That ultimatum to move your mailbox? Just an empty threat

Another overzealous postal manager is at work, this time in Chicago, ordering residents to move their mailboxes to the curb if they want their mail, according to Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn:

At the end of last week, my Northwest Side neighbors and I were buzzing about the mailbox ultimatum our postal carrier had delivered.

On a signed, photocopied United States Postal Service Form 1507, the handwritten note said that “per the new USPS policy, all mail receptacles need to be brought down to ground or sidewalk level.” The fine print suggested we act “promptly,” and warned that the “failure to correct the noted irregularities may necessitate the withdrawal of delivery service.”


Zorn says he went ahead and ordered a mailbox online- it was delivered on Monday (by UPS!), the same day that he got in touch with a USPS spokesperson, who told him he didn’t really need it:

Monday was also when I learned from Mark Reynolds, the USPS spokesman in Chicago, that the mailbox ultimatum was an empty threat that had been OK’d by an “overzealous” person at the area branch office. That person, whom Reynolds has declined to identify, “misinterpreted the scope of the changes in our delivery patterns,” he said.

Evidently this overzealous employee — the signature on the notice is illegible and the man who answered the phone at the branch office refused to translate it for me — has been at it for a while: I found a complaint online about an identical notice that was disseminated in April in the Roscoe Village neighborhood, much of which is served by the same postal branch.

Reynolds declined to name the offender.

For an agency that obsesses so much about its “brand”, you’d think the USPS would do a better job training its managers not to threaten their customers!

Read more: Postal mailbox ultimatum delivers empty threat – Chicago Tribune.

  • Bob

    You ought to see how they treat there employees, they are always threatening us with letters of warning and suspension for things that are not against the rules? Supervisors or postmasters doing this is nothing uncommon! I have worked for the PO for thirty years and in the beginning it was a great job but as thing have changed and the PO put more pressure on the supervisors they are doing the same to the employees!

  • Postal people

    Mail delivery is contingent upon employees who diligently carry out their duties on a daily basis. Attendance and failure to follow instructions as well as other infractions must be addressed by management in order to ensure prompt and courteous delivery of our product. We are a service industry governed by a board that doesn’t have our best interests in mind, but their own agenda. Your place of employment has changed and grown over the past 30 years. Have you?

  • retired too

    Treating people decently is as relevant today as it was 30 years ago. Whether it be your employees or your customers. I’m 100% with Bob on this one.

  • Postal people

    People are treated decently. They are also expected to do what is required of them. I asked if Bob had grown or changed with his company. If he hasn’t then he is part of the problem with the USPS. A company can’t compete or succeed without loyal, trained and competent employees. Training is provided to each employee. If they refuse to follow procedures, and have been counseled on correcting their errors, what choice does management have but to issue progressive discipline to correct behavior?

  • Paul Graveline

    I call utter bullshit. You know damn well how employees are treated. It’s funny how all this “warranted” discipline is almost always overturned via the grievance/arbitration procedure. Managements own B team reps see through it even. It’s all about harassing the employees to go faster and work insanely to make impossible numbers. Carriers cave to pressed and skip their lunches and breaks, then get disciplined if they get hurt or have an accident. I tell them go ahead and issue me discipline and see if has merit to stick. It never does. I don’t think any carriers object to just discipline. We are all in this together and if a carriers lays on his oars, we all must pick up the slack. But 90% of discipline is frivolous and unwarranted, and also very costly as challenging it cost to postal service close to a billion dollars yearly. Trust me, I have close friends in management. I see the directives they are given. I know the game. They openly tell me they are told to issue discipline that they know won’t stick just to push the carrier harder.

  • retired too

    Your words speak for themselves. The article was about how the customers were mistreated and Bob was stating his opinion that the employees are also. Your post is way too heavy on the disciplinary aspect of employment and ignores the thrust of the article regarding customer bullying. You simply state that people are treated decently. Check the VOE’s and customer complaints. It is the style of management you advocate, autocratic intimidation, which is a cancer on the company.

  • Postal people

    Did it ever occur to you that not all employees are doing the right thing even if you are? The Post Office employs wonderful people who are human and make mistakes. Those employees do the right thing. Repeated willful wrongdoing by a few cannot not be taken lightly and action should be taken.

  • ElCarteroLoco

    In over 31 years of Service, I have never met a competent supervisor, who I could respect and look up to as a person with integrity. The USPS promotes the carriers who are on light duty, the worst carriers and all around screw ups. You may be the exception, but I have had hundreds of Supervisors and dozens of OIC’s and Postmaster’s, all worthless.

  • retired too

    Care to comment on the article that was written?

  • Postal people

    Certainly, retired. If there was no valid reason or safety issue that would prevent the carrier from making delivery to the addresses in question there should have been no attempt to relocate the deliveries or alter the carrier’s established line of travel. That doesn’t however change the fact that all of your attempts to categorize all management into one category as right. I by no means tried to do that to craft employees in any if my earlier comments. I have a hard time believing that there has not been one supervisor in Loco’s 31 years that hasn’t made a positive impact in some way.

  • retired too

    Pardon. Please note that I made no attempt to categorize all management personal. I was lastly inquiring if you were ever going to comment on the article.

  • Billy Jay

    Postal people is NOT a “people” at all, merely an EASbot, who has been in management long enough to have all common sense and logic sapped from him/her. This happens to most who sell their soul to get into management, although there are some who maintain a shred of humanity.

  • joethemailman

    What about pay for performance incentives? Just like V.A.

  • Surprise!

    What is an Area Branch Office?

    “Monday was also when I learned from Mark Reynolds, the USPS spokesman in Chicago, that the mailbox ultimatum was an empty threat that had been OK’d by an “overzealous” person at the area branch office.”

    Do you mean Area? Area is a high level office. It goes National, Area, District, then come the local offices. Where the order came from is unclear.

  • Paul Graveline

    It did occur to me. And I stated we are all in this together and don’t care to pick up the slack for system abusers. I also stated that 90% of the discipline is pure and utter harassment and intimidation. Only 10% is for just cause. And you said “just bc I am doing the right thing”. Well, if I am doing the right thing, it should stand to reason that I wouldn’t be disciplined. But it happens all too often. It’s bc I am doing the right thing that allows me to defend and beat the discipline, but all it does is cost the postal service money and leave people like myself who do it by the book with an untrusting and bitter attitude. I that how you are supposed to run a company?

  • Postal people

    Ha ha! That’s funny Billy Jay. Just because someone aspires to do something to better themselves and hopefully their company doesn’t mean they are thoughtless robots. Do you feel that the carrier observed disposing of their mail should be allowed to continue that behavior? I’m sure you will somehow find a way to blame that on their supervisor as well.

  • Bob

    You are obviously a supervisor who probably threatens your employees, I have been threatened with letters of warnings and suspensions, which never sticks, I always do my job the way the carriers manual tells me to but stupidvsors always want to change the way we carry the mail even if it a direct violation of the manual. And no I did not misspell stupidvsors!

  • Coast office worker

    Unless all the handbooks have been thrown out the past few years, there are established rules on how established deliveries are to be handled. Arbitrarily changing the mode of delivery is not permitted.

    However, I am familiar with the “over zealous” attempts to just that. In my town, every time a house is sold, the local USPS has “required” the new homeowner to move the mailbox from its original garage door slot to a post behind the sidewalk. While the objective is to save time, I think the results have been just the opposite. It’s almost comical to watch the substitutes carriers, mostly PSEs these daysv, hunt and peck for the mailboxes. Previously the only instructions were that the mail slots were always on the garage doors.

  • Billy Jay

    Here is probably what happened. The carrier has probably been doing this quite a while, and when customers complain about not getting any mail, they call, only to be chastised by the supervisor over the phone, somehow blaming the customer. The supervisor then proceeds to eat the rest of his/her sandwich while updating their Facebook page. This happens all the time. I am not saying the carrier was innocent, far from it, but usually the warning signs are there, but managers are too intent on issuing frivolous discipline to employees they do not like, while ignoring real problems.

  • Postal people

    You did it!!!! I knew you could blame management somehow. Imagine the things you could accomplish at work if you applied yourself the way you have here today. You might even make it back in 8 hours.

  • Paul Graveline

    There may have been a cause such as pressure to make impossible numbers just to retain employment that contributed to the carrier dumping mail, but the act falls squarely on the carrier and they should be terminated. Plain and simple. On the other hand , perhaps this carrier was just a bad seed. There is no justification for dumping mail. We have gotten 5 CCA’s so far in my office. #3 got the axe today bc he wasn’t fast enough. There are 2 left and one is leaving for a better job. The 5th should make his 90 days, albeit barely. That’s a 20% retention rate. Bravo. The expectations are just insane.

  • vitameatavegamin

    “Postal people” “CCA Runner” “Delivery Supervisor” …….all the same TROLL.

  • The Mailman

    Postal Service reality 101:If that lady (a CCA) is related to a higher up instead of being terminated as she should,she will get a one week suspension and be “re-trained” and back on the job,become a career carrier in no time and be promoted to Supervisor,seen things like that happen too many times in my Postal Service career.

  • Mail Clerk

    CCA’s do not have a 90 day probation as career employees did when they began,if so that is something that particular office does.CCA’s,PSE’s and MHA’s can be terminated at any time,unlike career employees who passed there 90 day probation period and have due process rights.

  • John Griffing

    Substitute carriers can also be Full-Time Regulars. There is no such thing as a PSE Carrier. PSE’s are non-career clerks. The carrier equivalent is a CCA [City Carrier Assistant]. Check your info before posting and review your spelling and grammar!!

  • Paul Graveline

    You are incorrect Mail Clerk. They still are subject to the same grievance/arbitration as everyone else, at least it the carrier craft. I don’t know about clerks. In order to get rid of a CCA carrier after 90 days, you must terminate all CCA carriers junior to them in seniority,which we know isn’t gonna happen bc we are short bodies as it is. They can of course be fired like any regular can for misconduct,but as I stated above, that is subject to the same grievance/arbitration procedure. So good luck with that.

  • johnnyb93


  • johnnyb93

    Most postal supervisors are too lazy or stupid to continue as letter carriers so they put on the tie and continue being lazy and stupid.

  • Chris Goyer

    Carriers in general DO their job well and are held by their customers in high regard. It is somewhat the fault of management for boxing the carriers into a corner, and when something happens the carrier gets punitive disciplinary action when none is needed. If carriers have to follow the rules, then so does management. Much of what I see is pointless. We ARE willing to change for the better. And make sure that the duties — and instructions — are doable. You might be surprised as to everyone’s increase in productivity.

  • Bob

    Well if the shoe fits! Typical management reply!

  • Bob

    Well said, thank you!

  • postal worker bruce

    Spoken like a true management zombie.

  • postal worker bruce

    Did it occur to you that not all supervisors are doing the right thing? No, of course not. You tools never do.

  • nancy bates

    you need to have my carrier, she threatened me about my mailbox and mail and my life and had a complete melt down. She is crazy scary and desperately needs help mentally