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Mail problems mount for Northwest Ohio customers

Published: Jul. 29, 2020 at 10:55 PM EDT
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - More and more customers are coming forward with complaints and questions about slow mail service in Northwest Ohio. It has some people worried about what may happen with their bills, letters, even election mail.

People are having trouble getting the straight story at either a post office or by calling the postal service. Now people are thinking strongly about voting by mail and how that could be an issue.

In the last 10 days, Sally Chojnacki says she’s only found letters and first-class mail in her mailbox once.

“The mail services has been excellent up all through this until just now,” said Chojnacki.

During the height of COVID in March and April, this Point Place couple says mail delivery was great. Now their mail is sparse.

“Why now? It seems kinda funny that due to the pandemic we were getting mail fine,” said Duane Chojnacki.

Carriers are saying the US Postal Service is not allowing overtime. If they hit their 8 hours and there is still mail in the truck, it goes back to the station. The president of the local letter carrier union said this week some routes aren’t being filled and they’re not being told why, leaving couples like this, who don’t pay bills online, in the middle.

“It makes me anxious that I’m not getting bills that are coming due in a timely manner and can get the checks back out to the various companies so we’re not in default,” said Sally Chojnacki.

Now there is the issue of election day. Many may skip the polls and vote through mail this year.

“We didn’t feel it was safe for us stand in a line if it’s a crowded polling station,” said Sally Chojnacki.

The Ohio Secretary of State is already warning people to return their material as soon as possible just in case we see more mail delays.

“It’s the old saying mail is supposed to be delivered, ice, snow whatever and that’s not happening. All of the sudden, it’s stopped,” said Duane Chojnacki.

13abc asked the Postal Service on Wednesday if overtime is being cut. A spokeswoman would not directly answer the question, instead referring us to a statement:

“The Postal Service continues to flex our available resources to match the workload created by the impacts of the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19). The Postal Service encourages customers to call 1-800-ASK-USPS with any service concerns. Please note we continue to hire based on local need while committed to our expanded employee leave policy to help employees affected by the pandemic. We are proud of the essential role they have in serving our customers.”

The Postmaster General also releasing this statement:

“The Postal Service is in a financially unsustainable position, stemming from substantial declines in mail volume, and a broken business model. We are currently unable to balance our costs with available funding sources to fulfill both our universal service mission and other legal obligations. Because of this, the Postal Service has experienced over a decade of financial losses, with no end in sight, and we face an impending liquidity crisis.

Congress and the Postal Regulatory Commission must enact legislative and regulatory reforms to help address the situation. At the same time, it is imperative for the Postal Service to operate efficiently and effectively. Indeed, there are alternatives to every product that we offer, and the only way that the Postal Service can continue to provide prompt, reliable, and affordable universal postal services for all Americans over the long-term is by vigorously focusing on the efficiency of our operations.

To start with, we must better adhere to our existing operating plans, which were developed precisely to ensure that we meet our service standards in an efficient and effective manner. It is evident that the Postal Service has the ability to improve in that area. On the day that I was sworn in as Postmaster General by our Board of Governors, the Postal Service Inspector General issued a report entitled “U.S. Postal Service’s Processing Network Optimization and Service Impacts.” In that report our Inspector General indicated that the Postal Service spent $1.1 billion in mail processing overtime and penalty overtime, $280 million in late and extra transportation, and $2.9 billion in delivery overtime and penalty overtime costs in FY 2019. Yet, even after incurring these additional costs, the Postal Service has not seen material improvement in our service performance scores. While we did not fully agree with all aspects of OIG’s report, we did not dispute the fundamental conclusion that we need to redouble our efforts to focus on our plans to improve operational efficiency and to further control overtime expenditures. The Postal Regulatory Commission has also recognized in its most recent reports that the Postal Service is not on a sustainable path, and that we continue to fall short of achieving our service targets with regard to the majority of our market dominant products.

The Postal Service has spent the last four years unsuccessfully trying to obtain reform legislation from Congress and pricing reform from the PRC, while remaining focused on the efficiency of our operations. Given our current situation, it is critical that the Postal Service take a fresh look at our operations and make necessary adjustments. We are highly focused on our public service mission to provide prompt, reliable, and efficient service to every person and business in this country, and to remain a part of the nation’s critical infrastructure. However, changes must be made, and we will refocus on all of the items within our control, and propose changes to some that are not, in order to ensure that we will be able to continue to fulfill our universal service obligation to all of America.”

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