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If you ever have the urge to go dumpster diving for coupons, Brandy Henderson has just the place for you. The Ferguson, Missouri resident says the trash bin at her apartment complex is full of coupon inserts and sales circulars – not because her neighbors are tossing them out, but because her mail carrier apparently hasn’t felt like delivering them. For years.

Henderson’s tale became the talk of the town this week, after she shared her discovery with a local TV news station. For years, she told KMOV-TV, she’s seen postal trucks pull up to the dumpsters and toss something inside.

This past Tuesday, her curiosity finally got the better of her, so she peeked inside.

“I noticed the whole bottom half of the trash bin over there was coated with the circulars that we get in the mail,” she said.

Images from inside the dumpster show tied bundles of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s “Local Values” mailer that contains local store circulars and coupons, the monthly Ferguson Times community newspaper, and stacks of RetailMeNot Everyday coupon inserts. All of them appear to be unused, untouched – and undelivered.

Henderson quickly put two and two together, realizing that “we haven’t gotten coupons in years.” And now she knows why.

The U.S. Postal Service is disputing the story and Henderson’s version of events. In a statement to KMOV, it appeared to point the finger at those in charge of the apartment complex. “Upon investigating the incident alleged we determined at no time has a postal employee discarded mail at that address,” the Postal Service said. “We are working with the apartment complex’s management to ensure residents receive all mail intended for their addresses.”

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The Local Values flyer and the Ferguson Times are mailed publications, sent via the U.S. Postal Service. So it’s not clear if the Postal Service is suggesting that it’s only their responsibility to drop off the bundles of mailers and coupon inserts, and it’s the apartment managers’ responsibility to see that they’re distributed to each resident – thereby suggesting that the apartment managers are the ones responsible for tossing everything into the dumpster instead.

It’s not far-fetched to think, as Henderson does, that postal workers may be at fault. Because this would hardly be the first case of a postal employee taking it upon themselves to junk people’s junk mail.

One of the most notorious cases occurred a decade ago, in North Carolina. From time to time, you hear about postal workers stealing items from the mail, or failing to deliver bags of letters, cards, bills, checks and other important items. But mail carrier Steven Padgett of Apex, North Carolina didn’t steal from his route or withhold important mail – he just didn’t deliver the “junk”. For about nine years.

Padgett was arrested in 2008 after postal inspectors, acting on a tip, searched his home and found tens of thousands of pieces of third-class mail – flyers, ads and coupon inserts – some of them dating back to 1999. There were bins full of mailers in his garage, stacked to the ceiling, and even some buried in his back yard. It took three-quarters of a tractor trailer for authorities to haul the entire stash away.

Some observers actually hailed him as a hero for protecting residents from the scourge of unwanted junk mail. And it is perhaps noteworthy that the Postal Service said it never once got any complaints from residents wondering why they weren’t receiving any coupons and circulars. But federal prosecutors said it was still a serious matter for a number of reasons, not the least of which was that businesses pay to have their “junk mail” delivered, so Padgett’s actions were costing them money.

He could have been imprisoned for up to five years, but ended up getting three years of probation, 500 hours of community service and a $3,000 fine.

As for the Ferguson case, if a dumpster full of coupons is somehow too tempting for you to resist, you’d better act fast. With the publicity this case has gotten, and residents on alert as to what’s happening with their mail, it’s a good bet their dumpster won’t be filled with coupons and circulars anymore – unless they choose to put them there themselves.

Image source: KMOV-TV

2 Comments

  1. Really makes me sick. Plenty of people want the coupons/circulars/flyers and they were going directly into a landfill, uggh. Kinda like when I see driveways in my neighborhood in which they’ve been delivered, but for no apparent reason mine gets skipped. Sure, some people deposit them directly into the trash. But there’s a valid reason some business paid good money to have it put out there – it makes them money.

    • CMoore, You are right.. but some people want to be frugal without job or retirement. That’s depend on induvial !! Like me. I am use coupons for over ten years. I keep manage save money.. but now COVID is bad and getting worsen. I had to manage money stuff to keep save money while my husband and I have hard time to management due cutting unemployment and discriminations that we are deaf . The reason why I am use coupon.

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