A heavy downpour outside and a dwindling supply of empty chairs inside did nothing to keep dozens of people from raising complaints about the local postal service at a listening session hosted by Rep. Rob Wittman at the James City-Bruton Volunteer Fire Department on Friday.
Wittman, along with several officials from the U.S. Postal Service Richmond District Team, listened to a series of complaints from area residents regarding issues with mail delivery.
“We’ve gotten complaints about postal service elsewhere, but when you have a concentration of complaints, that’s when we become concerned,” Wittman said. “Which is why I am here and why officials from the post office are here, so that we can all get a sense of the magnitude of the issue.”
More than 30 people spoke over the course of two-and-a-half hours, sharing stories about bad service, lost packages, long delivery times and a host of other issues. One major focal point of complaint was the Monticello Avenue post office, with many complaints about the service, or the perceived lack of service at the location.
“A lot of the attitude here is the attitude of employees, especially those at Monticello because the branch is a mess, the service is abysmal and the staff just doesn’t care,” said Daniel Bowman. “I get it. They’re union, they can’t be fired and you can write all the notes you want, but until that attitude changes, nothing is going to change, because the workers just don’t care.”
Other complaints ranged from small business owners who’ve been waiting months for checks to arrive in the mail, to military families whose packages to loved ones overseas have gotten lost in processing centers. But if there was any common thread, it was palpable and prolonged frustration.
“I keep getting my neighbors’ mail and my packages keep going missing, and when they do arrive, they’ve been opened, and this has been an issue for months,” said Elaine Collins. “We need to actually see change, no more telling us that ‘we’re listening’, no more excuses for why our letters don’t arrive on time, or our packages keep getting lost or stolen. We need it fixed.”
Benjamin Farmer, the Marketing Manager for the USPS Richmond District Office, said complaints such as these show areas where the postal service needs to improve.
“Clearly, the level of complaints today shows that there is some work that needs to be done,” Farmer said. “All I can say is that we will look over every complaint we received today and see what we can do to address them as quickly as possible.”
Wittman said that, although his office had received some complaints, they had not been on the level or the scale of those raised at the meeting, and coming away from this, he said greater action and some change is necessary on the part of the postal service.
“The postal service has to look at the nature of these complaints. We’re going to work with them to make sure they handle them appropriately and quickly and see what can be done to address these issues,” he said. “We’re going to be working with them, but also watching them, holding their feet to the proverbial fire, to make sure there is a timely and significant improvement.”
Wittman also had a simple request of anyone who continues to have issues: Tell him.
“Listening and taking in these concerns is important, and I hope that, in the future, if you have issues, or continue to have issues, reach out to my office,” said Wittman. “Reach out to us, we’ll see what we can do to help.”
Have a complaint?
Sean CW Korsgaard can be reached at 757-968-1529, by email firstname.lastname@example.org, and on Twitter @SCWKorsgaard.