Edgartown resident Richard Brown recently received a plastic tab in his mailbox labeled “NON-PREFERENTIAL MAIL”. The tab was interspersed with his mail.
“Who are they to decide what’s preferential and what isn’t?” he asked during a telephone interview with The Times. Brown, who’s been an Edgartown postal customer for about 50 years, said he never before found such a tab in his mail.
The tab turns out not to be indicative of unusual or arbitrary mail classification, but a type of marker for normal mail sorting, according to U.S. Postal Service spokesman Steve Doherty. Doherty believes it found its way into Brown’s mailbox accidentally.
“Non-preferential mail is mail that isn’t First Class or time-sensitive (sometimes referred to as standard, business, or bulk mail),” he wrote in an email. “When it is first dropped at one of our processing facilities it is tagged, based on its arrival time and the processing cutoff time for that facility, with a color-coded card or tag. This insures that this type of mail is worked in the proper (first in, first out) sequence. Each day has a different color for quick identification.”
The robin’s-egg-blue tab Brown received indicated it was for marking mail received on a Friday for delivery by Monday.
“Those tags are for internal use and not intended for delivery, but this one may have fallen in with some walk-sequence mail at the plant, and the carrier didn’t notice it during the delivery,” Doherty wrote. He said “walk-sequence” refers to a presorted batch of mail for a given route or Post Office.
Brown said aside from receiving the postal tab, his other qualms with the Post Office include long waits to get to the counter and poor communication on package delivery. He said he particularly dislikes receiving a note for a package in his RFD (Rural Free Delivery) mailbox and finding out it hasn’t come to the Edgartown Post Office yet — that it’s hung up in Vineyard Haven.
“There’s a lot to be desired with their management,” he said.