Here's why a mailman refused to deliver to San Francisco family

SAN FRANCISCO, California -- Almost all of us have had some problems with postal services -- mail gets lost, stolen, delivered to the wrong address. But a San Francisco family stopped getting any mail at all and was stunned to find out why.

"It was a week before Christmas and my mail just stopped,'' Marsha Kelly said. "Nothing arrived. Nothing."

She went to the local post office to find out why.

"They wouldn't talk to me. They just said you have to talk to our supervisor,'' Kelly said. "They gave me two phone numbers, but every time I called, the phone would just ring and ring and no one answered, no ability to leave a message."

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Finally she spotted their mail carrier outside, delivering mail to everyone else in the neighborhood. But not her.

"I managed to run across the street and he kept moving,'' Kelly recalls. "I called after him and when I finally caught up with him, he said well, you'll have to call our supervisor."

She pressed for an explanation.

"I asked him why we weren't getting our mail and he said I'm not delivering to your house. So I said, 'why?' He said, 'it's because of your son,'" Kelly explained.

It turns out that the son had a run-in with the mail carrier -- more than once. It's all because the mailman was ringing the doorbell or knocking on the window when he was delivering a package or a letter requiring a signature.

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It was out of courtesy and to prevent package theft. However, ringing the bell set off their small dog, who would begin barking furiously. That, in turn, greatly disturbed Kelly's severely disabled husband.

"I kept asking (the mail carrier) nicely not to ring the doorbell,'' Kelly's son, Stan, said.

"He still kept ringing the bell. Or he'd tap on the window," he said.

Stan admits he lost his temper with the mail carrier one day. "I didn't say very nice things," he said.

After that, the mail stopped coming.

Marsha Kelly kept trying to find out what was happening to her mail. The post office still wouldn't talk to her; the supervisors still didn't answer their phones. Christmas cards and packages were somewhere in limbo.

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"Well I was totally helpless. I mean, there was nothing I could do and you're talking about a gargantuan entity which is the post office,'' she said. "I don't understand how they have the authority to just keep your mail and not tell you where it is," Marsha Kelly said.

She contacted 7 On Your Side. We contacted the U.S. Postal Service. Spokesperson Augustine Ruiz told us the mail carrier reported to a supervisor that he "felt unsafe" delivering to their home. Ruiz said "On more than one occasion, an adult male would come out and yell at the carrier and make derogatory remarks based on the carrier's ethnicity. There was nothing the carrier did to warrant such a verbal attack."

But can a carrier just decide to withhold your mail?

Ruiz said carriers may refuse to deliver mail to places they feel are unsafe or threatening, such as a home with a dangerous dog.

However, the Postal Service is supposed to leave a written notice to residents if they stop deliveries, telling them where to pick up their mail. That was not done in this case.

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After 7 On Your Side's inquiries, however, the post office resumed deliveries to the Kelly home, and brought all of their collected mail.

And yes, the same carrier is delivering to their home. He rarely rings the bell.

"7 on Your Side, it's fantastic,'' Marsha Kelly said. "Because I had no other recourse."

Click here for a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

Written and produced by Renee Koury
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