I live in an apartment complex. Our mailboxes are in a big cluster with locks and keys. The locks and keys are all USPS property, and if one were to malfunction they take the responsibility of changing the lock and distributing a new key. We notified them two weeks ago of a malfunctioning lock and key (by malfunctioning, I mean the key would no longer go into the lock). The mailman advised us to "just spray some WD-40 in it," probably so he would not have to fill out any paperwork. The WD-40 did not work. It has now been a week since we officially reported the malfunction, bypassing the mailman. We may have a new lock but have received no key. I am a working citizen and cannot sit by the mailbox waiting for my mailman to hand deliver my mail directly to me. I now have a very time sensitive package that has probably been sitting in the mailbox since Tuesday or Wednesday (today is Friday).
I was curious if I could sue the US Postal Service for mail tampering since they are withholding my mail from me by not promptly ensuring that I receive my key to gain access to my mailbox. I would go to their office, but it closes at 4:30, when I get off work. I would go in on Saturday, but I am leaving town this afternoon. If I had known that this would have been such a mess I would have driven to pick up the package myself. I know there has been recent discussion over whether the USPS is a monopoly. This would be an interesting challenge to that. I want control over my own mailbox lock and key. I do not want them handling my mail ever again. However, that right to choose a mail provider has been removed.
Am I over the top, or do I stand a chance?
1 Answer from Attorneys
Sorry to hear about your mail troubles. Perhaps the maintenance person at your apartment complex can help you double check your key and lock and see if there is anything they can do to get your present key and lock working correctly again. Otherwise you'll probably need to continue doing what you're already doing to get a new lock and key. If your frustration level is too high, you may want to consider contracting with one of the many private mail receiving businesses in town. For less than a dollar a day they'll receive all your mail and packages and they are usually open later than the post office. They are also more responsive to their customer's complaints since they are not the only show in town like the Postal Service.