Happening Now

USPS Mishandling Forces RPA To Change Contributions Process

June 22, 2022

A message from the President and CEO:


In a meeting with the U.S. Postal Service staff responsible for your Association’s nonprofit permits and services last week, I learned that when our supporters mailed us contribution checks using our postage-paid envelopes, since December postal clerks have been sending those envelopes to the dead-letter processing center in Atlanta instead of to us here at RPA.

We have open and valid lockbox and nonprofit “indicia” permits for Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Washington, DC; nonetheless, an internal error at the USPS resulted in most of those checks being sent to Atlanta. The USPS reported that a handful of those checks were returned to their senders, with a notation that our mailbox no longer existed.

We can’t independently verify the figures, but the Postal Service believes that as many as 2,800 contributions may have been sent to Atlanta two weeks ago for destruction. We believe that as much as $160,000 of your contributions – the revenue we depend on to support our work on everything from food and beverage and late trains to rail funding and new routes and services – is either in the Atlanta shredder or scheduled to be destroyed.

This explains why our revenue in recent months has tracked so poorly with our budget and our projections: our loyal supporters have indeed been contributing, but the Postal Service has waylaid their contributions!

There is a single root cause of these problems, both the current issue and lockbox problems we have experienced in prior years: persistent and pervasive Postal Service mishandling of our nonprofit mailing permits.

As a result, I cannot trust the Postal Service any longer to correctly handle any pieces of mail that do not involve a simple first-class stamp. THEREFORE, WE HAVE DECIDED THAT, EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, WE WILL NO LONGER USE A NONPROFIT U.S.P.S. PERMIT TO SUPPLY SUPPORTERS WITH POSTAGE-PAID RETURN ENVELOPES.

I apologize to all of you, for whom it will now be a nuisance to remember to put a first-class stamp on your envelope with contributions to our work. I recognize the inconvenience, and I truly wish it could be handled in some other way. But clearly, with as much as $160,000 of our revenue now destined for the shredder in Atlanta, the best course of action is to make sure you can mail your check directly to our offices here at the Association for processing, or to encourage everyone to consider making donations online rather than via postal mail.

What does this mean for our supporters?

  1. If you already have a stash of postage-paid envelopes from Rail Passengers Association that you intend to use to send us a contribution or dues check, please discard them. Do not even put a stamp over the postage-paid marking in the upper-right corner; there are still codes on the envelope that could send your mail astray. Please discard those envelopes.

  2. If you are among the 2,800 supporters who have not yet seen your check processed or cashed, it is likely that your check will either be returned to you by the Postal Service or simply shredded at the Postal Service’s Atlanta facility.

  3. In the coming weeks, we will be sending a new mailing out to everyone whom we believe may have had their previous contribution affected by this Postal Service mishandling, asking them to examine their bank records and to send a replacement check or contribution.

  4. Any future contributions or member-dues mailings will require a first-class stamp on the return envelope.

If you do not want to wait for the new mailing or to send a replacement check, you can always contribute using our secure online donation system, you can do so by clicking here. It’s safe, secure, easy, quick...and completely free from the unreliability of the U.S. Postal Service.

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