The USPS Has A Problem

I know the United States Postal Service is struggling, but one would think they would be trying to not piss off their customers, something that certainly isn't going to help their situation.

In the past, the phrase “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night shall keep this courier from his rounds,” meant something, tied in with the Post Office's mission to get the mail through no matter what. But it appears that motto no longer applies, as a resident of a neighboring town has found out the hard way.

I received a note from my carrier that there was a bee's nest near the box. The budding nest was removed and sprayed for within minutes of that day's mail. It resulted in over two weeks of suspended delivery.

Our mail carrier once told me that we weren't receiving mail because she, "couldn't turn around in our driveway." We live at the end of our street. I watch her turn around in our neighbor's driveway every day. When asked about the nonsensical nature of her response, she gave no explanation and left. For the record, I also joyously invited her to use our driveway at will, especially if it meant actually receiving mail.

I've been told my snowbank is not sufficiently cleared. I have my driveway and mailbox plowed during major storms, snow-blowed for others, and I am a 33-year-old male, lifetime New Hampshire resident who knows my way around a shovel all too well. My mailbox is clear, always. For the last month, the snowbank behind our mailbox is about 3-4 feet higher than anyone on our street, because of the extreme amounts of snow I've cleared from around it. My mailbox is much more accessible than most neighbors. Due to the previous difficulties with my mail, I'm very cognizant of it and spend extra time clearing it, making this claim all-the-more frustrating.

I understand the last point all to well, always endeavoring to make sure the mail carrier has no problem getting to our mail box. Our mail carrier usually leaves a note at the beginning of the winter weather season reminding us to make sure our mailboxes are clear enough to allow the mail carrier to reach the box. No problem. But apparently the standards for what is considered 'clear' differs entirely in the next town.

I have spoken with three different supervisors in the past two months about receiving my mail. The first time, I was told the supervisor would come check out my home personally and call me back. I never received a call. The next week I stopped by the post office to collect my mail, and asked the counter clerk if I could speak with a supervisor. She went out back, returned to tell me that he was "in a meeting," took my info and promised a phone call that never came. The third attempt, I finally did get a call back, another week later, from a man named Paul, who very clearly spoke to my carrier instead of inspecting my box himself, and was quite argumentative. At the end of the conversation, Paul instructed me to continue to pick my mail up at the post office, and "do a better job next year."

Today, despite the insulting nature of Paul's directive, I kindly stopped in to collect my mail, planning to leave before another frustrating encounter. Upon requesting my mail, I was told to wait for a supervisor. After a minute, a man came out front, threw a pile of mail on the counter in front of me, and barked at me to, "clear your mailbox." I briefly attempted to explain that I had spoken with somebody about my box already, and he interrupted me with a loud, angry declaration that, "You need to clear your mailbox." I would hesitate to allow parents to discipline a child with the tone of voice that this man used to speak to a grown man in public as part of his profession. It was probably the most egregious violation of every customer service law ever written, and I'm still a little in shock. Needless to say I don't know if it was Paul, as all I could think to do was kindly, quietly ask who his supervisor was. Surprisingly, he went to get her.

I finally got to speak to the postmaster today. While it was refreshing to finally speak to someone who seemed concerned about my predicament, it was also overwhelmingly obvious that she wanted the conversation centered on what I was doing wrong, and why this was all my fault. No apologies, no concern for the failures of her "supervisors," nor the inexplicable actions of her carrier. Just a calm, methodical discussion of my problems and what I have to do about my property.

See, it's always the customer's problems and not the fact that a mail carrier apparently doesn't want to be bothered to deliver mail to one particular postal patron even though that patron has done everything necessary (and then some) to make sure his mail box is easily accessible. How typical of a government bureaucracy. (Make no mistake about it, the USPS is a government bureaucracy even though it does far more for the taxpayers than many other government agencies are even capable of doing.) If the USPS wants to survive, it's going to have to stifle the blatant disregard of its mission by some of its employees. Otherwise it doesn't deserve to remain in business.