I am writing in response to the article written by Colin Rigley and published in New Times on Oct. 23, 2014, titled “[Return to Sender] Shandon residents say issues with the mail have gotten out of control.” The title of the article could not be further from the truth. In fact, Shandon Postmaster Kathy Kennerley has done an outstanding job of ensuring the safe and secure delivery of the mail for all of Shandon’s residents. To vilify her with conjecture implying a willful intent to disrupt the lives of Shandon’s residents does her and the U.S. Postal Service a grave injustice. There is nothing held in higher regard by every employee of the Postal Service, including Ms. Kennerley, than the sanctity of the mail.
The majority of Shandon residents receive free P.O. box service, as it is their established means of delivery. To ensure secure, efficient delivery, there are a few simple policies that not only Shandon residents, but every P.O. box holder in the United States must adhere to. Among them is properly addressing the mail.
A P.O. box holder cannot use a physical address as their delivery address; it simply does not exist in the Postal Service’s national delivery database. If there was a past practice of exceptions to this rule, it was done in violation of Postal Service policy, and not only that, placed the mail in jeopardy of creating a delivery issue for future residents while creating liability issues for the Postal Service.
The Postal Service has more than 32,000 Post Offices nationwide. We deliver 500 million pieces of mail to more than 152 million residences and businesses six days a week. In order to accomplish this herculean task efficiently and with the least cost to our customers, there are strict policies in place that every Post Office must adhere to. It’s these policies that keep the mail from getting “out of control.”
While Shandon may seem like a small part of the overall mail delivery network, and perhaps where exceptions could be made, it is important to understand that if we made exceptions in Shandon, we would be asked to make exceptions at other Post Offices nationwide, which would create a chaotic and inefficient system.
We also understand that some online merchandise companies do not deliver to P.O. boxes. For these cases, we provide an alternate addressing format. Customers simply would have to use the address of the Shandon Post Office along with their P.O. Box Number. In Shandon, for example, P.O. Box customers would use: John Doe, 123 Main Street Box [insert your P.O. Box number], Shandon, CA 93461. Using this alternate format would ensure the proper delivery of packages and mail to the P.O. Box and not create a situation where the mail piece is undeliverable as addressed, as would be the case if the mail were addressed to the customer’s physical address. It is Postal Service policy to return to sender any mail that is undeliverable as addressed.
Ms. Kennerley and the Shandon Post Office team will continue to work with all of our Shandon customers to ensure that mail is delivered properly and efficiently, and with adherence to longstanding policies that help make our postal system in the United States the envy of the world.
Kerry Wolny is district manager of the Sierra Coastal District of the United States Postal Service. Send comments to the executive editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.