In James M. Cain's world the postman (or woman) may have always rang twice, but starting in 2012 that red-jacketed icon will not be required to come any closer to a Danish doorbell than the letterbox at the end of the drive.
As part of the new postal law going into effect on New Year's Day all homes will be required to have a letterbox on the public street nearest the home's property line. The change only affects homes built before 1973. Homes built after that date were already required to comply with a similar regulation.
Failure to have a letterbox on the street by January 1,2012 could result in fines, suspension of mail delivery, police visits and, finally, a day in court.
Post Danmark said it has no desire to stop delivering a customer's mail, and that returning undelivered mail was an expense it would rather not incur. It said that any decision to prosecute those not in compliance will ultimately be left up to Trafikstyrelsen, which provides oversight of Post Danmark.
The postal service added that its carriers, who are reportedly happy with the change, will be acting as scouts to see who is and who is not on board.
Post Denmark estimates that some 775,000 households across the country are affected by the new regulations, and it has spent much of 2011 informing customers of the change. Information about the regulations is available on a special website created by the postal service, which shows homeowners where to properly locate a new letterbox. The interactive site features a number of common Danish home-styles – detached, row house, town house, duplex – and shows where the letterbox should be located for each.
Some homeowners have chosen to set up less traditional letterboxes
With less than two months remaining before the new law goes into effect, some customers are reporting that there is a shortage in the number and types of letterboxes available for purchase.
A display at Føtex in Hillerød held only four lonely letterboxes on a pallet intended to hold many more. Included in the four remaining were three examples of a large model selling for 899 kroner. The last letterbox was a smaller model priced at 499 kroner.
Product manager Jimmy Busk declined to say exactly how many letterboxes his store has sold over the past year, saying only it has been “a lot”.
He admitted that his supply was a bit thin at the moment, but said he hoped more letterboxes were on the way. He anticipates a rush during the run up to the New Year as those that have waited until the last minute scramble to comply with the new law.
A large sign hanging on the Harald Nyborg store in Hillerød advertises a decent-sized galvanized letterbox for 199 kroner along with a stand to mount it on for 329 kroner.
An employee, who declined to give his name, said that the store was sold out of that particular model and that it had been for quite some time.
He said demand was high and that he “was sure” that more of the advertised letterboxes were on the way. A trip inside the store revealed that several other models are in stock, ranging in price from 399 kroner to over 1500 kroner.
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Related link: Post Danmark's new letterbox regulations (In Danish only)