DEAR SUN SPOTS: It seems as if there is a change of policy by United Parcel Service and they no longer deliver door-to-door if you pay for a post office box. Now I live only one mile from the post office but am 76 years old.

Packages have been left at the post office and when I get home and need to carry them from the car, the big brown truck will pass me by to deliver to my neighbor.

I have talked with the postmaster and service representatives from UPS, and all they offer is that there is a contract signed with the vendor. I did not sign anything and pay the same package and handling as my neighbor, who get packages at their door.

There are many vendors who ship this way, but I feel I should have been notified and an adjustment made in the charges. As of now, I will no longer ship with these companies.

What I am wanting is more information and whom I can contact at the vendors in hopes of correcting this problem? Thank you. — Ann Driscoll, Greenwood

ANSWER: There are several different aspects to the problems you’ve been experiencing. The first involves ongoing changes in the shipping industry. As you have undoubtedly read in the newspaper, the U.S. Postal Service has been suffering billions of dollars in losses. In order to alleviate these losses, they have launched several cost-sharing arrangements with United Parcel Service and FedEx.

One deal they have is for the post office to complete deliveries begun by FedEx or UPS. Because the post office already goes everywhere, including very rural areas, delivering to those addresses does not add much to its costs and saves UPS and FedEx the hassle of going down back roads. When Sun Spots worked at a small rural post office, nearly every day either UPS or FedEx would drop off packages for her carriers to deliver the next day or for customers to pick up at the post office.

As for the “contract with the vendor” that you refer to in your letter, that is the shipping arrangement between the retailer where you make your purchase and the shipping company. Retailers have discovered that many customers are very sensitive to shipping costs. During the recent holiday shopping season, many of them (including and Walmart) offered free shipping to their customers. In order to do so, they seek the lowest possible shipping cost, which does not always result in the most convenient method for customers.

For example, Sun Spots orders pet supplies from a company that uses one of these joint-delivery plans from FedEx (FedEx handles the shipping until it reaches a post office handling facility in Massachusetts). The shipping is inexpensive ($5.99 or free if she spends more than $50); however, it is also extremely slow. There is an option to upgrade shipping, but the cost nearly triples.

Sun Spots has complained about this — noting that there are less expensive options using the USPS alone — to no avail. You may not get very far either, but you could ask your retailer if there is an option for delivery to your door. If not, the only option she can think of is to change to another retailer that sells the products you want and offers the shipping you prefer, as not all companies have changed to the new shipping options. But this may cost you more, too.

Sun Spots speculates that your neighbor who gets home delivery is either ordering from the retailers that still offer to-your-door delivery or is paying more for shipping.

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