As mail woes mount, Rep. Anna Eshoo asks USPS to address ‘fundamental problems’
Following reports from Scotts Valley residents — and residents countywide — about mail delivery issues, Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, is asking United States Postal Service officials to address the litany of problems and is encouraging residents to contact her office.
Mail delivery issues, from people not getting mail for days to packages marked incorrectly as delivered, continue to plague residents across Santa Cruz County and have now caught the eye of a local congresswoman, who is asking postal service officials to address the problems.
“I understand that the confluence of the holiday season and COVID-19 are putting an enormous strain on the Postal Service, but there are some fundamental problems that must be addressed,” Rep. Anna Eshoo, D-Palo Alto, wrote in her Dec. 18 letter to District Manager Eddie Morgan of the Bay-Valley Postal District, which spans the entire Bay Area and also includes all of Santa Cruz County.
Lookout exclusively reported on the scope of the mail problems countywide on Dec. 14 in the wake of social media reports about the problems. At that time, post office officials said that a huge increase in online shopping prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic had overwhelmed their local ranks, but they stopped short of substantiating social media reports that the virus also was hurting post office staffing.
But on Thursday, a USPS spokesman acknowledged that the Bay Area “is experiencing employee availability and processing impacts due to COVID and extremely high volume mailings.” This marked their first acknowledgment that the pandemic — understandably given its recent surge — has hurt staffing.
In her two-page letter, Eshoo wrote that it “is alarming that packages would be shown as delivered only to have them arrive days later.”
Tracking of packages should be “accurate and dependable,” she added. “If expected delivery times have been impacted by operations challenges, then USPS should be forthright and not try to artificially maintain their expected delivery dates.”
She also documented several other problems, including:
- No mail for days at a time.
- Forwarded mail being returned to sender.
- Informed delivery, the post office’s digital preview service, being inconsistent.
Additionally, “neighbors are receiving other people’s mail, and one constituent reported that after not receiving mail for several days, their letters were stuffed into their mailbox causing it to overflow and exposing the mail to rain,” Eshoo said. “Packages have also been left on front curbs, potentially encouraging theft.”
Eshoo wrote that residents should be informed of “what they can expect regarding mail frequency during volume surges.”
“If someone is waiting for a shipment of medication, gifts for family members or business-related packages, they need to know if delivery is going to be delayed,” she said. “It is absolutely critical that medications be prioritized.”
Bay Area USPS spokesman Augustine Ruiz acknowledged the problems in an email to Lookout. “Please be aware that the Postal Service is doing everything possible to ensure that mail delivery continues to all our customers and every efforts are being made to conduct these deliveries for the safety of our customers and employees,” he wrote.
He asked customers to be patient “as every possible efforts are being made safely to conduct daily mail delivery service. It is our intent to deliver the mail as humanly possible.”
Eshoo’s office shared her letter with the Scotts Valley City Council in an email Wednesday. She also sent a letter that day to Scotts Valley Mayor Derek Timm, asking him to direct constituents who would like to file a complaint to her district office “so we can report problems to Bay-Valley and get them resolved as quickly as possible.”
Complaints can be emailed to email@example.com. Separately, Lookout is soliciting comments about mail delivery in the online form at the end of this story.
Mail delivery issues have not just cropped up in Scotts Valley.
Across the greater Santa Cruz area, residents have been reporting issues with mail in recent weeks, sharing experiences on Facebook or Nextdoor, the popular social networking service for neighborhoods.
Some say they have gone up to a week without deliveries. Others are waiting for important bills. One social media user said she had to call creditors and pay bills with a credit card to avoid late fees.
There is sympathy, too, for the rank and file.
“I talked with our carrier today and I feel so sorry for those employees,” Lindsay McConnell wrote in a Facebook group, called Hometown Santa Cruz. “She’s been up since dawn and her day ends in the evening.”
Among those who have struggled to get mail in Scotts Valley is David Leland. He lives in a senior community with 200 addresses.
“Going to get my mail these days is just an exercise in futility,” he wrote in an email to Lookout earlier this week. “I haven’t gotten a Time magazine since Thanksgiving, and no mail at all for the past few days.”
Are you having issues with your mail delivery? Let us know in the form below: