My beef with the US Postal Service.

Today I would like to address a significant cause of stress in my life. And It is called the United States Postal Service.

I will preface this rant by stating that I am a sane and rational person. As such, I recognize that the vast majority of USPS employees are decent, hard-working and law-abiding people. I have in fact befriended many lovely postal employees over the years, and have tremendous respect for the job that they do. It must be hard coping with ton after inescapable ton of mail, slogging through the Rain and snow, the sleet and unbearable heat, while having to wear those dorky postal uniforms and pith hats.

BUT since moving into our palatial West Philly estate 7+ years ago, my husband & I have endured what can only be described as the worst mail service this side of hell. Open mail. Mangled mail. No mail at all. Stolen? Lost? Who knows. AND DON’T BOTHER ASKING AT THE POST OFFICE B/C no one cares! While some folks get stacks of junk mail, circulars, loads of crap daily – we get other people’s mail or nothing at all. 4814 NEXT STREET, 4822 SOMEPLACE ELSE. it ALL WINDS UP HERE, B/c our postal carrier has difficulty distinguishing between our house and those surrounding it. In addition, we receive mountains of mail for former tenants, including school statements, retirement benefits, and other arguably important paperwork for one guy who – though obviously Very well educated, somehow missed the whole concept of a “change of address” form.

For the past 92 MONTHS (YES I HAVE CALCULATED) I have been dealing with this. Several years ago, we resorted to opening a PO Box at the central Philly post office hoping we’d finally improve our lot. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

Today is February 24th, as you know. WELL PAST Valentine’s Day, BUT – there is still one very special valentine I’ve yet to receive. Someone at the post office is banking on the fact that I did not know about this valentine, but they would be wrong. B/c it is from none other than my beloved parents. Said valentine contained not only a hand-chosen and doubt-less-ly beautiful card, but also 2 gift cards to Barnes & Noble for my husband & myself. I’m sure you can sense where this is going. When my father stuck the envelope into the post office mailbox on February 11th, he never suspected a thing. And why would he? Mailmen live by a code of honor, do they not? I don’t know why after all these years of INDESCRIBABLY PISS-POOR POSTAL SERVICE, this one event would leave me dry-heaving over all the others, but it does. Even more so than the $15,000 worth of loan checks that last year went -POOF! -into the postal ether. That one pretty much took the cake. But somehow, this is worse.

I have been considering how to address this. As my father scrambles with Barnes & Noble and American Express, trying to see what he can do on his end. I have been researching how to file a claim on mine. Unfortunately, since it was a simple card – without any insurance, there’s not much I can do. I can complain. But we all know that’s really not going to do anything, is it? I have my righteous indignation, but that only buoys one for so long. And it’s not like the USPS doesn’t warn against mail theft – b/c they do. They ever-so-kindly provide this handy list of anti-theft measures on their website, so that we all can guard against misfortune. Unfortunately, the list doesn’t warn you NOT TO PUT THE ENVELOPE IN THE MAIL SLOT B/C POSTAL WILLY’S UP TO NO GOOD. And that’s a shame, because it really really should.

15 thoughts on “My beef with the US Postal Service.

  1. It has been a block-wide problem for as long as (and probably longer than) we’ve lived here. We have complained at the local post office individually, we have written at least one letter as a unified group. Nada. I remember talking to one of my friends across the street about it several years ago – If I recall correctly, she was actually ridiculed one of the times she went in person to complain.

    Most of the neighbors have posted large signs beside their mail slots “Mail only for [INSERT NAME]. But it doesn’t seem to help. For a long time I used to collect mail for former residents and return it in bundles. I tired of that before long and would just write “return to sender” on each piece before sticking it back out the mail slot. But after 7 years, my policy is now Recycle Bin, baby. Tough luck.

    The irony is that the mail carriers on this block change so frequently – I don’t think we’d even know who to blame.

  2. That sounds as bad as the service in the Temple dorms! They stole EVERYTHING!!

    I had terrible service when I lived near the Art Museum. I called and called, and went to the post office (which was, at that time, so very sketchy, oh my goodness). I’m sure they still have problems there.

    Our service here is okay– we get misdelivered mail, or our mail is misdelivered. One thing that bugs me is that if my neighbor gets mail for us, she’ll just stick it somewhere on our porch. In plain view, and ready to blow with the wind. I guess she can’t be bothered with walking over to our door or our mailbox. We get mail from the last 5 tenants here, and nothing I write on the envelope helps. Stuff that seems like junk mail goes in the recycle bin.

    I think your p.o. is criminal. Something needs to be done!

  3. Sounds terrible! Luckily, my mailman’s only idiosyncrasy is to bring us mail for the people who lived here 8 years ago.

    Maybe you can put your mail “on hold” indefinitely at the post office (like a vacation hold) and pick it up at your convenience. A bit of a pain, but maybe it won’t get stolen or misdirected.

  4. Thanks guys, your support really does mean a lot. Even if it’s just YEAH YEAH! WE AGREE! IT SUCKS!! YOU ARE RIGHT!! I really needed that.

    Laura, maybe your neighbor feels awkward approaching your door to insert the mail. Maybe she’s paranoid and thinks you’d believe she’s skulking or up to no good. Otherwise, I cannot for the life of me figure out WHY SHE WOULDN’T JUST STICK IT THROUGH THE SLOT. Then again, I have caught a man urinating in our alley in broad daylight, so who’s to say what is normal? Life is interesting. 😉

    The idea of putting the mail on permanent hold never occurred to me – and might just work. IF it were held at another post office altogether. HAH! Somehow I don’t think they’re going to look favorably on anything out of the ordinary at my local. But you never know. It’s a clever concept, Curly.

    My dad called yesterday to inform me that B&N has canceled the cards – they have not been used yet. So perhaps the valentine has been sucked into some Land of the Lost type vortex – rather than having been stolen. I am not sure which is worse.. but perhaps it will just turn up one day. It’s happened before. I’ve had letters & packages fail to arrive at our PO Box and 6 months later VOILA! there they are, NO EXPLANATION OFFERED. The whole thing would be laughable, if it weren’t real life.

  5. “I have caught a man urinating in our alley in broad daylight, so who’s to say what is normal?”
    Hahahahaha, when we lived 2 blocks away, our old upstairs neighbor had some problems, and would sometimes vomit on our front steps (not his steps, our steps!) and yes, he too was caught urinating in our alley– by our next door neighbor and her toddler! She let him have it! It is amazing the difference in neighbors in just 2 blocks– these neighbors are gems!

  6. OF COURSE he puked on your stairs! Why soil his own? I am telling you Laura – you have truly inspired me. The next post I write will be about weird crap I’ve had to deal with living here in Philly.

    Thanks Curly babe!! Change is good.

  7. I know whatyour problem is…. Well the route you live on is too long, and it is hard to find carriers who are willing to stay. If you have a route that is to long the carriers are forced to do it in a short amount of time, meaning piss poor servive. The problem can be solved by shorting the route, but that is hard to do, because the Postal Service is placing a massive processing equipment on line in the near furture. These machine will sort the mail for the carrier. But the problem is it will contain mail of every peice address to your house reguardless of the last name.

  8. Hi Calvin – thanks so much for your comment. What you’ve said makes a whole lot of sense. When we first moved into our house we had an excellent carrier, but very shortly thereafter she told us they’d changed the routes and she would no longer be delivering to our block. We wrote a petition to the local Post Office asking to keep her, to no avail. Since then, service has been shaky at best, abysmal at worst. Fortunately, within the past month+, we seem to have a gotten a set carrier, and service has improved. I believe it’s the constant flux that really throws delivery off. Thanks again for the heads-up.

  9. I sympathize with you and it burns me up that you and so many others have been getting lousy service for so long. It is possible that your letter was never processed because of a number of different reasons and rerouted to the USPS’ Dead letter office. You can contact your local Post Office and a supervisor can send an email to the Dead Letter Office to see if it is there. Was there a return address on the Valentine’s Day envelope? It must not have been stolen because the gift cards were never used. I am glad to hear that your mail service has improved. Hopefully it will continue. Oh by the way, Calvin is not giving you accurate info. Carriers are not forced to do long routes in a short periods of time, but the rule is “8 hours work for 8 hours pay”, which can be as much as 100,000 per year. Calvin if your carrier had that much time to erroneously explain to you the inner workings of the USPS, this may explain why mail is being mis delivered or not delivered at all.

  10. Briablue –

    “Calvin if your carrier had that much time to erroneously explain to you the inner workings of the USPS, this may explain why mail is being mis delivered or not delivered at all.”


    Sorry, that was too funny. Thanks for all of the info. It’s good to know about the Dead Letter Office. Makes me wonder whether letters/pkgs can be resurrected.. There have been several instances where a letter or package has failed to turn up for months and then all of a sudden PRESTO! there it is. Thanks again for taking the time to write – I really appreciate it.

  11. I live in a small town in Arkansas, we have had MANY packages never arrive at our P.O. Box. In fact I found your blog because I was trying to find SOMEONE to complain too. As I write this it is January 8, 2009, my wife ordered me, and paid for faster delievery, two Christmas Presents that have yet to arrive. It is madding to think that someone has those presents and are dishonest enough not to give them to their rightful owner. Anyway, good to know we are not alone I guess. Thanks for letting ME vent!

  12. I did a search just out of curiosity to see if anyone else has service as horrible as mine.
    In just the past 3 weeks alone I have had my work check, my bank statement and all of my Netflix movies delivered to my neighbors and who knows what else. Luckily I live in a five apartment complex and it is usually delivered to one of the other apartments and my neighbors leave it at my door. I am always getting thier mail too.
    I am setting up direct deposit for my checks and telling my bank I’ll handle the account online and not to send statements,but I really don’t want to cancel my Netflix and I should’nt have to! Plus I write with several people and have had so many letters never get to me.
    But I have complained to them and of course they actually get pissed looking at me as if I have some nerve to have the desire to get my mail and to expect them to do thier jobs right.
    I am thinking of trying a PO box and seeing if it works here,even though you said it didn’t work for you I may try for a month and see if there is a difference.

  13. I have one for you. A Priority package was mailed to me (I’m in Houston, Texas) from Macon, Georgia, on the morning of 5 July. It arrived in Atlanta, Georgia that evening (makes sense), then it went to Toledo, Ohio, where it arrived the morning of 7 July (by the way the estimated USPS delivery date was 7 July). From there it went that evening to Romulus, Michigan, and has not been heard of since. Called USPS which, of course, would not acknowledge that this was unusual and told me that Priority mail can sometimes take five BUSINESS days to reach its destination. Five business days would be tomorrow and I rather doubt that it will even reach Texas, and even though Houston is the fourth largest city in the United States all our mail must first go through the facility at Dallas-Fort Worth. And God forbid that the USPS representative should admit an error on their part. I despair for our nation and our socalled postal service.

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