After being inundated with complaints, I’m trying to figure out what’s worse — being a customer or an employee of the US Postal Service.
In mid-December, I ran an e-mail in my Sunday “Dear John” column from an Atlanta woman who was very angry at the US Postal Service because it had lost her late mother’s ashes.
As far as I know, those ashes are still lost.
That was followed by this e-mail from a postal worker:
Dear John: I retired three years ago as a letter carrier. Postal management cares about one thing: how long it takes to do your route. This results in cut corners, falsified scans on parcels and supervisors throwing mail out.
It’s all about keeping man hours down and saving on labor costs. Ask the National Association of Letter Carriers in DC: If a new carrier does not meet the numbers, he is fired.
It’s not a service! It is run with no accountability. Congress doesn’t give a damn. Managers get bonuses if hours are down. Management harasses carriers to skip lunch and breaks, and turns its back if employees work off the clock.
Please investigate what’s really going on. G.R.
A spokesman for the National Association of Letter Carriers said the group wasn’t immediately able to comment this week. But after I printed that letter, a deluge of responses rolled in from postal workers, past and present, angry about the way the service treats them as employees. Here is an edited sampling of what I received:
Dear John: For fear of being fired I would prefer to be anonymous. But the article you wrote about investigating postal management was just scratching the surface.
I’ve seen management scan Priority mail delivered in the office and let it sit for two weeks. And it wasn’t just a few packages, it was hundreds.
We’ve had management blow air horns inside the small office to try and make us sort our mail and get onto the street faster. It’s become a real hell.
Dear John: Have worked for 25 years in the mail outsourcing business and I can tell you that the e-mail you received from the retired mail courier is not only 100 percent correct but it is even much worse that.
The USPS actually scans packages as delivered at their facility because that stops the clock, and then they deliver at their leisure.
Ask anyone who receives an Amazon [package] and receives an alert that it has been delivered but they have not received it yet.
Then a few days later the package shows up.
I actually have an e-mail from a USPS Business Service network rep stating that they do that because the volume of mail and packages are too high to do on the routes.
But FedEx, UPS and all the other carriers can do it. But for some unknown reason, the USPS cannot.
Dear John: I own an e-commerce business and ship thousands of packages through the largest e-commerce Web site.
The postal workers are treated with no care and are stuck delivering mail faster with larger and larger routes with less time. In the summer, it can be over 100 degrees in their trucks with no AC and just a little fan that is broke most of the time or overheats and smokes.
We try to keep cold drinks and snacks for carriers, as some start at 7 a.m. and are not given any break till after 3 p.m. Sometimes no time off at all if they are running behind.
Dear John: I would go an entire day not eating, not taking a break or using the bathroom … I found out many letter carriers urinated in bottles, which are just discarded in the trucks.
Dear John: Rural carriers were required to work seven days a week, at least 12 hours a day during this past holiday to keep city carriers from being paid overtime.
As a rural carrier, we do not get overtime or time toward retirement.
I had to walk off the job once to get them to correct a pay issue.
I was not receiving my pay and all management would tell me is “let me make a call, go back to work.”
Dear John: Here in New Jersey, you’ll often see a car with hazard [lights] on following a USPS truck. They’re timing the route.
Makes sense if they’re following newbies, but how about the 15-20-25 year vets?
It’s to get a best case time and then hold the newbies to it.
Check this case out: Sunday delivery of Amazon packages: In the words of the local Postal Service, they had a “snafu.”
The snafu was they were running late. So what’d they do?
They updated tracking to say homes in suburban neighborhoods with lawns and driveways were “not accessible.”
Like we all had moats all of a sudden. Then 20 or so minutes later, the dreaded “lost by carrier-undeliverable” update.
And yet all packages (or at least most) were delivered cleanly a day later.
Dear John: I’m a retired letter carrier and the article you wrote is absolutely true.
Management would falsify scans and documents at the drop of a hat.
Dear John: [A postmaster] condoned USPS management to sexually harass, assault, stalk me.
[She] attempted to buy my silence with three different amount nondisclosure agreements [and] higher positions in USPS.
I didn’t accept her dirty money and was terminated.
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