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Expect delays: Mail coming late? Greensboro residents, you're not alone.
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Expect delays: Mail coming late? Greensboro residents, you're not alone.

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GREENSBORO — The number of complaints against the U.S. Postal Service lately seems longer than Santa’s wish list.

“My package for my business has been sitting in Greensboro since the 5th of December. It keeps updating, saying it is running late,” Amanda Allred of McLeansville said in an email last week  to the News & Record.

For Terry Morrison, "10 pieces of mail are missing," including two retirement checks.

Holly West of northeast Greensboro is waiting for a delivery. And waiting.

“Twice the USPS tracking has said a package was 'delivered in/at mailbox,' but it wasn’t there and took a couple days to show up,” she said.

Through its Facebook page, the News & Record asked readers to contact us if they'd been having trouble receiving or sending letters and packages through the Postal Service. And, boy, did they ever. More than 130 reached out to share their stories and just plain vent.

And not all of the complaints are limited to the past couple of weeks, when the rush to get holiday presents and cards out on time hits postal carriers the hardest.

Priority shipping?

Shirene Brown, who operates Naturally Made by Shirene out of her Greensboro home, said she noticed the delays starting in October.

“People were getting their packages on time in September,” she said of her customers. “October is when it just got horrible … and it’s gotten worse,” Brown said by telephone on Wednesday.

Brown, who uses the USPS service where packages are picked up at her door, said she’s noticed that the scanning of packages sometimes is delayed.

Brown said one package that was picked up on Oct. 28 wasn't scanned in until Oct. 31 — and didn't get delivered until Nov. 9.

“The whole thing is I’m paying for two-day priority — or three-day priority or one-day priority — and there’s not a priority anywhere and it’s not getting there in a timely manner,” Brown said.

Brown said she thinks the delays are the result of the removal of high-speed sorting machines, a cost-saving measure that was ordered by U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy in some facilities earlier this year.

DeJoy, a prominent Greensboro resident who has been a major donor to the Republican Party and President Donald Trump, was reluctant to change this even after criticism that the move would impede mail-in ballots. 

However, the postal service agreed to reverse that and other changes in a mid-October settlement, stemming from a lawsuit which argued that and other actions initiated by DeJoy harmed access to mail services.

However, it's unclear if these machines were ever removed from the Greensboro Processing and Distribution Center on Pleasant Ridge Road. 

USPS spokesman Philip Bogenberger did not answer that question and several others posed to him by email from the News & Record.

Instead, Bogenberger pointed to a collection of news releases detailing historical volumes of mail and postal delivery during the coronavirus pandemic among other things.

"While every year the Postal Service carefully plans for peak holiday season," one news release said, "a historic record of holiday volume compounded by a temporary employee shortage due to the COVID-19 surge, and capacity challenges with airlifts and trucking for moving this historic volume of mail, are leading to temporary delays.”

Gridlock?

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An article in The Washington Post earlier this week noted that "the historic crush of e-commerce packages is threatening to overwhelm U.S. Postal Service operations."

The newspaper quoted an unnamed USPS transportation manager in Ohio who said, “We’re really gridlocked all over the place.”  

None of the news releases that Bogenberger referenced specifically explained what is happening locally to delay mail and packages.

One Postal Service news release noted that the agency expanded Sunday delivery on Nov. 29 to “locations with high-package volumes” and leased extra vehicles to expedite deliveries.

Bogenberger did confirm that mail processing was shifted to a Winston-Salem facility to ease the burden in Greensboro.

“The Postal Service often sets up temporary annexes each peak season across the country, including an annex in the Triad region, to help process high volumes of holiday packages,” he said in an email.

Bogenberger explained Wednesday evening he was still working to answer other questions specifically related to the Greensboro facility. 

In an email on Thursday, he said: "We are completely focused on processing and delivering mail for the remainder of peak season so answers may not get back to me today."

Praising carriers

Several people who contacted the News & Record praised the efforts of their carriers, despite their delayed mail.

“They are dedicated USPS employees and are often out late into the evening getting the day's mail delivered,” Julie Voorhees of Greensboro said in an email. “I think the issue resides in the process somewhere prior to the mail carrier's trucks being loaded.”

Janelle Jordan of Greensboro said she thinks her late mail is probably because of the Christmas rush. Jordan said by phone Wednesday that she received her prescription medicine on Monday — more than three weeks after she was supposed to start taking it.

It seemed to get “stuck” in the distribution center, she said.

“I guess it’s because of the holidays,” Jordan said.

Norman Samet’s problems, however, date back to May. That’s when Samet, who owns homes in Greensboro and Florida, tried to stop his mail from being forwarded to Florida.

“Even to this day they are forwarding (some) mail from our address in Greensboro to our home in Florida and then turning around and sending it back to Greensboro,” said Samet, 82.

He’s had to start paying his bills online to ensure they arrive on time.

And he’s had to fight to get late payment fees removed from bills that he never received.

“It’s difficult and it’s embarrassing,” Samet said.“I even went over to the distribution center … and stood outside until a supervisor came out.”

After explaining he needed his mail forwarded, Samet said the supervisor assured him things would be handled.

“It hasn’t improved at all,” he said.

Brown said she’s considered trying other package delivery services for her business, but found them to be too costly.

“I just want it fixed,” she said of the delivery delays. “No business should have to go through this.”

Kenwyn Caranna: Five stories reflecting the myriad emotions 2020 brought us

From rage, panic and grief, to hope, determination and renewal, these stories from 2020 reflect the spectrum of human emotion.

Contact Kenwyn Caranna at 336-373-7082 and follow @kcaranna on Twitter.

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