About 2,000 postal customers in the 31204 ZIP code received a letter last week asking them to consider placing their mailboxes on the curb.
Since then, the Zebulon Road post office has received about 50 calls from customers either complaining about or confused by the letter, said Nancy Ross, a regional spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service.
Ross said Monday that a new letter is being drafted that she hopes will clear up the confusion. She said some customers inferred from the original letter that it was mandatory that the curbside mail- boxes be set up. In fact, it’s all voluntary, Ross said.
“We are rewriting the letter now,” Ross said. “It was not our intent to imply that you had to get a curbside box. It’s just a request from us that gives customers that option.”
By getting the curbside boxes, the postal service is hoping to save money by speeding up mail delivery. A faster delivery process would mean less overtime hours for mail carriers, Ross said. It also would make things safer for the mail carriers, reducing accident potential by allowing carriers to stay in their vehicles.
The original letter, written by Zebulon Road station manager Kathryn Mcgehee, included a section that implied that the elderly and disabled would be exempt from the curbside mailbox request if they provided medical documentation to the station.
According to the original letter, Mcgehee wrote that she will be “required to obtain from (the customer) any medical documentation that would support your inability to receive your mail in a mailbox at the street edge.”
Ross acknowledged that the sentence caused a lot of confusion. She said elderly and disabled customers don’t have to provide any such documentation, but could contact the office and inform the postal service of their condition to ensure they wouldn’t be bothered by any future letters.
While the curbside boxes are being offered as a cost-saving option, Lars Anderson, former president of the Vineville Neighborhood Association, doesn’t see the move as very practical.
Anderson was one of the customers who received the letter but said he has no plans of getting a curbside mailbox.
“Everybody got the letter Thursday, and the phones lit up,” Anderson said. “Whoever made the decision to go with this hasn’t gone through the neighborhood.”
Anderson said many of the sidewalks in the neighborhood don’t have a grass area to put up a curbside box.
In addition, there’s on-street parking on several of the streets, so curbside boxes could be blocked by parked cars, meaning the carriers would have to get out of their vehicles anyway.
Another problem, Anderson said, is that he lives in an historic neighborhood. To put up a curbside box would require special permission, he said.
“To put a mailbox by the side of the road is counter-productive and counter-intuitive,” he said. “You have to get permission. (Not having curbside boxes) is done to preserve the look of the streetscape.”
Ross said those customers with questions should contact the Zebulon Road station at (478) 471-8182.
Ross said the south Bibb County post office made a similar request of customers on its routes a few months ago.
“They’ve already had great success,” Ross said.
Ross said other ZIP codes serviced by the Zebulon Road station also will get letters, but she isn’t aware of any other stations that have plans to adopt the program.