Post Office Issues All Points Bulletin

Bins come with serious warning label threatening fines and jail time.

By Lori Preuitt
|  Wednesday, Nov 9, 2011  |  Updated 1:13 PM PDT
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Holding the USPS bins is on the honor system.

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The United States Postal Service wants its bins back, no questions asked.

What we are talking about here are those bins postal carriers use to delivery bulk mail to businesses.

Postal workers drop off mail in the bins with the "plan" to recollect them the following business day. The trouble is that often does not happen. Instead, the bins become boxes for storage or worse just get stacked up in a delivery area and forgotten.

A quick perusal around the NBC Bay Area newsroom found at least two bins that are no longer being used for mail products.

This might not seem like a real problem, but USPS says it adds up to millions of dollars a year. The postal service says it spent nearly $50 million in 2010 replacing equipment that went missing.

Each bin has a clear warning label that reads “Maximum penalty for theft or misuse of postal property $1,000 fine and 3 years imprisonment.”

That label, although serious in verbiage, hasn't seemed to deter folks from stockpiling them. The post office says they are more "popular than Tupperware."

The amnesty dates are Nov. 12 through the 26. Bins can be dropped off any post office or mail box.

The busiest mailing time of the year is fast approaching, and the USPS says hoarded storage containers are catching the post office short of equipment. 

There also is a recovery hotline that can be used to report the misuse of equipment.  It's 866.330.3404.

The post office is in the middle of a huge budget deficit. It faces massive cuts to service. Proposals under consideration include possibly closing 250 facilities, reducing mail processing equipment by as much as 50 percent, dramatically decreasing the nationwide transportation network, adjusting the workforce size by as many as 35,000 positions, and revising service standards for First-Class Mail.

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