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Mail carriers are paying for your mail

What happens when the sender didn't pay the full postage needed to send the package.

Just about everyone in Boise, the Treasure Valley, probably the entire country has received a package in the mail via the United States Postal Service. Some of us have received a small yellow envelope with our package displaying a "Balance Due the Carrier" asking you to enclose the amount due and leave it in your mailbox.

But the package is already delivered, so what do these envelopes mean and why should you pay?

Let's start with the first question: what do the envelopes mean?

The small yellow envelope signifies that the sender of the package didn't pay the full postage needed to send the package. The Boise Postmaster said this happens basically each and every day.

Rather than return the packages to the sender, the USPS delivers them and makes the recipient aware of the shortage, hence the envelope.

The USPS does this for a couple of reasons, one being that they strive to provide quality customer service, and the other, quite frankly, is because it's more efficient this way.

"Now we're handling this mail-piece four or five times when we could've just handled it once and gotten it delivered for a few extra cents," said Dan Collar, the USPS Boise Postmaster.

Those few extra cents come directly out of the pocket of the mail carrier delivering the package along with the envelope.

Sometimes the carriers get reimbursed, but only if the recipient of the underpaid package pays them back.

One carrier in the North End of Boise told KBOI 2News Reporter Jeff Platt that he feels like part of the community in which he delivers mail and wants to treat the people he feels are family as if they are family. In this case it means loaning them a dollar, most times even less.

While it may not seem like a lot of money in an isolated instance, the carrier said this happens to him a few times a week, which adds up, especially if people don't feel the need to pay the amount due.

The carrier said he's happy to do the favor, and for him it's all about customer service, but he wouldn't mind getting his money back too.

"So when you see something like that know that it came out of your carrier's pocket. It's out of your carrier's good will, because we want to give good service," said mail carrier Walter Ross.

The carriers don't need to put their money on the line, they have the option of making you pick up the package yourself at your local post office. You would pay the difference in shipping cost when picking up the parcel.

But Ross said that wouldn't be good customer service.

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