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cmomoCPA's avatar

What to do?!?! Is this Mail Fraud?

Asked by cmomoCPA (142 points ) February 14th, 2012

I have a PO Box at a mail store and the store franchise owner said there was “too much mail” and sent all my mail back to the post office “return to sender”, what should I do? I have a PO Box at a store near my old addres and I haven’t been back there in 2 months, the owner got upset and cleaned out he back of the store and sent the boxes of mail back to the post office with “return to sender on them”, what should I do? When I confronted her tonight she got really really nervous. She tried to say I haven’t been back there since May 2011, which isn’t true because I have mail dated from when I was ther last in late November. She said the contract stipulates that I have to pickup my mail regularly which is true, but can she do this? Should I reaise hell with the franchise? Should I contact the Post Manster? More importantly where is my f’n mail from the last few months? I have ordered stuff and sent it to the PO Box and it’s gone. Should I hire an attorney? I’ve since made arrangements to have mail boxed up and sent monthly to my current address I am residing at. I run a small consulting business out of the PO Box so this could really mess me up as tax time is coming up. I keep the PO Box and pay taxes in the state because I am going back to grad school in that state. I pay by credit card for everything I’ve ordered and had sent to the PO Box so I have to go back and contact the vendors and try to get refunds for everything. But what about the other missing stuff? What should I do?

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7 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

Get a complaint form from the USPS and report this behavior. It is completely wrong.

Zaku's avatar

Well, interfering with the mail is a serious crime… but it comes down to contract law about what your agreement with the store was, and what the local laws governing their stores were. If they say they send it back “return to sender” then they probably did. You will also want to look at a new agreement with this store or another one that can work in the future, and if you don’t want to change your business address away from this P.O. Box, you might want to consider whether or not you want to antagonize the owner.

If it’s not clear from the contract, and you have material damages, then you could contact a lawyer for an initial consultation. You could also try doing some research yourself with the post office.

I think it will come down to whether you actually lost anything of value, or are just being inconvenienced, and also how much mail there was and what your agreement with the shop says they will and won’t do for you, and what it says they will do if you have too much mail or wait too long. And then, whether that contract is valid under local law.

My guess is, your box overflowed with mail, they sent stuff back, it got delayed and will need to be sent again, and you’ll need to rent a bigger box and/or make arrangements to get your mail in future, and that you probably don’t have a case that would make sense to sue about, but it might be worth checking that out. The fact that they were worried, makes me think maybe the shop people don’t know what they’re doing, and it may be they sent your stuff down sooner than they should have. So I’d consult the rules, but the main thing is to find a workable solution.

cazzie's avatar

If you don’t go regularly to empty your PO Box, I think you are SOL. You are paying for space (just the space of the PO Box) not a secretarial service to collect your mail. Arranging for someone to pick up your mail more regularly is necessary, as you have arranged. These places are third party contractors to the USPS, I believe.

It would have been courtesy for them to phone you and tell you what they were thinking of doing to give you a heads up that they needed the mail cleared out one way or another.

Talk to the post master of your central post office and ask what type of contractual obligations these agencies actually have (I think you might be disappointed.) Perhaps they were obligated to phone you and tell you what they were doing with your mail, but I don’t know what your contract says with them, or what their third party contract says with the USPS. Certainly contact your local central post office, complain and see what, if anything, can be done.

We used to pay for a P.O. BAG… which was a large bag that collected all the mail and it stood on the floor in a special frame. There was far to much, on even a daily basis, to put in one of those small or even medium boxes. We would bring yesterday’s bag back and pick up the new bag filled with post. Perhaps not an option with these small, suburban places, though.

auhsojsa's avatar

I mean let’s not be naive. They were most likely ads that you didn’t even pick up. You let them stock pile up.

AshlynM's avatar

Try the attorney general’s office.

Try the US Postal Regulatory Commission. They have a website and a contact form.

I don’t know if the BBB will be of any help, but you can also try them.

marinelife's avatar

What were they contractually bound to do? Did they have to contact you before sending the mail back?

I would contact the USPS and the primary corporate office of the franchise (in writing). I would tell them that this has damaged you and your business.

Then I would keep track of the hours it takes you to try and track down the returned mail. The Post Office can probably help you track it down although if it was marked return to sender it is probably gone.

john65pennington's avatar

What is their definition of “pick up mail regularly”? Were you ever notified to come pick up your mail? Did they give you a warning of the end results?

I would first carefully read the contents of the contract you signed. It may have further stipulations of mail that is not picked up.

If you feel you are correct in all the above, then contact your local Postmaster and get his advice. There may be flagrant law violations pertaining to your mail.

The Postmaster will assist you. That is his job.

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