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Cluster mail boxes annoy customers

PLEASANT GROVE -- New homeowners in the Pleasant Grove area are dismayed to find that while their mail is delivered in the rain, sleet and snow, it won't be delivered directly to their homes.

The unhappy customers are among the first to come up against new postal regulations that limit service to new households to clustered mailbox units known as MBUs.Several told Pleasant Grove Postmaster Tim Fisher Tuesday at the City Council meeting they think customer satisfaction is coming in behind saving dollars and time for the carriers.

"I just think it's wrong," said Joe Ballard. "We have these 15 little houses among 200 who are getting curbside delivery. We bought a home expecting we'd get curbside. Customer satisfaction is being thrown away."

"I just paid $200,000 for a home and now I have to walk two blocks to get my mail," said resident James Harrison. "I don't see why we're being singled out for this. I think we ought to compromise with divided boxes on single poles. We're losing value in our homes with this."

"The problem is, this was the policy, then it wasn't, now it is again," said another neighbor.

"Some of us are here in the subdivision with neighbors who have standing mailboxes," said another. "It doesn't seem fair."

Fisher said he realizes people are going to resist the changes but at the same time, he said the postal service must continue to provide a service that does not lose money or make a profit.

He said the cost of door delivery is twice what delivery is to centralized boxes. Curb delivery is $40 more a year than to the clusters.

Mail box units pay for themselves in about a year's time, he said.

He said mail carriers are no longer being asked to drive into new cul-de-sacs either because it is simply more dangerous. Mailbox units are instead located at the entrances.

"We're trying to give you the best, least expensive and safest service. There is such a growth pattern now (in Pleasant Grove) that we must address it. Unfortunately we have to start somewhere."

Fisher said the "new" policies were actually adopted by the postal service in 1997 and are being put into place across the United States.

"This is a little picture of the bigger picture," said Ballard, "which people aren't going to like."

"The bigger picture is everyone in the United States will have this issue," said Mayor Ed Sanderson.

Sanderson said the council actually approved an ordinance recently requiring new subdivisions to combine their boxes based on a notice from the postal service that the new policies were going into effect.

"People aren't going to accept this," said Ballard. "You're going to hear from more and more."

The council also looked at and approved allowing mail carriers to drive up onto rolled curbs to access standing mailboxes at existing addresses.

"It won't be a negative," Sanderson said, "It won't help us with these problems but it will help a little with others."

Only 15 percent of the city has the rolled curbs and Fisher said he would check out each area where driving onto the sidewalk seems justified.

"I don't want my carriers driving down a sidewalk," he said. "If there were any question of safety, I won't do it."