By law, only you and the U.S. Postal Service are allowed to put things in your mailbox. But what if companies like FedEx and UPS could do it too?
That could happen under a recommendation by the Trump administration.
A White House task force said in December that USPS should "explore franchising the mailbox as a means of generating revenue."
The Postal Service could use the cash.
It's been losing money for years, including a $3.9 billion loss in fiscal 2018. It's no surprise. People are mailing fewer letters — first-class volume dropped by 2.1 billion pieces last year. To help offset that drop, USPS raised stamp prices by 5 cents in January — its largest increase ever.
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And the Postal Service is still struggling to pay $5.5 billion each year in future retiree benefits.
By allowing access to private companies for a fee, the agency could earn cash without making changes to its current products, the task force says. The proposal did not name any specific companies, but it brings firms like FedEx and the United Parcel Service to mind.
Those companies currently leave small packages on your doorstep instead of your mailbox because USPS has a mailbox monopoly — and has for decades.
In 1934, during the Great Depression, Congress enacted a law prohibiting anyone from putting their hands in mailboxes — except for the Postal Service and the customer to whom it was delivering the mail. The law — aimed at clamping down on people skimping on postage — has been in effect ever since.
The scope of the mailbox monopoly has been tested from time to time. The Supreme Court even heard a 1981 case about it and upheld its constitutionality.
If the Trump administration's recommendation is implemented, it "would be a new way of the Postal Service operating its exclusive control over everyone's mailboxes — no doubt about that," Postal Regulatory Commission Chairman Robert Taub says.
Taub, a Trump appointee who heads the independent agency that oversees the Postal Service, says the recommendation wouldn't have come about if the agency wasn't in such a dire financial state.