■ BY MARCY SHORTUSE
In the last three weeks the Boca Beacon office has been flooded with letters, emails and other forms of communications regarding service at the Boca Grande Post Office. With about 50 messages in front of us with all sorts of problems presented we can only come to one conclusion: There is a serious breakdown in communication between the residents of the island and the post office.
Before presenting our readers with some examples of the letters we received we must address another issue first: Why are we being so assertive when it comes to bringing our point home with this particular topic?
The answer to that is simple. When so many in the community are having problems (some very serious), we try to provide a voice for them by bringing the problem into the public eye. It is one of the jobs that many newspapers – and readers – have forgotten. Our end goal is not to stir trouble among the employees of the post office, but to allow them to read our grievances, and to appropriately respond so there is no more lack of communication.
As of this point in time, that hasn’t happened.
Several island residents have spoken with Sherry Jude, a post office administrator in charge of many locations in our area. Not long into the recorded controversy we have reported this season we received a message from a woman who said she had made contact with Jude, and she told the mail patron that the problem was taken care of. Unfortunately, we have had several incidents reported to us since then.
It is hard for people who don’t spend a lot of time mailing or receiving items, or ordering products online, to comprehend the tone of the letters we have published from postal patrons, or to understand the scope of the problem. That is why we will be giving you some of the highlights from the many communications we have received. No names or specific addresses or listed here, just general information in the letter-writers’ own words.
We left Boca Grande on May 12, 2018. When our house manager went to the box later in the summer she found she was locked out of the box, and it appeared to be empty. When she asked the post office what happened she was told the box was “locked out” for non-payment. I had paid the $54 charge in March with a check, and went to our bank up north and obtained a copy of the cancelled check. I sent it out with a letter to the Boca Grande postmistress. She did not reply. We were told all of our mail had been returned as undeliverable.
We arrived in Boca Grande on December 22 and I went to the post office. I was still locked out. I asked them to re-open it. Their excuse was they were waiting for me to come in and discuss the issue.
Here is another example:
Last Christmas my son bought presents from Amazon for his 8-year-old daughter, and sent them to where she was staying in Boca Grande. They were all returned, and we were told they should have been addressed c/o (POSTAL PATRON’S NAME), or that our granddaughter’s name should have been listed on our box. As I had 16 people staying with me for Christmas and many items were returned, I now have 16 people listed on my PO Box.
And yet another …
I did not receive several bills from doctors because they were sent to my physical address. I learned this after being contacted for past due balances. I also ordered an item for shipment and asked the merchant if they were shipping via UPS or USPS. They said UPS, so I gave them the physical address. Weeks passed and no package had arrived (value more than $1,000). I called the merchant who tracked it, and they said it had been delivered days before. I checked the post office as a last resort and they had it, just sitting on a shelf, with no notice given to me.
And another …
…one order was split into three packages, all addressed the same. They all arrived at the post office at the same time. Two were delivered, one was sent back.
Here’s another …
My parents had the same PO box on the island for more than 50 years. When my mother passed the post office locked her PO box, so I didn’t have access to her mail and bills that I was taking care of. I suddenly had to provide a power of attorney to pick up the remainder of her mail, even though the post office knew I had been picking it up for her for months.
A package of medical supplies I ordered didn’t arrive. I waited and waited, then went to the post office and asked, but they had no idea. I finally found someone at the company I ordered for who could tell me the package was returned to them as undeliverable. I received no notice. I have received numerous notices from other companies that my packages had been returned by the post office. I have had a box here for 14 years …
And one more …
A package sent to my physical address with “#XXX after it was sent back as “undeliverable, unknown persons. The company called me and said they had to pay return postage, and would I at least split the cost of sending it again. I paid. The net result was a 10-day delay in getting my goods, and I had to pay extra to get it. I took the tracking printout to the postmistress and was told the address was not correct and couldn’t be read by the machine. I said I could understand the machine argument, but everything sent to our post office was handled by a person. She said they receive thousands of packages a day and could not review each one.”
There are so many more stories, this is just a sampling. Many people have resorted to having their packages sent to a friend or employee’s house off-island, and some have given up on this post office all together and gotten a PO Box off island. Some business owners have to ask their employees to leave work and drive home, just to pick up packages for their office. Two of the island’s very prominent public-service based organizations have had merchandise returned that could have affected lives being lost, and the ability to even get to the island being halted.
Your messages have been delivered.
If you wish, you can send more letters and emails and we will start a new file.
Just stay tuned, we might find some compromise to this issue some day.