News & Research

Policy Leaders Call for Lifting the U.S. Postal Service's Mailbox Monopoly


Policy Leaders Call for Lifting the
U.S. Postal Service’s Mailbox Monopoly

 

For Immediate Release – July 2, 2007

Arlington, VA – In a public filing today with the Federal Trade Commission, 6 prominent policy leaders called for lifting the U.S. Postal Service’s monopoly on the use of mailboxes.

“We believe that the mailbox monopoly should be revoked, allowing greater, and fairer, access for the benefit of individual consumers,” they said.

The current monopoly bars private citizens and businesses from placing letters or other items in mailboxes without paying Postal Service delivery fees. The prohibition “injects unnecessary nuisance, cost and inefficiency into simple acts of community communication,” continued the statement.

The letter was signed by heads of leading organizations representing taxpayers and consumers who rely on First Class letter mail and postal services, as well as two prominent postal policy experts: Don Soifer, Consumer Postal Council; Dr. John E. Berthoud, National Taxpayers Union; Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform; James L. Martin, 60 Plus; Dr. Charles Guy, Former Director, Office of Economics, Strategic Planning, U.S. Postal Service, and Dr. Rick Geddes, Cornell University.

“Universal postal service was established to meet the needs of American consumers and businesses,” said the Consumer Postal Council Executive Director Don Soifer. “The Postal Service continues to enforce a monopoly from which it enjoys many benefits, but which often works against the best interests of American consumers."

The letter was circulated by the Consumer Postal Council. The council (www.postalconsumers.org), founded in 2003, is dedicated to supporting the interests of consumers who rely on First Class letter mail.

For more information, please contact Don Soifer at 703-312-4563.


 

June 29, 2007

The Honorable Deborah Platt Majoras
Chairman
Federal Trade Commission
Room 135-H (Annex F)
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20580

 

Dear Chairman Majoras:

We, the undersigned, wish to respond to the Federal Trade Commission's request for comment regarding the U.S. Postal Service Study, Project No. PO71200, as listed in the Federal Register on May 1, 2007. Specifically, we'd like to address Question #2, relating to the U.S. Postal Service’s legal mailbox monopoly.

According to 18 U.S.C. § 1725:

Whoever knowingly and willfully deposits any mailable matter such as statements of accounts, circulars, sale bills, and other like matter, on which no postage has been paid, in any letter box established, approved, or accepted by the Postal Service for the receipt or delivery of mail matter on any mail route with intent to avoid payment or lawful postage thereon, shall for each offense be fined under this title. 

The prohibition of private citizens and businesses from using mailboxes injects unnecessary nuisance, cost and inefficiency into simple acts of community communication. Invitations to children’s birthday parties, notices about important neighborhood events, and circular coupons from local businesses must all incur the cost, delay, and risk of misdelivery associated with reliance on the U.S. Postal Service.

In addition, as consumer reliance on online commerce continues to increase, barring individuals from receiving mailbox delivery of payments, documents or other items through private delivery services creates a growing inconvenience. For consumers who live in neighborhoods where they must rely on locked mailboxes, the current monopoly effectively restricts their delivery choices to U.S.P.S. offerings when they are unable to be home to sign for delivery.

Because consumers generally purchase their mailboxes at their own expense, it logically follows that they ought to have the right to dictate the terms under which that property is utilized.

The President’s Commission on the U.S. Postal Service, in its 2003 report, recommended lifting the monopoly on mailboxes:

The Postal Regulatory Board should be authorized to permit mailbox access to private carriers in future regulations, so long as it does not impair the universal service or open homeowners’ mailboxes against their will.

We believe that the mailbox monopoly should be revoked, allowing greater – and fairer – access for the benefit of individual consumers.

Sincerely,

Don Soifer
Executive Director
Consumer Postal Council

Dr. John E. Berthoud
President
National Taxpayers Union

Grover Norquist
President
Americans for Tax Reform

James L. Martin
President
60 Plus

Dr. Charles Guy
Former Director, Office of Economics, Strategic Planning, U.S. Postal Service

Dr. Rick Geddes
Professor
Cornell University 

 
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