There might be a good reason you are not getting your mail

Blame it on postal protocol

JUPITER, Fla. - A small business owner has spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours trying to balance her checkbook and it's all because mail wasn't showing up in her mail box.

The Contact 5 Investigators discovered there's a postal procedure many people don't know anything about; one that could affect you.

It's a story that might make you want to check your mailbox every day.

Doctor April Romagnano loves to treat animals, especially birds. But she said a mail problem at her Jupiter animal clinic has almost killed her practice.

"It is paralyzing our small business," said Romagnano.

One year ago, April noticed she wasn't getting a lot of bills in the mail. She was getting calls from people she owed money to, asking why the clinic moved and why the bills were getting returned to the sender.

April discovered postal workers were putting yellow stickers on her mail and sending it back.

The labels stated the business had moved and left no forwarding address.

April said she had letters returned as recently as August.

It wasn't just a few bills, but a whole stack of them.

However the clinic is open for business; it has been every day for the past decade.

"This insinuates 100 percent that we are gone and out of business and unreachable, which is completely incorrect," said Romagnano.

April said bills have been sent to collectors, medicine hasn't arrived at the clinic, and her license certifications haven't showed up at the office. She has spent the past few months contacting dozens of vendors trying to catch up.

The Contact 5 Investigators traveled to the post office's district headquarters in Pembroke Pines to find out what happened. Turns out, it was a simple answer.

"The business hadn't been picking up its mail on a regular basis," said Postal Spokesperson Debra Fetterly.

Postal workers said the mail at the clinic was piling up.

"We were checking it maybe two times a week," said Romagnano.

It's rare, but the Contact 5 Investigators discovered if you don't pick up your mail for three days in a row, the mail carrier can take it back to the post office and hold it for ten days. If you don't show up to get it, they can return the mail to the sender. The mail belongs to the customer who sent it up until the time the receiver takes possession of it.

"Most folks don't know about that," said Fetterly.

April sure didn't. She still doesn't understand why they'd put a "moved" sticker on her mail when the letter carrier drives past her storefront every day.

"Why would he pick the mail up, carry it to his mail truck, carry it back to the post office, put the sticker on each envelope and throw it back in the return mail?" asked Romagnano.

Moved or not, it's postal protocol.

"Is there some type of better alternative that could be used?" asked Contact 5 Investigator Dan Krauth.

"Yes, the customer could pick up their mail," said Fetterly.

It's something Romagnano said they're doing more regularly. The Contact 5 Investigators sent the clinic a letter every day for a week; not one of them was returned.

Postal workers said the mail carrier did notify the business last summer that their mail was getting backed up.

The animal clinic now has many of their bills faxed and emailed to them just in case.


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