By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor
Last 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
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