If you’re sending holiday cards or packages to Central or Southeastern Virginia, they might not arrive in time. Nearly nine months ago, the U.S. Postal Service issued a report finding significant delays for customers served by its distribution center near Richmond, with 54 million pieces of delayed mail in the first quarter of this year.
When the U.S. Postal Service began consolidating operations, officials said they could continue to provide timely delivery, but some customers say that hasn’t happened. Dan Rosenswieg is executive director of Habitat for Humanity in Charlottesville – a non-profit that mailed its semi-annual newsletter in October. After two weeks, the group began calling the post office to find out what had happened to those mailings.
“They’re sitting somewhere in that warehouse, but they couldn’t give us any time or any estimate as to when they’re going to go out, and now by the time, even if it does ship tomorrow, the news is going to be pretty late,” said Rosenswieg.
Now, Rosensweig is worried about the annual request for funds. A similar mailing went out in early December of last year but didn’t arrive until after January first.
“This is the primary time of year when people make charitable gifts. First of all it’s the spirit of the season, but second of all people are eager to get their taxable contributions in prior December 31, and when they don’t get their end-of-the-year appeal letter prior to January 1st, we’re likely going to have a lot of people who just choose not to donate.”
The internal postal service probe concluded the Richmond center was understaffed by about 70 clerks and maintenance workers, and six management positions were vacant. A new plant manager took over in mid-summer, but a spokeswoman for the postal service says “you don’t turn an ocean liner on a dime.” Michele Martel added that the center is the size of 12 and a half football fields and processes up to seven million pieces of mail in a 24-hour period.
– Sandy Hausman