INDIANAPOLIS — The United States Postal Service (USPS) says its thought-to-be motto is, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of the night,” meaning, no weather can get in the way of its operations.
Last week, a winter storm hit central Indiana, but some residential mail customers told FOX59 even days after they cleared their sidewalks and walkways, they still did not receive their mail.
One of those customers, Pam Heims, who lives on the city’s near north side, said she received mail delivery on Feb. 12 and then not again until Feb. 22.
“I know that Presidents’ Day was in there and also some snow days, so we like to give people grace on that,” said Heims. “We immediately shoveled our sidewalks and tried to keep our porch clean.”
Heims said after seven days with no mail, she called USPS to try and get answers on how long it would take. “I really didn’t even know where to turn,” she said.
Heims said she was unable to get through to anyone and instead got a recording, which did not mention weather as a potential reason for mail delays.
“The recording just said due to COVID services might be delayed.”
On Monday Heims posted on social media app, Nextdoor, and to her surprise, dozens of other Indianapolis residents weighed in, many also sharing the delays they’ve experienced.
“I just got flooded with responses of people saying they were having the same experience or even worse.”
FOX59 reached out to the USPS Greater Indiana District to ask for further clarification on the delays in mail delivery.
A spokesperson for USPS said, “With the winter storm, we had issues with the streets getting cleared so we could deliver safely.”
USPS also said Indianapolis is “back up to full delivery to every address.”
However, several viewers experiencing the same issue told FOX59 it’s the mixed messages that said delays were due to COVID or winter weather, which led to more questions of whether something more is going on.
“I don’t want to blame the carriers. I really think that they’re probably really overworked,” said Heims. “I see them out delivering mail at 9 and 10 o’clock with headlamps on. So I’m not sure what’s going on. I don’t think it’s the carriers.”
“I think something else is broken in the system,” she said.
The local American Postal Workers Union (APWU) said this issue is, in fact, bigger than just weather or the pandemic.
“The weather would have a part to play in it somewhat,” said Gregory A. Jones, President of APWU 130 Indianapolis.
Jones said the issue starts at the top of the USPS but is affecting postal workers across the U.S., including Indianapolis.
“Back in late July, we got a new postmaster and the first thing he did in July of last year, he began taking machines out.”
Jones said under the new postmaster, hundreds of sorting machines were removed from facilities across the country.
“We just don’t have the ability to process it in a timely manner,” he said. “What happened in June or July didn’t fix the problem, it created it.”
“When you don’t have the capability of processing thousands and thousands of pieces of mail because you don’t have the machinery there to do so, it’s gonna cause some delays,” said Jones.
He said every postal worker is doing the best they can to get the mail processed. “They go beyond what’s required to try and perform and get things going,” said Jones.
Jones has been with the Postal Service for 30 years and said, “People believe in the Post Office. They know their neighbors, elderly people. You become family to your customers.”
“You want to give them the best service you possibly can,” he said.
But with fewer high-speed machines to help sort mail, Jones said there is bound to be delays in mail service.
“They took them out, destroyed them so no one could ever tell them to plug them back up. It was intentionally, deliberately done,” he said.
“They [USPS] have the personnel. They just don’t have the capability as they had this time last year.”
Recently, the US Postal Service Board of Governors met to discuss changes that could improve service after months of erratic mail service across the U.S. You can read more on that, here.
The US Postal Service also released the following statement to FOX59 about what customers should do if they have concerns over mail service:
The Postal Service appreciates its customers and strives to provide excellent service. When mail service issues occur, we take steps to quickly resolve customer concerns. We gladly work to address any specific issue from the community when brought to our attention and we encourage customers to reach out to their local postal station.
Customers can also go to our website usps.com and click on “Contact us” at the bottom of our homepage. Every email will be carefully documented and appropriate action taken to strengthen service. In addition, the official Twitter account of the United States Postal Service, managed by the Social Media staff at USPS HQ, can provide help. For customer service, please tweet @USPSHelp. The Postal Service will diligently continue to investigate customer’s concerns and correct deficiencies to improve service to our communitiesSpokesperson for USPS