Wednesday, February 18, 2009

In My Head, I'm Going Postal Over This

It seemed simple enough: Fill out an easy form online, and my mail would be held for the few days that I was at TMEA last week. I requested the hold to start on Wednesday (since I knew I'd be leaving that morning) and the delivery to resume on Saturday (since I'd be back late that day and would like to get everything before the Monday holiday). I hit "submit" and expected for things to happen to my specifications.

Unfortunately, they didn't even come close. First of all, I got the confirmation of my hold in my mailbox (with no other mail) on Tuesday of last week--a day early. That was somewhat unnerving. But even more so was the discovery upon my return on Saturday night that no mail had arrived then either. OK, so they started a day early and ended a day late. Surely I'd get mail on Tuesday...

But yesterday came and went, and still nothing. And the same would be true for today. I saw the letter carrier on the next street and stood around waiting for him, but I guess he'd already done my street, because he never came back. Frustrated, I called the USPS customer service number, and, after a dazzling array of options that didn't fit my particular problem (and getting hung up on by the system once), finally got to talk to a live human being. She said that I would be "contacted before the close of business tomorrow," and when I asked her what in the world could cause a simple mail hold to go so wrong, she said "I'm sorry, sir, but I don't have that information" as well as any bureaucrat. Why couldn't she pass me to someone who would own this problem?

Like many Americans, I've been frustrated with the Postal Service on several previous occasions, but those mostly had to do with mailing something (or the condition of the various stamp-vending devices at post office branches). Keeping my mail for over a week is a whole 'nother ball of wax. I've said before that if UPS or FedEx mailed letters, I might well use them, because, even though the USPS is a "quasi-governmental" organization, it often moves with the (complete lack of) grace and efficiency we've come to expect from all other areas of government.

Anyone else have a postal service gripe? Go in the comments.

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