Monday, August 25, 2014

Life Without a Real Post Office

A year and a month ago, I did a Diary entry on the Norristown Post Office--about it being sold and what to do with the building. Now it's time to reflect on what closing down many of the old functions of our Post Office has meant to our community. I only have personal experience to draw on so here are my observations.

Most of you know I live in what was my parents house. Since I was born we've had the problem that's probably common to everyone in Norristown who lives on one of the long east-west streets. If your address is West-Something, you get the mail meant for the same house number at East-Something, usually because the person mailing the letter didn't specific "east" or "west." Even if they did, the sorter at the Post Office would occasionally make a mistake. The mistake was infrequent so no big deal. You mark the envelope "Deliver to EAST," put it back in your mailbox, the mailman takes it and that's that.

In the last year, though, I've begun to get mail for other houses on my street or for the same house number on parallel streets, sometimes as far away as 3 blocks. Not infrequently either, often weekly. And when I mark it and put it back in my box, the mailman doesn't always take it. Last week I finally taped a letter-sized sign to a piece of mail that read in large capitals: "DEAR MAILMAN, LOOK AT THE ADDRESS ON THIS. PLEASE TAKE AND DELIVER IT TO THE RIGHT ADDRESS." He finally took it, ripping the note off and leaving it to blow around on my porch.

But the clincher, which has happened to me 3 times now, twice in less than the last 2 months, is when I'm expecting a package. I track it online. When it says "out for delivery," I keep an eye on the front of the house, lately working in my front room where I can see if someone come up to the porch. 3 times, I've gone back to online tracking later only to find a message that says in effect, "We tried to deliver your parcel but no one was home. We left a notice. Contact the post office on the notice about picking up your package or rescheduling a redelivery."

No notice was ever left. The doorbell never rang; no one knocked. In fact, this last week, the package should have been delivered on Friday and I didn't even get mail that day, so no mailman came to my door at all. I would have seen him.

When this has happened before, I've called the Conshohocken Post Office (now our distribution center). They've been sympathetic, but they say once packages are sent to Norristown, they can do nothing. The guy I talked to on Saturday in Conshy implied that the Norristown P.O. was a problem child. The last 2 times when I've called the Norristown P.O. it takes forever for anyone to answer the phone, if they do at all. They say they're holding the package for me to pick up. I say I want it redelivered and ask them to actually look for it. Then they say they can't find it and they'll get back to me. Then it miraculously appears on my front porch that day.

Saturday, since I couldn't get hold of the N-town Post Office, I did a stake-out on my front porch and when the mailman finally came, I asked where my package was. He said he never saw a parcel for my address.

Thing is, two other residents have told me the same thing has happened to them with packages this summer. Norristown claims to have tried to deliver and left a notice, but no notice was left. It looks like no one's actually trying to deliver the packages--they're only covering their asses by saying they did, especially on overnight and 2nd-day mail.

This morning I called Norristown PO and explained the problem. The woman who answered was very nice and even gave me a Consumer Affairs phone number to register a complaint. She said a lot of residents are calling in with the same experience, and calling in is the only way management at our Post Office will be forced to look into it..

If you're getting lousy postal service, do your community a favor -- call Consumer Affairs at 215-863-6060 or go to this link to send an email. In the email specify the Norristown Post Office and our zip 19401.

It's hard not to take this new bad service from the P.O. personally--that someone out there feels this is all that N-town deserves. Maybe if we complain soon enough, it won't become the norm.

1 comment:

  1. I think it must be on a carrier-carrier basis. When my regular guy was out I had terrible service and two missing parcels (possibly not the carrier's fault, but still...questionable.) The second he was back we were good again. He has a young child the same age as mine and used to knock quietly until I came to the door for my parcels. He told me he didn't want to wake her and knew it was nap time for toddlers!