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At least 160 free P.O. boxes locked without notice, told to pay: Hamilton City residents

People in Hamilton City are outraged saying the post office locked their P.O. boxes - keeping them from getting their mail.

Posted: Oct 24, 2020 11:44 AM
Updated: Oct 26, 2020 10:23 AM

HAMILTON CITY, Calif. - People in Hamilton City are outraged saying the post office locked their P.O. boxes - keeping them from getting their mail.

One of those outraged residents is Hilary Crosby, she has lived in the Glenn County town for nearly 20 years.

Crosby tells Action News Now, "A few weeks ago, I think it was October 2nd we [her and her husband] went to go check our local post office and our box was locked."

And she isn't alone in that statement. Five other residents that Action News Now spoke with said "they [the post office] locked it and gave it to someone else," or "they didn't tell us anything!"

"The timing just didn't seem right," Crosby said, pointing out that it happened weeks before an election.

And if you look around Hamilton City you won't see many mailboxes.

"We don't get mail delivered to our home." And to help with that problem a post office form shown to Action News Now guarantees people a free P.O. box as long as they can present "two forms of ID."

"Managed to do it for 17 years but this year it was a problem."

A problem because Crosby says employees told her they never received her proof of ID. That's when she says they locked her out.

Crosby says she was told to 50 bucks for the same form she turned in earlier this year.

"I asked for proof that I had received and they said it's their word against mine."

Some say they didn't get a notice at all.

"We got those [notices] every March and April usually. Nothing came in our mailbox," said Jr. Payne, a longtime resident of Hamilton City.

"I turned in the proof of residency form. They don't give me any proof any acknowledgment that they received it," said Jesus Campos, another Hamilton City resident having issues with the post office.

Action News Now took everyone's concerns straight to the postmaster. 

After several calls and emails - they got back to Action News Now.

Below is a statement made by Eva Jackson, Strategic Communications Specialist for the United States Post Office based out of San Diego:

"Hamilton City Post Office has been complying with Postal regulations that require the closure of a Post Office box if proof of residency and a valid photo id is not presented.

The request for proof of residency and valid photo identification is a yearly regulation.

Notices are sent to customer on the first of the month and a reminder is sent mid-month. For example, if proof of residency is due in March, you will receive a notice on February 1st and then again in mid-February. The customer would then have until March 10 to provide the requested information or the lock would be changed on March 11.

Due to COVID the locks were on back order. When the locks were finally received, the Post Office Boxes that had been previously notified but no action was taken were closed and locks replaced.

The Hamilton City Post Office will open the Post Offices boxes that were closed and give the customers until November 15 to update their information. Customers whose locks have already been changed will be required to pay a $50 lock change fee.

A letter will be posted this Friday.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused and we would like to work with our customers to get their information up-to-date and reopen their Post Office boxes."

"I just don't know to handle this. I don't feel it's right. I feel like it's a money grab from the post office as well as voter suppression," Crosby said. 

Crosby says she heard that at least 160 P.O. boxes were locked, some of the interviewees did end up paying the $50 and some were told that they will receive a partial refund. 

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