KabirCares.org

Residents Report Post Office Irregularities

Recently, Council member Wojahn and I received a number of complaints from our residents about many irregularities of the local post office services. This led us to send a letter to Edward Williamson, the manager of the Capital area post office operations . Please see that below. Also, if you have experienced similar irregularities, please let me know.

Edward Williamson
Manager, Post Office Operations
Capital District
United States Postal Services
Capitol Heights, MD  20791

Mr. Williamson,

We are writing to follow up with the letter sent by the College Park City Council on September 13, 2011, regarding concerns about employee standards at the Hollywood Post Office at 9591 Baltimore Ave.  In that letter, a copy of which is attached for your reference, the council documented concerns about lost and misdelivered mail, failure of the post office to hold mail for people who went on vacation, poor customer service, and other complaints that residents brought to our attention.

A few new complaints recently came to our attention of lost and misdelivered mail, and we decided to request feedback from the community about the service that community members have been receiving from the Hollywood Post Office.  We are writing to report that feedback to you and request follow-up on some remaining concerns.

Fortunately, it seems that service has improved in some respects at this post office.  Although residents still report some occasional misdirected or lost mail, several have commented that the situation has improved itself, and some have particularly complimented at least one of the carriers, who has exhibited professionalism and a friendly demeanor.

Problems continue, however, especially with the staff working at the Hollywood post office itself.  Residents continue to report rude and discourteous staff when they need to go to the post office to take care of their business.  They continue to have problems with requests that should be simple, such as requests to hold mail.

Attached is a list of comments and concerns raised among residents over the past few months.  If you would like further information about any particular issue or incident, please contact us at the contact information provided below and we will follow up with the resident to see if the resident will be willing to speak with you directly.  Otherwise, please contact us so that we can meet and discuss these concerns and what the United States Postal Service can do to continue to improve services at the Hollywood Post Office.

Sincerely,

Fazlul Kabir and Patrick Wojahn

Reports of Concerns Regarding Hollywood Post Office
Collected July 2, 2014 through July 24, 2014

EM:

As for me, I will do just about ANYTHING to avoid going to that place–I’ve changed the services I use just to avoid having to send packages via USPS via my neighborhood post office. I joke about the fact that going to the Hollywood Post Office is like visiting the Smithsonian, complete with 80s PrintShop-era signage on the bulletin board to the right of the inner door.

The main reason I avoid it, though, is the lines. There are several “cashier” desks at the front but never more than 2 or 3 people working, even during the busiest of Saturday mornings. The line frequently stretches out the inner door during those times and moves very, very slowly. Even during times when there are fewer people in line, it still feels like it takes forever to get in and get out because although there are two women who are very, very quick, the people who are usually working the “cashier” desks don’t ever seem to be in any kind of hurry. All it takes is one student sending a poorly labeled box to another country and we’re all stuck in postal purgatory for days.

My father is married to a small-town Postmaster and so I know that a lot of these issues have to do with USPS and its floppy-disk-using ways, but it’s just hard to cut our post office much slack when you go to others with more funding (MoCo, Arlington, of course) and it’s like a white shiny vision of the future with hyper-efficient “cashiers” (I keep putting this in quotes because I don’t know the right term) and a much faster processing speed. The Hollywood Post Office is incredibly depressing visually, the staff seem depressed, and it feels like you spend longer in there than you do in the DMV. I avoid it at all costs.”

TS:

Patrick, I’ve had two incidents of mail not being received. One was in May and the other was in June. The first one was sent from North Carolina, and the last one was sent 13 June from Wheaton. I am so fed up with this post office. I’ve had problems for 12 years! I’ve even contacted my congressman and the Post Master General.

DC:

The biggest complaint that I have is the lack of customer service this post office has. The majority of the workers in there are not friendly and they give me the impression that I am bothering them by making them do their job. Not everyone is like this, but the majority are. And the post master if that is what this one woman is — she is really not helpful at all. She will not help her staff when they need it. Quite frankly — I have been going to the UPS store in Beltsville lately to mail packages as I don’t want to deal with these people. The place just needs a course in good customer service in my opinion. On another note — I love the lady that delivers my mail — she is great!!!!

LP:

While I understand people make mistakes, and we all need forgiveness, this seems to be an ongoing issue that requires further addressing.

To that end we have experienced the following issues.

1-We get mail belonging to other people on the surrounding streets.

2-Our mailbox is usually left open after mail is giving which provides a tempting target to possible thieves and also lets in lots of nice critters into the box (which is attached to the house).

3-The new mail lady often leaves our fence gate open (a nice way to let bad people know we are not home) or slams is very hard. We have had to replace the lock on our gate once because of this.

We never had a problem until the new mail lady came. Again, not looking to have anyone fired but in light of your email it did seem worth bringing up.

SJ:

As per your request,
below contains a series of emails regarding post office problems up to Jan 2012.
Add later incidents: mail on hold was not held, instead delivered. Certified letter – received second notice, never received first notice which post office claimed was left the previous week. Package mailed from Alexandria, VA returned to sender despite being correctly addressed. Tracking log recorded that a delivery was attempted after 4pm on a weekday, a notice left, and at 6:30pm the same day, the package was declared undeliverable as addressed and sent on its way back to the sender. However, no notice was ever actually left, this was a complete fabrication. Also, one day when I went to pick up a package held at the post office, it took them a half hour to find it under their nose because they looked under first name and it was filed under last name and they simply couldn’t find it. It was even in front although they searched a lot in back.

Based on my history and that of others, I think trying to deal with this is tilting at wind mills. I just accept that the post office is run by lazy crooks who fabricate records and lie all the time, can’t read, and have no clue what they are doing, and it’s the same in 20770. If you can get any results, that would be quite a miracle – try and see, just don’t hold your breath waiting for a good result.

AD:

Aside from seeming rushed and overworked (and therefore having less than stellar grace with customers), and never having the stamps I want, I haven’t had any specific problems with them in 10 years of using that post office.

Im sure people would stop complaining if the post office got a paint job and a better color of fluorescent light. I do always feel on edge when I go in there (I cant imagine how grumpy I’d be if I had to work there).

I’d bake cookies to buy that place some new paint.

DK:

My problem relates to property maintenance of the buffer strip. As you know, I live next door to the P.O. The P.O. refuses to maintain the buffer strip between its parking lot and my house. There is one dead tree that threatens my house and had already dropped large branches onto my prior car. There is substantial brush that the P.O. will not remove. I had raised these issues with the Postmaster. I had raised these issues with the Capital District Post Office Operations office. No action has been taken.

The tree poses a hazard to my house and car. The brush presents a safety hazard when leaving my driveway. I will appreciate anything that you can do to assure that the P.O. maintains its property in a safe and attractive manner.

CM (letter sent to the USPS 5/18/14):

May 18, 2014

Postmaster, North College Park Station,

I am writing to tell you that I am very frustrated that a mail carrier did NOT come to my house on Saturday, May 17, 2014. I realize that the U.S. Postal Service has major financial problems and elimination of Saturday delivery is an option under discussion. However, elimination of Saturday delivery has NOT been approved and adopted. I don’t understand why no mail carrier came to my house this past Saturday but I know this is a fact. Early Saturday morning I attached some letters to my mail box for the mail carrier to pick up for mailing and these letters wereNEVER picked up.

Request that you initiate action to be sure that mail carriers cover all their assigned routes every day!

Thank you.

MH:

More than a month ago, I went in there, stood at that door that opens up at the counter, and asked to speak with the manager. She came out to the counter to see what was wrong. All of the staff looked worried. I politely and quietly said I wanted to make a complaint. She gave me the complaint number of the Official U.S. Postal Service to call, which I did later that day. The interview was very good, and I appreciated the concern and pro-public attitude. Before I type out for you my complaint, I will say that there has been some improvement, but sometimes it has back-slided, which tells me that it’s a different carrier.

Here was my total complaint:

I have found my mailbox lid completely up, even on rainy days, and my mail was almost destroyed by the rain. With the lid up at any time (and this is even when there’s 1 envelope), someone up to no good walking by can see that it’s a bank statement or a check, if they quickly jump up, or they’re tall. The interviewer agreed with me. Other times, especially when there’s a lot of junk mail, I’ve had business mail jammed into the box and envelopes partially torn. That could have damaged important content. Also, too many times my front gate has not been latched shut when the carrier leaves because they either are sorting mail as they walk out, or they’re cutting across my driveway. The gate can be a hazard to folks or kids on the public walk. Finally, I complained that there’s no consistency with the delivery schedule.

I think that this PO branch is UNDERSTAFFED, and they’ve had too many inexperienced staff. Even if I go inside to buy stamps or something, the public is sometimes frustrated with the wait time, and staff walking in and out of the front counter area, leaving only 1 there, obviously overworked. I think it’s time for the U.S. POSTAL SERVICE in DC to do a “MYSTERY SHOPPER” routine on them for a few days, or “UNDERCOVER BOSS”. It won’t take long to understand what’s going on. I go most of the time now to the Rhode Island P.O. in Beltsville.

AG:

The good news:
1. Counter staff are generally competent and helpful.
2. The mailmen/women delivering mail house to house have been very cordial and helpful – and commiserate with how badly the Hollywood post office is managed.

The bad news:
This post office is incapable of handling requests to hold mail. In my nine years in Hollywood, requests to hold mail have almost never been handled satisfactorily. These comments are based on at least 5 -6 requests per year to hold mail over nine years.

I have learned the following:

1. Deliver the yellow hold mail card to the post office in person (do not leave in the box for the mailman to take back to the post office – it may not get there)
2. Deliver it the day before you leave to go out of town (otherwise they may start holding mail before the specified date)
3. Don’t assume that the mail will be held — on many occasions I’ve found some mail in my box upon returning from a trip, but since I get a lot of mail, I knew there must be more. When I go to the post office to ask if there is any held mail, the answer is “no.” A day or two later I receive a large wad of mail in my box – or a white bin on my porch full of the held mail.
4. Don’t expect any sympathy or apologies (sometimes I wonder if the staff is trained NEVER to apologize or take responsibility. The response to my complaints about the held mail is always “Your route does not have a regular mailman.” Why it that MY problem — that’s THEIR problem.

This pattern is so consistent that it’s ludicrous – my neighbor and I joke about it.

Thanks for asking and taking steps to address these issues.

AL:

I do not have any major complaints – we do occasionally get the wrong mail, which makes us worry – over the past two years I am going to say this has happened 5 times – the mail almost always belongs next door, or farther down the same block. Just for kicks, from now on I will write down the date.

LM:

We get a fair amount of mail that was intended for a different address (AVE vs PL, number off by one numeral – our neighbor, or 9700 vs 9600, etc). We always put it back out so I assume it gets to the right person eventually, but there is no telling how much of our mail never finds us. We stopped our Netflix subscription 4 or 5 years ago because lost disks were so much of a problem. Now we don’t get enough “important” mail (bill pay online, etc) to really know whether or not it’s a problem.

CO:

Haven’t had this problem since they stopped the night deliveries – for a while they were having the “meet your neighbor” mail delivery ie mail delivered to the wrong house. We now seem to have a consistent mail carrier. Looked into getting updated/new passports and found out that you now need to go to Beltsville or Greenbelt – no longer the Hollywood Road post office.

JB:

I’m very pleased with the most recent new mail carrier (today’s mail) whose route covers the 9200 block of 49th Avenue. He is just as competent and nice as the one who retired.

irst, we’ve been having serious problems with our mail delivery over the past several weeks. Not only have we frequently been receiving other people’s mail, but much of our mail has been delivered at other people’s addresses. Here’s just a few examples: Early this morning a huge load of our mail was placed in our box by an unknown neighbor, including mail that was postmarked June 20; we just received our Comcast bill that is due in a few days! A week ago my next door neighbor told me he placed a bunch of mail in my box that was mistakenly delivered to him. Around the same time I received a notice to pick up a package at the post office, but it was someone else’s name and address on the notice! In general, our mail gets delivered by many different mail carriers at many different times of the day. In all other places I’ve lived, there has been far more consistency in the mail carriers and time of mail delivery. Could you please request an immediate investigation of the Hollywood Post Office about this?

Second, I have complained to you both for many, many years about the serious safety problems in crossing RI Ave. at Hollywood by the Methodist Church. The situation at the other RI Ave. crosswalks, such as by Mom’s and REI, is improved as a result of the blinking light which pedestrians can activate. Why is there a delay in doing this at Hollywood?

Third, I’m very disappointed that there is no teeth in the City’s front yard fence ordinance. I recently attended a meeting of the Advisory Planning Commission because someone wanted to erect a chain link fence in her front yard on RI Ave. The Commission granted its approval, largely on the grounds that many of her neighbors have front-yard chain-link fences. Thus, the ordinance is not serving its intended purpose, which should be to reduce the number of ugly chain link fences that have (sadly) infested our neighborhood. On a positive note, the Commission Chair, Mary Cook, really liked a suggestion that I proposed. I suggest that the City provide grant money that people can apply for to remove any front-yard chain-link fence. There are some people who aren’t removing their old fences simply because of the cost. Perhaps to aid residents the City can identify a list of companies who can do this (I can recommend somebody who I used)–even negotiate a good rate and get the steel recycled. I believe the City will be paying something like $25,000 for the fireworks show this Friday, which is money up in smoke. How about shorten the show by a few minutes and allocate a few thousand dollars towards front-yard fence-removal grants each year? I’d be willing to come to a City Council meeting and present this proposal if you think this would help and might realistically get passed.
:

I have not had any lost mail this year that I am aware of, and that in itself is a breakthrough. However, due to all the major trouble we’ve had over the last two years with lost checks, contracts, etc., my household and business, which used to use the Post Office regularly, has gone electronic, and we have cut our mailings by probably 80%. While this is not good for the Post Office, they need to expect that type of reaction when they are seen as unreliable. Unfortunately, they will never get that prior business back. I will say that I go out of my way to use the Beltsville Post Office, not the College Park office, and I think they do a good job.

MR:

Retrain the clerks in customer service…they seem 2 b a bunch of know it alls.

JH:

The only gripe I have is that when you go there in the morning hours, there are ? people waiting for service, and only one postal employee behind the counter. Don’t know how many times I’ve left only to return later in the day. Maybe they should open just half-day and employ one more postal employee.

DK:

I have resided in North College Park for about 13 years now and overall seem to be getting my mail OK currently but over these years I have had issues with mail delivery either being delivered elsewhere or not at all. On one occasion I was expecting a check that eventually was delivered six months late at which point I made an inquiry to Postmaster Bell at that time but was offered no explanation – it had ended up in Richmond, Va. before it was eventually forwarded to me. If my mail is delivered to my one next door neighbor, I will get it – but the other neighbor more than likely tosses it in the trash. This happened with an insurance bill which could have caused me great inconvenience and cancellation. Last year I never received one of my WSSC bills but I just waited until the next quarterly invoice and paid it. I sometimes get mail intended for addresses several blocks away so I have to catch up with the carrier the next day or bring it to the Post Office. Counter service at the post office has gotten to be a lot more time-consuming in recent years as it seems that personnel staffing is a lot less. I hope this little input will be of some help in support of this issue.

RH:

Patrick, we have Had Numerous Problems with this P.O. for More than Just Recent Years. I stopped using this facility for Out-Going Mail: i.e. Bills, Letters, Cards And Packages over 10 years ago. Before I retired, I would take mail to a Montgomery Co. P.O. on my way to work. Now, I Drive over to the Beltsville P.O. For All Out-Going mail. The Difference in service between there and C.P. Is Night & Day! I Believe management OR Lack There Of Is a Major Issue at this Location, And Has Been for Many Years. Current Problems consist of neighbors Delivering Misdirected mail, And Delayed mail. Previous Problems, Lost Mail, Certified Time Sensitive Package Held At P.O., After Not Receiving an Express Mail Package for 3 days Past Due, I Called the P.O. And was Told I should Try to Find My Carrier in the Neighborhood to See If He Knew Where It Is. Also Rude Employees at the Service Desk. I Could Continue This for Pages, But I Doubt the Manager Will Read It, But File Under Miscellaneous! My Opinion would be to Raise the P.O. building on Hollywood Road, And Turn Over Services to the Beltsville Office! Hope you and family Enjoy Independence Day, & the long weekend.

MA:

In your response to the Hollywood Post Office issues, my husband and I have had packages delayed for a week at Hollywood Post Office. We did some research and decided to just visit the Hollywood Post Office. They had our packages and informed us “they could not find our address”. I understand we live on the part of 50th Place that looks like an alley but they have no problem delivering our regular mail. Fed Ex and UPS have not had any problems finding our house. Google maps can find our house too. I’m confused as to how they could not locate it especially since they have delivered packages before without any issues.

SA:

Good luck with the current contacts at the CP Post Office and getting them to resolve issues.

That was not our experience a few years ago when we were trying to get what we felt was a scam/fraud problem resolved. We met and reported several times to the then College Park Post Master regarding this situation to no resolve. We had reported that we were getting all types of mail, i.e., credit card offers, banks, cruise lines, sears charge, etc. All of this mail came in another person’s name that was apparently using our address.

The then CP Post Master kept telling us that they would get back to us and let us know what was going on. However, that never happened. On the last occasion of meeting with the same CP Post Master we were told that they would be contacting the Postal Inspector (Dennis Hall in DC) and they would contact us. However, we were never contacted by anyone regarding the issue.

We have found most of the postal workers to be pleasant. However, we have also had a couple of occasions were there was rudeness.

As for our residential Postman, Bo, we have found him to be very efficient and very pleasant.

As to today’s opinion of the College Park Post Office we feel that much improvement could and should be made. The College Park Post Office is very much out-of-date in comparison to most more modern facilities (i.e., Beltsville, Greenbelt). We think it would greatly benefit College Park residents and possibly boost the morale of College Park postal workers if the Post Office were to be renovated and brought up-to-date with the other more modern Post Offices. Some advantages to this being that residents could mail a letter, etc., at any time day or night. Although we do not have a P.O. Box, it appears that the people that do, have to open their p.o. box during post office hours only (not sure on how that works).

DM:

We’ve been having serious problems with our mail delivery over the past several weeks. Not only have we frequently been receiving other people’s mail, but much of our mail has been delivered at other people’s addresses. Here’s just a few examples: Early this morning a huge load of our mail was placed in our box by an unknown neighbor, including mail that was postmarked June 20; we just received our Comcast bill that is due in a few days! A week ago my next door neighbor told me he placed a bunch of mail in my box that was mistakenly delivered to him. Around the same time I received a notice to pick up a package at the post office, but it was someone else’s name and address on the notice! In general, our mail gets delivered by many different mail carriers at many different times of the day. In all other places I’ve lived, there has been far more consistency in the mail carriers and time of mail delivery. Could you please request an immediate investigation of the Hollywood Post Office about this?

The problem of inaccurate mail delivery is continuing. One day this week we received other people’s mail and on another day this week some of our mail ended up with neighbors. One of my neighbors, also fed up with the situation, recently tried to ask the mail lady why we keep having these problems and she ignored him and walked away. He told me he’s been receiving not only our mail, but mail from 3 or 4 other houses. He even recently got mail from someone who lives on Hollywood Road, which is several streets over from us. He was very nice and got in his car and dropped it off at the person’s house. Not everyone would do that.

Mail delivery is a very serious issue. Not only are our postal workers not taking their jobs seriously, but I get the sense that there is not a serious investigation underway. It’s been more than three weeks since I contacted you about this problem and I’ve seen zero improvement.

RD:

Oh I could go on and on about the problems that I’ve had with the Hollywood Post Office! As of late, however, we have been getting really great service from our deliveryman. My neighbor says his name is Gary.

I’ve lived here three years. (closed on the house three years ago today, actually!) Here is a summary of issues I’ve had.

-Not long after we moved in, I had multiple packages delivered to the wrong address within a short period of time (even after I talked to someone at the post office the first time it happened).
-After a package went missing on my front porch, I had someone leave a signature confirmation on my front porch (fortunately I was home). The deliverywoman then yelled at me when I approached her and politely pointed out to her that she was supposed to get my signature.
-I talked with a manager and they were no longer supposed to leave packages on my porch (a couple went missing), but this only lasted a couple months and they are now always left on my porch.
-I have received plenty of mail for the wrong address. It’s one thing to get the occasional piece of junk mail, but one time I got someone’s registered mail.
-I put in a hold request last summer, but mail got delivered anyway.
-Except for the past month or so (with great service from Gary), the mail has been delivered after 5pm.

I’ve gone up to the post office to speak with managers. I’ve spoken to one manager many times and she never remembers me. I spoke to the delivery supervisor in April and he didn’t even apologize for the issues.

Again, the last month or so has been great – mail has been delivered in the early afternoon, and I haven’t received any mail for 48th Pl. I hope Gary sticks around for a while! Dealing with the post office has been incredibly frustrating, and the only reason I continue to do any business with them is because I have no choice.

VS:

We have experienced the staff at 9591 Baltimore Avenue to be apathetic, lazy, unhelpful and, frankly, incompetent. In response to our concerns about our mail–which they couldn’t find–they gave us unconfirmed, speculative information that caused us a lot of unnecessary grief and trips to the post office. They were unapologetic and seemed quite unconcerned.

Here are the details:

Before we left on vacation we put in a hold request with the USPS online to hold our mail for 3 weeks. We immediately received a confirmation email and number, and a few days prior to the end of the hold period we received a reminder that our hold request was ending. I informed our house sitters that they did not need to check our mailbox because our mail was being held for us by the post office.

Yesterday my husband went to the post office to pick up our held mail. The employee told him she couldn’t find it, and since it was after 9:30 am it was “probably” already on the truck to be delivered with yesterday’s mail. So he returned home.

Since 3 weeks of mail would be delivered, we assumed the mail carrier would knock on our door since it wouldn’t all fit in the box. The knock never came, and when we checked our mailbox late in the afternoon, only that day’s mail had been delivered.

So, my husband went back to the post office this morning, right at 9 am when they opened, hoping to finally retrieve our mail. Again, he was told by the same employee he talked to yesterday that our “held” mail was not to be found, but the employee did find and hand him one catalog that was scheduled to be delivered today. She also suggested that perhaps we didn’t get any other mail. My husband stressed that our mail had been on hold for 3 weeks, so it was extremely improbable that we did not receive any mail during that time period. At that point, the employee asked if my husband would like to speak to a supervisor, and he replied yes. The employee left briefly and came back, informing him that the supervisor was “busy” and that he could come back “later.” My husband told her that he needed to speak to someone and would wait. The employee told my husband the wait “would be a long time,” and he repeated that he would wait. The employee told my husband she would tell the supervisor that he was waiting, and then she briefly left and returned, telling him this time that the supervisor would be with him “in a minute.”

While he waited, he called the USPS 800 customer service number to file a complaint and launch an investigation.

After 20 minutes the manager came out and informed my husband they had never received our hold request, despite our confirmation and reminder emails. He said the mail would have been delivered as normal and, after 10 days, if the mail box was full, the mail would have been removed from our box and returned to sender.

When my husband called and told me this, I contacted our house sitters on the off chance that they might have noticed mail in our box (even though I told them not to worry about it since our mail would be held). Fortunately, they did check the box anyway and retrieved our mail daily, putting it in a bag beneath our kitchen table. So, we do have our mail.

However, the College Park post office did not have any record that our mail was to be held; they did not know whether or not our mail had been delivered nor where it was; in response to our inquiries they provided mere guesses (seemingly to appease us in the moment and get us to go away); and they failed to do basic troubleshooting that would have solved our problem. For example, they told my husband that if our mail had been delivered and not retrieved from the mail box after 10 days, they would have returned it all. Yet they delivered our mail yesterday, and the post office employee handed today’s mail to my husband, so clearly they were not returning it. That should have provided to them a clue that our mail was being delivered.

The supervisor informed my husband that he would need to check with our mail carrier to see if our mail had been returned; however, he said he had no way of contacting her until she arrived at work on Monday. He asked if he could please contact the carrier right then, but the supervisor said he had no contact information for her.

Further, my husband informed the supervisor that he had mailed a package to himself from France, but the supervisor didn’t check to see if it was there. When he returned home, we went through the mail that our house sitters had retrieved for us. We found an attempted delivery notice dated 5/7/2014 from the post office referring to our box shipped from France, stating that it was being held at the post office. My husband drove to the post office a third time to retrieve this box, which was there, but which neither the employee nor supervisor found.

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