The letter that told some postal customers in Oak Ridge that they would have to move their mailboxes should not have been sent out, a spokesman said Tuesday.
WYSH Radio in Clinton reported last week that the letters were sent to some postal customers in Oak Ridge who still use house boxes to receive their mail. It said customers had 10 days to switch to a curbside mailbox before “mail received at the box will be returned to sender,” the radio station reported.
But on Tuesday, David Walton, spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service in the Tennessee District, said the federal agency can’t force a customer to move his or her mailbox.
“We can’t mandate or demand that they move their mailboxes,” he said. “We can only ask and encourage.”
Walton said a follow-up letter is being sent today, and it will apologize and explain.
He said the first letter, sent out right before Memorial Day, was confusing. He said it was sent by an Oak Ridge employee who had good intentions. He declined to identify the worker.
Walton said the new letter gives customers the option to mount a curbside box, which makes mail delivery more economical and efficient. If customers want to use that option, they have to sign and return an attached form.
He said curbside boxes allow carriers to deliver mail without leaving their vehicles, and it protects them from hazards such as steps, falls, and dog bites.
Walton said the Postal Service now requires cluster boxes in new developments, where mailboxes are grouped together.