News about disappearing collection boxes is everywhere these days. Even BBC News ran a story on the decline of the blue collection box in the United States.

The Postal Service argues that picking up mail from collection boxes is expensive. Removing underused boxes is a cost savings move and a reasonable response to the economic crisis. The Postal Service is removing boxes with less than 25 stamped mail pieces per day.

Critics wonder if there is adequate analysis to support the 25-piece minimum and whether one reason for removing collection boxes — in addition to the minimal cost savings — is that the Postal Service does not want to be criticized for poor service. Fewer boxes mean fewer opportunities to miss a collection or to pick up mail too early.

Is the Postal Service thinking too narrowly and missing some of the value of collection boxes? The ubiquitous presence of the boxes is free advertising for the ailing agency. How much would a private sector company pay to be allowed to put a collection box anywhere it wanted to in the country? Millions? Billions?

What do you think? Is removing collection boxes a reasonable cost-cutting move or a strategic mistake that the Postal Service will later regret?

This topic is hosted by the OIG's Risk Analysis Research Center (RARC).

Comments (65)

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  • anon

    My parents are in their 80's and when the USPS removed ALL the collection boxes in their neighborhood, they were left with unpleasant options. The collection boxes that remained were along busy streets downtown and always blocked by parked. They have never paid a bill via the Internet until now. Rather than risk leaving their bill payments in the mailslot for the carrier to pickup, they have starting paying bills via the Internet for the first time. That represents the majority of their outgoing mail. This boneheaded move is more likely to accellerate the demise of First Class mail than cut significant costs.

    Nov 13, 2009
  • anon

    Change is inevitable, but this seems an all or nothing approach that has not been well considered. If we are looking to save government wastage, there are more lucrative savings and obvious places than in taking away the lines of communication of so many senior citizens in one fell swoop.

    Nov 14, 2009
  • anon

    Being a supervisor under a midget general in Georgia, his first objective was to remove all collection boxes in a city of 45,000 and only have one in front of two post office locations. He didn't want any missed and showing up on a report. He cared nothing about the customer complaints, only looking good on reports. What did they do with him? Why, transfer him to another office, of course!

    Nov 15, 2009
  • anon

    This has been an issue for years. Postal should look at where these boxes are in proximity to an actual Post Office. The goal is to cut costs...maybe they should think about at what cost, costing costs will be...

    Nov 17, 2009
  • anon

    So now that the OIG has seen all these comments------what are you going to do about it? Is this blog a smokescreen, or do you really care?

    Nov 19, 2009
  • anon

    <a href="" rel="nofollow">Postal Sanity</a> wonders if the right hand knows what the left hand is doing…… We got the following quote from <a href="" rel="nofollow">this article</a>. “Mail theft is a federal crime,” warned Renee Focht, a postal inspector and spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Inspectors, a crime-fighting unit of the U.S. Postal Service. She advises people to not leave mail — especially negotiable documents such as checks and money orders — in their mailboxes to be picked up by the postal carrier. “Postal collection boxes provide more security because they’re locked,” Focht said.

    Nov 23, 2009
  • anon

    I may be showing my age, but people of my vintage have much to worry about. We do not put checks in the mail for fear of identity theft, nor do we pay online due to fruad. Now that secure mailboxes are being eliminated, we must venture further afield and waste more time and resources. This was not a good idea for us.

    May 16, 2010
  • anon

    I would say this is another stupid move from the postal service. Come on.. how much cost they could save?

    Jun 04, 2010
  • anon

    All I want to know is what do they do with the drop boxes? I seriously would like to purchase an old one maybe from the 40's or 50's. Where can I get one? Does anyone know?

    Aug 29, 2010
  • anon

    you can give a box of rocks the best suggestions in the world but________ Get my drift??????????

    Aug 30, 2010
  • anon

    Whee! I'm not at home right now (I'm at uni), and I just tried to mail a letter, which apparently is SEVERELY frowned upon by the USPS, except of course either from home or from a post office (I'm on foot and the closest post office is a mile away). I foolishly thought "well, I have to go to the public library, and they'll have one out front." Nope. Silly me...

    Oct 13, 2010
  • anon

    What do you think all of the ole' blue boxes have morphed into???? You know, the one's where the paying customer did 25% of the work that the post office has to do when they don't drop mail in a box. A. High Speed rail track B. River barges? C. Electric Car Charging Stations (Just the Protective Steel Bollards adjacent to them) D. Ship Anchors E. Counterweight for a draw bridge. I simply find it hysterical that someone brings a single first class letter into the window so they'll assure themselves the letter is on it's way!!!! Talk about confidence in a delivery system!!!!!

    Oct 15, 2010
  • anon

    well it looks like they're trying to cut costs, the economy isn't that great.

    Jan 10, 2011
  • anon

    Do you seriously think that the USPS owes anyone an apology for removing the old blue collection boxes? You've got to be kidding. When mass numbers of people opted to use Email instead of the USPS, decisions had to be made. Wake up people. Times change and you made your choice.

    Dec 29, 2012
  • anon

    The removal of our local pickup box will be a huge impact on this area where there are disabled and elderly folks who can't otherwise use usps. Sure we can leave mail out for our local carrier. Except she gets here about 7pm and the box is collected sooner. Is she trying to show management how busy she is? And how hard would it be for the local delivery carrier to pick up the contents of the blue box? She drives right by it daily. Does it have to be a dedicated driver that just empties boxes? We live in a mobile home park. Shouldn't each removal be based on need, not just how often it is used in a 7 day period. I am very upset about the removal of our local box. I use it several times a month!

    Sep 30, 2013


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