Palo Alto customers are asking, 'What's wrong with USPS?' | News | Palo Alto Online |


Palo Alto customers are asking, 'What's wrong with USPS?'

Undelivered mail, lack of responsibility by management alleged by customers and employees

The Palo Alto division of the United States Postal Service is not delivering on services, and some customers and employees are placing the blame on management and a lack of accountability, not just on budget cuts.

The downward trend began a year ago, with lost packages, misdirected mail, long lines for passports and unresponsive management, according to customers. Employees, who spoke with the Weekly on condition of anonymity, allege the issues are systemic and rooted in a lack of internal coordination and supervisors who are unwilling to take responsibility.

Service got worse in early fall when Palo Alto's postmaster, Dean Maeda, was sent to Los Angeles for a few months. In early October, 20 people stood in line at the main post office on Bayshore Road until 9:20 a.m. nearly an hour after the office was set to open because the clerk who usually opens the window was stuck in traffic. A manager did not want other workers to open the windows, employees said.

Workers in Palo Alto's downtown branch said business customers got irate while Maeda was away when the clerks ran out of business-appropriate coils and sheets of stamps. Clerks had only Batman stamps available because the person in charge neglected to order the stamps. Business customers were walking out, one employee said.

Some customers said they have noticed the deterioration, but worse, they couldn't reach anyone for answers.

"There is no accountability," said Dan Rubinstein, who works in Palo Alto. "If you want to complain, there is no receptionist. The only person who can summon the manager is the person I want to complain about."

Rubinstein said he waited for 45 minutes with seven other families to get passports for his children. The person in charge of passports was out to lunch, and staff did not know when the person would return, he said.

The problems recently prompted a long-running discussion on Palo Alto Online's Town Square.

"One day a few weeks ago, I called the main post office 24 times (yes, 24 times!) throughout the day and no one ever picked up the phone!" a Midtown resident wrote.

"Today, I waited for a package from Amazon that would be delivered through USPS. ... The mail never came, but I received a text message stating that the package had been delivered," she reported.

A person identifying himself as a Crescent Park resident said that substitute carriers have misdelivered mail, didn't leave a notice when packages were being held, or staff couldn't find the package because the information wasn't filled out correctly.

"The final straw was getting an email notice that the package was delivered, going down to the mailbox (at the post office) and finding it unlocked and open. ... I waited for a 'floor supervisor' to become available after 10 a.m. (more like 11 a.m.) to complain, but it hasn't improved service. If I buy anything from Amazon this Christmas, I'll probably use anything but USPS delivery," he said.

But others said they have had good service.

"We are very happy with the USPS. Our mailman is always cheerful and super nice. I send many packages via USPS Priority Mail and they have all been delivered on time," another Crescent Park resident wrote.

Postal workers' unions have blamed some of the service's woes on Congress, which they say created a financial crisis for the organization. In 2006, Congress mandated that USPS "pre-fund" retiree health benefits, resulting in a $5 billion annual allotment that union leaders say has caused harmed funding of services and staffing.

The Palo Alto main office used to have five clerks; now there are two. There have been no clerk or carrier cuts in the past six months, said Maeda, who returned last week. He did not specify how many positions have been eliminated in the past year, when customers said service quality began to dive.

Systemic problems that are causing delays in incoming mail are also a problem on the Peninsula, an employee said.

Mail that is sorted separately, such as flats, letters and packages, sometimes does not come in on time, forcing carriers to have to wait for one batch or another and delaying delivery, the employee said.

USPS has also shifted its hiring to more City Carrier Assistants (CCAs). Many of these workers have little training and no job security, according to a Sept. 23, 2013, story in, an online magazine for postal workers.

A Palo Alto employee said the assistants work late because the mail comes in late.

"I feel sorry for them. They are working late at night, often until 8 or 9 o'clock. In the dark, it takes two to three times longer to finish one street," the employee said.

Augustine Ruiz Jr., a regional spokesman for USPS, said in an email that he has brought the customers' concerns to the attention of the postmaster, his manager and the district manager.

"Service breakdowns are of serious concern to us because that is what we provide service. We are looking into the customer services issues you have brought to our attention, and they will be addressed by the appropriate and respective managers," he said.

On Wednesday, Maeda acknowledged some of the problems that occurred while he was away. The supervisor assigned to run clerk operations had failed to get clerks up to the window to service the customers, he said through the USPS spokesperson.

"I apologize for our lack of service and will review with the supervisor responsible," Maeda said. "I will work to get service restored to levels prior to my departure."

The branch has now instituted an appointments-only policy for passports. A new passport center in San Francisco just opened to accommodate people when a large group of customers needs passports, he said.

Customers with complaints can call 1-800-ASK-USPS. Issues will be resolved within 24 hours, he said.

"If customers are not getting appropriate responses, they can call our office at 650-321-1423. If they are still not getting any response they can email me at," he said.

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Like this comment
Posted by Don Hartnett
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2014 at 8:25 am

Postal service nationwide has deteriorated. I just received an item from California postmarked October 1st that arrived on November 10th in Florida. We paid about 6 or 7 dollars for overnight delivery to send a check to our credit union in California. It was mailed on a Friday in Florida and should have arrived on Monday. According to the post office tracking system the check was in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Later the post office claimed it was delivered on Wednesday, but the CU claimed it was delivered the following Monday. Either way it was not delivered overnight. A few months ago my wife sent out invitations to a group of about 20 people in our county in Florida. She never received the letter she sent to herself. We have used UPS for some of our packages but they are very expensive. Thinking about trying Federal Express next.

1 person likes this
Posted by Ex-customer
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 15, 2014 at 8:35 am

I stopped using the Bayshore post office when my 2012 Christmas packages, sent via airmail on December 3, arrived at their destination on January 28.

1 person likes this
Posted by Snor blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 15, 2014 at 8:45 am

Has anybody contacted Anna Eschoo's office.

Maybe She can help.....

1 person likes this
Posted by Victoria
a resident of Southgate
on Nov 15, 2014 at 10:25 am

My problem with the local USPS is that they repeatedly fail to take the letters I put in my mailbox for delivery. My incoming mail is delivered, but the letters I want to send remain untaken for days, sometimes weeks. Bizarre.

Like this comment
Posted by USPS
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 15, 2014 at 11:03 am

You will go postal after actually going postal. This all happened after the Lance Armstrong and USPS team bust.

1 person likes this
Posted by mailroomgrrl
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2014 at 11:09 am

i waited over an HOUR to talk to the "supervisor" over an undelivered package...when he finally came to the window, he looked as though he had been taking a nap. his blank stare response was, "once it is scanned as delivered it's not our problem".

while i am often a proponent of the post office in general(where else you mail a letter from palo alto and have it to new york in less than 3 days for 49cents?), the service at the palo alto main branch is sorely lacking.

note: i am at this branch nearly every day m-f as i am responsible for the mail at work.

1 person likes this
Posted by mailroomgrrl
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2014 at 11:12 am

@don harnett...

ups, fedex, dhl, etc all use usps for delivery of at least some of their packages...not a judgement, just a fact.

1 person likes this
Posted by jm
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 15, 2014 at 11:38 am

The post office on Cambridge is great. There are usually two clerks available who really nice. When the line backs up I've seen the manager come out to expedite the counter transactions by answering question and making sure everyone has the right forms filled. Although sometimes individual customers have a stack of envelopes or packages that have to be weighed individually and asks a lot of questions. My mailman is great, and comes in the afternoon.

2 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 15, 2014 at 12:27 pm

I recently had to get a letter registered. Stood in a long line a lonnnnnng time. Only two people; behind the desk - slow. Customers shipping boxes all over the world. Often there is a language problem - hard to understand accent. can't there be an express line and a complicated business line???? Have gone into office to see a manager. None available. There seems to be a lack of interest. However, our neighborhood postman is superb - everybody loves him . he cares about his neighborhood. Anna Eschoo, are you listening??

Like this comment
Posted by Marcos
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2014 at 1:01 pm

After my long time delivery person was replaced with someone with more "seniority" the delivery problems started, I was getting mail address to someone else. The 800-ask-ups number is useless, all they do is take the info then email it to the branch, no follow up and no power to do anything, I tried that a couple of times first for wrong delivery and the second time for no delivery, no one contacted me for a follow up. I was expecting a package sent to me in Priority 2-day, was marked delivered after 4 days and actually delivered after 6 days. I also received a large box addressed to to someone about 4 miles away, I had to deliver it myself because no one picked it up. I tried calling the main office on E. Bayshore a few times, and no one answered, when finally someone answered I was told the person who should deal with my issue is not available and I have to call back later.

Like this comment
Posted by Wonderng?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2014 at 2:43 pm

The post office is a national service, and as such, does not see the people who use it, or depend on it, as their customers--who have needs, and who expect quality service for their money. Big difference between the private sector and the public sector is that the private sector knows that it can be put out of busines by its customers. The Post Office knows that it can not go out of business, as long as Congress continues to give it money--so why should anyone of its very large workforce give a damn about anything?

With e-pay, and e-commerce, and e-mail, and e-whatever, the Post Office really doesn't have a lot to offer--other than hauling bulk mail that is currently not being sent via e-something-or-other. It wasn't too long ago that one Congressman, and the PO Director, wanted Congress to lower the rates for junk mail, so that the PO could attract some business away from the e-thing.

Given the reality of things, wouldn't it be better to try to find ways to avoid the PO at all costs?

Like this comment
Posted by Garrett
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2014 at 3:56 pm

Time for pink slips.

4 people like this
Posted by david
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Nov 15, 2014 at 4:07 pm

Don, You didn't pay "6 or 7 dollars" for overnight delivery. If that is what you paid you didn't get express mail, "overnight delivery", because express mail costs more than that.

Victoria, if you are putting your mail IN the mailbox without a flag up or some other way to notify the carrier there is outgoing mail in the box of course it isn't getting picked up. Carriers don't go through your mailbox on a daily basis to determine if you simply didn't pick up your mail the day, or several days, before if you might have collection mail in there. You saying your incoming mail is delivered without outgoing mail getting picked up makes this pretty obviously what is happening.

Marcos, I noticed you didn't say what happened when you discussed the misdeliveries with your carrier. Care to share how that went?

Like this comment
Posted by Garden Gnome
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 15, 2014 at 4:56 pm

Fear not, it's not just a local issue.

With any luck, we can apply the same management principles used by USPS and apply them to other areas, such as health care or perhaps the internet.

1 person likes this
Posted by 25 year mail carrier
a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2014 at 5:59 pm

1st let me say I'm from SoCal....a bit of inside advice: when your local postmaster is unresponsive go to your district mngr & organize a group to take turns calling him DAILY....THIS will fix your problem fast/correctly....and a note to "wondrng"....the USPS hasn't received any $$$ from the fed gov since 1984 when they switched from PO department to USPS....if you care to do some educational reading google USPS prefunding mandate & you will see that it's quite the opposite...the Feds are taking 5.6 BILLION PERYEAR from YOUR postal service to balance the books....the entire postal money problem is a SHAM....the USPS just turned a 1.6 billion dollar operating PROFIT....first class letters up 1.5%....parcels up 10%.....if you the public let this go on all that will be left is ups FedEx. Ect....check out what those guys did in the areas the USPS gave to them in the middle of the country where 2012 service cuts took place. ( clue: it's not cheaper )....a lot has changed & more still needs to....why isn't the PO delivering beer/wine like FedEx ups....who do you think is telling congress reps not to vote to let the PO deliver these...same companies who are delivering it now.....see a patern here?......TELL YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REP TO STOP THIS

1 person likes this
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 15, 2014 at 6:40 pm

> the USPS hasn't received any $$$ from the fed gov since 1984 when they
> switched from PO department to USPS....

And it's your claim that if the PO gets into deep trouble that the Federal Govt can not be expected to give it taxpayer's money?

> if you care to do some educational reading google USPS prefunding mandate
> & you will see that it's quite the opposite...the Feds are taking 5.6 BILLION PERYEAR
> from YOUR postal service to balance the books....
? the entire postal money problem is a SHAM

And which books would that be? The US general fund? Or the PO pension program which, like most pension programs, is not fully funded?

The problem with the PO is not a sham when the question of fully-funding the pension system is put on the table--regardless of what you say.

Like this comment
Posted by Christine
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 15, 2014 at 7:15 pm

My issue with the mail delivery is, we are suppose to be receiving our mail on a daily basis, except on Sundays, right? I have had many days during the week days, when I've got no mail at all, and I've never have days like that
in the past. So I'm of the opinion that there isn't enough mail carriers to deliver the load, or some mail carriers just don't care if they deliver everyone's mail at all? My dad use to work for the PO (17 years) and so did our next door neighbor (28 years) back in the 60's to 80's, so I know how it use to be in the PO's, but today's service and mentality doesn't even come close to those days!

Like this comment
Posted by Also Frustrated
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 16, 2014 at 11:52 am

I had had packages "disappear" off the shelves in the Oak Grove station in Menlo Park.
When I complained and filed reports with the Post Master ( both local and PM General )' they fell on deaf ears..

1 person likes this
Posted by Stan
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 16, 2014 at 2:17 pm

The USPS has never been a bastion of great service, however, much of its current problems are a direct result of congress meddling where it really has no business doing so. The idea that congress knows best how to run a business, when they won't balance their own books is ludicrous. Do what I say, not what I do.

The fact is the USPS funds itself directly by selling it's product, postage, and gets no Federal funding or subsidy. The USPS is a Federal Corporation or charted by the Congress, that does not mean they get funding.

Unlike any private company or any federal or state agency I can think of, the USPS has been required by congress to fully pre-fund the retirement benefits of all employees. Some even suggest that the law requires the USPS to pre-fund the retirement costs of not yet hired future employees! Think about that requirement, congress makes the USPS fully pre-fund the retirement of it's employees, but has never, nor has any plans or capability to pre-fund the retirement of any federal employee, or even citizens in the case of Social Security. No state that I can think of has the means to pre-fund the retirement benefits of any of it's employees either, but for some reason, the USPS is required to. A cynic would suggest that it's a congressional mandate to fatten the pension plan and set the USPS up for failure so a private company can swoop in and 'save' it with a big fat pension to raid in the process.

1 person likes this
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 16, 2014 at 3:37 pm

> The fact is the USPS funds itself directly by selling it's product,
> postage, and gets no Federal funding or subsidy. The USPS is a
> Federal Corporation or charted by the Congress, that does not mean they get funding.

This is currently true, as far as it goes. Before Congress decided to create the semi-autonomous USPS, it was a wholly-owned operation of the US government. That means that all of the land, facilities, and equipment that was acquired before the split was "inherited" by the PO, with no requirement to repay the taxpayers for these previous expenditures. It would take a little sluthing in the accounting department, but the land/capital equipment transferred to the PO was doubtless in the hundreds of billions.

As to the concern about the pre-payment issues, we really need to look at the liabilities of the PO--pension and healthcare, which doubtles comes into the trillions, over time. Before people poo-poo Congress about their requirement that the PO begin to make provisions for their retirees' future costs--why not come up with a quick calculation for these costs and then go looking in the Federal "books" for this money.

A quick look at the possible PO pension obligations--

for 760,000 emps at 40K/year over 30 years: 1 trillion dollars
for 760,000 emps at 60k/year over 30 years: 1.4 triion dollars

Now, since the late 1980s, the PO has downsized considerably, with there now being about 250K emps, which reduces these future obligations to about 300 billion and 450 billion dollars, depending on the actual average pensions paid to retirees.

And then there is the healthcare costs--which will increase yearly, from now on out.

No once can accuse Congress of knowing much about how to run a business or even balance its own books--but when we start looking at these big numbers, someone needs to step up to the line and at least identify the likely future costs and the likely current and future funding sources.

1 person likes this
Posted by enough!
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 17, 2014 at 10:55 am

We didn't get our mail on Saturday until after 7:00 pm. That is the peak of the ever increasing late time of delivery. Sometimes, packages are not delivered or even attempted, they just put a note on the door to pick up at the main. When you get to the main, you find out that even though you are well within the pickup parameters, and there was no second attempt to deliver, your package has been sent back. VERY frustrating.

1 person likes this
Posted by Po'd
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 17, 2014 at 11:22 am

I thought I was the only one!!! This story is eye-opening to know that it was not just one day that the employees at the Bayshore branch were so rude to me. It's everyone, and often. Please don't make it about the postal service in general. It's the few employees at this branch that give you the run around, and there's no one to even complain to. They are absolute jerks there!!! Please do a follow up story about what we citizens can do relieve these bad apples.

1 person likes this
Posted by PA Resident
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 17, 2014 at 11:30 am

We noticed the service deterioration not only past year but for the last few years. As indicated, misplaced mails and delay of deliver are common. I even found a mail on my front yard that was supposed to be sent out.

Like this comment
Posted by KP
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 17, 2014 at 11:34 am

The mail service in my area seems to be just fine. I recently had USPS deliveries from Amazon and from Tipper - on time, complete and in-tact! Our mail carrier is extremely friendly too!
It's too bad others are having such bad luck with theirs.

However, I try to avoid the post office, as the lines are horrendous!

Like this comment
Posted by Old Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 17, 2014 at 11:39 am

I have seen a huge deterioration in the postal service over the last year. I frequently get the wrong mail and I wonder if I'm receiving all of my mail. I'm beginning to use FedEx and other private companies when something is really important. I have a different postal carrier weekly and they don't wear postal clothes? Seems to have become a very unprofessional service.

1 person likes this
Posted by realitycheck
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 17, 2014 at 11:48 am

I put our mail on hold during our week-long vacation, which was completely ignored. We came home to an overflowing mailbox, a big spotlight for would-be burglars. My forwarded mail was only sporadically done from our last house, and I still collect mail for the previous tenants at our new address. Luckily, we're friends. It took over two weeks to have a letter sent certified mail delivered to the recipient. The clerks at Bayshore are more rude than those at Cambridge, although Cambridge is often missing supplies and is a pigsty. Other than that, USPS is doing a great job ;[

Like this comment
Posted by realitycheck
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 17, 2014 at 11:50 am

Oh, and my mail is delivered in the dark of night, around 6:30pm.

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Posted by helene
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 17, 2014 at 12:00 pm

I have had many problems at the Cambridge Post Office. There are several wonderful clerks working there, but one
man in particular is very obsessive and controlling. My last package mailed from there, he insisted on stamping my
package 12 times on 4 sides......48 times it was stamped, while he was oblivious to the line outside the door. When I see him at the counter, I run the other way. The station at Stanford is very efficient and worth going to.

1 person likes this
Posted by Casa de Cerveza
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Nov 17, 2014 at 12:01 pm

Casa de Cerveza is a registered user.

I frequently use the Post Office on Cambridge Avenue near California Avenue and am a very happy customer. The lines are generally short unless you go at lunch time. The service is friendly too. My mail is consistently delivered before I arrive home from work in the evening. When I go on vacation, it is very easy to schedule a vacation hold with a written note addressed to the Postman. The vacation holds have always been delivered when I requested. Furthermore, on the rare occasion I actually see the Postman deliver my mail, I thank him or her for their consistently good service.

1 person likes this
Posted by On Ventura
a resident of Ventura
on Nov 17, 2014 at 12:11 pm

In apartment complexes there is a separate box for outgoing mail and no flag to raise. Mail sits there for days without being picked up. The mail carrier must open the entire unit-- 10 apartment boxes, 1 for outgoing and 2 for packages. He only has to look in that slot to see that there is outgoing mail there.

I can't understand why small boxes are not put in those locked boxes. It would be safer and easier for the mail carrier. The mail carrier used to put small boxes in the locked box and leave the key in the individual mailbox. Now they put the packages in front of the apartment door. One of mine was stolen. All the postman said was, " I delivered it to your door." There was no explanation as to why he won't use the locked box. On most days they are not used at all. Sometimes they put the doormat on top of the package. Do they really think a thief won't see this package with a door mat on top of it? If it wasn't for the item stolen having been replaced by the shipper this would be funny.

Like this comment
Posted by Jeanne
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 17, 2014 at 12:19 pm

I've long since given up going to any post office in Palo Alto, I usually go to Los Altos or Mountain View, they're just as close for South Palo Alto residents anyway. And, if you want your mail delivered take it to a mailbox by a Post Office don't leave it in your home mailbox.

I plan to mail all my Christmas cards the Monday following Thanksgiving, hopefully they'll arrive on time. Last year I mailed them on December 10th and some of them didn't arrive until after Christmas.

So, for Christmas mail by Thanksgiving!!!

Like this comment
Posted by a former resident of Arbor Real
a resident of another community
on Nov 17, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Before moving from Palo Alto to Menlo Park on July 1, we paid the post office to forward our mail. Over the next 5 months not a single piece of mail has been forwarded. Dozens of pieces of mail continue to be delivered to our old Palo Alto addss.

1 person likes this
Posted by Pearl
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 17, 2014 at 12:27 pm

Pearl is a registered user.

The United States Postal Service is not a government agency. See here on Wikipedia:
Web Link

When I have a problem, I go right to the top. Contact the Postmaster General, as follows:

Patrick R. Donahoe, Postmaster
United States Postal Service
475 L'Enfant Plaza SW
Washington, D.C. 20260-0004

Also see: Post Office General and Executive Leadership team:
Web Link

It has been my experience there's power in number. That said, it might do well for several people to contact these folks.

1 person likes this
Posted by Emerson St
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 17, 2014 at 12:45 pm

We used to have a wonderful mail carrier, experienced and efficient, no problems. Since he he was moved to another route because a disabled carrier with seniority wanted his route, we and all our neighbors have had endless, daily problems with mail delivery. The disabled carrier has not set foot on his new route--instead we have clueless substitutes who struggle to deliver mail after dark. We leave our porch light on for them. Every day there are mis-delivered letters and flats for other addresses or no mail at all. We've had to pay numerous late fees because bills were never delivered and several checks were lost in the mail requiring a number of "stop payment" orders and hassles. Forwarding orders were completely disregarded, another huge headache.
I feel sorry for the substitutes but something must be done--not all deliveries can be done by ups or fedex.
Repeated calls and written complaints have all been ignored.

Like this comment
Posted by satisfied
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 17, 2014 at 12:47 pm

I love my mail delivery specialist. She works hard, and always give a sunshiney attitude. She is part of a group that provides some neighborhood continuity and security while so many people are away at work.

Yes, going to the office is a crapshoot, but nothing different than dealing with the DMV, etc. One expects it.

Like this comment
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2014 at 1:19 pm

Suggesting that the USPS is not a government agency needs a bit of reality--

Web Link

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., the incoming chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee has already announced his belief the USPS should go through a bankruptcy process that could end up shredding costly union contracts to reduce operating costs.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office, GAO, has concluded the Postal Service’s business model doesn’t work.

“USPS’s financial condition has been designated as high risk because USPS’s business model is not viable as USPS cannot fund its current level of services, operations, and obligations from its revenues and urgently needs to restructure to reflect changes in mail volume, revenue, and use of the mail,” the GAO said in a posting on its website.

As to the problem of deterioriating service --

USPS also needs to “engage in binding arbitration to modify union collective bargaining agreements in accordance with the reality of the USPS’s continuing operating deficits running annually into billions of dollars.”

An editorial published Nov. 14 in the Santa Fe New Mexican said the “biggest obstacle facing reform is not partisan politics; it’s interest-group politics.”

“Postal unions, rural states, large-scale commercial mailers and others that depend on the dysfunctional status quo lobby furiously to protect it, or at least those parts of it that favor their particular interests,” the paper said.

“They’re less concerned with the public’s interest in modernizing the institution so that it won’t require a taxpayer bailout, beyond the $15 billion line of credit with the U.S. Treasury that it’s already used up,” the editorial continued.

“The latest evidence of the lobbies’ power is a push by roughly half the current Senate for a moratorium on the closure of inefficient mail-processing facilities in 2015.”


However you want to slice it--the USPS is not a privately-owned company, regardless of what it's management profile might be.

And our old friend--the labor union--pops up again as one of the toxic factors in the decline of the USPS's financial, and performance, situation.

Like this comment
Posted by Really, Wondering?
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 17, 2014 at 2:07 pm

[Portion removed.]

1 person likes this
Posted by Amoeba
a resident of South of Midtown
on Nov 17, 2014 at 3:05 pm

I had a problem.
I talked with my carrier, called and wrote to local management, called San Francisco, and so on.
This went on for 1 1/2 to 2 years.
Finally someone at USPS said 'They'll say they'll help, but they never will. You should call your Congressperson's office."
I did and the issue was resolved with good results within 2 weeks.
The top to bottom contacts with staff were all tainted with what we think of as the worst elements of bureaucracy, leading me to feel less sympathetic with any woes they may feel as workers.
One got the feeling that if there was a go-getter in place, they'd be taunted by co-workers for making the slow workers look bad.
A real shame and not what I'd like to see in my National Postal service.

Like this comment
Posted by Wondering?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 17, 2014 at 3:15 pm

[Post removed.]

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Posted by Really, Wondering?
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 17, 2014 at 3:27 pm

[Post removed.]

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Posted by Unhappy Mountain View Postal Customer
a resident of Mountain View
on Nov 17, 2014 at 3:32 pm

It sounds as if the Palo Alto issues are more recent and glad to see people speaking up about the poor service. The Mountain View PO is equally (more) pathetic and has been for years. The supervisor and other employees are hostile and never take responsibility or offers solutions to problems. Calls to the central office "resolved in 24 hours" means that someone who doesn't understand your issue or how to fix it will call from the local PO and leave an incomprehensible message on your machine. The first response is usually to blame the customer, come up with an incorrect excuse, when that doesn't work to shrug it off. Common problems that I have dealt with frequently - missing mail, mail for someone else delivered to me, undelivered packages claimed to have been delivered when they weren't, messed up forwarding and vacation holds. The lines are always endless because many (not all) of the staff are barely literate and slow as molasses. Worst of all, it doesn't have to be this way - the Los Altos PO the staff are friendly, cheerful and helpful. I generally try to go there even though it is further from my house than Mountain View.

Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of University South
on Nov 17, 2014 at 4:34 pm

What's the address of the Los Altos Post Office?

Are you referring to the one on Main Street or Miramonte Avenue?

1 person likes this
Posted by ConcernedCitizen
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Nov 17, 2014 at 5:07 pm

We no longer have our mail held while on vacation because in March 2014 magazines were returned to the publisher marked "Unable to deliver" and our subscriptions were cancelled. It took weeks, and calls to the publishers, to identify the reason for the failed deliveries. After learning it, I went to the Bayshore branch to speak with the supervisor and was told there was no one to talk with. I submitted an online inquiry to the USPS to which there was never a response.

1 person likes this
Posted by Old Palo Altan
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 17, 2014 at 5:08 pm

I live in Old PA. I don't receive my mail several times a week. I often get my mail after dark. I also get other peoples mail. We have a different mail carrier every day. I was told that my last three carriers have gone on disability. What a scam. One postman told me that the head postmaster for PA is incompetent.

4 people like this
Posted by Pearl
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 17, 2014 at 6:45 pm

Pearl is a registered user.

You can rent a USPS post office box for $25/3 months, or $50/6 months, or $100/12 months. That way your mail is held safe and sound at your post office until you come and pick it up. I started renting a post office box 40 years ago when we lived out in rural West Menlo Park because someone was swiping everyone's mail. Much safer to have a post office box.

When I was still working, I used to pick up my mail every day after work; now that I'm happily retired, I just go in once a week to pick up my mail. If you happen to receive more mail than fits in your mail box, the post office will put a note in your box, telling you to come to the counter and they will hand you your mail. Ditto, for when you receive a package; they will put a notice slip in your mail box so you can go to the counter and pick up your package.

I have found the best times to visit the post office in order to avoid the crowds, are 10am and 1:30pm, especially on Thursdays. And, a great day to mail your Christmas packages is the day after Thanksgiving when everyone else is at the mall shopping!!! Works great for me, as I always have soldier care packages that I am waiting in line to mail.

Also, you can do everything online at, such as buy stamps, renew your post office box subscription, put in a mail hold order, print labels, print customs forms, send an email asking for a mail pickup at your business or residence, request mailing supplies, i.e., boxes, labels, etc.

3 people like this
Posted by Ben
a resident of Community Center
on Nov 17, 2014 at 8:29 pm

Wondering: If the company you work or worked for, and only that company, was required by law to pre-fund a pension for you, several things would likely happen. First, the company would almost certainly have less or no cash to reinvest in improving that company. That company would immediately recognize the cash flow problem and lay you off as a part of a solution.

1 person likes this
Posted by CrescentParkAnon.
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 18, 2014 at 2:48 am

I'd say the problems with individual Post Office branches does not mean the whole system needs to be scrapped.

The USPD has worked for a very long time, and continues to work great, certainly statistically as good as any alternatives. So what if it needs a little help now and then, and what costs are not going up.

So ... that defense of the Postal Service noted ... the Palo Alto, Mountain View, East Palo Alto Post Offices, the ones I have the most experiences with have problems.

One thing I notice right away is that there is no big sign that tells people what to do and what the prices are.

I remember way back that one thing the DMV did to move things along was to post big signs you could see when you walked it. It's been a long time now most people probably do not remember when they did not do this. Like back when the Showers Ave. Mountain View DMV was open. Now the Redwood City DMV moves along pretty quickly and focuses people to go where they need to go right off the bat.

Now, almost every time I go to the Post Office there is a line and two people working the windows. When the line gets long they don't pull in other people to work it. You should see the heads nodding in the line at the PAPO. People are so frustrated they are talking out loud about how slow the workers are.

That is the sending mail part ... in the actual Post Office.

But the delivering mail while pretty darn good has holes. I know I get other people's mail sometimes, and at least once I found a package of mine got delivered to someone else ... but that is like once in 20 years or more. I can stand one or two mistakes, and you have to realize that if everyone rattles off the one time they had a problem with the Post Office it sounds like the whole thing is terrible ... it isn't. They do need to improve I grant people that.

We were told that our route is a training route for new mail carriers and that they sometimes make mistakes or take too long to deliver mail. I can live with the current system. When I need to send a package if I can I used the automated kiosks ... which are great. They are innovating and changing, but it is slow.

2 people like this
Posted by jw
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 18, 2014 at 6:21 am

I am a huge fan of the postal service. Our home delivery is terrific. Furthermore, I have mailed at least 100 packages to the East Coast in the last 5 years because I have family there. Not one of the packages has been lost and they are delivered in 2 days, consistently. It is fast, reasonably priced service, which is much better than any of the other options.

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Posted by BBBKKK
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 18, 2014 at 1:23 pm

I'm sympathetic to all the problems that people are having. Some of the contributing factors are clearly national (pre-paid pensions) and some local (attitude/ motivation).

I have a P.O. Box for business and also delivery at our home. Would just like to say that the West Menlo Post Office on the Alameda & Avy is excellent - very friendly and efficient staff, short lines, clean, no problems with vacation holds or packages, lost mail, etc. And, our mail carrier in Portola Valley ("Paul") is terrific!

Posted by neighbor
a resident of another community

on Nov 18, 2014 at 2:23 pm

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.

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Posted by palo alto resident
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 18, 2014 at 3:53 pm

Our mail carrier is terrific but we also have a big problem with getting other peoples mail. We just got a neighbors mail delivered to us, put it back in the box, and it was delivered to us again. Pretty funny.

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Posted by Annie
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 18, 2014 at 6:21 pm

Someone mentioned going to the Stanford post office instead, so I thought I would give it a try. Good luck with that. Parking is nearly impossible unless you have a University sticker. The pay lots were full. I finally found a place to park and the line in the post office was nearly out the door. Many of the people (students) took forever because they needed special things or had tons of questions. Not worth the time. I think I'll try Los Altos next time.

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Posted by Customer 1.0
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 19, 2014 at 1:51 am

It took more time to pay an online bill, 13 days in total from September 26 to October 9 for one payment for me. I had to pay $20 late fee because I did not expect it can take that long. The bill needed to arrive by October 5 without late fee. The bank said the payment is not by first class and can take 5 to 7 business days when I called to check with the payment. So I now set up the payment with more time for online payment. This online payment was sent by USPS and the destination is to downtown Palo Alto. I was wondering what was going on with the USPS when the record from the bank showed the check was processed on schedule. I learned a lesson and hope this would not happen to other people by telling people to allow more time for mailing through USPS like online bill payment which is not online electronic payment like paying credit card bills. Online credit card electronic payment usually does not need to go through any mailing, I think.

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Posted by Long-suffering
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 30, 2017 at 8:18 pm

Is there any way at all to improve this service? On our street, multiple houses get others' mail every single mail delivery day. We get mail addressed to people on streets with unrelated names to our street fairly often. We get mail to people with three of four digits different from ours. And our mail comes opened fairly often; obviously from neighbors who accidentally opened our mail.

Is there a requirement for the post office to hire people who cannot read numbers and cannot read letters?

Or are just unable to focus sufficiently to sort or check addresses?

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