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2 Investigators: Complaints Growing Over Undelivered Mail

(CBS) -- Regular mail delivery is taken for granted by most people, but now there's been a growing chorus of complaints from residential neighborhoods across the city to businesses in the Loop.

The CBS 2 investigators learned some of the mail mess has been caused by a huge turnover in staff, from managers to mail carriers, inadequate training and a customer service operation that seems to be unresponsive to complaints.

"The way they distribute the mail is…really embarrassing," said Richard Holtzman, the owner of a condo management company that depends on its mail to pay the customer's bills.

Holtzman complained to CBS 2 that his business doesn't get any mail "typically two days a week," which causes him to have to pay late fees.

"It's been as high as five or six hundred dollars in a month," Holtzman said. "It's just unnecessary."

The lack of mail has prompted Holtzman to consider moving his office.

"I'm gonna take my eleven jobs and I'm gonna move 'em to a neighborhood where the mail is reasonably reliable," Holtzman said.

The Loop law firm of Chuhak & Tecson has had such poor mail service it has turned to hiring a company to pick up its undelivered mail at the main post office, said Chief Operating Officer Michelle Schadler. In addition, a staffer also makes runs several times a week.

"Sometimes I get a tub of mail, but it's very rare," said Darius Rogers. "Most times I usually get a complaint form that I fill out and leave with whatever supervisor is on site," said Darius Rogers.

Showing us an empty mail bin, Shadler explained the law firm used to receive two full bins of mail on average every day, but for three and a half months they got anywhere from nothing to six letters.

Complaining isn't effective, says Michelle Schadler.

"We have complained, we have cajoled, we have done every possible thing a person can do," Schadler said.

She says ten other law firms have shared similar complaints.

And plenty of residential customers are also frustrated by their poor mail service.

"It's a huge inconvenience because I'm not getting my bills paid in time for not receiving my mail on time," said Mandy Brooks, a resident of Ukrainian Village.

Issues with the mail don't just stop at delivery, Brooks and her roommate are seeing problems even when their mail is delivered.

"If the mail is inside it's either thrown on the ground or on top of the mailboxes. Laid on top, but it's never in the actual mailboxes," said Vanessa Felice, Brooks' roommate.

Bucktown artist Victoria Fuller had constant problems getting packages she needed for her art work went. She repeatedly complained to the post office.

"Three weeks after they said it was delivered, it was lobbed over the fence by somebody," Fuller said.

Now Fuller has switched her mailing address to her art studio in a different zip code because, "I don't trust the post office. I don't trust I'll get my packages."
Congressman Danny Davis serves on a congressional committee that oversees postal operations and has organized several neighborhood meetings for residents to vent their complaints with postal officials.
"They're not doing well enough and they've got to put in some more effort," said Davis. "We need more training in some instances. We need better some instances."

"You can't always be perfect, but you can sure as hell give it your best try."

A spokesman for the Chicago post office said 200 employees have been promoted to fill letter carrier positions left vacant by a rash of retirements last year and it is working to resolve the complaints highlighted in this story.

"We are committed to providing excellent customer service," said the spokesman, Mark Reynolds.

He urged anyone with a complaint to call the post office's toll free number at 1-800 ASK-USPS (275-8777). That phone number has continually frustrated people who complained to CBS2, but Reynolds says a local representative will contact a caller within 24 hours to begin investigating a concern.

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