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Postal service 'holding our mail as ransom'

David Landes · 5 Aug 2008, 16:30

Published: 05 Aug 2008 16:30 GMT+02:00

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Ginny Rankin, a native of the island of Jersey off the coast of England, moved to Sweden last autumn with her Swedish husband after the couple purchased a horse farm near the village of Holmby in Skåne, about thirty minutes drive from Malmö.

The couple was happy with their new home, which hadn’t been lived in for about three years, but they soon realized that the property’s old leaky post box needed an upgrade.

“When the weather blows down here, it really blows, and during the winter our post was coming in soaking wet,” Rankin told The Local.

In the spring of this year, the pair invested in a new, weather-proof postbox, securing it in the ground with concrete where the old post box had stood, adjacent to the driveway leading to their farm, just off the gravel road shared by three other farms.

Mail continued to be delivered as usual, despite the fact that Rankin’s postbox was on the side of the road opposite those of her neighbours.

“Getting our post wasn’t an issue. The postbox was on our land and everything was fine,” said Rankin.

The postal route in place at the time required the postman to drive past Rankin’s farm before turning around and driving back to deliver mail to their neighbours.

The postman thus avoided having to get out of his vehicle to deliver Rankin’s mail by simply dropping it off in their new postboxes on his way down the road.

For months the new postbox didn’t seem to make any difference, other than better protecting the couple’s mail from the elements.

Earlier in the summer, however, Rankin and her husband received a notice from Posten that their mail would now be delivered from a different distribution centre.

The change meant that the postman would now only pass Rankin’s home in one direction and thus could no longer put her post in their postbox without getting out of his vehicle and crossing the road to do so.

Included in the notice from Posten was a warning that failure to move the postbox to the appropriate side of the road would force Posten to stop home delivery of Rankin’s mail.

“I didn’t think they were serious,” she said.

She explained that her husband contacted Posten to explain that relocating the post box wasn’t so simple.

Not only was it cemented into the ground, but moving it to the location requested by Posten would mean having the box on someone else’s property.

“Being English, I have a problem with trespassing on other people’s land to get my post,” said Rankin.

“I’m defending my principles. I think this is ridiculous.”

Rankin thought that her husband’s explanation would be sufficient to avoid any disruption in postal delivery.

But when nearly a week passed without any post, Rankin’s husband placed a call to the local post office, only to learn that Posten had indeed followed through on its threat.

Rankin couldn’t believe it.

“I asked, ‘Is this a joke?’ I think my husband was a little embarrassed by it.”

But it was no joke. If Rankin wanted to get her mail, she’d have to make the nearly 40-minute round trip to the postal distribution centre to pick it up.

Fed up with the situation, and Posten’s intransigence, Rankin turned to the local newspaper to publicize her story.

The day after the article ran in Skånska Dagbladet, Rankin’s mail suddenly appeared.

“I thought the issue had been resolved,” she said.

But just last week, Rankin received yet another notice that she and her husband had two weeks to move their postbox, or mail delivery would once again come to a halt.

“It’s almost like they’re the mafia holding our post as ransom,” she said.

“They’re basically saying, “conform with us or you don’t get your mail.’”

In the notice, Rankin also learned that Posten was placing additional demands on the location to which the postbox needed to be moved.

Rather than just across the street, the box would now need to be moved several hundred metres down the road to an area just beside two other postboxes belonging to Rankin’s neighbours.

Story continues below…

“I’m absolutely disgusted by the whole thing,” she said.

“All because a postman doesn’t want to get out of his car.”

Calls from The Local to Posten’s the distribution centre in Skåne responsible for handling Rankin’s mail were redirected to the press offices in Stockholm.

However, Annette Eriksson, a spokesperson with Posten, wasn’t able to comment on Rankin’s case.

“I’m just back from vacation, so I’m not up to speed on the matter,” she said.

What Rankin finds most frustrating, besides Posten’s failure to be at all “amicable” about the situation, is that her mail was delivered for seven months problem-free to a postbox located precisely where the current one sits, and that the postman continues to drive past the postbox – and deliver the mail.

She suspects that Posten has been so defensive in part because the company is probably not used to hearing complaints from their more conformist Swedish clientele.

“I’m guessing that most Swedes wouldn’t dare stand up and complain like this,” she said.

“Unfortunately, I’m not that kind of person.”

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

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