Many communities and subdivisions in and around Houston use cluster mailboxes.
The mailboxes with multiple mail slots make it easy for people to get their mail from one location. But when the boxes need repair or replacement mail, customers say they’re getting the runaround.
Those customers called KPRC 2 Investigates for help.
“Some of these boxes are almost unusable,” said David Miniter, Mills Branch HOA.
Rusted and busted - some of the cluster mailboxes throughout the Mills Branch community in Kingwood are ready for replacement.
“They’re leaking and they are ready to fall over. Some of the bases are rusted out and some of the tops, the rivets are popping in that you can pull the top off. And also, these are boxes that are 30 or more years old,” said Miniter.
Miniter said the board keeps track of aging mailboxes and pays the U.S. Postal Service to replace them when needed. They paid $5,400 in April and another $1,400 in May to replace five cluster boxes.
Months later, they called KPRC 2 Investigates when they still had nothing to show for it.
“The replacements have either fallen on deaf ears, then ignored, or otherwise have had excuses such as, ‘Oh, well, we came out and we didn’t have the proper equipment to remove them,’” said Miniter.
They are also worried about mail theft, due to the busted mailboxes.
When we asked the postal service about the delays, a spokesperson wrote in part, “New CBU boxes will be installed as soon as possible. In some cases, the timeframe for completion of repairs or replacements can depend on the current supply of new boxes.”
This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about issues with cluster mailboxes.
“We just needed somebody to help us reach the right people to get us the right answers to solve the problem,” said Cindy Kochan.
In one Stafford community where there is no HOA, there was confusion about who was supposed to pay for the mailboxes and how to order and install them.
We’ve heard similar complaints from a Katy neighborhood.
The post office said then and now:
“The customer or HOA is responsible for costs associated with the replacement, repair, and maintenance of cluster mailboxes.”
But in Kingwood, the issue isn’t who is paying for it, but why it’s taking so long.
“We want our mailboxes replaced that we have paid for,” said Miniter.
After we started making calls to the postal service back in August, they replaced three of the five Kingwood mailboxes. But Miniter says the work is sloppy like an ill-fitting bolt bent over to help secure the base of the mailbox.
Last week, we sent pictures to a USPS spokesperson and they responded to clarify an exact address. We will post a response from them when we get it.
We also asked the U.S. Postal Service what the average wait time is for mailbox replacement and if there is a shortage of cluster mailboxes. They said they had no further comment on that request.
Can you just decide to get a mailbox at your house and not use the cluster box? Here’s what USPS says about this and other common cluster mailbox questions.
First USPS Response:
The Postal Service strives to always provide the best possible service to our valued customers. We apologize for any inconvenience that may have been experienced due to the damaged Cluster Box Unit (CBU) in the Kingwood communities. In this instance, local postal officials are working with the HOA and have taken steps to address the situation. New CBU boxes will be installed as soon as possible. In some cases, the timeframe for completion of repairs or replacements can depend on the current supply of new boxes.
In addition, our guidelines for cluster boxes have not changed. Postal guidelines indicate that the customer or HOA is historically responsible for costs associated with the repair, maintenance, or replacement of CBU mailboxes. We appreciate our customers’ patience as we work to successfully resolve this situation. Customers are reminded that, if they need assistance with mailing or shipping concerns, there are a variety of options for reaching us, including contacting their local Post Office, calling 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777), or visiting our website at www.usps.com/help.
Who can I call if I have an issue with cluster mailbox?
If your community’s cluster mailbox is broken or missing and you need a new one, you can call (713) 226-3608 or email HoustonGrowthManagement@usps.gov.
You can buy a cluster mailbox directly from the USPS or order one from a USPS-approved manufacturer here https://about.usps.com/postal-bulletin/2007/html/pb22206/mailboxkit.4.16.html.