CLEVELAND, Ohio – As Christmas approaches, trucks continue to queue outside the US Postal Service Cleveland distribution center.
Holiday gift baskets, Christmas cards, and even medications are being shut down as residents wait for mail delayed by coronavirus restrictions and staff absenteeism.
The post office declined to answer questions about delays, their cause, or when they were expected to end. A spokeswoman said last week that the postal services are hiring seasonal workers and allocating resources to their facilities that need additional resources.
Post office parcels soared during the pandemic as people order goods and supplies online.
In May, Richard Clark, acting senior post office operations manager for the Northern Ohio District, said the post office was on track to handle more mail than in December 2019. “Our parcel volume has increased 70% with the stay of (Governor Mike DeWine) . home order. The COVID-19 pandemic is the main reason for us to receive the Christmas volume in May. “
From July to September, the Northern Ohio district, which includes Cleveland, was the third slowest mailing district in the country, with 78.1% of two-day mail on time. For three to five day mail, it was the sixth worst, at 65.1% on time, according to the Post Office’s Quarterly Performance for Single-Piece First-Class Mail.
Now the holidays are here, and the mountain post is emphasizing the system.
Kathleen Helbig-Hannan of Shaker Heights calls the delays unscrupulous. She recently filmed a video of trucks waiting to be unloaded at the Cleveland facility.
Helbig-Hannan says she ordered five Christmas gift baskets from a local company. She could tell from the tracking information that her shipping label was printed on Nov. 30 and that the packages were arriving at the Lakewood Ohio Post Office.
Then the Lakewood Post Office transported the packages to the main distribution center, where they had to be recognized in their system, Helbig-Hannan says. Nothing so far.
“This is my concern for them – it’s really their lack of communication, or maybe recognition of the problem or how they’re going to fix it,” Helbig-Hannan says. “These truck drivers are there (some of them more than two days) waiting to be unloaded. It just doesn’t make sense. “
Hundreds of people express concerns about delays on social media.
Judy Adams Leatherman shared this comment on a Facebook post on cleveland.com when asked if she noticed packages or mail arriving late: “Absolutely! Do everything you can not to use them this year! Still waiting for at least two very late packets. And those trucks waiting there, that’s just awful! Hire people. Ask the National Guard for help! “
Bob Gonzalez also responded to the same message: “Good God yes. I am still waiting for a package that has been continuously “delayed in transit” for three weeks now. Everything scheduled to arrive UPS / FedEx has been on time! “
Unfortunately, customers cannot pick up their mail in person, they have to wait for it to be delivered to their home or PO box. If they need assistance, the postal service suggests calling the USPS Customer Care Center at 1-800-ASK-USPS (1-800-275-8777).
The postal service has not provided an end date or resolution, but USPS still encourages customers to continue shipping packages early.
“We thank our customers for their continued support and we are committed to ensuring that gifts and cards are delivered on time to celebrate the holidays,” said Kristin Seaver, the Postal Service’s chief retail and delivery officer, in a statement. “We also thank our 644,000 employees who work tirelessly in these unique circumstances to ensure the delivery of gifts and greetings for the holidays.
“We will continue to expand our network and ensure that the right equipment is available to sort, process and deliver a historic number of mail and packages this holiday season.”