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View Full Version : Why outside mailboxes in America?


Colophon
01-21-2005, 06:47 AM
This thread (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=298067) prompts me to ask... why do houses in America (stereotypically, at least) have a freestanding mailbox outside, rather than a letterbox in the front door? Is it simply because gardens tend to be bigger, so the mailman would have much further to walk, or is there some deeper reason? Personally I think it would bug me having to go outside to fetch my mail.

Are outside mailboxes the norm everywhere in America, or do any areas have front door letterboxes?

Jonathan Chance
01-21-2005, 06:54 AM
That's a fine question.

When I was a boy in Los Angeles every home in my area had either a slot in the door for mail (so the mail ended up inside the house on the floor) or a small box right next to the door.

But somewhere along the way I noticed that everyplace was going to curbside mailboxes.

I don't know what inspired that but I can't imagine it's anything but speed and efficiency.

Cugel
01-21-2005, 07:03 AM
Is it simply because gardens tend to be bigger, so the mailman would have much further to walk?

Probably the same here in Australia - it's 30 metres from the footpath to my door.

I'd doubt any normal free standing house would have a door mail slot here in Canberra.

friedo
01-21-2005, 07:03 AM
Curbside mailboxes make it easy for the mailman to deliver the mail from his truck without getting out. That's also why they tend to be clustered together.

My mom lives way up in the boonies and she and all her neighbors have a row of "curbside" mailboxes off the side of the road near the intersection that leads to their houses. So she has to walk about a quarter mile there and back to get her mail.

Roland Deschain
01-21-2005, 07:06 AM
I think the main reason is that people in America (especially outside of the cities) tend to live in a larger area than in many other countries. Thus, in my area the mail carrier might cover an area that is ten/ten or a hundred square miles per day. Since this is done by automobile it is much quicker for them to be able to put your mail in the box without exiting their vehicle. Even in the cities where they have foot delivery it is quicker to put the mail into the box (on the porch in most cases) than place it through a slot in the door (perhaps only a few seconds at each house, but it adds up).

Polycarp
01-21-2005, 07:08 AM
In origin, it derives from two things:

Home delivery was done from 3rd class and higher post offices to the urbanized area, by mail carriers, on foot, to the appropriate receptacle at the house itself. We and my paternal grandparents had wall-hung mailboxes on (non-enclosed) porches -- maybe 15" tall by 7" wide by an inch deep, with an overhanging flap that lifted for the mail to be inserted. Several neighbors had horizontal slits in the door with flaps, through which mail was inserted. My maternal grandparents and one neighbor had a vertical slit, with flap, adjacent to the door.

Rural free delivery, on the other hand, brought mail to those big roadside mailboxes that everyone can visualize, by vehicle, with no delivery-to-house included in the service, for people who lived "out on the farm" in places out of town -- you walked to the road to get your mail. This is what we have now, being in a post-office-less hamlet five miles out from the town where the post office servicing us is located.

With suburban and exurban growth, the two concepts began to be less distinct, but that's the basics of the distinction.

asterion
01-21-2005, 07:11 AM
I've lived in a neighborhood with a free-standing mailbox by the curb and in a neighborhood with a wall-mounted mailbox right next to the door. Both in the same city. For whatever reason, the wall-mounted mailboxes were in the older neighborhood (say built 1960s) while the free-standing mailboxes were in the younger neighborhood (say built 1970s).

Johnny L.A.
01-21-2005, 07:22 AM
Curbside mailboxes make it easy for the mailman to deliver the mail from his truck without getting out. That's also why they tend to be clustered together.
This is also why most Postal vehicles tend to have right-hand drive.

When I was a kid in San Diego the mail slot was in the front door. In Lancaster, CA the mailboxes stood in front of the houses; but there was a sidewalk between the street and the mailboxes, so the mail carrier walked his or her route. In L.A. I lived in an apartment, so all of the mailboxes were just inside of the gate. Here in the PNW I have a free-standing box like the one in Lancaster. The mail carrier uses a RHD car so that he or she never has to get out. (If a signature is required, he leaves a notice that I have to pick the letter up at the Post Office -- even if I'm home. The lazy bastard!)

Polycarp
01-21-2005, 08:01 AM
This is also why most Postal vehicles tend to have right-hand drive.

When I was a kid in San Diego the mail slot was in the front door. In Lancaster, CA the mailboxes stood in front of the houses; but there was a sidewalk between the street and the mailboxes, so the mail carrier walked his or her route. In L.A. I lived in an apartment, so all of the mailboxes were just inside of the gate. Here in the PNW I have a free-standing box like the one in Lancaster. The mail carrier uses a RHD car so that he or she never has to get out. (If a signature is required, he leaves a notice that I have to pick the letter up at the Post Office -- even if I'm home. The lazy bastard!)

Properly, if it's Express Mail (not Priority) or Registered/Certified, the things you would normally need to sign for, they are paying extra for the privilege of having him bring it to your door and having you sign for it. A word to the Postmaster that "I was home on the 18th, and received this notice to come in and sign for and pick up a certified letter in my mailbox; shouldn't he have tried to get a signature then?" should suffice.

Athena
01-21-2005, 08:33 AM
Most places I've lived have a mix of on-the-house and curbside service. In general, neighborhoods built in the 1950s and older tend to have on-the-house boxes. Newer neighborhoods have the curbside boxes.

My last house had the mailbox on the house, and it was really nice and convenient. We even talked to the mailman sometimes when he came by. Now we live in a newer house, and it's a hike out to the mailbox - our driveway is um, lessee... long. It takes at least 2-3 minutes to walk out to to mailbox. We only see our mailman when she drops off boxes that are too big to fit in the box, which isn't too often. I much prefered the on-the-house box, but in this neighborhood - homes set far back from the busy road and no sidewalks - it would be next to impossible.

Rayne Man
01-21-2005, 08:37 AM
I think that last time this subject was raised the fact came to light that only the US Postal Service are allowed to leave anything in the outside mail box. Any other item , such as an advertising flyer , is usually stuck on the front door or just left lying around near the front of the house. I said then that if you are away for a few days , all this junk lying around is a perfect invitation for Bugler Bill to make a house call. At least with a front door slot , everything goes in there and there is no indication that you have not been home for a few days.

fortytwo
01-21-2005, 08:58 AM
I said then that if you are away for a few days , all this junk lying around is a perfect invitation for Bugler Bill to make a house call.

And what does Bugler Bill do? Play the last post?

Rayne Man
01-21-2005, 09:15 AM
And what does Bugler Bill do? Play the last post?
Damn spell-check . Of course I meant Burglar Bill . :smack:

Lissa
01-21-2005, 09:16 AM
Most places I've lived have a mix of on-the-house and curbside service. In general, neighborhoods built in the 1950s and older tend to have on-the-house boxes. Newer neighborhoods have the curbside boxes.

My city is the same. On my street, the houses were all built between 1830 and 1930-- my house being the "baby" of the lot. All of them have the mailboxes on the wall by the door, as a slit in the door itself, or, in my case, there's actually a mailslot built into the wall. (My mail falls through the wall into a metal box within the wall, accessable from the inside by a little wooden door in my dining room.)

missbunny
01-21-2005, 09:20 AM
I've never lived in a house that had its mailbox on the street. They were all right outside the door. Even in all the apartments I lived in, the mailboxes were inside the lobby vestibule - never in a bank by the street or parking lot.

Nuke
01-21-2005, 09:24 AM
My mailbox experiences with the three houses I've owned:

House 1 - Omaha, NE; built in 1962, mailbox right outside the front door, mailman walked the route

House 2 - Maine; built in 1988, single mailbox on street, mailman drove the route

House 3 - Omaha, NE; built in 1998, cluster of 4 mailboxes across the street, mailman drives the route

Podkayne
01-21-2005, 09:27 AM
I'm sure it's to save the mail carrier a trip up the driveway. Packages are still delivered to our porch, but a couple days ago, we got a "Sorry we missed you" card in the box saying to come to pick up a package at the Post Office, despite the fact that we were home. Considering the state of our driveway, I don't blame him a bit. It'd suck to be stayed from one's appointed rounds because our landlord prefers nuclear-powered* snow removal.

* The Sun is a giant thermonuclear reactor, don' cha know.

enipla
01-21-2005, 09:47 AM
We don't even get mail delivery. Where I live, you have to go to the post office to get your mail.

Anybody else?

Kent Clark
01-21-2005, 10:04 AM
I think it's most likely a combination of the density of the housing and the presence or lack of sidewalks.

1) Postal carriers don't like to walk on the street.

2) Postal carriers don't like to cut through yards, especially if the yards are fenced, there are dogs, or the ground is muddy/snowy, etc.

In an older area with sidewalks and houses close together, it's more likely the carrier will deliver the mail to the front door. In a newer area (larger yards, no sidewalks) it's more likely the letterboxes will be at the end of the driveway.

For the record, I live in a 45 yerar old house with an actual letter slit in the wall. Our postal carrier still "walks" his route. Everything is fine except for the oversize pieces, which generally get left between the storm door and the front door.

Exapno Mapcase
01-21-2005, 11:06 AM
I delivered mail summers during college as a floater, filling in for anyone anywhere. I encountered every type of mailbox imaginable, from a slot in the front door, to large double-doored shelves in the wall once intended for the delivery of milk, to outside mailboxes, to drive-up curbside mailboxes, to apartment house multibox arrangements and more.

The absolute worst type of receptacle were the slots in the door. Most homes here have an outside screen door or storm door so that you had to open one door and prop it open to get to the slot on the inside door. And only standard small (what we call #10) envelopes would fit through those slots. Oversized mail, catalogs, magazines, books, parcels, and the million and one other things that come in the mail these days either got stuck or had to be left carefully propped up against the inside door, where they kept threatening to fall over while you tried - with a fifty pound mailbag unbalancing you - to keep them upright while you closed the outside door. And then they were invisible to the people on the inside. Unless they were a big parcel, in which case the outside door bulged open and was a dead giveaway that something was there.

Those mail slots date from the days when almost all mail was standard envelope or postcard size. Those days are long, long gone. If you don't have a box big enough to handle everything but large parcels you're living in the wrong century.

yabob
01-21-2005, 11:10 AM
We don't even get mail delivery. Where I live, you have to go to the post office to get your mail.

Anybody else?
When I was a kid we lived for a while in a small town (about 200 people) that had that arrangement. You got a box at the post office, and had to walk there in the morning to pick up your mail. We later lived out on a rural route and had a mailbox at the end of the driveway. And the auxiliary plastic box for the newspaper.

A lot of the places where you used to get clusters of mailboxes at road turnoffs are being replaced by a postal-service installed giant box housing individual compartments for all the houses on the road. Some new suburban subdivisions are going to this arrangement, too, with one of those things for all the houses on a block.

One problem with mailboxes at the end of driveways is vandalism - for some reason, knocking over mailboxes is a prime form of entertainment for bored kids in rural areas.

I currently have a slot in my door, which I prefer to sticking a box on the wall outside the door as a lot of my neighbors do.

AskNott
01-21-2005, 11:31 AM
I think it's most likely a combination of the density of the housing and the presence or lack of sidewalks.

1) Postal carriers don't like to walk on the street.

2) Postal carriers don't like to cut through yards, especially if the yards are fenced, there are dogs, or the ground is muddy/snowy, etc.


Let's not lay the blame on the letter carriers. It comes from higher up. Letter carriers are given bigger routes (for better productivity.) Because each carrier now gets more mail than she can personally carry, they use little trucks. (On rural mail routes, carriers use their own vehicles.) When a neighborhood goes from a box on the porch to a box at the street, it's by order of the USPS, not the letter carrier. In my town, when such a conversion happens, the PO provides the boxes, and they install the posts. In one new neighborhood near me, the houses are all upscale (over a million dollars.) Instead of boxes at the curb. there's a big stainless steel block of small locking boxes at one end of the neighborhood. I think that's an indignity. If you pay a million five for your house, you shouldn't have to walk half a mile to get your Fortune magazine.

Gary Robson
01-21-2005, 11:56 AM
We don't even get mail delivery. Where I live, you have to go to the post office to get your mail.

Anybody else?
Yep. We have to drive into town to get our mail.

Gary Robson
01-21-2005, 12:04 PM
One problem with mailboxes at the end of driveways is vandalism - for some reason, knocking over mailboxes is a prime form of entertainment for bored kids in rural areas.
That used to happen in our old neighborhood. There were a couple of high-school kids that would cruise down the road, and the passenger would lean out the window with a baseball bat.

One neighbor got sick of it. He built an "inner box" out of 1/2" plate steel that fit snugly inside his standard-issue USPS-approved mailbox. He then bolted it securely to a piece of 4" steel pipe filled with concrete, and built a cheesy-looking wooden column around the pipe, so everything looked ordinary. A few weeks later, the vandals struck again. They broke the bat, and I'd guess the bat-wielder's arms didn't feel too good for a while, either.

Jayn_Newell
01-21-2005, 12:45 PM
We don't even get mail delivery. Where I live, you have to go to the post office to get your mail.

Anybody else?

Where I grew up it's either or. There are boxes at the post office that some people use. But you can also have a box at the end of your driveway if you wish (rural area, so mail is delivered by car as a necessity). Some areas do have a unit of several steel PO boxes outside where several people would pick up their mail, generally in an area where there are more houses close together, but for most home owners, it's either curbside delivery or a trip to the post office.

We did have a problem with vandals once--specifially the kid next door kicking it as he walked past on his way to the bus stop. It was a wooden post and, although it was in concrete, a bit weathered, and it eventually broke. Dad bought a plastic mailbox which covers and is bolted to what's left of the original post. Added bonus--there's doors on both ends of the box, so we can get the mail without having to stand within three inches of the road.

rfgdxm
01-21-2005, 12:59 PM
I live in a rented townouse in the US. To get my mail I have to walk a couple dozen meters to the mailbox. Only registered or certified mail would be delivered at my door.

GaryM
01-21-2005, 01:27 PM
I live seven miles outside of a small town which is in turn 35 miles West of St. Louis.

We have roadside boxes located where our gravel sub-division road intersects the county paved road. These boxes are about 1/3 of a mile from my house. I also have a P.O. Box at the P.O. in town. Mail with items such as bills, and important papers are delivered to the P.O. Box rather than sit in an unsecured box along side the road.

Anaamika
01-21-2005, 02:03 PM
We don't even get mail delivery. Where I live, you have to go to the post office to get your mail.

Anybody else?

No...I live in an apartment complex, though and we have a central place for all the mailboxes. It's a small room and everyone has keys.

MikeS
01-21-2005, 03:13 PM
One factor I haven't seen mentioned here yet is the fact that in many parts of the U.S., the winters are sufficiently severe that you really don't want a 3" x 8" hole in the middle of your front door letting out the heat. I back this up with the observation that the only house I can remember with a mail slot (which, oddly enough, was in the wall next to the door and dumped our mail into a closet) was in Palo Alto, California.

Captain Lance Murdoch
01-21-2005, 03:22 PM
I had the mail slot in the wall system in my last house. It sucked. Who thought this was a good idea in Minnesota? An uninsulated slot of that size was insane. -30 nights were a treat.

Rayne Man
01-21-2005, 04:01 PM
One factor I haven't seen mentioned here yet is the fact that in many parts of the U.S., the winters are sufficiently severe that you really don't want a 3" x 8" hole in the middle of your front door letting out the heat. I back this up with the observation that the only house I can remember with a mail slot (which, oddly enough, was in the wall next to the door and dumped our mail into a closet) was in Palo Alto, California.

This needn't be a problem . Most of the mail slots we have here have a hinged flap on the inside and the outside and a brush like fitment ( i.e. a series of long bristles ) inside the slot , that keeps out the cold and draughts .

the first supraliminal
01-21-2005, 04:19 PM
I used to work at the Post Office.
Home delivery is only done in areas with hight density of mailboxes compared to the distance walked. The regulations gauge it block by block, depending on safe and dry walkways, etc., and there must be conditions of similar characteristics on both sides of the street so that an efficient walking loop route can be created.
You and your neighbors must apply for porch box service, and it is usually denied if there are adjoining areas with roadside service.

Whenever new suburban homes are built, the first few home are always treated to rural service with poles by the road. When more are constructed, a cluster of boxes is prefered. When all houses are built, and dry safe walkways provided, and neighboring areas have porch delivery, then you can apply for that.

Walloon
01-21-2005, 05:02 PM
Stereotype readjustment necessary. I don't have statistics at hand, but the majority of single-family American households have door delivery of their mail, not street-side mail boxes.

lab rat
01-21-2005, 05:37 PM
I actually owned a house in Watertown, Wisconsin, that had the mailbox in the front door. The Postman threw the mail through a slot in the door. It was nice and convenient.

LSLGuy
01-21-2005, 06:55 PM
This abomination http://www.mailboxworks.com/cbu.html is the future of residential mail delivery in America. One of these will be placed every 2 dozen houses or so. Very convenient for them to deliver 2 dozen houses' worth of mail with one stop. Not very convenient for you, especially not in 1/2-acre lot suburbia.

There's usually one of these http://www.mailboxworks.com/parcel.html located at each "CBU" (communal box unit?). If they have a parcel for you, they put it in one of the lockers & put the key in your locked mailbox. When you get your mail, you use the key to get your parcel & leave the key in the parcel locker for use tomorrow. What happens at Xmas time when everybody is getting parcels? I guess two people get theirs locked up & the rest are left to sit in the snow.

One is not impressed.

mangeorge
01-21-2005, 07:35 PM
My mail comes through a slot in the door. Can't be beat, IMO, especially if you spend a lot of time away from hame as mentioned. The idea behind curbside delivery, and the other efficient systems, is not to make the letter carrier's job easier, but to enable each one to deliver more mail.
I had to go to the PO to get my mail whenI lived in Bethel Island, CA. It was pretty quaint and cute at first, but it got old real quick.
Through the door is best, but rates would probably need to go up if all the little people had such service. ;)
Peace,
mangeorge

aeropl
01-21-2005, 08:57 PM
Whenever new suburban homes are built, the first few home are always treated to rural service with poles by the road. When more are constructed, a cluster of boxes is prefered.


Yes, the new trend (at least around here) is for new housing developments to have apartment style mailboxes. Instead of a mailbox in front of each house, there is a aluminum structure on each street with the boxes for about 30 houses. It sucks because the boxes are only about 1/4 the size of a larger mailbox. I assume this is even more time efficient for the mailman than driving to each mailbox.

Laughing Lagomorph
01-21-2005, 10:03 PM
Just to add another data point...our house was built about 8 years ago in a neighborhood of older houses...most of the ones around us were built 1880s-1920s, with another set built in the 1950s. Many if not all of the older houses have mailboxes attached to the house, usually on the porch.

When we moved in here (we were the first occupants of our house) I called the local postmaster to find out what kind of mailbox we needed to get and was told we needed an end of the driveway style mailbox, and it had to be within five feet of the road. So older houses are grandfathered so to speak but newer ones need to have the other type.

Our driveway is short too, putting the mailbox on the house would only force the letter carrier to walk an extra thirty feet or so. Add this up over all the houses on a route though and it could be a significant difference in time.

Sunspace
01-21-2005, 10:16 PM
Ah yes. The communal mailbox.

Canada Post stopped arranging house-to-house delivery to newly-built suburbs sometime in the 1980s. Any suburbs built after then were fitted with communial mailboxes every few blocks, which the letter carriers fill from their vehicles.

Existing house-to-house delivery was grandfathered in. As a result, one sign that you are living in a posh older suburb with lots of history and tradition is the house-to-house mail delivery. I'm sure this has an effect on real-estate prices.

Oddly, while I can find lots of pictures of shiny corporate headquarters and whirring sorting equipment and eager young letter carriers delivering parcels and letters on the photographs-for-the-media section of the Canada Post (http://www.canadapost.ca/) website, I cannot find a publicity photograph of a communial mailbox. For that, I have to look in the Postal Standards Manual (http://www.canadapost.ca/personal/offerings/address_management/can/standards_manual-e.asp).

kniz
01-21-2005, 11:44 PM
Magnolia Springs B&B (http://www.magnoliasprings.com/)
Magnolia Springs is a picturesque place and one of the few remaining places to receive mail by boat. From relaxing on the beaches, golf, shopping, to great fishing, we have what you are looking for! So come on down and enjoy our little piece of paradise.
Their mailboxes are on their docks. Weather normally is not a problem near Mobile Bay.

Rayne Man
01-22-2005, 03:20 AM
Another advantage of having a slot in the front door is that we also have our newspapers delivered through it . This means you do not have to go out onto the front lawn to retrieve them. There is nothing nicer on a cold winter's morning then getting out of bed , collecting the papers from the hallway , making yourself a cup of tea and then getting back into bed to read to papers . All without having to get dressed.

yabob
01-22-2005, 10:19 AM
Another advantage of having a slot in the front door is that we also have our newspapers delivered through it . This means you do not have to go out onto the front lawn to retrieve them. There is nothing nicer on a cold winter's morning then getting out of bed , collecting the papers from the hallway , making yourself a cup of tea and then getting back into bed to read to papers . All without having to get dressed.
Unfortunately, we can't do that in the US. The USPS is pretty adamant about mailboxes being only for the delivery of the mail. You may NOT stuff non-postal flyers, etc, in the mailbox. This is one reason why newspapers hand out their own "tube route" boxes in rural areas. It seems to extend to mail slots - I have one, and hand delivered ad circulars are attached to the front door handle, stuck in the door, or left on the driveway, NOT shoved through the mail slot. I don't get a real newspaper, but the unasked for local "community" weekly is left on the driveway. The guy who cuts my lawn leaves his bill stuck in the door.

Rayne Man
01-22-2005, 10:26 AM
Surely if you have a slot in your front door that is nothing to do with the USP and anyone can post things through there ? I must add that on the rare occasions that people in this country have an external mail box at the end of their drive, it is their own property and nothing to do with Royal Mail ( our postal service ) . So again anything can be posted in there. In fact the Royal Mail don't own or operate any mailboxes.

mangeorge
01-22-2005, 10:46 AM
Surely if you have a slot in your front door that is nothing to do with the USP and anyone can post things through there ? I must add that on the rare occasions that people in this country have an external mail box at the end of their drive, it is their own property and nothing to do with Royal Mail ( our postal service ) . So again anything can be posted in there. In fact the Royal Mail don't own or operate any mailboxes.
I doubt that a explanation is possible, Rayne Man. USPS doesn't own the device, only the right to use it. Actually, I think it benefits us. the recipients. I can imagine all the additional crap, in addition to junk mail, that would get crammed in there if it were allowed.

Rayne Man
01-22-2005, 10:51 AM
I doubt that a explanation is possible, Rayne Man. USPS doesn't own the device, only the right to use it. Actually, I think it benefits us. the recipients. I can imagine all the additional crap, in addition to junk mail, that would get crammed in there if it were allowed.

So , as I said above , all the junk mail gets left outside your front door . A perfect advertisement for indicating when you haven't been at home for a few days. :confused:

yabob
01-22-2005, 10:54 AM
Actually, door slots do seem to be excluded under the "customer mail receptacles" rules presented by the USPS below, but that's not the way they are treated. Hand delivered stuff does not get stuffed through the mail slot.

http://pe.usps.gov/text/dmm/d041.htm#Rbi31049
Except under 2.11, the receptacles described in 1.1 may be used only for matter bearing postage. Other than as permitted by 2.10 or 2.11, 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.
This is enforced. Businesses know enough not to stuff hand delivered ad circulars in mailboxes. They'll get fined. Neighbors might leave notes for each other in their mailboxes occasionally - they seem to let that sort of thing slide. Those rules DO also say:
Door slots and nonlockable bins or troughs used with apartment house mailboxes are not letterboxes within the meaning of 18 USC 1725 and are not private mail receptacles for the standards for mailable matter not bearing postage found in or on private mail receptacles. The post or other support is not part of the receptacle.
As I said, that doesn't seem to be the way they are treated, though.

yabob
01-22-2005, 11:00 AM
So , as I said above , all the junk mail gets left outside your front door . A perfect advertisement for indicating when you haven't been at home for a few days. :confused:
Yes. A standard remedy is to tell your neighbor that you'll be gone for a few days, and ask if they would pick the crap up from your driveway and front door.

yabob
01-22-2005, 11:17 AM
And actually, as I read the USPS rules it's not clear whether "door slots" are intended only to apply to apartment house mailboxes like those "troughs and bins", or whether the rule excludes door slots in general, including those on private houses. I suppose it's possible that the USPS really does assert control over what is passed through my mail slot.

Rayne Man
01-22-2005, 11:28 AM
And actually, as I read the USPS rules it's not clear whether "door slots" are intended only to apply to apartment house mailboxes like those "troughs and bins", or whether the rule excludes door slots in general, including those on private houses. I suppose it's possible that the USPS really does assert control over what is passed through my mail slot.

I am being a bit flippant here. Surely the USPS saying what can and cannot be posted through your own front-door mail slot is restricting the right of free speech, as laid down in your glorious constitution . ( Don't take that remark too seriously , please )
:)

OxyMoron
01-22-2005, 11:31 AM
I've lived in places with all of these different options:

1968-73: Seattle, single family home on small privately owned road, row of boxes at the corner by the public street.
1973-74: DC suburbs, row house, slot in door
1974-77: Seattle, single family home on public street, single box located on opposite side of street
1977-82: DC suburbs, single family home, single box at end of driveway. These frequently got knocked over, usually by accident, either by the postman or someone not paying attention. So the fashion in our neighborhood came to be the fortress-box, sometimes even bricked over, which our homeowners' association discouraged.
1982-84: See 1974-77.
1984-86: See 1977-82.
1986-90: College in small town. Box in student union post office.
1991-2005: Various apartments, Manhattan & Brooklyn, with cluster of boxes on ground floor. What I don't like about these is that you really can't send outgoing mail with any reliability at all--occasionally, people will jam misdelivered letters in a crack in the cluster, hoping the carrier will notice it, but I'm not sure the carriers can take outgoing mail pieces even if they want to. Anyone know? (Oh, my misdelivered mail, I'm referring to stuff for the wrong building, not simply for the wrong unit.)

yabob
01-22-2005, 11:59 AM
So , as I said above , all the junk mail gets left outside your front door . A perfect advertisement for indicating when you haven't been at home for a few days. :confused:
One more point of clarification - "junk mail" DOES appear in your mailbox, that is, stuff that the sender paid direct mail (http://www.usps.com/directmail/welcome.htm?from=0001home&page=directmail) rates on to be delivered by the USPS. What does not get placed in there are things like circulars for the local pizza parlor which the business delivered themselves. Those get hung on the door / left on the front porch, etc. Often, they are even printed on forms with a convenient "hook" to allow them to be hung from door handles. There's a limited amount of this sort of stuff.

Rayne Man
01-22-2005, 12:39 PM
One more point of clarification - "junk mail" DOES appear in your mailbox, that is, stuff that the sender paid direct mail (http://www.usps.com/directmail/welcome.htm?from=0001home&page=directmail) rates on to be delivered by the USPS. What does not get placed in there are things like circulars for the local pizza parlor which the business delivered themselves. Those get hung on the door / left on the front porch, etc. Often, they are even printed on forms with a convenient "hook" to allow them to be hung from door handles. There's a limited amount of this sort of stuff.
I understand that . It is all the other stuff , such as flyers and newspapers , that seem to be banned from your mailboxes.

The only input the Royal Mail has regarding the mail slot is its dimensions. There is a recommended size so that most letters and small packets can be delivered . This is no problem because the the hardware on sale for them ( such as the flaps and fancy brass surrounds ) all seem to conform to a fixed pattern .

Another difference between the two countries is that we don't have screen doors so the slot is more accessible because the mail-man does not have to open this outer door to get to it.

Ephemera
01-23-2005, 04:53 AM
There's usually one of these http://www.mailboxworks.com/parcel.html located at each "CBU" (communal box unit?). If they have a parcel for you, they put it in one of the lockers & put the key in your locked mailbox. When you get your mail, you use the key to get your parcel & leave the key in the parcel locker for use tomorrow. What happens at Xmas time when everybody is getting parcels? I guess two people get theirs locked up & the rest are left to sit in the snow.

Actually, this is something I've wondered about since moving from home, where I always had a regular mailbox, to an apartment complex with no office. Can someone explain what happens in this situation? If by some remote chance, all ten of the apartments in my complex were to all receive bulky packages on the same day, what would the postman do?

Walloon
01-23-2005, 10:15 AM
Unless the sender has placed a "restricted delivery" on the package, the carrier will often ask someone in a neighboring apartment if he or she would be willing to sign for the package. The carrier then leaves a note on the addressee's mailbox or door saying that a package for you was delivered to Apt. _.

If the package does not need to be signed for at all, the U.S. Postal Service will sometimes just leave it on top of the mailboxes, or on the floor below it, or outside the addressee's apartment door. Not the best choice, in my opinion.

Ignatz
01-23-2005, 12:37 PM
This abomination http://www.mailboxworks.com/cbu.html is the future of residential mail delivery in America. One of these will be placed every 2 dozen houses or so. Very convenient for them to deliver 2 dozen houses' worth of mail with one stop. Not very convenient for you, especially not in 1/2-acre lot suburbia.

There's usually one of these http://www.mailboxworks.com/parcel.html located at each "CBU" (communal box unit?). If they have a parcel for you, they put it in one of the lockers & put the key in your locked mailbox. When you get your mail, you use the key to get your parcel & leave the key in the parcel locker for use tomorrow. What happens at Xmas time when everybody is getting parcels? I guess two people get theirs locked up & the rest are left to sit in the snow.

One is not impressed.

"CBU" = Cluster Box Unit.

Sunspace
01-23-2005, 01:06 PM
If I get a parcel that won't fit in the mailbox in the lobby of my apartment building, the letter carrier leaves a card and I have to go pick it up at a nearby Canada Post outlet. Unfortunately, they always leave it at the outlet at Queenway and Royal York instead of the outlet conveiently across the street... :(

Hail Ants
01-24-2005, 04:14 AM
It does not matter when your house was built. It all depends on the kind of postal route your house is on. AskNott's post pretty much explains it.

You do not have a choice. If you live on a walking route (usually urban areas) and therefore aren't required to have a curbside mailbox you probably cannot have one. The curb isn't your property and an unrequired curbside mailbox would be a violation. You can have (as I do) a curbside style box mounted at the end of your property line. I have this rather than a porch mounted one so that I can keep my front gate locked.

If you live on an all-driving route (usually suburban areas) or Rural Route (out in the country) you must have a curbside box or you ain't gonna get your mail. All-driving route carriers do not get out except for large packages or to deliver marked mail (i.e. certified, registered etc.)

mangeorge
01-24-2005, 07:41 PM
I went out and looked up and down my block, and I estimate that it would (does) take close to twice as long to cover my 'hood (all through-the-door delivery) as it would if the mail was delivered at the curb. The distance from the sidewalk to the door and back is close to the distance between the houses. I didn't measure, although my neighbors, being used to me, wouldn't think anything of it. ;)
Packages usually get left on the porch, which I like. If it looks expensive, the mail carrier comes back by at the end of his route to see if I'm home. :cool:

Gary Robson
01-24-2005, 09:53 PM
Packages usually get left on the porch, which I like. If it looks expensive, the mail carrier comes back by at the end of his route to see if I'm home. :cool:
I love rural America.

Somebody sent me a letter. It went to the wrong town, with the wrong zip code, and no address (just my name, the words "Rural Route", and the town, state, and zip code). The postmaster in the other town called the postmaster in my town, and said, "Do you know who this guy is?" The letter was in my PO box the next morning.

If the FedEx driver comes to the house when it's raining and nobody's home, she comes in the back door (which we leave unlocked) and leaves the package inside.

gum
01-25-2005, 02:23 AM
Instead of the inevitable bike, this is what our mailmen use. (http://www.tpgpost.nl/corporate/samenleving/kinderpost/roodrunner.jsp) ['rood' = red in Dutch, so 'roodrunner' is a play on words] :)

GaryM
01-25-2005, 10:08 AM
Instead of the inevitable bike, this is what our mailmen use. (http://www.tpgpost.nl/corporate/samenleving/kinderpost/roodrunner.jsp) ['rood' = red in Dutch, so 'roodrunner' is a play on words] :)

That's cute! Reminds me of what the pizza delivery guys used to ride in New York City back in the 60's. And maybe they still do.

AskNott
01-25-2005, 12:38 PM
I forgot to mention the all-on-one-side rule. On almost every street with curbside boxes, all the boxes are on the same side of the street. The folks who live on the other side have to cross the street to get the mail. On a busy street, this is probably a hassle.

mangeorge
01-25-2005, 07:30 PM
I love rural America.

Somebody sent me a letter. It went to the wrong town, with the wrong zip code, and no address (just my name, the words "Rural Route", and the town, state, and zip code). The postmaster in the other town called the postmaster in my town, and said, "Do you know who this guy is?" The letter was in my PO box the next morning.

If the FedEx driver comes to the house when it's raining and nobody's home, she comes in the back door (which we leave unlocked) and leaves the package inside.
I live in the middle of a city, which is in the middle of a buncha other cities.
Urban life can be pretty cool too. :) And no mad bombers.

Walloon
01-25-2005, 08:04 PM
That didn't make any difference to the Unabomber's victims. They lived in cities.

mangeorge
01-25-2005, 08:37 PM
That didn't make any difference to the Unabomber's victims. They lived in cities.
Did they? Most worked in cities IIRC, but I have no idea where they lived.
Some folks where I work (oil company) are still a little jumpy about opening their mail. I'm not sure why.
I yakked about this thread with my mail carrier this PM. He once worked rural in central CA. He said he preferred city because there are more people to talk to. :)

Walloon
01-25-2005, 08:54 PM
Unabomber victims

1. 1978: Chicago area.
2. 1979: Chicago area.
3. 1979: American Airlines flight, Chicago to New York.
4. 1980: Chicago area.
5. 1981: Salt Lake City, Utah.
6. 1982: Nashville, Tennessee.
7. 1982: Berkeley, California.
8. 1985: Berkeley, California.
9. 1985: Seattle area.
10. 1985: Ann Arbor, Michigan.
11. 1985: Sacramento, California.
12. 1987: Salt Lake City.
13. 1993: San Francisco area.
14. 1993: New Haven, Connecticut.
15. 1994: Newark, NJ area.
16. 1995: Sacramento.

mangeorge
01-25-2005, 10:31 PM
Jeeze, Walloon, all this because the unabomber was a ruralite?
I realize that not all people who live out in the "country", away from cities, are weirdos.
Did I somehow insult you? We're mostly talking about mailboxes, right? You're annoyed because my mailman, as is typical of city dwellers, is friendly, huh.

Walloon
01-25-2005, 11:04 PM
No, I was just puzzled why you assumed that living in a city somehow removed you from being affected by mad bombers. Whether or not "mad bombers" (i.e., Ted K., al-Qaeda) live in rural areas or not, their victims lived and worked in large cities.

Gary Robson
01-26-2005, 01:08 PM
And no mad bombers.
None here, either. In fact, I don't think there's ever been a mail bomb, truck bomb, or car bomb within at least a hundred miles of here. There was some Unabomber twit that lived in this state, but he was a long way away.

CrazyCatLady
01-26-2005, 01:38 PM
I'm not sure the carriers can take outgoing mail pieces even if they want to. Anyone know?

Yes, carriers can take outgoing mail. That's what the little red flag is for on curbside boxes, to alert them that you have an outgoing item in the box.

GaryM
01-26-2005, 02:18 PM
Yes, carriers can take outgoing mail. That's what the little red flag is for on curbside boxes, to alert them that you have an outgoing item in the box.

But they are not REQUIRED to, isn't that the case?

Velma
01-26-2005, 02:27 PM
The way I understand it is that carriers who drive their routes will pick up outgoing mail (these mailboxes are the ones that have the flag to indicate outgoing mail). Carriers who walk their routes are not required to pick up outgoing mail, and usually doorside boxes (like mine) don't have the flags anyway. This makes sense because a walking carrier is not as easily able to pick up and carry everyone's outgoing mail as someone with a truck. I don't know if the ones who drive are actually required to pick up mail but I have never heard of one who didn't.

My walking carrier is kind and will pick up outgoing mail, I will leave an envelope or 2 in the box and I just stand them upright so he can tell they are to go out. However I try not to take advantage and don't do this if I have a bulky item or a bunch of cards or invitations or something; then I drop them at the nearest corner mailbox. We also make sure to clear a path for him in the winter, my husband will snowblow a path through the yard from the neighbor's so he doesn't have to return to the sidewalk and back up the driveway in between.

OxyMoron
01-26-2005, 05:14 PM
Yes, carriers can take outgoing mail. That's what the little red flag is for on curbside boxes, to alert them that you have an outgoing item in the box.
Um, yes, that's true, but not relevant to the situation. At all. Various apartments, Manhattan & Brooklyn, with cluster of boxes on ground floor.I was speaking of a multiunit set of boxes in the lobby of an apartment building. Like this (http://www.leedan.com/Bommer-6200.gif), or, in an older version, this (http://www.apartmenttreasures.com/MailBox.jpg) - no little red flags for us, and no obvious place to put outgoing mail at all. I suspect the answer is that we're just supposed to put in a blue box on the street, which is fine when it's your own mail you're sending, but I don't think most people will take that effort for some stranger's mail that's been misdelivered.

Voyager
01-26-2005, 05:34 PM
Um, yes, that's true, but not relevant to the situation. At all. I was speaking of a multiunit set of boxes in the lobby of an apartment building. Like this (http://www.leedan.com/Bommer-6200.gif), or, in an older version, this (http://www.apartmenttreasures.com/MailBox.jpg) - no little red flags for us, and no obvious place to put outgoing mail at all. I suspect the answer is that we're just supposed to put in a blue box on the street, which is fine when it's your own mail you're sending, but I don't think most people will take that effort for some stranger's mail that's been misdelivered.
Like Exano, I delivered mail one summer, 1974, in Springfield Gardens, Queens. The carrier has a key that opens the apartment style boxes. I don't remember ever picking up mail from an aprtment - I did from houses all the time. We have a slot that goes to a box in our garage, the carrier picks up mail we leave in the slot. I never thought that we had the option not to pick up the mail.

I don't remember ever delivering to a curbside box. I didn't have a cute truck, though.

Personally I like mailslots. The boxes I hated looked like this (http://www.mailboxworks.com/SPLite-FlorVert.html) Any decent amount of mail was hard to cram in the little slot, and it was hard to cram a lot of magazines in the holder.

The prohibition against putting flyers in mailboxes is longstanding. When I was in the Boy Scouts we delivered flyers for our sponsoring organization, and we were strongly instructed not to put them in mailboxes. I have never gotten a flyer in my mail slot, either now or at the house I grew up in.

mangeorge
01-26-2005, 06:34 PM
No, I was just puzzled why you assumed that living in a city somehow removed you from being affected by mad bombers. Whether or not "mad bombers" (i.e., Ted K., al-Qaeda) live in rural areas or not, their victims lived and worked in large cities.
Nah, no assumption here. I was only stating that we also get pretty good mail service, right here in the city. Many people make the mistaken assumption that everyone in the city is an old grouch, who won't do anything nice. I'm here to pop that little bubble.
The "Mad Bomber" thing was meant as a little joke, and made no clain regarding bombing victims. I only made an observation regarding bombers, who don't seem to like city life.
Remember, suburb = rural. ;)
Let's give this back to the mailbox folks, whaddya say?

Anachronism
01-27-2005, 06:44 AM
One factor I haven't seen mentioned here yet is the fact that in many parts of the U.S., the winters are sufficiently severe that you really don't want a 3" x 8" hole in the middle of your front door letting out the heat. I back this up with the observation that the only house I can remember with a mail slot (which, oddly enough, was in the wall next to the door and dumped our mail into a closet) was in Palo Alto, California.
My old house here in New England had a mail slot. Most houses here have a 'storm door', A thin outside door that you can put either glass or a screen in depending on the season. There was a small draft from the mail slot but nothing major.

When I had a mail slot the carrier would take outgoing mail if we left it hanging out the mail slot but I am not sure if it was something the carrier had to do.

Now I have a communal mailbox :(

mangeorge
01-27-2005, 06:02 PM
I made a plug, out of dense foam, that I use in cold weather in my mail slot. It works fine.
I cut a piece of thin walnut about 1/2 in. larger on all sides than the slot, rounded the edges, sanded and polyied it, then glued it to the snug fitting foam which is about as thich as the door. Looks pretty good, actually. I only have to remember to take it out in the am, and to put it back after the mail comes. If I do forget, the carrier can push it out (in, actually) from the outside.
I'm so proud. :cool:
Patent pending, BTW. ;)

capnfutile
01-28-2005, 03:06 AM
I doubt that a explanation is possible, Rayne Man. USPS doesn't own the device, only the right to use it. Actually, I think it benefits us. the recipients. I can imagine all the additional crap, in addition to junk mail, that would get crammed in there if it were allowed.

Having served in the USPS and now living in New Zealand, I'd like to say that NZ's got it right. Admail is virtually all delivered by independent contractors (local kids and stay-at-home moms mostly). If you don't want it, you put a sign on your receptacle saying so. Unfortunately, the USPS is too addicted to the revenue generated by admail to let this happen. We get 3-4 pieces of mail a week here, I used to get 5-10 a day in the States.

The "Posties" deliver mostly by bicycle here, and all receptacles have to be within arm's reach of the footpath (out by the road) so they don't have to dismount.

I used to _hate_ delivering to those CBUs (we called 'em NBUs - Neighborhood Box Units). Yeah, faster and more efficient, but no interaction with customers, and you lost your thermal inertia in winter standing there for so long. Plus there's never enough parcel lockers. One route I was subbing on had been covered by different people for a week or so. I noticed the parcel lockers hadn't been opened in a couple of days and started looking through the mailboxes. Sure enough, one resident had gone on holiday without filling out a hold form. Wedged under five Wall Street Journals were three parcel locker keys.

If I had more parcels than lockers, I would attempt house delivery, then notify for office pickup. In certain neighborhoods I'd leave it if it wasn't "accountable" mail.

I would always pick up reasonable amounts of outgoing mail from any residence or business. But I drew the line at heavy parcels marked "refused", almost always book clubs. Hey, you didn't send the card in on time, you hump it to the Post Office!

Johnny LA, if your carrier is not attempting delivery, notify the carrier supervisor. This is just slack. Unless, like Podkayne, your landlord hasn't plowed the drive.

kunilou, I rather enjoyed cutting through yards - sod is easier on the knees than concrete. It was some patrons who had a problem with this - the same suspender-wearing guys who yell "You kids get off my lawn!" We had orange cards to stick in the mail for the subs so we didn't get yelled at. Also, at route-inspection time, when the supervisors followed each carrier timing every move, the staunch union guys would slow down and cross no lawns. Coming in under time meant more area added to your route.

Doorslots behind storm doors were the bane of my existence. As another poster pointed out, fighting the storm door from one side and the mailbag on the other , holding a bundle of mail in one hand and trying to slide 8 letters, five catalogs and a magazine through a one inch by five inch slot with the other - ARGH.

capn

Ms Boods
01-28-2005, 07:49 AM
My current flat block was built shortly after the war, and all the doors have (now disused) mailboxes right next to them; all mail is delivered to a central mailbox reef.

My house in Virginia was 1/2 mile from its mailbox -- and then 20 miles, as we ended up renting a PO Box in town because the rural route postmen were becoming increasingly flaky and unreliable (that particular route was 80 miles long, and they couldn't keep drivers very long.), plus people would steal stuff all the time.

N9IWP
01-28-2005, 09:06 AM
I actualy like my CBU. The CBU is on the same side of the street and only one lawn away. (My street has boxes on both sides. There are some single dwelling boxes and some CBUs)

The think I like is that my mail is locked. The CBU has an outgoing slot (tho I usually mail from work). If I get a package too big, the mailmain puts it on my front porch. (tho most of my packages are UPS/FedEx)

I liked my single dwelling boxes tho too. One we had was only 4 buildings from "downtown" but considered a rural route (tho we had an actual address, not a RR #). One could do things like buy stamps from the mailbox (not sure how) (tho it was silly since the post office was 1/2 mile away)

Brian

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