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Letter Carrier Christmas Gifts
An Opinion from Rick Owens: Postal Employee Network CEO
November 18, 2007

Warning - If You Are a Letter Carrier USPS Will Try To Step on Your Christmas Cheer!

If you're a letter carrier, rural or city, USPS wants to ruin a small portion of your Christmas - at least that is our opinion. It is now that time of the year when USPS sends out newsletters, news releases, etc to postal customers - mostly business customers - warning them not to provide letter carriers with cash gifts or any gift exceeding $20.00 in value. What? you didn't know they did this? My oh my, learn something everyday.

During the Christmas season if you have been (what your customers consider) a great letter carrier then you will more than likely receive a gift from many of them. This practice is as old as the postal service itself. Why? Because people just like to reward good service....and, they want this good service to continue.

I believe USPS says carriers cannot accept gifts exceeding $20.00 in value or the gift must be under $20.00 in value. Now, on the flip side it is perfectly fine for postal executives to receive lunches, dinners, comps, etc etc in return for their service, presence, opinion, or assistance with postal matters - especially from large mailers. USPS will tell you that this is not the case - yeah, right.

Our opinion? Do not advise any customer regarding gifts for letter carriers - let them make that decision. There is absolutely no reason to advise postal customers that their gift should be under $20.00 in value or, for that matter, over $20.00 in value. The customer should make this decision...not you, not USPS, and certainly not the federal government.

Whether or not a letter carrier receives a gift or not is entirely the decision of the postal customer and, in our opinion, a private matter between the customer and the carrier. By the way, if you're a letter carrier and you receive a gift...keep that information between you and the customer. This was an act of kindness in return for your good service...it is not news to be shared with other customers or other carriers.


Carrier Thank You Cards!

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So, the little old lady that lives on the corner of Good and Evil left you a Christmas card with a $100.00 bill in it two days before Christmas. She did not do this because you deliver her mail. No, she did this because you ring her doorbell once everyday when you deliver her house, or when she is outside digging in her flower bed you're kind enough to make small talk for a minute or so to ask how she is doing, or if you don't see her for a day or two you take time to see if all is okay.

These are only a couple of reasons customers like to reward a carrier that has provided service above and beyond the service that USPS requires of them. Yes, good service should be rewarded.

In summary -

If you're a postal customer that cannot decide what to give your letter carrier for Christmas then just do what you feel is right. If your carrier has went above and beyond providing you with great service then by all means you may, if desired, go above and beyond the amount someone else, such as USPS, says you should give. Just keep it to yourself.

If you're a letter carrier then do this...

  • Do not advise customers on gift amounts and keep quite on quoting gift rules. That is not your job.
  • Do not share with others, especially USPS, how many or how much your gifts totaled - it is none of their business.
  • If you do not know the person who provides a gift to you then politely return it. You probably shouldn't be accepting it anyway.

Rick Owens
Postal Employee Network

Carrier Thank You Cards!

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