BALTIMORE — Despite mounting pressure from lawmakers, many USPS customers continue to wait for their mail.
WMAR-2 News Mallory Sofastaii has received photos from postal carriers of extremely delayed shipments.
“My buddy just won ‘late package of the year’ delivery,” wrote a Baltimore-area postal worker. The package was stamped on December 18, 2020. It was delivered on June 3, 2021.
Another letter sent from Northern Virginia on February 4 arrived on June 2.
Circulars that expired last month were stacked in a box, while many customers wait for time-sensitive items.
“I’m a veteran and that’s how I get my medications and things is through the mail,” said Teresa Crawford.
Crawford depends on USPS to deliver her seizure medication. She can’t drive because of her disorder, so when it’s late, she walks a mile to the nearest post office.
“And I said well, you won’t deliver it why can’t I have my mail? And she just kept refusing to give me my mail, but yet they won’t deliver the mail,” Crawford said.
Raymond Washington Jr. lives in a different postal code than Crawford. Recently, he hasn’t been getting his bills.
“We’ve been getting mail like two times a week. We might get packages, but no envelope mail,” said Washington.
And when he doesn’t pay on time, he’s expected to pay the fees.
“Sometimes, I forget what the due date is and you get a call from the creditors and they say we need our money,” Washington said.
These mail issues aren’t new, but they’re also not improving.
Data obtained through a Freedom of Information Act Request shows a continual increase in customer inquiries since December. And these are just the people who took the extra step to submit a formal inquiry or complaint.
Every zip code in Baltimore has been impacted prompting state and federal legislators to demand answers.
“The postal service needs to stop giving Federal Express and Amazon priority over the regular mail and place regular mail as the priority,” said Delegate Ric Metzgar (R-Baltimore County) during a news conference last week.
Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger sent a request to the USPS Office of the Inspector General to audit six Baltimore-area post offices. He also wrote Postmaster General Louis DeJoy requesting a meeting with USPS leadership and personnel data. He received a response to his letter to Postmaster General DeJoy last week. He called it "wholly inadequate." He didn't receive any data and his meeting request was ignored.
To see the full response, click here.
Local postal workers continue to tell Sofastaii that there are simply not enough people to chip away at the growing mounds of mail.
“Ninety-nine percent of the time our goal is to make sure all packages get out on a daily basis,” the worker said. “Mail sometimes will sit there 2-3 days so that's why I tell people Informed Delivery means you're going to get mail, but it doesn't necessarily mean tomorrow.”
Inadequate staffing is one of the major contributors. A USPS government relations representative said employees were granted 600 hours in extended leave due to COVID-19, and positions must be held for employees who are on leave. Periods of high employee absences impacted operations.
“You would think they would send out something to the community and say, ‘Hey, look, we’re having trouble with the mail, here’s what we’re going to do,” said Washington.
“So you’re saying more communication would go a long way?” asked Sofastaii.
“Oh, it would. You’d be surprised, it would. Because communication is our worst enemy because a lot of people don’t like to communicate,” Washington said.
A spokeswoman with USPS sent the statement below:
"The Postal Service knows that reliable and affordable mail service is paramount to our customers and we take mail issues seriously.
We have taken specific actions to continue service to our valued customers, which includes:
- Continue to fully authorize overtime to allow employees to work the time necessary to deliver mail.
- Expanded mail deliveries to earlier in the morning, later in the evening, and on Sundays to ensure customers receive mail at the earliest date possible.
- Use additional carriers from nearby offices, when necessary, to maintain mail deliveries.
- Hiring additional personnel. To view available positions, go to https://about.usps.com/careers/.
This has been an extraordinary time of unprecedented challenges given the COVID-19 pandemic. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate customers’ patience and understanding and thank all our employees who continue to deliver for our customers during the pandemic."
WMAR-2 News also asked if customers can pick up their mail at their local post office. We were told yes, but they should call first to make sure their mail is in the office and they'll need to provide identification.
A spokeswoman for Congressman Ruppersberger said his office will continue to press for a high-level meeting "given that our request was ignored in the Postmaster General’s response, in addition to all of the data points that his office failed to provide. In the meantime, we will eagerly await the results of the audit, assuming the USPS Inspector General took us up on our request – their office does not publicly announce audits."
If you’d like to file an inquiry with USPS, click here.