Mail Box Renters Fight USPS – Government Activity
Victoria Hall Smith
If you work from home, you may know that in the spring of 1999 the U.S. Postal Service decided to scrutinize small businesses who use private mailboxes at locations Like Mail Boxes Etc. and PostalAnnex+. The USPS issued a ruling that proved to be a slap in the face to small and home-based businesses who prefer to use private mail-boxes rather then their own street addresses to give the appearance of operating out of an office building. The ruling prevented anyone from using the word “suite” or the number sign in conjunction with the postal store’s street address (for example, #300, 25 Main St.). Instead, the USPS ruled that private mailbox holders use a “PMB” designation on their addresses that stands for Private Mail Box.
Criminal Activity According to the USPS, the ruling was passed because criminals use private mailboxes for illegal activity such as identity theft and credit card fraud. The designated stamp of “PMB” would prevent fraud by showing recipients of mail from such an address that its origin is neither residential nor commercial. However, small and home-based businesses took action and fought the USPS, refusing to be placed in the same category as criminals.
The Great Compromise After receiving over 21,000 Letters complaining about the ruling, many from home-based businesses, the USPS reopened public hearings in September 2000 before the House Small Business Committee’s Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform and Paperwork Reduction. The USPS passed an amendment deeming the PMB designation unnecessary. However, it did maintain that the number sign must be used in conjunction with mailbox rental addresses.
USPS on Trial The USPS has also come under fire from its mailing-service store competitors. The September 2000 hearings uncovered the fact that the USPS failed to produce evidence of mail fraud in direct relation to box rentals. Consequently, last November the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration in Washington, D.C., formally requested the Antitrust Division of the United States Justice Department investigate the USPS rulings. Stay tuned.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Freedom Technology Media Group
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