The list of complaints was long, and representatives from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) vowed to do better, starting immediately.
U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-3rd) and 19th Ward Ald. Matt O’Shea hosted a meeting on May 28 at the Chicago High School for High School for Agricultural Sciences, where USPS officials listened to concerns from local residents including mail not being delivered or arriving late, mail being stolen, and poor customer service at USPS stations in Morgan Park and Mt. Greenwood.
Regina Lesley, USPS supervisor in Morgan Park, said she is new at the station and apologized to residents for past service. A carrier for 20 years, she said that if customers aren’t happy, then she isn’t happy. She pledged to do all she can to fix the problem.
“Starting [May 29], everyone will get mail—even if I have to carry it,” Lesley said. “I’m going to make sure. I don’t need [applause] right now; I’m going to show you with action. … If I have to stay there all night, I’m going to make sure you guys get your stuff.”
About 70 people attended the 90-minute meeting, which was also sponsored by state Sen. Bill Cunningham (D-18th) and state Rep. Fran Hurley (D-35th).
Karen Washington, a USPS manager who lives in the 19th Ward, and Keith Blain, a USPS executive in Chicago, also listened to residents’ complaints. They are also new to their positions, and Washington said a “smile training” program is focused on improving customer service. She said USPS district personnel are “very interested in changing the perception” of the USPS.
She said the USPS is considering forming a customer advisory council, and she addressed concerns about thefts and tampering of mail.
“By all means, do not hesitate to contact the [USPS Inspection Service] immediately,” Washington said, “so they can get the right on that case to find out who’s tampering with that mail. Our job is to give service to the customer, not to take the service away.”
Blain said the Chicago USPS has one of the highest retention rates for employees in the country, but he also vowed to address concerns.
Residents—some of them former USPS employees—cited an array of problems. Some were informed their mail was put on hold, but then it was delivered again—and vice versa.
Some complained that their mail carriers walked on their lawns, and USPS representatives said carriers are allowed to do so unless residents make a formal request.
Some said their mail carriers were reliable—but if they weren’t working, residents couldn’t trust that a substitute carrier would deliver their mail on time.
One woman said her mail was soaking wet and caused mold to grow in her home. Another woman said she received mail belonging to someone with an address over a mile away. Another said envelopes had been opened.
Others said that when visiting stations or calling the USPS, they were treated rudely, with one employee telling a resident to “pray” for better service.
One resident said he worked at United Parcel Service (UPS) in his youth, and the standards were significantly higher.
“For one-millionth of what you guys get away with, we would have been fired,” the man said. “There’s absolutely no customer service.”
Another said she has no idea what happens to her mail.
“I don’t know,” she said. “It goes down a black hole.”
Residents also praised Amazon’s customer service, saying the online shopping and delivery company
is “waiting in the wings” to overtake the USPS.
Caroline Connors, executive director of the Morgan Park Beverly Hills Business Association, said she solicited feedback from businesses about their mail service and “received dozens of complaints.”
Some businesses aren’t receiving mail on Saturday, she said, or don’t receive delivery until after business hours. She has sent mail that has been returned even though the address was correct, she said, and some businesses aren’t receiving important mail from customers on time.
O’Shea said he has received many complaints from residents, and he told attendees, “I feel your frustration.”
He encouraged residents to continue to contact him, and he told attendees to “keep a close tab” on the quality of service from the USPS in coming weeks.
He vowed to help rectify the problem.
“If there hasn’t been an improvement in service,” O’Shea said, “I want to hear.”
O’Shea can be reached at (773) 238-8766 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the USPS, visit usps.com.