HOUSTON - Looking at the massive amount of mail the U.S. Postal Service handles and all the cool technology they use, people would assume the post office is delivering the mail with lighting speed.
However, Cynthia Tavano says in her southeast Houston neighborhood mail service has slowed down significantly over the past year or so.
“Let me stress this. I receive mail from medical people, like doctors. It’s important and that mail just does not get to me in a week or two," Tavano says.
In Houston’s Third Ward, school teacher Leonard Lockett says mail delivery has slowed to a crawl, taking days longer than it use to take to get a letter.
“It’s deplorable. I mean, we had a stretch last summer where we went nine days without any mail at all," Lockett says.
So what’s happening to the U.S. Postal Service and the level of service it has provided for so many years?
“A lot”, says Gary Glazebrook, president of The American Postal Workers Union in Houston.
“We don’t think it’s adequate."
He says over the past few years, the Postal Service has shut down 82 major processing and distribution centers nationwide.
Four of those closed have been closed in Texas over the past year, including Corpus Christi, Abilene, Beaumont and The Barbara Jordan Processing and Distribution Center in downtown Houston.
Not only that, Glazebrook says the Postal Service has plans to close 11 neighborhood post offices in Houston over the next 12 months.
What does closing all of these facilities do?
“It slows the mail. ;It slows the delivery and the processing of the mail," Glazebrook says.
As if that wasn’t enough, on Jan. 5, the post office officially activated its plans to change the service standard for first class mail delivery.
“It means, if you live in the city of Houston, and you want to mail a letter across the city, the obligation used to be to deliver that piece of mail the next day. ;After Jan. 5, the obligation changes to two or three days.
The United States Government Accountability Office recently slammed the USPS for not even measuring the delivery times for 45 percent of the mail it delivers.
Channel 2 Investigates wanted to know how things got this way, so they contacted the Postal Service and requested an interview with Bobby Collins, the postmaster for Houston. Channel 2 Investigates tried for more than a week to get that interview but were told by a USPS representative that wasn’t possible and the USPS would send a written statement instead.
That statement is included below.
In the meantime, if anyone has a complaint to register about the mail service in their neighborhood, there is a link below where anyone can get the phone number of the Postal Services Consumer Affairs Department.
Go to the link, punch in a zip code and anyone can get the phone number needed to contact the Postal Service and register a complaint.
Consumer Affairs Office Locator
Here is the statement the USPS sent Channel 2 Investigates.
"As a part of the USPS network realignment program, the North Houston P&DC was expanded over the last year to accommodate additional operations and mail volume. This included additional sorting equipment and operations designed to address the growth in package volume. In January, revised nationwide service standards took effect that resulted in significant changes to letter sorting operations for First-Class Mail. These changes are part of one of the most significant operational changes in postal history, which have been undertaken to make the mail processing network more efficient, consistent with the drastic changes in the mailing practices of its customers. Single-Piece First-Class Mail volume has declined significantly over the last decade. Steep declines in overall First-Class Mail volume and revenues which fund postal operations have required that the Postal Service business model be adjusted to ensure that the network of processing facilities, Post Offices, transportation routes, and other interconnected infrastructure operates with greater efficiency than ever before. Our goal is to make these operating changes in a manner that provides a level of service that is consistent with our new business model and that meets the expectations of our customers in the Houston District. We appreciate the patience of our customers, as we strive to meet (and exceed) these expectations.
"The Postal Service is in the business of delivering the mail – that is our core mission – and we are committed to ensuring our customers have confidence in the U.S. mail and that they receive the highest level of service. We apologize to any customer who does not have a positive experience when doing business with us.
"Last year, the Postal Service, nationwide, handled 155 billion pieces of mail – 40 percent of the world’s mail volume. The Houston District is one of the largest postal districts in the nation, in terms of population, delivery points, and mail volume and handles approximately 8.6 billion pieces of mail annually. The 10,500+ employees of the Houston District work every day with one goal in mind – delivering the mail timely, accurately and safely. The vast majority of the time, we meet and oftentimes exceed our stated goals for service. We don’t wish to minimize or excuse those instances where we fail to provide that service – but in the larger scope, we perform exceptionally well, each and every day.
"Some of the steps we’ve taken to drive exceptional performance and make continuous improvements include:
• Increasing staffing by adding hundreds of new employees, from February of this year and continuing up to the present time. In fact, the Houston District is hiring right now and potential applicants can check www.usps.com for information.
• Expanding our processing capacity by bringing in state-of-the-art package sortation equipment, and by increasing processing capability on existing machines, to maximize efficiencies.
• Deploying special teams, consisting of national and regional operational experts, who have been brought in to assist with our drive toward continuous improvement of our processes.
"The North Houston facility is the cornerstone of our mail processing operations in Houston and it is our goal to continue making rapid improvements in our operations, in order to give Houston-area customers the service they deserve. Customers who have concerns with their mail service are urged to contact their local Post Office. We want to hear from our customers so we can swiftly resolve issues and continue to provide the highest level of service."