USPS Is "Holding Mail Hostage," Customers Say in New Complaints

Many say the postal agency has been especially unreliable recently.

From checks to prescription medication, we entrust the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) with delivering essential items. Our mail is very important to us—and with good reason—but the USPS is not always as reliable as we'd like. In 2021, the Postal Service acknowledged its financial shortcomings and other setbacks when it introduced a new 10-year plan called Delivering for America, which is designed to get the agency back on track. Meanwhile, customers are still complaining about ongoing issues, and some are now going so far as to accuse the USPS of "holding mail hostage." Read on to learn more about the latest customer complaints.

READ THIS NEXT: USPS Is Making Even More Changes to Your Mail.

The USPS recently reported an improvement in delivery timeframes.

New York NY/USA-May 10, 2020 USPS worker sorts packages in the Greenwich Village neighborhood in New York
Shutterstock

The Postal Service just released new delivery performance metrics on Jan. 26. According to the report, the results show "delivery performance improvements," particularly for First-Class Mail and Periodicals.

From Jan. 1 through Jan. 20, the agency said 91.7 percent of First-Class Mail and 85.3 percent of Periodicals were "delivered on time against the USPS service standard," which was an increase of .7 percent for both from USPS performance in the last quarter. And 93.9 percent of Marketing Mail was delivered on time, which was consistent from last quarter.

"The average time for the Postal Service to deliver a mailpiece or package across the nation was 2.5 days," the USPS said. "One of the goals of Delivering for America, the Postal Service's 10-year plan for achieving financial sustainability and service excellence, is to meet or exceed 95 percent on-time service performance for all mail and shipping products once all elements of the plan are implemented."

But some customers say service is actually getting worse.

USPS Mail Truck
iStock

Reports from customers all across the U.S. tell a different story, however.

In early January, people in Kansas City, Kansas, revealed that they had started to go days without getting their mail, Fox4 reported. "Within the past two or three weeks it's gotten worse," resident Rosemary Miller told the news outlet.

And customers in Twin Lakes, Colorado, said their service completely stopped in mid-January, according to ABC-affiliate Denver7. "The mail delivery has been very erratic to non-existent," John Alexander, who owns a cabin rental business in Twin Lakes near Buena Vista, told the station. "We did not receive mail from the 8th of January to the 18th of January."

Over in Summit County, Colorado, the story is practically the same: Andrea Godfrey, a 71-year-old Silverthorne resident, spoke with the Summit Daily about her recent experience with USPS delays, calling it a "breakdown in service" from the agency. "Being able to get our mail, being able to get it on time—it's not getting any better," she said. If anything it's worse."

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Some are accusing the Postal Service of "holding mail hostage."

People waiting in line at a United States Post Office in Orlando, Florida where people are wearing face masks and social distancing,
Shutterstock

Mail delays can be mildly frustrating for some. But they can be truly dangerous for others—like those who are dependent on receiving prescriptions through the mail.

"There are people who need their medication," Twin Lakes resident Kelly Sweeney told Denver7. "We had no notice of what was going on. I am so disappointed that there is no contingency plan to address something like this."

Customers say they're struggling to find other ways to get their mail in such critical situations. In Twin Lakes, Alexander said the Postal Service wasn't allowing people to pick up their delayed mail at the post office. "They cannot hand it across the counter? So, you don't even have the option of driving 25 miles to the post office to pick up your mail," he told Denver7.

Meanwhile, residents in Summit County like Monika Mayer say they're battling restricted PO Box access and unreliable post office hours, with little to no communication from the USPS.

"The hours are only during the day. So for working people it's impossible to get to the post office on time," Mayer told the Summit Daily, adding that she went 10 days without access to her daily blood pressure medication. "I survived, but it definitely puts people at risk. It's affecting a lot of people, and it's not just an inconvenience. It was very stressful for me."

"They're kind of holding our mail hostage," she added.

The agency says it is working to fix these problems.

Mail Carrier Sorting the mail
iStock

The Postal Service has acknowledged its recent shortcomings across the U.S. "We know we have not met service expectations," the USPS told Denver7 in a statement.

James Boxrud, a spokesperson for the postal agency, expressed a similar sentiment to the Summit Daily. "We know we have not met service expectations of the community," he told the newspaper. "And we are working hard to restore the respect of the public."

For its part, the USPS has put the blame squarely on staffing shortages. "In Buena Vista, we've been short as much as half of our carrier staff and our current employees are doing all they can to serve their customers," the agency told Denver7. To address this challenge, the Postal Service has been hosting job fairs across the country this month, from California to New York.

"We've been aggressively hiring since last year, even before peak season of last year. Staffing is a very large part of what we do. You need a physical carrier in your neighborhood to deliver the mail," USPS spokesperson Kim Frum told NBC-affiliate King 5 in Seattle, adding that the agency will continue to "hire aggressively" until it is fully staffed. "We understand the frustrations and we appreciate the patience and the understanding for all of our communities."

But for many customers, there is only one way they'll be satisfied with their service, no matter how it happens: "I'll be happy when I get my mail every day," Miller told Fox4.

Kali Coleman
Kali Coleman is a Senior Editor at Best Life. Her primary focus is covering news, where she often keeps readers informed on the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and up-to-date on the latest retail closures. Read more
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