How do I fix this US Postal Service issue?

I live in an apartment complex. The mailboxes for all the units are in a small structure near the entrance.

The mailboxes are all the same size - a fairly wide and deep, but not very tall rectangle. They are perhaps 11" W x 13" D x 3" H - there is plenty of room to place a standard 8.5 x 11 document, magazine, etc. inside laying flat with space to spare. The mailman has a special key that opens the entire front of the mailbox structure so he has direct access to all the boxes.

Despite this, the mailman (or someone else handling my mail before it gets to him) inexplicably folds anything larger than a normal letter in half before jamming it into my box. This means any sort of larger document I get, any magazine, etc. is folded in half and ends up somewhere between annoyingly bent and ruined.

I just got a calendar sent from the local flight school with some great pictures of airplanes, etc., but it’s basically useless because it was folded in half and doesn’t stay flat on the wall no matter what I do. I checked, there would have been more than enough room to just place this flat in the mailbox. Similarly, I got a packet of stuff from my health insurance company for the new year, which included a bunch of nicely printed brochures, which were all folded in half. Every issue of The Economist I get is screwed up as well, and I usually end up just reading the article on my iPad because the printed version doesn’t stay flat.

Do I have any chance of getting the USPS to stop doing this? I know my chances with a large, unaccountable bureaucracy with a government-enforced monopoly are low, but what is my best chance of success? Should I put a note in the box for the mailman, visit the local post office and ask for the manager, or what?

Try permanently affixing a note on the mailbox door, in large letters:

Please leave all mail flat.
Thank you.

[Hopefully someone can suggest a better message.]

But you need to leave it permanently affixed as otherwise the mailman will forget it.

Perhaps the carrier is banding the mail for your complex into more-or-less #10 envelope-sized bundles before ever leaving the office. They seem to like handling it that way.

Yes, I suspect that is what’s happening, the mail is sometimes bound with a rubber band.

I think the mail is sorted to order of delivery in the PO before they leave the building. Doubt they wil treat your mail differently.

You could try writing the flight school or whoever and suggesting that they change their packaging (maybe put a sheet of cardboard in) so that the calendars aren’t easily folded.

But yeah, our letter carriers tend to pre-sort the mail and unless it won’t fit at all into the box, they roll it over and cram it in.

If that’s the case, go to the local post office and talk to the postmaster. Explain to him the problem and show him/her examples of how printed materials are being creased by this practice. Ask him/her if it’s possible not to crease the mail when bundling it.

Specifically, the language you’re looking for is that “single-bundling the route” ends up permanently creasing the contents of some “flats”.

However, the onus is really on the people sending stuff to you to provide a sturdier mailer/a backing board/etc. The USPS has little to no control over what might happen, say, in a cargo vehicle and mail might easily be folded when heavier items ship. If paperish items are sent, there is no reason to not expect that some level of folding, rolling, etc. will happen in the process, and the sender needs to package them better.

But the OP mentioned this is happening to magazines as well. You can’t exactly call up Time Inc or Conde Nast and ask them to stiffen their magazines.

Sometimes dealing with the PO is impossible. I had a similar problem with my mailbox and it lasted a long while. I had lived in the NY Metro area in two story Brick House that were attached to two other similar houses. I lived on the 2nd floor and their were only two Units in my building, Mine and the guy below me. It seems like I was getting everybody elses’ mail but mine. Then I saw the mailman one day and informed him who I was and asked him to be more careful distributing the mail as some of the misplaced mail was important. It seemed to fall on deaf ears so I walked over to the Post Office and spoke with the Post Master. He gave me a song and a dance on how this PO employee was a good worker. The problem still occurred so I even wrote a letter to the NY Daily News Public Opinion Colum called The Voice of The People. I figured maybe if they see this in the paper since I even identified the PO and zip code it would help. No such Luck!

When I had problems with mail delivery (the door to my mailbox was being left open) I went to the post-office and spoke to the postmaster. He told me he would say something, but he told me not to expect miracles. The mail route I was on was subcontracted(?) and the postmaster told me he was pretty powerless.

I looked into getting a post office box, but ended up selling the house and moving (not due to mail issues).

So, maybe a post-office box?

Yes, but your problem was with the person delivering the mail. It was suggested upthread that the OP’s problem was with the way the mail was being bundled, which appears to happen at the post office, and not by the carrier.

OK, but I still wouldn’t get my hopes up for a change in bundling practices.

Magazines do tend to get folded, regardless, and it may not be happening at the delivery carrier level.

To the OP - are you sure it’s the front that opens? The majority of apartment boxes do not open that way, but angle forward and out from the wall to give access through the top. The top access opening may be narrower than you think.

It’s probably still worth calling - make sure you’re calling your local delivery office, ask to speak to the delivery supervisor, give your address, and make it clear that the opening of your mailbox is large enough to accept unfolded flats, but that the flats you’re receiving are creased hard enough to damage the items.

AFAIK, mail carriers sort and bundle their own load before setting out on the road. Many times I’ve seen them halfway through route, sortind and bundling for the next stretch. So maybe trying to catch the carrier, directly, and asking nicely to keep your flats flat would be more effective than sending a bitch downward through the postmaster and supervisors.

An affordable PO box is not large enough for flats, BTW. You have to get well over $100 a year for one that large, and they are few enough in most offices to be on a waiting list.

No, you’re just going to have to deal with it.

The OP describes horizontal boxes rather than vertical boxes.

You’re right, my mistake.

The problem is actually with the sender. Items that shouldn’t be bent or folded are supposed to be labeled and be protected by the packaging.

From the post office:

Go to their website at and file a complaint about mail delivery service with the Postmaster General. I have done this and they take these things seriously. You file the complaint and then they investigate it and contact the Postmaster for the local post office about the problem. The thing is, you need to do this because you aren’t the mail expert here they are. You have no idea of how they handle the mail or why, all you know is that the mailbox is regulation size for things to easily fit in there properly but the materials are necessarily folded and ruining them.

Continue to file the complaint if the first time doesn’t fix it. They will fix it, but what I recommend you not do is talk to the postal carrier directly about it. In fact, I was told by USPS not to do that but file a complaint about issues like this. The thing is, you shouldn’t have to tell them to do this personally, it’s their freaking job after all. Someone or several of them aren’t doing their job there so it has to come from the top down. You try bottom up you are going to always be reminding them and waiting for them to screw it up again. File the complaint online now.

OK, plan B. Let’s say you tried everything and the postal postmaster is an idiot and won’t fix it, just gives excuses and might be the cousin of the Postmaster General. Then consider getting a box at a place like a UPS Store and get your mail or at least things that should not be folded there. I know this isn’t ideal, but having to consider the additional and hassle of having to go pick-up your mail should convince you to do my first suggestion. By the way, places like the UPS Store have additional services the local post office don’t offer. You can call u p the UPS Store and ask them if there is something in your box to pick-up and even ask, “Did my Mad Magazine arrive?”. Then you can decide if you want to pick it up now or not. Also, they give you a key to the store so you can go there when it’s closed to the public and get stuff out of your box. The local post offices general close their locations when the window isn’t open. Hope this helps!