Nevada County residents look for solutions about undelivered mail
“Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
That has been the unofficial motto of the United States Postal Service for decades, but according to some local residents, it hasn’t been their recent experience with the postal service.
Several Nevada County residents, particularly along Pasquale Road and in the Cascade Shores area, have been complaining online and in person at the Nevada City Post Office about mail delivery problems. Their issue: Carriers delivering parcels to the wrong addresses, arriving late at night, or not coming at all.
Nevada City resident Louise Krusi said for the last 18 months she’s had to become a watchdog, waiting vigilantly by her door just to ensure her mail is delivered, and even that hasn’t been enough at times.
“They can’t seem to read the address and that’s very disconcerting,” Krusi said.
At first her trouble started out small, she said, receiving mail from just down the street, then getting mail from completely different streets. Over the months, her problems only escalated.
“I ordered an expensive coat from Nordstrom and it was delivered to the wrong house,” Krusi said. “They said they delivered it to a similar house number on a different street and I said, ‘Well, tell them go get it.’”
Since then Krusi has had to put up signs to direct her mail carrier and change mailboxes to deter package thieves but the problems continued.
During one incident her package was delivered to the neighboring driveway and got ran over, Krusi said.
Cascade Shores resident Mark Lyon said he’s had packages returned as “undeliverable” and had deliveries arrive past 9 p.m. He’s resorted to signing up for the USPS’s informed delivery service in order to track what mail he’s supposed to receive that day.
“I’ve become aware of things I wouldn’t have been aware of otherwise,” Lyon said. “Once all this started, I had to start paying closer attention.”
The local postmaster referred all comment to a public information officer.
According to United States Postal Service Sacramento District spokesperson Meiko Patton, several factors such as road conditions, weather and mailbox access go into determining whether mail is delivered to an address.
Other residents, like Laura Brewer, said they’ve signed up for informed delivery but even then don’t feel they can trust getting all their mail.
“How do I know when I’m missing something unless I’m already expecting it. There’s no way to know the scope of the problem,” Brewer said. “I’ve had several people call me and ask if I’ve moved because they can’t get mail delivered to me — it’s undeliverable, unable to be forwarded.”
Just like their mirrored stories when it comes to their mail delivery woes, they had similar experiences when complaining, being told that a supervisor would talk to their mail carrier and occasionally getting their parcels delivered by that supervisor personally the next day.
Krusi said her most recent attempt to retrieve packages was only resolved after a conference call between her, Amazon and the Sacramento USPS office. The next day she received a personal call from the local USPS supervisor who then hand-delivered the package himself.
According to Krusi, part of the frustration is the lack of communication when there is a problem delivering her mail. Krusi said throughout the duration of her delivery issues, she has had to reach out to the post office to find out what was going on with her mail as her carrier never left any note like they have in the past when there was a delivery problem.
“I used to know the name of my carrier,” Krusi said. “The mail lady would honk when there was an issue and I’d come right out and everything was fine.”
The problems have gotten so bad that a retired mail carrier has, in fact, stepped in to try to help out her former employer.
“I’ve been helping out, out of the goodness of my heart, because I worked up here in Cascade Shores for 25 years delivering mail and Amazon has really bombarded the delivery services,” Terry Athanasopolus said. After her former colleague delivered mail to her house, exhausted and flustered, Athanasopolus offered to drive him around while he sorted and dropped off mail from the passenger side of her vehicle.
“They expect carriers to use their own cars and straddle the console delivering mail and it’s next to impossible,” Athanasopolus said. “The carriers are extremely overworked and underpaid because of Amazon.”
According to Athanasopolus, when she worked at the post office she was responsible for delivering between 30 and 40 Amazon packages a day. That number has since significantly increased.
While some residents said the problems have been ongoing, many in Nevada City said they’ve experienced worsening service since around Thanksgiving Day.
“The worst was when we had the first snowstorm in November,” Sandy Feyh said. “The roads were clear and the mailbox had no snow around it and we still got no deliveries for a week.”
Factors in play
According to Feyh, some kind of mail mix-up occurs weekly and she’s decided to opt to use carriers other than USPS when shopping on Amazon, if given the option.
Ron Breeden said he also had no mail delivery the week of Thanksgiving and since then only receives mail twice a week, forcing him to regularly meet up with neighbors for mail exchanges.
“I’ve got a big snow blower, like the ones you’d see at Lake Tahoe, and I cleared at least 40 feet from the mailbox every day that week,” Breeden said. “I have neighbors tell me, ‘Oh yeah, we always get your mail but it didn’t look important so we threw it away.’”
“When it snows, customers must plow the snow away from the mailbox or the mail is scanned as “no access” and is brought back to the delivery unit,” said Meiko Patton, the postal service spokesperson, in an email. “As far as time of delivery, factors that come into play is amount of mail and packages on a particular day and where the delivery address is on the route. Parcels that are too large for the receptacle are delivered to the customer’s residence if it is not more than one-half mile from the route and the road leading to it is passable. If delivery cannot be made by the carrier, the mail is held at the post office.”
Nancy Shillinger, a mail carrier for a private company contracted to the United States Postal Service, said carriers face a deluge of obstacles when delivering to rural areas like Nevada County.
“My route is about 70 miles round-trip up Highway 20 with around 300 or so patrons,” Shillinger said in an email. “It used to take 5 hours to sort and deliver the mail. It takes me 7 hours. I guess there are maybe 15 routes out of the Nevada City office? That’s 30+ extra hours of Amazon parcels a day? Most people don’t have any idea of how the postal system works either. I know that I didn’t. The job itself is pretty simple, but when you handle 1,000 pieces of mail each day, something is bound to happen.”
Shillinger and Athanasopolus said that while there are changes that could be made locally to improve delivery service, the issue is systemic.
“They need to hire more people to keep up with Amazon,” Athanasopolus said. “It’s not the management here’s fault, it comes from way up at the top.”
To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.
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