Senior Voice -

By Lawrence D. Weiss
For Senior Voice 

Stay home, the Post Office will come to you

 

August 1, 2020



The Post Office has been a fundamental United States institution since 1775. In my opinion it is vastly underappreciated. Most people do not know the scope of what it does for us – especially while we are hunkered down at home seeking safety from the pandemic. Here’s a summary of some useful Post Office services.

Informed Delivery. Despite the big-brotherish name of this service, it can be a huge convenience, even a personal safety factor in your life. Do you sometimes think, “Gosh, is there anything really worthwhile in my mail box or PO box to justify a trip to check on it?” Now you can check your email most days of the week and find scanned black and white images of your mail before you decide to physically go to the box. You can also use this service to manage packages. The service is free. To sign up, follow the internet tubes to informeddelivery.usps.com.

Postal Store. Here is something you never knew you wanted: a “Salmon Mailbag Tote” which is “hand made from retired mailbags.” Who wouldn’t want one? You can also buy online a bewildering array of stamps, cards, gifts, office supplies, shipping boxes and tons of other cool stuff. Amazingly, a lot of it is free, such as certain shipping boxes and colorful shipping labels. Peruse the goodies and make your purchases at https://store.usps.com.

Click-N-Ship. No more waiting in lines at the Post Office to buy postage for your packages. Pay for postage online, then print the label out on your home printer. This service works for:

Priority Mail Express

Priority Mail

USPS Retail Ground (Military sender address)

Global Express Guaranteed

Priority Mail Express International

Priority Mail International

To get started, create a new USPS.com account if you do not already have one. Select “Click-N-Ship” from the “Mail & Ship” tabs on the USPS.com homepage. After signing into your account, you will be able to print and pay for shipping labels, schedule a pickup, and use other Click-N-Ship services.

Package Pickup Service. Really don’t want to lug your stamped, ready-to-mail boxes and envelopes to the post office? You don’t have to. The nice people at the Post Office will come to your home and pick them up for you at no charge. You can schedule a pickup for the next delivery day or a designated day of your choice for eligible mail, which includes: Priority Mail Express items, Priority Mail items, First-Class Package Service-Commercial items, and international or returns items. There is no additional charge for Package Pickup when your mail is picked up as part of your letter carrier’s route. To check on availability and schedule a pickup, visit Package Pickup at http://www.usps.com/pickup.

Hardship Mail Delivery. Skip the trip to the mail box and get your mail hand-carried directly to your door if you have “an illness or handicap which would present a physical challenge for an individual to retrieve mail.” First, get a doctor’s statement that indicates you are unable to collect your mail from a curb or centralized mailbox. Then attach the doctor’s note to a letter you mail to the post office requesting “hardship mail delivery.” Send it to: POSTMASTER; UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE; YOUR CITY, STATE AND ZIP CODE.

Carrier Alert Program. Your friendly neighborhood Post Office mail carrier just might save your life one day. No kidding! A decal is placed in your mailbox. Carriers will then be alert to an accumulation of mail that might indicate an accident or illness, and notify appropriate officials. Contact your local Post Office to see if this program is active in your neighborhood. Find contact information online at tools.usps.com/find-location.htm.

Free Matter for the Blind or Handicapped. This is a heck of a deal. Blind or other persons who cannot read or use conventionally-printed materials due to a physical handicap have limited use of free United States mail. Moreover, these free mailing privileges apply to both domestic and international mail. However, there are a lot of caveats. For example, letters sent by blind or other visually impaired persons must be in Braille, in 14-point or larger type, or in the form of sound recordings (Domestic only). You can also send stuff at no charge like Braille writing equipment, typewriters and educational or other materials or devices used for writing by a blind person. Get the whole story online at: faq.usps.com/s/article/How-do-I-use-the-Free-Matter-for-the-Blind-Service-to-send-an-International-Package?

General Post Office information by phone. 1-800-ASK-USPS® (1-800-275-8777). Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. ET, Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET. Note the four-hour time difference. Make sure your favorite book is nearby. You may be on hold for a while, and there’s a reason why …

The Post Office has been under attack for decades. Some special interests want to defund and weaken it so it can be privatized. Sound like a bad idea? You can help. Find out more at: http://www.savethepostoffice.com or http://www.apwu.org/savepostoffice. This venerable institution has served us well for 245 years. You can help preserve and improve it.

Author Bio

Lawrence D. Weiss is a UAA Professor of Public Health, Emeritus, creator of the UAA Master of Public Health program, and author of several books and numerous articles.

 
 

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