General Question

casheroo's avatar

Do mailmen have to deliver no matter what?

Asked by casheroo (18017 points ) July 1st, 2009

I understand that there may be circumstances, such as dangerous situations, but the situation I’m referring to is specific.
Our mailman refuses to walk over the baby gate at the end of our porch. We do not receive our mail if I forget to remove the baby gate. He won’t even leave it on the porch or garage, or anywhere.
I leave the baby gate up, because sometimes my young son opens the door and runs out, or opens the door and lets the dog out. Yes, I should lock the door, but I tend to forget The gate is not high, probably no higher than the knees on a man.
I was in the living room the other day, and saw the mail man looking at the mailbox, about to walk away with a handful of mail..so I ran out and got it, and he told me he can’t and won’t go over the gate.
If he’s too old to step over a gate, I don’t think he should even be delivering mail. Or is it on the property owner to always have a a perfectly clear walkway? (to me this doesn’t make sense since I’ve seen some hard to get to mailboxes before)

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31 Answers

janbb's avatar

Sounds like one for you, Astrochuck! (Our own “little mailman.”)

augustlan's avatar

Quick, edit your question! ‘Delivery’ should be ‘deliver’. :)

jrpowell's avatar

It might be considered trespassing. If it was a full size fence I doubt he would open it and go in.

augustlan's avatar

Also, to answer the actual question… I’m pretty sure it is on the homeowner to make sure the mailbox is accessible. Only AstroChuck is likely to know for sure, though!

jrpowell's avatar

I just was outside and my mailman came. So I asked.

According to him they can not be prosecuted for trespassing. It is a Federal law. So my theory is dead.

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

I’d call a postal office or send an email inquiry to find out for sure. My guess is if he were to step wrong while crossing over then he might believe his on-the-job health insurance might deny him on the basis he took it upon himself to cross over where “not accessible”.

sakura's avatar

surely he can just put the post of the floor of your porch? My mums postman does that when she has her front door open and the ‘middle door’ closed.

AstroChuck's avatar

Letter carriers must deliver the mail provided it is safe to do so. If your postal carrier feels that the baby gate is a hazard he is within his rights to refuse delivery.

robmandu's avatar

What kind of death gate you got there, @casheroo?

Abandon hope all ye who enter here?

jrpowell's avatar

Could you get a mailbox like the second one in this video and attach it in a convenient place?

And please don’t ask why I was recording video of my mailboxes the other day.

robmandu's avatar

Maybe you’re just not answering the door the right way.

casheroo's avatar

@robmandu lol. You’d think the gate has barbed wire or something.

@astrochuck So there’s nothing I can do, we just don’t get mail the days I forget to take the gate down? Is he not allowed to leave it anywhere else on the property (like on the porch?) Would him having something physically wrong with him making him unable to do his job, an excuse?

whatthefluther's avatar

@johnpowell…I had a similar set-up as in your video, an in-door slot plus a box just outside the door. At first I had only the in-door slot, and although I was receiving the mail, I would come home to shredded letters all over the entry way. My dog thought the mail was a gift to him to do with as he pleased. And the mailman got a kick out of it, and one day, when at home, I caught him purposively putting the first couple of inches of mail through the slot and waving it back and forth across the length of the slot until it was literally torn from his hand. He would chuckle and move on (the mailman, that is). Well, it was becoming more and more difficult to pay the bills so I screwed the slot cover closed to the door and installed a box just outside the door. Needless to say, I had one very disappointed dog and a mailman that would not even speak to me anymore. See ya….wtf

jrpowell's avatar

@casheroo :: What about wind? He really can’t just set them down. They could end up a block away if a good gust of wind came along. At least put out a big bucket so he has something he can toss the mail into. And put a brick in the bucket so that doesn’t blow away.

AstroChuck's avatar

@casheroo- Why don’t you just put a cardboard box out with “mail” written on it whenever you have the gate up. That should take care of things.

robmandu's avatar

I could be mistaken – esp. since @AstroChuck‘s already all over this – but isn’t mail required to be delivered in a container Approved by the Postmaster General (or reasonable facsimile thereof)?

Your door slot qualifies. But some random bucket or cardboard box would not. Right?

AstroChuck's avatar

@robmandu- As long as the receptacle isn’t mounted too high or too low, and is easily accessible, there’s no problem. A cardboard box on the porch is fine.

AstroChuck's avatar

@janbb- And that’s Li’l Mailman.

augustlan's avatar

From @robmandu‘s link above:

1.4Clear Approach

Customers must keep the approach to their mailboxes clear of obstructions to allow safe access for delivery. If USPS employees are impeded in reaching a mail receptacle, the postmaster may withdraw delivery service.

janbb's avatar

@AstroChuck Li’l mailmsn to you!

Darwin's avatar

It also depends to some degree as to how curmudgeonly your delivery person is. Most mail carriers are great folks who are perfectly willing to do a little extra for you, especially if you get to know their name and they get to know why you have a baby gate on your porch. A few seem to never get up on the right side of the bed and wouldn’t help their own grandmother across the street.

With some postal employees I have had to print out parts of the USPS manual to show them that one piece of tape on a Priority Flat Rate envelope is indeed allowable as long as I haven’t cut the thing apart and remade it to fit something that really shouldn’t go into the envelope. Others see it on their own. A few don’t give a rip so you need to wait until you can deal with someone else.

Certainly, your mail carrier is within his right to declare the baby gate an impediment. However, many other carriers might simply consider it the equivalent of a front gate and either open it or step over it to reach the box. In your case, I think you need to ask him if a box on the porch would be acceptable or not, and if not, is there another solution that will make it possible for him to deliver your mail but for you to still contain your child and dog.

AstroChuck's avatar

To be fair to us letter carriers, look at it from our point of view. First off you need to understand the environment we work in. Craft employees of the United States Postal Service have to constantly maintain a posture of defense whenever we deal with management. If the carrier mentioned in the question were to trip or somehow hurt himself because of that fence he would be required to report it immediately. Failure to do so would result in discipline. He might not think anything of it at the time and not report it. Somewhere down the line his knee starts swelling as a result of that fall and then he feels the need to file an accident report. He would then get disciplined for failure to report an accident as he didn’t do so immediately. If he does do as he is supposed to and reports it when it happens he gets disciplined for failure to work in a safe manner. This all might sound ridiculous to you because it is. Postal management has created a hostile environment for craft employees to work in. It seems that their main goal is to play “Gotcha!’ with us. I can tell you that in 24 years of carrying mail I’ve had my share of falls from stepping over things smaller than this fence. And although I personally would not have passed up casheroo’s house and would have stepped over and delivered her mail, I have a bad knee that soon is going to require arthoscopic surgery and I can tell you that I would have grimmaced as I did so, using profanity, although only inside my head. Keeping your mail receptacle accessable is not only proper, not doing so is inconsiderate as hell. Keep in mind we are pressured to get the mail delivered within an allotted time (as silly as it sounds we have to negotiate with management every morning as to how much time we are going to need. They usually won’t accept the time we feel we need and push for a shorter amount.) and you are only one address of many and some routes have close to a thousand deliveries. I’m not looking for sympathy, just a little understanding about the job we do everyday.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I don’t know if someone has already said this but I think it is about his personal health. (also as others have said it could just be a liability issue). He may have a bad hip that does not prevent him from doing his job but this extra little bit of the gate, well it just may be too high for him to comfortably step over. Can you not place an alternative mailbox outside of the baby-gate area and put in writing that he has permission to put the mail in that alternative spot?

I don’t think he should lose his job for a health problem. If I lost my job every-time my health interfered with one task or another then I’d be forever out of work, most of us would.

Having said that I am sure that it is quite frustrating for you. It does seem as if there is an easy solution. Provide some other place for him to deliver the mail. Perhaps you are both just so peeved at one another that you haven’t had the comfortable ability to stop and have a friendly conversation about how exactly to solve this problem?

andrew's avatar

I heart Fluther.

soren121's avatar

This may seem obvious, but why not just buy a cheap mailbox at Home Depot and stick it on your porch railing?

Darwin's avatar

@soren121 – Works for me, but then I asked my carrier what would work for her, and she gave me one of those plastic bins to set on my porch in which to deposit the mail, so she doesn’t ever have to even see my dogs.

danem's avatar

i understand about making a clear path to the mailbox, but why wouldnt he give it to you?
That is wrong.

Response moderated
NUNYA's avatar

It might be that the mail person already has a knee injury or a hip problem. And trying to step over the gate really hurts. I have a mail lady that has fallen a couple times on her rough and she has both a knee and hip problem. So stepping over a small gate would hurt her.
I adore the postal workers!!! In the freezing/bitter/windy/snowing/icy -50 windchills, they deliver the mail faithfully!!! And even in the scorching heat of summer, they trudge on!
My hat is off to all of those Postal Employees that works so hard BRAVO!!!!

AshlynM's avatar

Normally, your mailbox must have a clear path at all times in order for the mailman to deliver your mail. If he’s older, he may feel he’s not able to walk over the gate safely. Even if he does walk over it, he may trip and hurt himself. I’m sure you don’t want to be held liable for something like that.

If you have a fenced in backyard, you could just keep your dog back there until the mailman comes.

If you have a door slot only, then you could get a cheapo mailbox and install it in a place where the mailman has access to it.

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