Disabled Knoxville woman disputes postal carrier over moving mailbox

Investigations

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A disabled Knoxville woman is having a dispute with her postal carrier, and it’s a battle of wills that has been going on since last summer.

For her safety, the carrier wants a mailbox moved from the front door to the curbside, but so far, the owner of the house has refused the request.

If you are on a walking route where the carrier comes to your door, over the last few years more and more people have been asked to move their box to the curb. But what if you say no, I’m not going to move the mailbox?

Deborah Davis enjoys living in her well-established older neighborhood. At 62, she is disabled and lives alone. Davis has a service dog who she says roams around in the fenced-in backyard. The mailbox at her home is at the front door.

But her postal carrier wants the mailbox moved to the curb, outside the front gate of the house.

“It says that I had to move my mailbox out to the street within 10 days, for the safety of the mail carrier. No reason was given as to what was causing a safety problem.”

Deborah Davis

Since the notice was delivered last summer, Davis says daily mail delivery has been sporadic.

“I get it once or twice a week. A lot of the time, it’s because I call up and raise cain.”

Davis

Davis says she’s often received bunches of letters, some of them were bills, doctor’s notices, or just general mail. But this particular bundle was stuck between the gate post and the gate.

In her neighborhood, other mailboxes have been moved to the curb. However, Davis neighbor who is also disabled, the mailbox on her home remains at the front door.

Davis says her gate is about 25 feet to her door step. In late January, two postal employees came to see the issue for themselves and apparently came up with a resolution.

That resolution was she would get her mail every day without having to sit there and have to go out and open the gate for her, but she hasn’t been getting her mail every day.

The postal service tells 6 On Your Side Deborah’s service dog was the issue, that the postal carrier perceived the animal as a threat whenever it was loose in the front yard. We were told the problem was not Davis’ disability, according to a postal service spokesperson. She plans to keep her dog out of the front yard.

Here is something we didn’t know, you can preview online the letter-sized mail or packages scheduled to arrive at your home before it’s delivered. It’s called informed delivery. You can sign up at this website: informeddelivery.usps.com. The post office says Davis’ mail is being delivered to her front door and she does not have to move the mailbox.

While this issue was not related to her disability, people with mobility problems can request delivery to an accessible mailbox. The Post Office calls it a “hardship mail deliver.”

Many new housing developments have what are called cluster mailboxes, where mail is delivered to a single point instead of house to house.

To change hardship deliveries, on the postal service’s website is PS Form 15-28. It is a request for an exception to the rule due to physical hardship, fill that out. Additionally, you will need a doctor to write a letter explaining how your disability makes access to a mailbox difficult.

And you will need to write a letter requesting why you oppose a change of delivery.

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