Some Serious USPS Frustration

Photo by PoPville flickr user slatifolia

“Dear PoPville,

[TL;DR: This post office is a mess. Between refusing to not allow us to sign for deliveries, taking weeks to redeliver packages that are signed for, packages that are said to have been delivered but never arrive, and fighting endlessly against insurance claims for those packages, we are extremely frustrated with this post office. It is where all packages in DC deliver from, so dealing with other offices will only result in being directed back to Brentwood. I am seriously considering public, collected action of customers. We can’t be the only people experiencing these issues, judging from the Google reviews for this post office and the remarks made by the national customer service representatives.]

Since moving to DC, my girlfriend and I have had more issues with USPS than we can recall or count, so you will have to excuse me if some of my details are limited or if I do not recall all of them entirely. I can, however, look back at my insurance claims and see how many have been filed. All but one have been awarded, and that is one I am currently fighting to get awarded. My USPS claim page suggests I have filed nine insurance claims since moving to DC. These are only packages that I paid to have mailed to me using my account; packages I have reported as undelivered that were paid for by the sender account for maybe twice as many. I am in the second appeals on the most expensive claim, which ironically is an office in DC. I have called once a day for a week and, despite the voicemail saying they will respond within 24 hours, I have never heard back. This is a similar issue I have with the Brentwood post office entirely (the consumer advocate office is in the same building but a different office, and even they don’t communicate with eachother).

My girlfriend and I make commissioned pieces that we sell online, which brings in some extra money. We order a lot of small items, from everywhere from Asia to Amazon, and ship to customers mostly in the US. We are aware that we could buy a PO box, but that would require going to the post office and fighting with their package pickup personnel every day. As an example, today’s experience with them took an hour, and they didn’t even have the package, so it was shorter than usual. We could also pay a service to hold our packages, but as some of the materials we purchase cost very little, it would make our purchases cost multitudes more to simply assure they aren’t tampered with. Regardless, few of our issues have been with theft from individuals. We have been told that items are left at “our backdoor,” which we don’t have, and the implication from some employees is that another employee decided to take it.

Several of the claims I was awarded were for packages that simply weren’t delivered, and not all of them are in my claim history, so there are probably twice that number that simply never showed. Tracking says they were delivered, but someone was home that day, no package was delivered, and our carrier had not remembered dropping it off. This leads to the most common issue we find: carriers will leave a pink slip saying that no one was home and we need to go to the post office to pick up the package or sign the slip for redelivery. Someone is home, there is no knock at the door, and as far as others in our neighborhood claim, the carrier signs the slip before even getting to our door, sticks it to the door without knocking, and leaves because they don’t want to wait on us to answer, leaving us responsible for picking it. This would be fine if, as I noted, the held packages issue weren’t so obnoxious, and if it were a reliable answer to the issue. It isn’t. Frequently, when we have went to pick up the package, we were told that it wasn’t at the post office, either having been taken out for redelivery (which means we wouldn’t be there to sign for it) or was mailed back to the sender. Instead, we usually sign for redelivery, in the event a slip is left, as sometimes it isn’t and we have no idea what happened to the package. In several instances, when we sign for redelivery, the package isn’t delivered for a week or more, sometimes not at all.

Trying to contact someone at the Brentwood office is extremely frustrating. At current count, I have 14 phone numbers for the Brentwood building. Several have never been answered, many are disconnected, and the ones that do get an answer try to tell me I need to speak to someone else, which is almost always a number that does not get an answer or a returned call after a voicemail. I have definitely spent more time on the phone trying to contact someone at that office, or with the national customer service line, than I have spent with all of my friends and family combined in the last year. Once, I spent a week going through the levels of the national customer service, finally reaching the highest level, where I was told “there is nothing more we can do until someone at that office returns our calls.” They never did.

Skipping general anecdotes, I will explain the current issues we are dealing with. A friend shipped us a Christmas gift, and he told us that tracking said it “could not be delivered.” There was no redelivery notice left. Based on previous issues, and knowing we needed to get the package, we went to pick it up, as we are instructed to do. We’ll start with parking. I had to drive through the parking lot, a one way loop back onto the street, four times before I could get a spot. People were camping out with their flashers on at random in the parking lot, hoping to muscle their way in front of others waiting their turn. It was basically an obstacle course. This is an indicator of how messy this office is, and how frequent issues arise. Inside, we were told it would be at the pickup door, which anyone who picks up packages in DC will be familiar with. The man at the counter requested that we use the self-service kiosk to perform an inquiry on the whereabouts of the package and print out a slip, to prove that it even had arrived back at the post office, before he would help. We got in line, and there was a man in front of me. He was told to please wait while they got someone higher up to talk to him about whatever his concern was.

This is typical; waiting for information at the pickup area is often a cycle of various employees coming to speak to you, telling each other them the same information, and each putting responsibility on someone after them. At least one woman walked in and out of this door, apparently an employee who was just visiting to chat, but not wearing her ID. They even said aloud “I know I’m not supposed to let you in here without your ID…” Even the stranger in line ahead of us exchanged a look. When it was finally our turn, several people had to check two or three times in the back to try and find it, and came up empty handed. Even though the email the sender had gotten said the package had been returned to the post office, it wasn’t there — it had gone out for redelivery. The wait was around an hour, which isn’t unusual, and they tried to tell us that a slip was left. We were given a phone number and told, if it wasn’t out for delivery, to call it. I have this number already, and it is one of the numbers that is never answered. I headed home, and it did eventually show up about an hour and a half, 2 hours later.

The second issue is more expensive of an error. We had a package mailed to us that I paid for and sent a label to the sender to use. The package was around $125 in value, and as usual, I got insurance for the amount. It never arrived, and I was told by the post office to give it two weeks; if it didn’t show, it would be returned to the sender. It wasn’t, and that was a month ago. My claim has been denied several times, and I am at the point of dealing with the consumer advocate, who will not return my calls. The second appeal has to be done via mail, and I think it’s a bit clear why I am reluctant to rely on that. USPS simply stands by the fact that tracking shows “delivered,” whether it was or not.”

79 Comment

  • Sounds awful. What neighborhood are you in?

    I have nothing but good things to say about our postman (and occasionally postwoman) in Petworth! Never missed a package, always friendly, rings the doorbell at least once, often twice for packages, etc.

    • This could definitely be a neighborhood problem. I have lived in 2 neighborhoods in DC and send mail from my work in a different neighborhood, and have never had a package problem. One time, however, my mail was put on hold by someone who wasn’t me, and it took a week to sort out and then another two weeks to get all the back deliveries.

    • I used to have constant mail issues when I lived on H st, then when I moved to Dupont a year ago I never had issues again. In fact, our post person will even cover packages with the doormat to keep them more out of sight.

    • Hello. I am the author of the post. I am on Capitol Hill, Constitution and 5 NE.

      • SouthwestDC

        I’ve lived in SE Capitol Hill for 5 years and haven’t had that many problems, although my experience sending and receiving packages through USPS is limited.
        Occasionally we get our next-door neighbors’ mail, and a couple times a year we get mail intended for the NE equivalent of our address (which is only a few blocks away so I just walk up the street to drop it off). The funniest was when I got a postcard addressed to my NE neighbor that read: “Dear Kim, I am writing this to prove that the Cap May USPS doesn’t work.”

      • I live on 7th Street NE off H and we often have mail problems. Our carrier is usually on the phone when delivering mail. We frequently get mail for neighbors and a hold mail request is not always observed. Just seems like a lack of professionalism among the carriers that I have not experienced in other neighborhoods in DC and other places around the country. I suspect resources are an issue, but carriers should not be on personal phone calls while delivering mail.

        • Hello. I am the author of the post. If you would like to take action, please email me at Charles at pulp added dot com

    • I second that. Our guy in Petworth is great. There has been a new girl around lately too and she’s also very nice and both are very professional and hard working. May be an issue of the carriers not the Post Office itself. Stinks either way. Best of luck.

  • A po box or ups box (which has a street address) seems like the best option. The boxes come in sizes, so most small items can easily fit. More importantly, you could get 1 at another post office (I use the main post office on north cap&mass, and they’re great). I got a box for similar reasons, and nothing had ever been lost going there. Po box can also be done with a street address to get non usps deliveries.

    • Hello. I am the author of the post. The issue with a PO Box is practical and based on personal ethic.

      Firstly, the Brentwood office’s hours are, coincidentally, the same as my office hours. Even if I got up very early to pick up my mail and bring it back home before work, I would struggle to get to work on time. I would also have to do that several times a week.

      Secondly, it’s the very idea of mail delivery: if I wanted to pick something up, I’d buy it in a store. I shouldn’t need to pay them more and inconvenience myself to be sure that they don’t misplace my valuables, as that is their only job.

      • i hear you- i really do! but you have to ask yourself, is your main goal to save yourself real time or theoretical time? theoretically yes, you have to ‘take more time’ to pick up the packages at the PO Box than if they were delivered. but they aren’t being delivered and the actual, real time you currently spend at the post office or arguing with them is far greater than the time you’d spend picking them up from a box. and don’t get the mailbox from the postal service. get one at FedEx kinkos or the UPS store.

        • I’ve had a box at a UPS store for years, but that’s more due to theft issue than USPS issues. I use it for package delivery only. It’s pretty convenient since the UPS store has longer hours than the post office. Obviously in a perfect world packages wouldn’t get stolen, and delivery to my house would be more convenient. But I’ve found the expense worth it, and I’m not constantly pestering my neighbors to watch out for my packages.

  • saf

    We used to have issues like that – it didn’t stop until the 14th and Irving Post Office closed and my mail started coming from another office. Escalate, escalate, escalate, and realize that there will be retaliation from the mail carriers.

    • Hello. I am the author of the post. As I mentioned in the post, I escalated this as high as it would go through the national customer service. They told me, “until someone answers the phone at the office, we can’t do any more.”

      • saf

        Then its time to go higher. Postal inspector won’t help? Write the postmaster general! involve the media.

      • Charles, I’d reach out to Rep. Holmes Norton for assistance. The USPS is a quasi-federal agency, and congressional district offices frequently help resolve constituent issues with the Postal Service.

  • A++++ on accompanying photo selection, Popville.

  • Had USPS in DC not deliver my Priority Mail Express envelope containing my passport and French visa for over a month. Got one delivery notice and spend the next month tracking it down. When I called Brentwood the phone would just ring indefinitely.

  • It’s unfortunate that the service sucks so bad at the Brentwood post office – I completely agree with your position and I admire your desire to fix it.

    While waiting to go on your crusade however, it seems you’ve already identified options: use a PO Box (maybe at a different post office), or get a box at a commercial service like UPS. It may cost money but it may help your sanity.

    I don’t know how close you are but when I discovered the post office next to Union Station (called the National Capitol post office, address is 2 Mass Ave NE) I started using that one exclusively. That won’t help you with your misdirected packages but I do think it’s better than the Brentwood one as far as customer service at the window goes.

    Another solution (if you have the time) is to have everything addressed to a gopost box; this is something the USPS has in beta testing now; your stuff gets delivered to an automated centralized location, you get an email or a text and you go pick it up using an RFID card and PIN. It’s free and I would use it all the time if it were in DC, unfortunately the closest gopost locations are in Arlington. However, if you are that frustrated with the Brentwood office it may be worth your time to commute to Arlington to pick up your packages.

    • Great suggestion on gopost. I had read about it a while back but missed that they had actually launched it. Looks like there are locations pretty close to Ballston and Pentagon City stations. I may register if only for the ability to mail packages at odd hours. I used to love the self service kiosks until they instituted the ridiculously low 13oz weight limit, but these don’t appear to have that restriction.

    • Wouldn’t count on GoPost. I signed up and everything was working fine until I tried to “verify” my account. You’re supposed to be able to swipe your license at the terminal but seems the new DC driver’s licenses don’t work (probably because the bar code is encrypted now). So you’re supposed to be able to verify at a post office off of a specific list. Went to two of those post offices a total of four times over the course of about three weeks and was told “the computer doesn’t work, we don’t know when it will work, we don’t know who to talk to to get it fixed.”

      So then I called the specific Gopost customer service number. After waiting on hold for 45 minutes I got a customer service agent who explained “oh yeah, the system thinks I did the Gopost training because I was supposed to take it but they didn’t tell me until after it happened…” OK. Apparently ~75% of accounts never get verified… I wonder why.

      So now I use UPS.

    • Hello. I am the author of the post. I addressed the options of a PO box and GoPost in my post. The issue with a PO Box is practical and based on personal ethic.

      Firstly, the office’s hours are, coincidentally, the same as my office hours. Even if I got up very early to pick up my mail and bring it back home before work, I would struggle to get to work on time. I would also have to do that several times a week.

      Secondly, it’s the very idea of mail delivery: if I wanted to pick something up, I’d buy it in a store. I shouldn’t need to pay them more and inconvenience myself to be sure that they don’t misplace my valuables, as that is their only job.

      As for GoPost, I frequently purchase supplies from Asia that cost less than a few dollars each, and GoPost would double or more the cost of those items.

      • you didn’t “address” those issues. you dismissed them, and went on to complain more. i “shouldn’t need” to do a lot of things in my life myself, but sometimes that’s the way it has to go. if there’s a solution and you don’t want to take it, that’s on you. you’re the one spending all this time on 14 different phone numbers. what takes longer- picking up from the UPS store or tracking down all those people and waiting on hold? get over your “ethics” and solve your problem or you’ll be doomed to a life of dissatisfaction.

        • Let me rephrase that, then: I don’t have the time to go to the post office to pick up my mail daily, nor can I, as a business owner, afford to double or triple the cost of an offer by paying for something like GoPost. I did address that, but you chose to gloss past it and focus on the fact that I said I shouldn’t have to. I shouldn’t. The post office, in reality, has one real service: delivering items to your specified location.

          Once I am at work, I often have time to make phone calls. I don’t, however, have time to leave the office for more than an hour to pick up mail, daily.

          • Since your girlfriend is also part of this business, can she pick up the items at the post office? Maybe you can go once a week and she can go another time. Or just have your items sent to your office? Or use UPS or FedEx? Surely if you can spend time at work dealing with multiple phone calls on this you can also slip out at lunch to grab packages once a week.

            I truly get your frustrations with the postal service, but I think you’re also being a little idealistic (or maybe I’ve just given up hope) and that you may have to (at least in the short term) look for alternatives that yes, unfortunately, are a little inconvenient to you.

      • FYI – not all post offices have the same hours. Pretty sure the one at Mass and North Cap is even open on sundays. Definitely open on Saturdays, and opens at 7 every weekday (i think).

  • Sounds like it’s time to ditch the mail order a start supporting local small businesses!

    • In case you missed it, they ARE a small local business and much of their frustration comes from not being able to adequately serve their customers.

      • There are certainly different ways to define “small business’ and “local business”. Sounds like they are definitely a small business, since they are reaching out to a blog to figure out their shipping logistics. I wouldn’t call someone who buys things from Asia and does something to them and then ships them out to someone elsewhere a “local business”. They’re operating locally but, aside from their own personal income, doing nothing to support the local economy. At least, that’s what I inferred from the original post.

        • I don’t think focusing on semantics of the responder’s post is worth value. The original person said “support local small businesses.” We do, when possible, however, no one locally custom makes fabric, sells bulk accessories, deals cobbler dye, or otherwise sells the majority of the things we need as a small business.

      • TL;DR:
        OP: I’m frustrated, help me internet world!
        Internet world: Here are some suggestions, OP.
        OP: Hello. I am the author of the post. I’m already aware of your suggestions.

  • Some of the packages not delivered to his house were likely delivered and stolen. Then, once you’ve had a few stolen and submitted the insurance claims, they won’t leave them at your door without a signature because they know that the area is a high package theft area. I had this happen with UPS. They just won’t leave packages without a signature at the end of the year because they always get stolen. As for the parking, etc, that is really frustrating, but that happens everywhere.

    I had good luck contacting USPS through their email on their website. After I did that (the driver had been leaving our mail outside, rather than coming in our door and putting it in our mailboxes), the manager at the local post office called me the next day. I think having someone at USPS HQ know there is a problem likely gets the manager to act.

    • Hello. I am the author of the post. As I addressed in the post, yes, we have had items stolen. However, most of the issue were while someone was home and able to monitor the front door. Not only did no one tamper with anything, nothing was delivered. You can’t steal something that is never left there.

      I also covered the issue of the signature (which is decided by the sender, not the post office). They leave slips without knocking, or don’t leave a slip at all and claim in tracking that it was delivered.

  • First, get a dropcam on your porch. This will support your claims.
    Second, honestly, if you are running a business out of your home you probably need a PO Box or some other business solution. Get for outgoing stuff. Even when things go smoothly USPS residential service will not really meet the needs of a business.

    • Hello. I am the author of the post. I have posted a few comments about my issues with getting a PO box. The business we run is small, essentially started when my girlfriend broke her femur on the H Street street car track and needed something to keep herself sane, and to fund our personal hobbies. We’ve sell less than a few thousand dollars in products this year.

      I would like to get a camera, but haven’t been able to find one with the features we need at a reasonable expense.

  • Daniel Bullard

    I’m having the issue where I request the packages to be delivered to my work… but they are marking them delivered on a weekend even the office isn’t open on Sat/Sun… nobody now a week later nobody knows where the packages are!

  • I just had the odd experience of trying to get a failed delivery solved with Brentwood. The letter was from the White House to a DC address 15 blocks away. It was sent certified. It took a month or more of back and forth to finally get it! Granted there was a slight addressing issue from the sender, but not one to cause such a crazy delay. I feel your pain. What finally made the difference for me was the national folks finally elevated it and got the Delivery Supervisor to call me directly. I suppose it helped to tell him they were letting down the President! Even then it took nearly another whole week. The letter kept going back and forth day after day from Brentwood to Gaithersburg. Always use certified so you have tracking number at least, or better yet, switch all to FedEx or UPS.

    • Hello. I am the author of the post. I posted above, I got to the highest level of national customer service and was told, “until someone from that office answers the phone, we can’t do any more.” Eventually, while I got no response, the package came, but these issues have happened more than a few times a month, so I don’t have time to spend hours on the phone for each one.

  • Maybe getting some kind of dropbox might help, if part of the problem is packages being delivered and then stolen?
    Dealing with the Brentwood post office sounds like a nightmare. 🙁

    • Hello. I am the author of the post. While we have had a few items stolen while sitting outside our home, most were never delivered; someone was home, no mail employee brought any packages, and the tracking claimed they were delivered.

  • If you figure out a way to bring collective action, I will join, on behalf of my company and on my own behalf as a private citizen/ customer. Mail routinely fails to arrive at my office (downtown,) packages left at the PO are routinely lost. Packages are often delivered mangled. Once I had a letter appear TEN MONTHS after it was postmarked.
    The only luck I EVER had was going through the postal fraud line. Well, the only time I talked to an actual person who spoke in more than grunts was with the fraud department. Things improved for a few months after that, but have since worsened again, so I can’t really call it a success.
    But this tells me that it IS human error, on the local level. And when they get the fear put in them, they can do better.

    • Ugh, I just had my first letter (that I know of) never delivered. It was a birthday card from my mom with two gift cards inside (dumb move to not have it tracked, but she didn’t tell me what it was until after the fact). I imagine there isn’t much I can do since she didn’t send it certified. I hope someday, even ten months later, it reappears 🙁

    • Hello. I am the author of the post. Please email me, as well as anyone else interested in taking some recourse in this issue, charles at pulpadded dot com

  • Privatize the Postal Service. I get NOTHING of any use from the USPS, just junk. Customers should be able to choose between all of the shipping companies, creating competition and improving customer satisfaction.

    • Blithe

      LOL. Obviously ymmv. Customers are ALREADY able to choose between a variety of shipping companies. The ability of this to improve customer satisfaction is debatable — as you might have noted if you read the comments today on problems that many of us have had with UPS. For some reason, at least one of your private shipping companies has made the decision to use the USPS for “last mile delivery”, meaning that even the private companies that you champion have chosen, in the end, to depend on USPS. I get that YOU personally “get NOTHING of any use from the USPS”. Please don’t assume that your personal experiences and your preferred solutions are universal.

  • I like how the post starts with a “TL; DR” because I’m sure that sums up most people’s take.

  • If you write the Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan, via letter, someone in a position of power at their headquarters will address your issue.

  • We have similar (but smaller) issues in McLean Gardens. Our carrier never rings the bell or leaves a notice for packages. It’s definitely not a theft issue here, all packages are left inside the buildings behind a locked door. Mail is also delayed, the tracking will show that it was delivered on Wednesday, but it won’t show up until Monday. The carriers also don’t pick up any outgoing mail and sometimes we’ll get no mail for 2-3 days, then get it all at once.
    Luckily Friendship Post Office is not quite as bad as Brentwood, but it is still a headache. I only mail things from work now and if it’s something really important, we now have it sent to my parents’ in NoVa (after a 3wk fiasco trying to get my vintage wedding ring delivered)

  • When it comes to packages, USPS rocks. FedEx and UPS keep dropping off packages that belong to others. Usually its for people in the neighborhood where I can easily drop the packages off. In 2 occasions they delivered boxes that were at least 5 feet long. Luckily in one of these, the driver knocked before leaving and I was able to run out to the truck and inform her that the box said Georgia Ave not New Hampshire Ave.

    My family keeps telling me that I should keep these boxes, especially after I got a nasty email from a woman in Boston who was mad at me for opening a box that was a wedding gift. She used her employers’ account to ship the box and sent it to my address. When I contacted the company to inform them that no one with that name live in my home, they asked me to open the box to see if it had a clue on who was the sender. She was not happy that she needed to have the box sent back to Boston to get re-wrapped before sending it to the correct address.

    • In many residential parts of DC, USPS does what they call the last mile, which is the local delivery once at the local office for UPS and FedEx.

  • saf

    So what are you looking for here? You are making it plain that you aren’t getting a useful response here, but you have shot down all our ideas.

    What do you want?

    • Hello. I am the author of the post. The ideas proposed were essentially covered in my original post, as they were measures we already considered, IE, use a PO box or expensive post alternative. In our situation, those options aren’t reasonable.

      I am looking to see if anyone else has these issues with this office, and it seems they do.

  • Wow, that is annoying. A few thoughts:
    – Have you tried filing complaints with the Post Office Inspector General?
    – Have you contacted Eleanor Holmes Norton’s office? Maybe her constituent services person can help.

  • Yikes. Sounds rough in D.C, but this is a common problem with many, many bigger post offices. They also wonder why they are failing & had to get help from the government. The USPS doesn’t have a clue about what customer service entails and in my opinion, think they are untouchable since they are kinda sorta backed by our government. If I were in your shoes, I’d get some video evidence and Sue them.

    • Need I inform you, a Republican-led Congress in 2006 forced them to prefund 75 YEARS worth of health benefits and pensions!? They technically net a profit every year. Yet, the media won’t have you know any of that. Just look it up.

    • “kinda sorta backed by our government”

      …they are a part of the federal government. It’s even in the constitution.

      • west_egg

        …but they receive no subsidy, tax dollars, etc. Hence “kinda sorta backed” instead of “fully supported by.”

  • You’re running a small business and live in a neighborhood with a high amount of package theft and crappy USPS employees. As I read it, you want to live in a perfect world and not have to spend another dime. Well, life doesn’t work that way.
    Your options:
    1. A business needs a professional mail service, such as a PO box or some other delivery option. This should be budgeted for as an operating expense for your business. This qualifies as a business expense for purposes of figuring out your net income. Your business is incorporated and has an IRS tax ID number, yes? Or are you simply making money on the side and not properly paying taxes? If the latter case, GTFO.
    2. Move to a different neighborhood. Seriously.

    • No wonder you remain anonymous.

      • Seriously, answer the questions. Are you running a legitimate business or not? Getting a PO Box is a common business expense that is deductible for purposes of taxes. It would be crazy not to get one, considering that you’ve wasted so much time (and thus money) on these issues. Hell, you could leave the packages there all week and pick them up on the weekend when it’s convenient. I’d love to live in a perfect world with on time deliveries and no package theft. But thems the breaks in good ol DeeCee. No amount of ranting on PoPville or escalating your case within the USPS will change that.
        Nonetheless, I agree that the Brentwood branch should probably be burned to the ground and start over from scratch. But I think you’re just wasting more time and money doing advocating for reform when a cheap PO Box solves 95% of your problems.

      • Could have been put nicer but they are right on point #1 anyway.
        It sounds like getting a box (or maybe having stuff delivered to your work?) would solve all of your problems. You aren’t going to be able to change a dysfunctional agency with a bunch of whining about how they are messing up your under the table business.
        Another option is to get in really good with your mailman.

  • You are not the only one, in downtown Brooklyn the mail is a mess. I am reporting thief to the post office. What else can it be….incompetent staff????????

  • I have had all of these problems. I even just emailed my parents this post just to prove to them it really is that bad here. But the one thing I have learned in the process is that the mail person is defenseless.

    Here is my story.

    For ten days I waited at the door (I work from home) waiting for the mail person to deliver a present that had my Grandmother freaking out. The day I missed the delivery, I was sitting at the door. The mail had already come and mysteriously the mail flap opened and two missed package delivery slips came through, before I could open the door *POOF* mail person disappeared. So I called the number and was like ummm… what just happened. They apologized, gave me a confirmation number and promised the package would be redelivered the next day. Again I waited. When the mailman came we chatted (different person from the day before) and he said it was not put in his truck that he was assigned but would make sure to ask the next morning. Next day. He said he asked and that the people who pack the trucks had no idea what he was talking about. This persisted till I thought Grandma was going to have a heart attack so I went to Brentwood because I wasn’t really sure what else to do. Got to the window and *BAM* there were my packages. One was addressed to me so I had no problem receiving. The other one (also under the confirmation number) was addressed to my fiance. Without acknowledging that there was a mistake, that the package should have been redelivered ten days prior she told me, “Technically, I can’t give you this (the package for my fiance) but since you have a confirmation number I guess I can.”

    I hate blaming people who just happen to catch the end of the broken system but the lack of sympathy, customer service or help drives me batty. I left with my packages, called grandma, but felt like the system had defeated me.

    No grandmas were hurt in the process of receiving this package.

    Thank you for reading. I feel so much better.

  • Sounds like you have a thief. I had this problem when i loved in Chicago. Turned out our mail carrier was a thief.

  • My partner and I also get lots of small packages mailed to us, many from overseas, and we have had many problems with the Brentwood office in the past. We still use USPS whenever possible, because we have taken pains to get to know the folks working there who take care of our mail. Our regular mail carrier knows us, and knows not to leave packages on our doorstep–we’re on a main street, and they would be gone within minutes. Because one of us is often working from home, we see him frequently, so we can check in with each other about packages for which he has left a note previously.

    Likewise, at the package pickup door at the Brentwood office, I’ve been friendly with the people who have to go find the packages in an often confusingly organized staging area. They know me, and will remember when one of our packages comes in. Over the six years or so I’ve been going to this post office, the service has become steadily better. I used to go to the 2nd & Mass location, and would have to wait in line forever to pick up. Now at Brentwood, they have a dedicated line for pickups, and I’m usually out of there in a few minutes. Sometimes they get backed up, and occasionally there are bouts of incompetence with a new employee or someone who just doesn’t care, but overall it’s pretty good service.

    With regard to the PO box, the lobby of the Brentwood location is open 24 hours a day, so you can access your PO box whenever you need to, as long as the items are small enough to fit into whatever size you choose. Larger items will be held on the shelves right behind the blue door, not mixed in with the rest of the held mail, which is somewhere fairly deep into the building, apparently.

    The biggest problem with this post office is the lack of any communication options when something does go wrong. No one answers the phone, and the only option many of the counter people give you when they can’t find your package is to call they section supervisor line. This is a serious problem, and needs to be addressed at a high level in the organization.

  • Have you tried contacting Representative Holmes Norton about this? She may not be able to vote in Congress, but she still has an active constituent services department and has the same ability as other Reps. to make inquiries into federal agencies. I wouldn’t expect immediate resolution, but if the problem is as systemic as it seems (“Once, I spent a week going through the levels of the national customer service, finally reaching the highest level, where I was told ‘there is nothing more we can do until someone at that office returns our calls.’ They never did.”), I think her office would like to know.

  • Try making friends with your mail carrier. Make him or her a nice piece of art, or a jar of homemade jam. It works for me.

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