Postal Updates

USPS sends donations to dead letter office

Sep 22, 2022, 1 PM

By Bill McAllister, Washington Correspondent

Like many nonprofit associations, the Washington, D.C.-based Rail Passengers Association depends on the United States mail to raise funds for its operations.

But when Jim Mathews, the group’s president, met with postal officials June 7, he was stunned by what had happened to his latest mailing.

Postal clerks had sent the returns from the mailing to a dead letter facility in Atlanta, where the donations were either destroyed or returned to the senders.

That action has hobbled the organization, leaving it with an estimated loss of $160,000 in dues and donations.

“In other words, the money that our supporters sent us this year ... is sitting in a shredder bin instead of in our bank accounts doing the job our donors intended,” Mathews said in a recent letter appealing for replacement funds.

It’s not clear what happened to the first mailing and the preprinted postage-paid envelopes that the association had sent to its backers as early as December 2021.

When asked to comment, Kimberly Frum, a Postal Service spokeswoman, said, “We were in contact with the association and the matter has been resolved.”

Asked to explain, she declined.

“Unfortunately I’ve given you all the information I am able to provide,” she said.

Mathews has rejected the USPS statement that the dispute had been resolved.

“There is no settlement and certainly no reimbursement,” he told Linn’s in a Sept. 13 email.

“It would be nice if there was one, so that I don't have to go before my Board and propose expense cuts to balance the budget now that their incompetence has blown a $160,000 hole in my operating budget,” he said.

Mathews said the dispute arose after USPS officials claimed that the association had not paid for its business reply mail permit, a claim he said was wrong.

He also disputed a USPS statement that the agency had tried for months to reach the association. The Rail Passengers Association has no record of USPS contacting it about the mailings.

“My attitude to the USPS has definitely changed,” Mathews said.

“I have no choice but to continue to use the USPS because many of our members are of an age where email and websites are not an option,” he said.

“But we will take every possible step to minimize our interaction with USPS programs and managers.”

“We've dropped our nonprofit BRM [business reply mail] altogether. We're sending our supporters pre-printed envelopes with prominent spaces marked ‘PLACE STAMP HERE.’ ”

The Rail Passengers Association is also asking supporters wary of mailing another check to give online.

“Skip the Snail Mail,” it says on the website. “Help us overcome the challenges we face due to the Postal Service’s mistakes.”.

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