KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Anne Bertolde opened her mailbox and, as usual, it was empty.
“It started where the mail would get delivered at 8 o’clock at night, and then it progressed to where we were getting mail maybe three days a week, and then it went down to two days a week,” said Bertolde, who teaches high school in Liberty.
Bertolde said when she finally does get mail at her home in the Kansas City Northland, it comes in one big dump, dozens of letters at a time.
She was one of nearly 20 people from Woodbrooke Villas who talked to FOX4 Problem Solvers, hoping to get help with their mail.
“I’ve called the attorney general. I’ve called the postmaster general. I’ve e-mailed the senator; the mayor and I always get this in response: ‘Your problem has been resolved,'” said neighbor Inez Fortner who, like many, was visibly frustrated.
Problem Solvers asked for a showing of hands and nearly every neighbor said they routinely waited five or six days between mail deliveries.
Linda Johnson paid a visit to the post office to find out why. She said was told by a woman behind the counter that all the Amazon packages had to be delivered first before the first-class mail, and that there were so many packages there wasn’t even time to sort the regular mail.
“That’s a pretty damning statement,” said Paul Steidler of the Lexington Institute, who has spent years analyzing the postal service.
“The American public is a captive customer of the postal service, and it is by law supposed to prioritize mail delivery over package delivery, and the fact that is not occurring and the fact that somebody would brazenly admit that is pretty disturbing stuff,” Steidler said.
Steidler said he has received complaints about mail delivery from all across the country.
“I’ve spoken to folks in Pennsylvania, Washington state, Montana, Toledo,” he said.
This past June, in Germantown, Pennsylvania, mail delivery was so horrific that people demonstrated outside the post office.
“The crux of what’s going on here is the postal service is institutionally getting away from its mission of delivering mail,” said
Steidler, and spending more and more time focusing on the delivery of packages, placing it in direct competition with private companies, including Federal Express and UPS.
Postal spokesman Mark Inglett denied that.
“All mail is important, and we make it a point to deliver to America every piece of mail every day,” Inglett said.
However, he acknowledged that there are delivery problems in Kansas City’s Northland. He said the Northland’s problems are being addressed by reassigning staff and hiring additional staff.
He said postal delivery will be monitored closely to make sure the problems don’t return.
But what Inglett couldn’t explain is why the postal service is having so many delivery issues across the country when it has more employees now than it has had at any time in the past 10 years. Plus, the total volume of mail delivered has declined 30% in that same period.
Steidler said the explanation is simple. Although first-class mail delivery may have declined, package delivery has risen more than 22% just in the last few years.
“Packages are bulkier, they take more time to deliver,” said Steidler, adding that a tractor trailer can hold 500,000 pieces of mail, but only 5,000 packages.
All of that raises the question of whether the postal service should be in the package delivery business.
Steidler said the public has a choice when it comes to package delivery. But there is no choice with the mail – we’re all stuck with the post office and increasingly unhappy.
Since FOX4 Problem Solvers first started reporting this story, mail delivery has improved in the Northland, although many worry it won’t last.
Problem Solvers called U.S. Senator Josh Hawley’s office. Hawley co-sponsored the bill that reorganized the post office and it is blamed by experts for many of the delivery problems people are experiencing. Hawley’s office said he was aware some constituents were having problems receiving their mail and is working to make sure those problems are resolved.
Steidler recommended that people upset with their mail delivery should start a petition and deliver it to the postmaster general as well as members of Congress. However, you might want to email them so as not to take a chance of it getting lost in the mail.