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Old 04-27-2012, 07:41 PM
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Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Not here. There.
Posts: 18,958
In a typical apartment mail setup, can I leave outgoing mail in my own box?

I live in a large, sprawling apartment complex which extends the entire length of the block and has two street addresses, according to which part of the complex you live in. There are four sets of locked incoming mailboxes, two at each end of the complex. The only "official" outgoing mail slot is at the other end.

Obviously, I don't mind walking a block to mail something, but I was curious about whether it's absolutely necessary to do so.

As our mailboxes are configured, the mail carrier has to turn a single lock for each bank of mailboxes, which can then be pulled down to a slight angle allowing one full access to each individual box. Is there any reason the mail carrier can't pick up my outgoing mail while the boxes are all unlocked? Is there a rule against it, or would they do it if I asked them?
Old 04-27-2012, 07:55 PM
Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 5,661
I doubt that the mail person will look at the mail in your box to determine that the mail there is outgoing mail or you haven't checked your mail since the last delivery.
Old 04-27-2012, 08:24 PM
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Suburbs of Chicagoland
Posts: 22,337
My USPS letter carrier husband says it's not a wise move - as you confirmed, the mailboxes are opened as a unit, tipping out from the wall, and the carrier may not even look down into each box to see if there's mail in it before adding more. (Depending on how the boxes are built, it may even be difficult to look down into them.) He suggests if you really want to try it, put a note on your mailbox saying something like "outgoing mail inside" and that should help.

Last edited by Ferret Herder; 04-27-2012 at 08:24 PM.
Old 04-27-2012, 08:42 PM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 2,042
I used to do it all the time (before I found out there was an outgoing mail slot in the otherwise identical multi-unit box across the street), it usually worked fine (sometimes the outgoing mail would sit for a day or so).

Last edited by zombywoof; 04-27-2012 at 08:43 PM.
Old 04-27-2012, 08:50 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Sweet Home Chicago
Posts: 33,500
Mail carriers have a lot of autonomy about such decisions, so it may be worth catching your carrier and asking his/her advice. He may have some idea for you, from asking your landlord to install another "outgoing" box on your end to devising a signal system the two of you understand.

Our own mail carrier suggested clipping outgoing envelopes to the flap of our mailbox with a large spring clamp. That way he sees it but it doesn't run the risk of blowing away. It works for him and for us, although I've asked him to let me know if he changes routes, since I won't assume it's okay for another carrier without asking first.
Old 04-27-2012, 09:10 PM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Posts: 16,869
Originally Posted by Spectre of Pithecanthropus View Post
Obviously, I don't mind walking a block to mail something, but I was curious about whether it's absolutely necessary to do so.
Are you sure they don't have a dropbox? Every apartment I've seen has a maildrop that the Post Office picks up.
Old 04-28-2012, 01:41 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 8,867
I have a much smaller set of boxes - 12 boxes for me and my neighbors (all single-family homes). We don't have an outgoing box, and our "signal" for outgoing mail is to place it in the box vertically/upright rather than horizontally/laying flat. Since the postman puts everything flat, he knows that anything placed vertically was put there by us.

On the other hand, he does miss it a couple times a year and I've taken to dropping mail off at the office where we have a dedicated outgoing slot.
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