EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

March 17, 2008

Postal Service: No material in or on mailboxes without stamps

ATKINSON — Carol Grant said she has been distributing fliers by rolling them up and wedging them between mailboxes and their flags for nearly 40 years. The U.S. Postal Service is advising her to stop doing it.

The state postal inspector made his way to town last week to stop a practice that has been happening for years, according to residents and officials.

Michael Blanchard met Wednesday with police, the local postmaster, and Carol and Ken Grant, whom police found putting fliers on mailboxes earlier this month. While the U.S. Postal Service will not prosecute, Blanchard said, he did give local officials letters explaining that the practice was illegal and should not be allowed.

"You can't put anything in or on a mailbox without postage," he said. "There's federal law to back it up."

According to the police log, the Grants were putting fliers on mailboxes on Maple Avenue on March 10. When pulled over, they denied doing so, and were sent to the local postmaster.

It's standard protocol to call in the postal inspector when there is a legal question, according to Todd Sculnik, communications coordinator for New Hampshire and Vermont post offices. He said the fliers were being hung on the mailboxes and didn't know how many had been distributed.

Carol Grant said she has distributed handouts for about 38 years and hasn't ever had a problem before. She checked with the last four postmasters and followed their rules, she said, but didn't get a chance this year to check with the new postmaster. She just followed the same rules — nothing in the mailbox or on the latch, she said.

According to the law, circulars and other mailable matter cannot be deposited in a letter box on any mail route without paying postage. The law was updated on March 8 — just days prior — to not allow anything on letter boxes either.

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