I am currently in dispute/complaint working against Lexus over recall notice that never got delivered to me. At the same mailing address, I have received a recall notice couple years ago without any troubles where I was able to get my car fixed with the recall service. This time, one of parts from my car started having issues and then when I did online research, I found out there has been a recall that I was never aware of. I reached out to Lexus and they have informed the time window has passed so they cannot do any complimentary replacement. While I started arguing that I never received any notice, the corporate service is counter-arguing that they have "record" of first class mail going out (perhaps via Pitney Bowes or similar services). Based on my knowledge, any first-class mail does not qualify as legal proof due to the fact that it does not include any tracking such as certified/registered mail. I am trying to bring up a point that by law, first-class mail does not prove the fact that they have delivered the notice. Can anyone let me know if there is any legal documentation that I can refer to? Any helps would be appreciated.

  • If you had the car serviced at a dealer between the time they say they sent the notice and the time the recall window closed, you might have better luck arguing that the dealer should have notified you and taken care of it while you were there. – Zach Lipton Oct 12 at 3:02
  • Thanks for the insights. Lexus confirms that they sent two notices: Jan 26th 2015 and July 24th 2015 then for other recall issue, I brought my car in on Sep 20th 2017 while the recall ended April 27th, 2018. Maybe I should be in better chance if I bring up this issue? – Steve Chong Oct 15 at 18:50

First-class mail is acceptable for many different kinds of delivery in legal contexts. It is often not sufficient for service of a summons or subpoena, as noted in the other answer.

But I don't think any of that is relevant, because you're dealing with a product recall, not legal service.

This is almost certainly a voluntary recall, as mandatory recalls are very rare. If that is the case, I don't know of any law that requires a notice to be made in any particular way whatsoever. Instead, the Consumer Products Safety Commission has broad guidelines (see page 18) for how a company may consider communicating the fact of a recall, and they include many mechanisms that are even less verifiable than first class-mail:

  • a joint news release from CPSC and the company ...
  • information on company external websites ...
  • a national news conference and/or television or radio announcements;
  • use of a firm’s social media presence to notify consumers of the recall, including Facebook, Google +, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, Pinterest, company blogger networks, and blog announcements ...

And so on. I don't have that much experience with consumer-protection law, but I'd be surprised if it imposed any obligation to send certified mail or anything more certain than first-class mail.

Separate from the recall requirements, though, it may be that a contract with a dealership or the warranty provides some other requirements.

Is there any legal standard that USPS first class mail doesn't qualify as legal proof of delivery?

See Firefighter's Institute v. City of St. Louis, 220 F.3d 898, 903 (2000):

Although this interpretation of Rule 45(b)(1) may allow service by other than personal delivery, it is not broad enough to include either fax or regular mail because the court cannot be assured that delivery has occurred.

(emphasis added).

Lexus's allegation as to its notice by first class mail might be refuted similarly. Lexus cannot prove that a recall notice was delivered to you.

  • 3
    Do the rules for serving subpoenas have any applicability to the rules for delivering a recall notice? – bdb484 Oct 11 at 22:37
  • @bdb484 Not sure, nor do I know the terms of OP's car warranty, nor whether the part is critical enough to warrant something more than regular mail. But I know that if/when actual delivery of notice (not just the mere act or allegation of sending it) needs to be proved, first class mail is not sufficient. That is what the OP asked ("I am trying to bring up a point that by law, first-class mail does not prove the fact that they have delivered the notice. Can anyone let me know if there is any legal documentation that I can refer to?"), and that is why I cited case law to that effect. – Iñaki Viggers Oct 12 at 9:54

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