Postal workers may brave rain and snow to complete their appointed rounds but they can’t fight a bad contract. That’s what hundreds of Jackson residents are fuming about as Jackson’s postal mess finally got a hearing in front of Jackson Town Council members last week. The council responded to a petition. A pregnant woman helped start it after she broke down at a post office counter when a special pillow she ordered to help her sleep was sent back for lack of a post office box number.

Residents have learned that packages received for delivery to post office boxes are routinely returned if addresses on them don’t include a box number. The problem in Jackson begins with contracts the post office here has with United Parcel Service and FedEx. Those call for the post office to deliver packages “the last mile.” In Jackson, because there is no home delivery, that means putting packages, or notices thereof, in individuals’ and businesses’ post office boxes. The post office likes the contracts. Under financial strain, the U.S. Postal Service welcomes deals that bring in money.

The deal is promoted by shippers. The cheapest delivery to a Jackson address is one in which the post office is tasked with “the last mile.” Too often, that last mile turns into a boomerang trip that could be a thousand miles long. It’s enough to drive a person mad.

The reason? Senders don’t know the secret. They hire a company (UPS, FedEx) that specializes in delivering to street addresses. Instead, under the cheapest options available to senders, they drop packages in the lap of the post office. Under financial strain, however, the post office doesn’t have the manpower to look up a person’s post office box number.

The secret that senders must know is to include both a P.O. box number and street number on the address label. This must be done regardless of what limited options are available for shipping on countless websites. Many of them specifically call only for a street address. That means ignoring Internet instructions — something we’ve been trained to avoid.

The Postal Service has options, including rejecting a senseless contract. UPS and FedEx also could do better. Perhaps they should tell customers it’s impossible to deliver in the town of Jackson under the cheapest rate. While the debate is in its infancy, these three businesses need to come together to forge a solution. Or be known as a triumvirate that makes pregnant women cry.

(5) comments

kurt eckrem

Not sure about the status of home delivery in Jackson, but in the office where I work, UPS and Fed-Ex drop-ship hundreds of packages every week at the Post Office for us to sort and deliver. Often those packages are addressed to houses that do not receive home delivery due to mail theft, instead choosing to have their mail delivered to a P.O. box or to one of the contract stations in town. The pay of rural carriers like myself is based primarily on the route miles and the number of deliveries, so taking a package to a house that doesn't get home delivery would basically be doing it for free. We give them back to UPS or Fed-Ex if they don't have a P.O. box number. What they do about those packages, who knows?

Chris Carter

While it is not rocket surgery, it can become a health issue. Imagine visitors renting a house for two weeks needing their meds shipped to Jackson? The system is relatively unique and not exactly advertized to tourists and business travelers, not to mention unknown to well meaning friends and family hoping to surprise their JH pals with a mailed package. While most of us learn fast, it would be really nice to find a solution that eliminates the constant worry about properly addressing the mail for the mystery delivery company chosen on a given day for a given item.

Liam Skye

I saw a related article on another site. Somebody suggested that the nine-digit ZIP Code points directly to the delivery point whether it is a street address or a post office box. Usually, if there is a post office box, the last four digits are the box number. If the correct code is used, the mail should be deliverable whether it has the street address or box address. It sounded like a good solution to me!

dan castor

You can use all the excuses you want, it is just another pain in the a** we have to endure from the good old post office!

Liam Skye

You can use all the excuses you want, it is just another bunch of people who can't properly address their mail so it can be delivered without complications. It isn't rocket surgery, Bub.

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