Friday, May 4, 2012

Postal Sticker Shock

  I went today to collect my mail and found that I was locked out of my P.O. Box. The post office sent me an envelope earlier this month so I could send in my annual POB payment, but they neglected to note how much to send in...Typical. Usually they send me a notice threatening to reissue my box to someone else if I don't pay the rent due, having never sent me a notice that the rent was due in the first place. I guess this is an improvement... I haven't been back to the post office during office hours, since the day I received the notice, so I had no idea how much the payment due was.
  Today I was out running errands and got to the post office during business hours so I could pay my POB rent. Wow... What a shock! When I first opened the POB in 2001 the rent was $12 for a year. Today I had to shell out $44 to get my mail out of jail. Gulp! I don't like to complain, and I normally try not to grumble about my local post office, no matter how much they ask for it... but really? Last year the fee was $32, that up from $15 the year before we went to Costa Rica... It just seems kind of steep for the kind of service that my post office provides.
  The cost probably wouldn't bother me if it weren't that the service to my POB is so very bad... I regularly receive mail for someone who is deceased, two other people have rented that box since she held it, I also get their mail. This means that every time I check my mail, I have to go to the counter and wait for them to take the errant mail from me. Then I have  to remind them again that this person hasn't had this box in at least 5years, that I would like for them to stop putting her mail in my box. I get the customary, "I'll take care of it", as I watch them take the mail from me and throw it back in the to be delivered box, where it will go through the system again and then end up in my box again a day or so from now. Sigh.
  I try hard not to, but I really dislike my local post office. The employees are rude, intolerant, seemingly incompetent and insist that I answer their long list of questions and options individually. If I try to interrupt the process by stating that, "I only want my stamps, nothing else thank you", one particularly irritating postal worker will hold her finger up and say "Please let me finish", then go on to ask her questions while holding my stamps hostage until she is done. I have to confess that the last time she did that, since I was just needing to make sure I had the enough postage on a letter and had confirmed that I didn't owe anything, I turned and walked away while she was still going through her little schpeel... I am not proud of that, I try to be polite and considerate to everyone I come in contact with, but when she stuck her finger up, it was either walk away or say something that I know I would regret...
  Usually, I just check my box at this post office, since the postal workers are not very helpful. If I need to buy stamps or do other postal transaction, I wait until I am driving towards Charlotte, and conduct my business at one of the post offices there. But on occasion, like the POB rent, I have to deal with my local postal workers. It is almost always an unsatisfactory experience and I walk away wishing I could rent my POB in Weddington, a couple miles up the road. But when I asked the U.S.P.S in  Weddington, they said I have to rent a box within my zip code, so I guess I am stuck with my Waxhaw P.O. Box.
  I really enjoy writing letters and I need my P.O.Box, since the home delivery person is worse than the workers at the post office... letters go missing, the box lid not properly closed in the rain resulting in soggy mail, letters are delivered to a similar address on the other side of Waxhaw, where since the mail doesn't belong to them, they just throw it away! *We found this out when a piece of their mail was delivered to our box twice in the same week, (even with the street named circled so they would realize they delivered to the wrong address and it was placed back in the mailbox with the flag up for the postal worker to see...), so we hand delivered it to the person. They cheerfully told us thank you, and then blythely mentioned that the post office has been goofing up with our mail for quite some time, and that since telling the postal delivery person about it didn't remedy the problem, they just started throwing it away! Who does such a thing??? Did it never occur to them that we might like to receive our mail? What if it was important? So I decided that all important mail would be sent to a P.O. Box, at least there the mail wouldn't get wet!
  I wish that I could have the kind of relationship with my postal workers that I hear about from others in the letter writing community. I would love to look forward to going to the Post Office. My mail is one of the highlights of my day, but more often than not if I have to interact with the postal workers I go home from the post office feeling out of sorts. I hope for the sake of the U.S.P.S. and the future of letter writing, that my experiences with the postal system are the exception instead of the rule... 

22 comments:

  1. You are not alone. I dread sending anything overseas because I have to go to the counter to deal with a postal worker. There's one really nice (somewhat new) worker, and the rest are, ahem, apparently not too happen in their jobs and wanting to have customers join their circle of unhappiness.

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    1. I don't know why but there seems to be a lot of pressure on postal workers, leading to job fatigue. I try to be understanding, especially since I don't have any idea what goes on behind the counter... but some of the things that have been done were antagonistic and mean spirited. I just wish that there were a better option for me. It takes the shine off my "I got mail glow" when the postal people are difficult :)

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  2. Wow!

    I had never heard about the issue of having to rent a box in a particular ZIP code. There are multiple locations here in the city and the only issue is availability. I am fortunate - the office where my box is located doesn't even service carriers. The USPS calls it a "Finance Unit". The upside is that the service is wonderful.

    I would really hate to give up my box because getting mail at my physical address is sometimes almost impossible. Multiplex houses are postal and security problems. Don't even get me started on UPS and FedEx . . .

    I am so sorry that you have had such negative experiences with the USPS :(

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    1. I am just grateful that there is still a postal service, I am hoping that things will improve someday!

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  3. Hi again!

    Sorry to be such a pest, since you and I have never met, but your post bothered me. I called USPS customer service and described your situation regarding the alternate location desired. The service rep assured me that I could choose my location and if I were told otherwise, it was in error and a case to investigate could be filed.

    I understand that these may be small town offices, so there could be some local politics involved. Could it be worth a repeat inquiry?

    Cheers from Fort Worth!

    millicent

    (who would just about die without her p.o. box)

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    1. I did pursue it with the Postmaster. I was told that since there was high demand and limited availability of PO boxes in rural areas, that the local policy is to limit use to those in the zip code. There is also some politics or maybe that is the wrong word... people have a desire for whatever reason to have a Weddington address... it is a very high end area to live, and for those who care, (I don't happen to be one of them, I just want a competent post office), there is a lot of "status" to having a Weddington address. Thanks for your concern, and no... you are not being a pest I can use all the council I can get!

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  4. Wow. I never realised that USPS sucks so much / that the German Post is so good in comparison!
    I had to pay 15 € for my PO Box to be set up and that's it. No rent, no anything. I am having it for 4 months now more or less and I only once got a postcard which wasn't for me. There is something like a mailbox just for the mail delivered to the wrong person, so everything you have to do is put it there and then they'll sort it out.
    Also there are two lines in my post office - one is for the "normal" mail leading to four counters more or less, and one is the line for the philatelic counter, where everything is a bit slower, as you have a chat with the guy working there, he's showing everybody the stamps they might need etc.
    I'm glad that you still like to snail mail, though :)
    Take care!

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    1. There used to be a Philatelic center in Charlotte. The only stamps you could get at the post office were the books of stamps that were just regular stamps like the "Liberty Bell" standard stamp. If you wanted the collectable stamps you had to got to the Philatelic Center. But I think sales were slow on the special stamps and the only people who bought them were stamp collectors, so they changed to "collector stamps" being sold at the regular post office. The line differences make a lot of sense, but it is hard to give suggestions or feedback to the USPS, it seems like they don't really want to hear about how they might serve us better...:)

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  5. I'd try again to get a po box at the po down the road. I see no reason why you have to have a po box in your own zip code. I think that information was incorrect. My father used to have a po box many towns away from his house, in another zip code because it was on his drive in and out of town and he traveled a lot. The local po was in the other direction. He seldom went that direction. Just go in and tell them you want to get a po box and leave it at that.

    I also have a suggestion for getting the wrong mail in your box -- write directly on the envelope that the person is "not at this address/return to sender". Then put it in a blue mailbox outside the Post Office. That's what I'd do if my po employees were not helpful.

    As for getting your own mail that is taken to the wrong address, well, I can't understand why anyone would throw away someone's mail! I hope you asked them to contact you in the future if they got your mail and told them you would be happy to come pick it up yourself.

    My biggest suggestion, move on down to Texas! People are friendly here and willing to go the extra mile to help out a neighbor.

    Good luck. I'd love to hear how this goes for you.

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    1. You must live in a small town where everyone knows your name? :) I live in Texas also and some of our postal workers have more attitude than a rattler. LOL.

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  6. Hi there! I need to write you a long letter, but I will still be awhile before I can do much writing... things are pretty hectic around here. I have been thinking about you though and hope all it well! I talked to the Postmaster and was told the issue had to do with demand and availability, and that since Weddington postal address was in high demand, the local policy was to allot PO boxes by zip code...
    Yes, I asked the person who threw my mail out to please contact me if I have mail show up in his box and I will come and get it. I don't know if he would or not...It was an altogether strange interaction, for the man to stand there and without hesitation tell me he threw my mail away. I wonder if he knows it is a crime to tamper with the mail...? Anyway, with my important mail going to to POB I now don't worry too much. If he throws away my junk mail I won't worry too much :)
    O-O-Oh! Texas is too hot for me...I wouldn't mind being closer to my son who lives in Dallas, but I don't deal well with hot weather. I do know lots of nice people who live in Texas though... and am very glad that we can get to know each other better through letters, if not in person! Talk to you soon! Elle

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  7. I have been lucky in that my little post office has been nice. They are not overly nice just pleasant enough. It is hardly ever too busy just busy enough to make it a quick in and out visit when needed.

    I am planning on moving in a year's time and I am sure the new city's post office will be busier. I can only hope the po workers will be pleasant enough.

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    1. Well I hope that your new Post Office is full of people who love letters and maybe even mail art!!

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  8. Your post office box rent is a steal compared to what I pay. My box is actually through a UPS store because the post office is a fair distance away, but I pay $10 a month.

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    1. I think the giant jump in price is what got me... actually I am willing to pay whatever it takes to get my mail safely in my hands! :)

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  9. I think I need to have a stern word with Australia Post - we pay $155 per year with $5 off if paid before the due date!! - on current exchange rates that's about $150 US give or take a dollar or two!

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    1. Wow. I' use carrier pigeon or give up on renting a box.

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  10. Wow! How frustrating to have to deal with your local post office. I was paying $48 a year for my last box in a rural area, but just moved to an area much closer to a big city and it now is going to cost $120 a year for a box. I don't know why the prices vary so wildly when it's all the USPS. Anyway, I sincerely hope things get better for you!!!

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  11. I would like a PO box but Royal Mail charges nearly £200 for a year....
    Post offices are hit and miss with regards to nice stamps. It took me a year to find one with a nice sub-postmaster who would let me buy nice stamps. I ring up to make sure he is working when I visit.
    Other counter clerks don't know what they are talking about and give out incorrect information.

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  12. You poor thing. My heart goes out to you because I empathize as well as sympathize. I use a post office that is farther away than the one that's 10 minutes away for some of the reasons you describe. There are 2 meanies at the one I prefer but the others make it tolerable. Well, a week ago I received a "tell us how we are doing" form. There is even space at the end for comments. I answered the first 2 pages before giving up in frustration because the questions aren't designed to address common user issues. They are too ambiguous!

    They followed up with a postcard reminder. After reading your post, I feel awful. Here I am with a chance to at least try to rate our postal service and I dropped the ball. I live in a fog. :( I am going to find that form tomorrow! And I am going to respond and put it in the mail.

    Sorry for such a long response but our post office wants $70 for a year's rent! I still get mail meant for at least 4 previous renters. You are not alone. Hang in there. Things feel much worse when we are not feeling well. I hope life treats you better. Just remember: trouble don't last always. :)

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    1. Yikes! $70!!! What is it gold plated? Do they bring it to your car when you drive up? Do they leave a chocolate in the box with your mail? Goodness... I am sorry that I am not alone in the bad service postal world... it really takes the shine off of receiving mail when the postal workers have such a nasty attitude. One time I misunderstood the amount I needed to give to the postal worker and gave her the wrong change, she rolled her eyes, looked over my shoulder and began to talk about me (as if I weren't there) to the person behind me in line. Unbelievably rude, but this particular person always went out of her way to be rude to me. Fortunately for me she was promoted (makes sense right? Abuse the patrons and get promoted...), and was moved to an office in the back. So I only see her if she pops her head out to gripe at the counter help. Glad to see you back! I hope you are feeling better. Hugs!

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