Washington, DC

“Dear PoPville,

I recently went on vacation for a week and decided to place my mail on hold while I was away. I selected the option to pick my held mail up at the Post Office upon my return. Since I live in an apartment that has very small mail boxes, this seemed like the best route.

I received confirmation through usps.com that my mail was going to be held for the specified dates, followed by a letter of confirmation that I then found in my mailbox before my trip stating the same. (I assumed it was placed there by the mail carrier as it was just a loose piece of paper indicating my confirmation number and that the mail was being held).

Fast forward to the day I’m back from my trip. I check my mailbox and lo and behold there was a bunch of mail jammed into it. “Welp, that didn’t work so great,” I thought, “but whatever, I’ll still go to the post office as I’m sure there is more mail waiting for me there.” (Like I said, my mailbox is small and doesn’t hold that much.)

Nowhere was I given the address or name of which post office had my mail. Not in the confirmation email or in the note that was left in my mailbox. I figured I would just go to the closest PO to me and if my mail wasn’t there they could at least direct me to the correct PO location.

Trip 1 (Tuesday – the day after my “held mail” order was supposed to end): The Post Office on 18th St NW, which is the closest to my apartment. My mail wasn’t there and they informed me that the mail is at 14th and U street.

Trip 2 (Wednesday):

The PO on 14th and U. I showed the man my confirmation number and he went to look in the back for a few minutes then came out to tell me that “the mail hasn’t been released yet” and he instructed me to call two different phone numbers to tell them to release my mail for “Zone 9”.

Online attempt (Wednesday): I submitted a help request through usps.com with the expectation that it wouldn’t do a thing. (spoiler alert: I was right)

Phone attempts (Wednesday, Thursday): I called both numbers given to me by the PO on 14th street. One just rang and rang with no pickup. One rang several times until going straight to voicemail. I left a message with my phone number and a brief explainer of my situation. I called both of these numbers probably about 10 times each, at different times of the day (between 9pm and 5pm). The phone was never answered.

USPS Customer Help line (Thursday): I called the official USPS customer care line. They told me that no, my mail is actually at the post office on Florida Ave NW, and they gave me the phone number of that outpost so that I could call to confirm before making the trip over there.

Phone attempt (Florida Ave Post Office): I called multiple times. Busy signal every time. My guess is their phone is permanently off the hook.

Trip 3 (Thursday): I head over to the Florida Ave post office and show them my confirmation number. “Oh no, your mail is at 14th and U.” I explain to them everything I had previously gone through and been told. The person at the desk, who was very sympathetic, called the direct line of the PO on 14th St. (She noted “I normally don’t do this.”) She learned my mail was still not there. She explained that the mail must still be “held at dispatch” and that if she were me, I should wait until Monday and then go back to the PO on 14th to get my mail. I resign myself to going back on Monday.

PHONE CALL RECEIVED (Friday): I received a call from the “dispatch office.” She said that since I don’t have an assigned mail carrier (??) that my mail actually wasn’t held at all and that the mail I discovered in my mailbox was actually all my mail. She apologized and said that if I had had an assigned mail carrier, this wouldn’t have happened.

I realize that the post office is understaffed, losing money and probably not a great place to work, so I carry no ill will towards any Post Office employee. Life is hard and we’re all just doing our best. I write this all purely as a warning to others who plan on holding their mail at the post office….you may want to think twice.

Good luck, everyone!”

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