.” We also asked what size a driveway was required to be in order to be deemed safe but were told the regulation book was “too big” to look that up. Then instead of working with us to help us understand his decision, our Postmaster contacted the regional USPS Safety Office and had a safety officer write a fraudulent report about our driveway, a report that became the basis for all subsequent decisions within the USPS and one that he told us we weren't allowed access to. We didn’t think this sounded right, so we sought assistance from others within the USPS to obtain a copy of it. However only after contacting the district office and threatening legal action was it provided to us. That took one year. Everything in the report, including our address, is incorrect. When we requested a copy of travel logs or receipts through the FOIA that would support the safety officer’s claim that he had been to our property with a co-worker and examined our driveway in person, something he stated in his report, we were told that none existed.
While we explored ways to have our mail service restored, we rented a post office box and had our mail forwarded to it. Some pieces were delivered so late that when the rental expired we decided we would have our mail held for pick-up instead. This worked well for two months. However when the Postmaster learned of it he told us we could no longer have our mail held because we did not have an "established delivery point." No one at USPS headquarters could tell us what that meant nor could they confirm that this was, in fact, a policy.
So now all of our mail is being returned to sender. At first our mail was simply stamped “no mail receptacle.” When we pointed out that we did in fact have a mail receptacle, another stamp was added to our returned mail that says “no authorized mail receptacle.” The former is a USPS-generated sticker; the latter appears to be something custom-made.
Over the past 2-1/2 years there have been several times when we thought our situation was close to being resolved only to face yet another obstacle – too many times to go into in detail here. Statements have been made in person only to be retracted or completely ignored in writing. Policies that don't exist have been quoted in defense of our Postmaster’s decision. Consumer Affairs representatives have passed us along to other Consumer Affairs representatives – all the way up to the main office in Washington, D.C., which promptly directed us back to our Postmaster. Outside agencies, such as the Office of the Inspector General, told us they don’t oversee matters like this. Most recently we worked with Representative Keating’s office for several months and appeared to be making progress only to be told that the USPS had decided to close our case. At that point Rep. Keating told us there was nothing more he could do to help us.
We feel as though we have done everything possible within the system to achieve resolution but have been unable to. So we are collecting signatures from friends, family, neighbors and other concerned individuals and intend to forward this petition to the USPS, to state representative and senator’s offices, and to news media outlets.
We never expected our situation to get to this point, but we have always felt very strongly about seeing it through to the end. Not only is our Postmaster’s decision a violation of the USPS mandate found in Title 39, but it doesn’t take into account the very real safety issues posed by a change in delivery point at our address.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, and we appreciate your support.
Michael, Kristen, Kelsey and Andrew
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