FAQ for USPS postal workers

"Today's merchandising methods, the plethora of mass mailings subsidized by low postal rates, and the growth of the sale of large mailing lists as an industry, in itself, have changed the mailman from a carrier of primarily private communications, as he was in a more leisurely day, and have made him an adjunct of the mass mailer who sends unsolicited and often unwanted mail into every home. It places no strain on the doctrine of judicial notice to observe that, whether measured by pieces or pounds, Everyman's mail today is made up overwhelmingly of material he did not seek from persons he does not know. And, all too often, it is matter he finds offensive."

The above quote is from an opinion that was written by the Supreme Court in a 1970 ruling in the case of Rowan vs US Postal services, which argued that the homeowner has the ultimate discretion in determining what materials he/she wishes to receive.

USPS carrier delivering mail


For our great heroes at the USPS: CCA/RCA, or a postal clerks

This FAQ was written for specifically for you, as we realize this may be new and confusing, but give us a chance, so please read on!

Your initial gut reaction might be that an addressee is responsible for their own mail, and can throw out whatever mail they don't wish themselves?

Your second reaction might be that the USPS would lose desperately needed income, as people refusing advertising mail could result in lower advertisement dollars being spent, hurting the USPS?

    Rest assure, there are truly benefits to be had in addressees refusing advertisement mail. In the end, the USPS could become a more equitable partner where all parties benefit: the addressee, the mailer, you the carrier, and lastly the USPS itself.

    It is our pledge to work with the USPS in making that happen. Please see the 'Our Vision' section.

      What is this sticker I have never seen before?

      Currently, there are two types of sticker available. With these the addressee informs you that they they do not wish to receive certain classes of mail:

      NoNo: Addressee requests that you do not deliver USPS marketing mail and do not deliver EDDM mailing pieces.

      NoYes: Addressee requests that you do not deliver USPS marketing mail, but do deliver EDDM mailing pieces.

      How does it work?

      The sticker is an initiative from NoNoNoYes to make the public aware of their rights following the 1970 Supreme Court case called 'Rowan v. Post Office Dept., 397 U.S. 728', and the USPS own Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) section 508.1 "Recipient Options". The DMM (here) states that:

      1.0 Recipient Options
       1.1 Basic Recipient Concerns
        1.1.1 Delivery to Addressee
      Addressees may control delivery of their mail. Without a contrary order, the mail is delivered as addressed. Mail addressed to several persons may be delivered to any one of them.

        1.1.2 Refusal at Delivery
      The addressee may refuse to accept a mailpiece when it is offered for delivery.

        1.1.3 Refusal After Delivery
      After delivery, an addressee may mark a mailpiece “Refused” and return it within a reasonable time, if the piece or any attachment is not opened. Mail that may not be refused and returned unopened under this provision may be returned to the sender only if it is enclosed in a new envelope or wrapper with a correct address and new postage. The following may not be refused and returned postage-free after delivery:

      •  Pieces sent as Registered Mail, insured, Certified Mail, collect on delivery (COD), and Adult Signature.
      •  Response mail to the addressee’s sales promotion, solicitation, announcement, or other advertisement that was not refused when offered to the addressee.

      But the USPS customer PAID to have this mail delivered?!

      Correct, customers of the USPS paid the USPS to deliver their mailings.

      As a carrier, it is your duty to deliver this mail. Any interference with delivering mail is considered mail tampering, and is punishable by law.

      However, an addressee also has been given the right to refuse any mail, as stated in the Domestic Mail Manual and the above mentioned Supreme Court case.

      By intending to deliver, you have fulfilled your obligation to the mailer (the USPS customer), even if the eventual addressee ends up refusing it.

      There are in fact massive synergies to be obtained which would benefit everyone. Think about how much lighter your satchel would be if you didn't even have to take mail you knew was going to be refused anyways?

      Am I legally obligated to honor the sticker?

      No you are not! There is currently no law on the books which says you have to obey the sticker. But you are violating the rules of the the DMM stating that addressees can control delivery of their mail.

      Furthermore, the addressee can place the refused mail back in the mailbox with the word 'REFUSED' written on it, and you do have to pick that up.

      So it becomes a question of not delivering ir the first place, versus having to pick it back up the next day. Are you really going to offend the addressee for exercising their right given by the USPS?

      In fact, not having to deliver these classes of mail might even shorten your route substantially in cases where an addressee has no other mail to be delivered that day. Keep in mind that 63% of ALL household mail is advertising mail. That's right, more than half of the items in your satchel are marketing mail pieces. Check out the Household Diary Study for more on this.

      Why is there not just a law in place for this?

      We would like nothing less! We are in fact pleading for a national Do-not-Mail registry which every mailer would be required to honor. We argue in fact that the USPS, by following it's own rules and regulations, is already empowered to institute a Do-not-Mail registry without a Governmental order to do so.