Business

Federal Way Mail Center closes

Days before Christmas, the Federal Way Mail Center called it quits, causing mild panic among some customers who were eagerly awaiting mail.

The mail center, located at 1414 S. 324th St. Suite B-209, went out of business Dec. 16. Its somewhat sudden closure spurred alarm and at least one police report about missing mail. But owner Dan Minga said customers were notified that the business would soon be closing, and no major disruptions in mail service are expected.

The Federal Way Mail Center has been a fixture in the community for several years. It offered packaging, shipping, copying, printing and mailbox services. The Mingas operated the store from the rented office space for two years, he said. The business was in operation, under different ownership, for four additional years, he said. But expenses added up and, paired with the slumping economy, the mail center could not make it.

"The economy claimed another victim," Minga said.

Notifications were given to all customers Dec. 1, he said. Flyers were placed in each mail box. They made customers aware that the store would remain open until Dec. 15, then close its doors permanently, Minga said. Customers were also told to promptly and personally contact individuals and businesses they received mail from, then put in a change of address, Minga said.

On Dec. 16, mail services ceased. The business was locked up and a sign was posted on the glass storefront, notifying customers of the closure. Prior to closure, the lobby area was open at all hours, allowing customers to pick up and drop off mail. But when the business closed, hundreds of mailboxes were taken out. Per federal law, the mail center cannot continue to accept mail, Minga said. The boxes were removed to make sure no mail was dropped off after the business closed, he said.

The week following the closure, several former customers streamed into neighboring businesses inquiring about the vacant mail center. Others, hoping to ship last-minute gifts and other mail, walked away from the storefront disappointed. At least one angry customer took his complaint to the police.

Former longtime customer Arnold Kilgore filed a police report regarding the situation. Kilgore was upset because he did not have access to his mail. He was told the center would be open until Dec. 19, he said. The Mingas had hoped to keep their business open until 4 p.m. Dec. 19, but the leasing agent would not allow it, Minga said. Kilgore said he was expecting license plates to soon arrive at his mailbox and figured, due to the removal of the rows of boxes, that the Mingas had possession of his mail and were committing a federal offense.

"This is totally wrong," Kilgore said.

All the mail in the boxes at the time of closure has already or will soon be returned to the postal service and subsequently the sender, Minga said. The exception is mail belonging to customers who were aware of the closure and left a forwarding address, he said. Customers who have not left a forwarding address must now change their address with the U.S. Postal Service.

The mail center was a subsidiary of the post office, and mail was sent to the business's street address with an attached box number, as opposed to a P.O. box. A U.S. Postal Service change of address form does not work because of this, Minga said. However, Minga said some customers have reported successfully changing their address online at the postal service's Web site, www.usps.com. The postal service could not be contacted to confirm this.

For customers who have not left a forwarding address, instructions for how to reach the Mingas and issue a change of address will be posted on the mail center's door, Minga said.

Learn more

According to United States Code Title 18, Section 1702:

"Whoever takes any letter, postal card, or package out of any post office or any authorized depository for mail matter, or from any letter or mail carrier, or which has been in any post office or authorized depository, or in the custody of any letter or mail carrier, before it has been delivered to the person to whom it was directed, with design to obstruct the correspondence, or to pry into the business or secrets of another, or opens, secretes, embezzles, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both."

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