Kim Throneberry guest blogs: Civil servants from Hell

I currently live in an apartment. My apartment in one of five in a house from the 1900s that was converted into apartments at least two decades ago. It is one of several just like it in our neighborhood. I have lived in my apartment for more than a year now. My boyfriend and I get a lot of packages in the mail, as in, one to four every single month.

Despite the aforementioned details and the facts that our mailbox is clearly displayed, our apartment number is clearly displayed by our door and addresses are labeled as clearly as possible, we have a delivery success rate of, I kid you not, MAYBE 30%. And that is being generous! I can hardly begin to explain how frustrating this is. But let's go with my most recent experience.

I own an iPod Touch. A little over a week ago it stopped working. I use my Touch every single day. I use it to track my food intake and exercise routine, to-do lists, contact information, calendars, as well as for the obvious, listening to music. So, when it died I went on Ebay to purchase a new one pretty much immediately. I found one for a good price with an OtterBox and it was sent on its way.

While I was at work last Saturday, I checked the tracking on the package and it said that earlier that afternoon a delivery attempt was made and it was deemed "Undeliverable as addressed." This means my package gets returned to the sender. Now, I wish this was the first time a postal carrier tried to tell me my apartment didn't exist or that it was an undeliverable address. But it's not.

I sent the Ebayer a message updating them on the situation. I was hoping that since the delivery was attempted on Saturday and USPS doesn't operate on Sunday, it might not have gone out yet and I could go pick it up at my post office; an annoying solution to a craptastic recurring problem. Can I also say, I don't own a car and not everything I order is small. Having to bike to a post office to pick
up a cumbersome package because my local carriers can't do their job is infuriating.

So first thing Monday morning, I called the 800 number for USPS. After being caught in a web of automated system messages, I had to Google how to get a human being on the phone. The women I finally spoke to were not that helpful but apologetic, at least. They gave me the number to contact my local office.

I call my local office and a woman answers. I explain to her that I ordered a package, it was deemed "undeliverable" on Saturday, I contacted the seller to ensure they had the right address, and am not sure what happened but am hoping it hasn't gotten sent back yet so I can come pick it up. As soon as the last word gets out of my mouth, she cuts in with a nasty tone informing me that she "only got like 1/3 of that. What's your name?"

I tell her my name. She essentially barks at me to spell my last name. Next I give her my address. She then tells me, without double checking, that if there was a delivery attempt on Saturday, then it was sent back on Saturday. I ask her what I am supposed to do so that I don't pay for shipping a second time only for it to be undeliverable again, or for any package in the future since we have issues so frequently. She cuts in, rude as ever, "Is this an apartment address?" I answer yes. She wants to know how long it has been apartments.

"…I don't know. I've lived here for more than a year..." What apartment renter knows that information? She then lets me know that our address isn't listed as apartments on their map, so whoever owns the building needs to contact the city to update the system because that's probably why it's happening. Never once does she say anything remotely along the lines of "I'm sorry you're experiencing problems" or "I understand why this is upsetting." In my book this is customer service rule number one.

I explain to her that, regardless of that, when you walk up to the house there are 5 mailboxes in plain view and packages have managed to be delivered before. She just repeats herself, even more rudely and short, ready to get me off the phone.

So, that's my solution, apparently. I'm supposed to call my landlord and hope he contacts the records people and changes it and hope that fixes the problem.

Here's the thing, though. My apartment building went into foreclosure last spring and is currently owned and maintained by the city itself. Then, with very little digging, I found the official property record on the building saying that it is currently registered as a "commercial multiple occupancy residence with five units," with updates to the record every one to two years for the last decade. So the rude, unsympathetic, and unhelpful woman on the phone wasn't even correct to begin with. Why then can't postal workers figure out, after 14 months, how to deliver to my apartment? Why then does common sense seem to utterly abandon them when they are standing in front of five clearly labeled mail boxes? What am I supposed to do? There is no reason for this.

I contacted the seller again to ask if they could send the package to my work place on the second attempt instead. Not that this is a glorious solution. This still means taking advantage of the understanding of my boss and riding four and half miles round trip out of my way just to get my mail. I will probably have to pay for shipping again. Despite the fact that neither the seller or I did anything to prohibit the package from being deliverable. I plan to bring this up later when I stop by my post office later to lodge a formal complaint against the woman I spoke to, with a copy of the building records in hand, and hopefully I will be reimbursed.

Any one else have issues with mail carriers from Hell? I'd love to hear them.

1 comment:

  1. An update: It gets worse. After the completely crap line about it being undeliverable because of out of date records, the tracking was updated to say it was undeliverable because "moved, left no address". I called again, got the same rude woman. She asked if I'd moved recently. I said no, lived there 14 months. She asked if I'd been getting mail there regularly. I said yes, even from usps! And she said "Well, you need to talk to the shipper. We wouldn't just arbitrarily send something back." Um, but you did. You screwed up. More than the screw ups, their complete refusal to accept any responsibility or blame and continuing to give whatever story/excuse they think of first is the most INFURIATING.