Post Office Puts Out Box Renewal Notice Then Refuses To Take Payment

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

usps-logoLast September I penned an article describing how the IRS demands tax payments but will refuse to take checks of $100,000,000 or more, now on the other end of the spectrum the US Postal Service seems to want to join the fun by placing post office box renewal notices and refusing to take payment in my case on the same day.

While in the latter case it was a minor affair, it does show the joy in dealing with another case of government red tape.


On December 31st I went to the Post Office to retrieve mail and found inside my PO Box a renewal notice envelope.  Along with the envelope was a letter that read in pertinent part:

Dear Valued Customer:

PO Box fees will change and most will increase on January 17, 2016. Your PO Box fee is due by January 31, 2016. Payments received before January 17, 2016, will be renewed at the existing PO Box rate (see renewal notice included with this letter). Payments received on or after January 17, 2016 will be charged at the new price which is not reflected in your January payment notice; therefore, if you want to take advantage of the existing prices, please pay your PO Box fee before January 17, 2106.

The New rate is not mentioned on the envelope so I do not know what it would be. One would imagine that would be helpful to provide the new price since between the 17th and the 31st it is still within the renewal window. But, perhaps it is for the customer to find out for themselves what that increased fee might be.

So, since I could not see any reason to pay a higher fee and since I was already at the Post Office when their windows were open, I penned a check for the current annual renewal fee and went to a clerk to make payment.

I handed the clerk my check and said that I wanted to renew my PO Box. She told me that she could not accept the check until Saturday (January 2nd). I asked why. She said they could not accept payment until after the new year. As you might expect I was a bit confused about this since it was that same day they placed the payment demand in my box. I replied back that I wanted to ensure that I would get the old rate for the box so I wanted to pay it immediately. Another clerk told me it was because their computer system would not allow them to accept payments for 2016 box renewals in 2015. So it seems one computer system tells the clerks to put a renewal notice in post office boxes but either this or another one won’t allow payments to be made on those boxes until some other point in the future. He also reiterated that I could come by on Saturday and make the payment then. The clerks here are always friendly, but they surely must tire of red tape such as this.

So I put the check inside the payment envelope, which is mailable, and handed it back to her as if it was just a piece of regular mail. Apparently this was acceptable.

Now, the payment letter will sit at the same post office, be opened by the same staff, and the check accepted and processed.

Was this event the final piece of bureaucratic snafus for 2015 and we will do better in 2016,  or is it a harbinger of 2016 becoming a morass? Superstitious minds want to know.

Let’s all make a new year’s resolution–to eliminate red tape and dysfunction.

By Darren Smith

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

39 thoughts on “Post Office Puts Out Box Renewal Notice Then Refuses To Take Payment”

  1. This was human error. Box notices go in on the 1st and 15th of the month. Payments have never been accepted before the 1st of the month your box rent is due. Since Jan 1 was a holiday and closed, I’m thinking the clerk put the notices in a day early instead of a day late (the 31st instead of the 2nd) not expecting a grown man to get his panties in a bunch and write a whiny blog about how he was going to have to wait an entire day to pay. You are there picking up your mail every day and had 16 days before the fee when up. Why the crisis? Get a life!

    1. Dawn W – real men don’t wear panties. BTW, I have never been in a business that was not willing to take a pre-payment. Supposedly, the USPS is a business.

  2. Darren… Must be nice to be able to vent without getting a lot of grief for it. LOL

  3. Karen S, I am saying the 30+ GOP governors who are blocking most Ocare are keeping people from entering healthcare ins marketplace. As a result, those who remain are forced to pay more, since republicans won’t participate.

    I pay about $425 a month for a Gold plan in NY without any govt subsidies. A single person has to earn less than 46,000 to be eligible for subsidies. The deductible is $1200. I was paying about $350 a month 7 years ago without the higher deductible. That’s not such a great change considering inflation.

    If all states participated the results would improve. When 30+ GOP states do nothing but block, deny and litigate it makes it more expensive for everyone else.

    1. Lloyd – don’t forget I am paying part of your insurance. You should thank me.

  4. Lloyd:

    “More competition, more choice and plans to serve most any budget. Maybe if republican states didn’t fight so hard to deprive their citizens of healthcare options the entire system would be working better.”

    What you are saying is literally impossible. You cannot blame Republicans for my experience in CA, which is a Liberal stronghold (and therefor broke). I can’t name a single thing that Republicans have been able to prevent Obama from doing.

    1. There is less completion. Insurers have fled the Exchange marketplace because they’ve lost too much money. ( Assuring recently joined the exodus out of the CA Exchange individual market. We are literally left with just a few carriers, which creates more of a monopoly than healthy competition.
    2. Less Choice. Because the government now mandates what all policies must cover, all policies are now basically identical. There are slight differences in premium and deductible among silver, bronze, and platinum plans. But the coverage is the same. In the past, you could pick what you could afford. Now it’s all affordable and you’re stuck with what the government decided you should have.
    3. Serve Most Any Budget – ????? What the heck are you talking about? The premiums and deductibles are all huge, unless you’re subsidized. (

    You don’t sound like anyone who’s actually used an individual Obamacare policy.

  5. There are winners and losers under Obamacare……anecdotal stories ultimately will not be the test of the viability of Obamacare.
    An individual, in her late 50s, was paying about $600 per month for health insurance…….self employed, so this was an individual policy.
    She was delighted to see that “the premiums” dropped to about $220 per month under Obamacare. Of course, the premiums did not drop. The gvt. subsidies picked up the c.$380 per month SHE no longer pays…….”somebody else” does make up that difference.
    From her perspective, Obamacare is great. From the perspective of taxpayers or other policy holder who got screwed under Obamacare, not so great.
    As Prof. Gruber admitted when he was caught “accidentally telling the truth”, Obamacare was about cost shifting.
    Long term cost containment due to Obamacare is very debatable. One feature that may , at least in the short term, be a factor in lower health care inflation is the widespread increase of copays, deductibles, etc. Higher out of pocket costs for many, especially those seeing employer coverages cut back, may be a major reason for more consideration of what procedures, etc. actually cost.

  6. Karen S, Costs under our esteemed ex-pres GWB went up more in percentage terms than they have under Ocare. Ocare has treated me quite well in NY. More competition, more choice and plans to serve most any budget. Maybe if republican states didn’t fight so hard to deprive their citizens of healthcare options the entire system would be working better. As long as GOP keep fighting it the costs will increase more than needed because the pool of users is smaller and the healthcare cos need to make a profit after all. Don’t blame those dreaded liberals, blame the republicans that have fought so hard to make it not work properly and for all.

    1. Lloyd – I have a ‘Cadillac plan’ but I am going to be required to pay for the shortfall on your program. This is the dirty little secret that the Democrats keep hiding.

  7. Isaac:

    Based on what??? You can verify my story regarding loss of insurance and open enrollment on the California Exchange website. Or you can call the CA insurance commissioner to verify. Plus there are plenty of articles about the initial increase in Obamacare premiums and deductibles, and the fact that people do not use health insurance anymore like they used to, because they cannot afford the deductible. They pay the premium but then cannot afford the extra cost to actually use the coverage. It’s really sad.

    Well meaning Liberal voters, as well as Liberal Politicians merely looking to buy votes, did great and lasting harm to people via Obamacare. Feeling good about a vote is not good enough. You need to learn the consequences of your vote. Care about consequences, not how a vote made you feel at the time.

    Facts that do not fit the narrative are still facts, nonetheless.

  8. Lamar H and laudyms,

    Every business that has a defined benefit pension plan is required to pre-pay the benefit (i.e.; fund the plan as benefits are earned rather than when eventually paid) to ensure the funds will be available when required. Many governments don’t have this same requirement, which is the primary reason than many state and municipal governments are essentially insolvent.

  9. “Lets put monopoly capitalism in charge of health care for humans in America! Oh, they already are in charge.”

    Well, let’s see. In the “old days” of a few years ago, you could choose whatever insurance plan you could afford, met your needs, and your personal requirements. If you were young and healthy and just starting out, you could get a catastrophic policy that would protect you from medical bankruptcy. People could choose from an array of benefits, premiums, and deductibles. Almost all plans offered an array of birth control choices with minor copays.

    Then, the government arrived to “save us all.” Now all plans are essentially the same – they have catastrophic policy premiums and Cadillac policy premiums. My own premium basically doubled and my deductible increased 1100%. Drug formularies tightened up, and there were no more off formulary benefits, AND if you bought off formulary, your out of pocket cost no l longer counted towards max caps. (You are to recall that some MS medications, for example, can cost many thousands of dollars that won’t even count towards your spending limits.) To save costs, they also tightened doctor networks. In addition, doctors took a 30% pay cut, so most doctors didn’t even accept it. So on top of paying through the nose for insurance, you still had to pay out of pocket to see a decent doctor. And then they enacted this swell little, relatively unknown aspect of Obamacare. Open Enrollment means that if you lose your health insurance for non payment (such as in my case, when someone stole my credit card information through a data breach and my bank froze my account, interfering with my premium payment), you CANNOT buy new insurance until open enrollment. AND you will get fined for not having insurance. You can have money in your hand, and you cannot buy insurance outside of open enrollment, unless you lost a job that used to provide health insurance.

    I recall two of my friends were so excited about Obamacare. They got subsidized plans. Then they learned that the good doctors don’t accept it. The ones that do utilize a factory model, spending barely a few minutes a patient to make up for that 30% pay cut. One of them has a diabetic little boy, and she has to pay out of pocket to see his doctor. The other finally found a doctor who took Obamacare, who missed that her son had hearing problems until he was 5 years old, and delayed. She said she is able to find a good doctor who accepts the plan.

    I did find a good doctor who accepts Obamacare, but I have to pay an additional premium directly to the office to make up for the pay difference.

    So, please, tell me again why I’m better off with Obamacare. Please be sure to show maximum disdain for those who suffered a financial catastrophe as a direct result of “the government here to save the day.”

  10. You should have bought a post-paid envelope and dropped the check in their box: 49 cents to avoid snafu…. I have pity for the Post Office since Congress is determined to drive them out of business by requiring pre-pd benefits which no one else is required to have. And I imagine any requests to update equipment is laughed away.

  11. DBQ, I grew up in a small town of about 2000 and had similar experiences to yours. The near-intimacy of relationships is a common fact of living in a small town. I do remember ordering lots of things by mail, and I looked forward to going to the post office every day. I sent away for a free Christmas card sales kit from the Cheerful Card Company in White Plains, New York, and started my first business at age 6. I would go around each neighborhood in town, banging on doors and taking orders. I would mail in my orders and receive the products back in about ten days. Then I would make another round of the neighborhoods and deliever the cards to people. I made my Christmas present money for the next 10 years that way. I still remember our mailing address: Box 416, Estes Park, Colo. (Four character state abbreviation and no ZIP code.) Our phone number was 204, which you gave the operator when she said, “What number, please?”

    Now in Phoenix, 60 years later, few people know who their neighbors are and things go a little faster. I can order something online and have it delivered overnight to my PO box. The post office even sends me an email letting me know the delivery was made. Although almost all my mail is by email now, I still enjoy going to the post office to get packages. Even UPS will deliver packages to my PO Box. I never have them deliver to my street address because if I’m not home, they leave it at my doorstep, and in my neighborhood that means the package would quickly disappear. Yeah, times have changed in 60 years.

    1. Tyger – since Amazon has a warehouse in the West Valley, they offer a 2-hour delivery service.

  12. Most errors of any nature are usually blamed on computers and it’s a terrible thing. Computer’s don’t need this type of malicious criticism. Maybe you’ve been placed on the “no fly list” and they just didn’t want to tell you.

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