It doesn’t take much, lately, to realize the United States Postal Service is in a major crisis. If you’ve mailed anything out — or were expecting a parcel — you know that what once took a day to complete is taking many days now.
Turn on any cable news channel and chances are a discussion of the Post Office will be ongoing.
And it seems the USPS is working in reverse — slashing services and funding — instead of going in the right direction.
U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, meanwhile, has surveyed constituents on their experiences with the USPS — and the results are not pretty. The Observer conducted a similar survey — and the results were the same.
“With Donald Trump stepping up his sabotage of the United States Postal Service (USPS) and Senate Republicans blocking lifeline aid to USPS for now 89 days, the ability of Americans to get their mail and cast their ballots is under unprecedented existential threat,” Pascrell, a Democrat who represents the 9th Congressional District of New Jersey said. “Every day, our office is hearing from our neighbors who cannot get their medicine, pay their bills or cast their ballots because of Trump and Republicans’ deliberate attempts to destroy the post office.
“One of the crown jewels of our nation is under manufactured siege, and every single American is paying the price for Trump’s sabotage. Not just day-to-day lives are at stake, but democracy itself. It is vital we hear those stories now.”
Here’s a sample of what The Observer found in its survey.
But first, here’s what we’ve experienced at The Observer.
We rely on the USPS, often, to deliver payments for advertising and to send out invoices to customers.
“There have been so many instances where customers have told us they sent out payment, and days go by and we don’t receive the payments,” Observer Co-owner Lisa Feorenzo said. “Then, out of the blue, payments will arrive. At first, we might wonder — were the payments really sent? But then we came to realize, of course the payments were sent. It just took a ridiculous amount of time for them to go from, let’s say, Lyndhurst to Kearny. Sometimes it would take weeks.”
One of the stranger incidents was when a piece of mail The Observer sent in October was returned to sender — in April.
“The package was a mess to begin with,” Feorenzo said. “Can only wonder what happened for all that time.”
Concetta DePalma, 82, of North Arlington, told The Observer she relies on the USPS to deliver her monthly Social Security checks each month — and for a time, ordered her medication in 90-day supplies by mail.
That process has not gone well, of late, she says.
“I stopped the prescriptions completely,” she said. “I would run out of my medications and then the new ones would be sent out, on time, but just wouldn’t get here. I also preferred to have my check come by mail because I never really liked direct deposit. But the check would come some months two weeks late. So I didn’t have any other choice. I had to use direct deposit. Otherwise, how am I supposed to live? It’s so frustrating.”
The Observer also spoke with Joseph Austin, who lives in Kearny and owns a small business in Middlesex County. He says he’s incurred so many late fees over the last few years because of the USPS’s inability to deliver checks he sends out to his vendors and to credit-card companies.
“You can’t believe how many times I’ve had to apologize to people I deal with because my checks came late,” Austin said. “And the credit-card companies? Forget it. I pay online now whenever I can. You can send a check to a credit-card company the day the bill arrives — with a month to get the payment to them — and it’s still not enough time sometimes. It’s caused me to do business in a completely different way than what I’m used to. Is it fair? No way. But you have to do what you have to do.”
Here’s what some residents of the 9th Congressional District have said, as polled by Pascrell’s office. Note that last names were not used.
“Some days, no mail comes at all and then the following days my mailbox is full. Not sure if mail is being delivered in a timely fashion,” Frank, a resident of Paterson, said.
“Items that I have ordered have often been late. According to the tracking information, the items seem to stay several days in the distribution centers of the post office and arrive several days later than expected,” Nicole, a resident of Garfield, said.
“I pay bills by mail, and two monthly bills were not delivered at all. If I had not realized it in time, late payments could have negatively impacted my credit rating. Also, I received ordered items approximately a week later than the delivery date specified by the seller. The Postal Service has been one of the few services I have always felt could be relied upon. Unfortunately, I no longer believe that,” Mary, a resident of Haledon, said.
“My brother mailed me an important letter with a check in it to my home, and it took over 11 days to get to me. Usually, any mail from him takes two days. I mailed a check to a local doctor two weeks ago, and she has still not received it,” Cynthia, a resident of Cliffside Park, said.
“Mail is being delivered sporadically. Payments to vendors are arriving late or not at all,” Philip, a resident of Rutherford, said.
“Mailed my mortgage payment from Secaucus Main Post Office on July 26, and it was not processed until Aug. 3. It normally would have been two to three days max,” Janet, a resident of Secaucus, said.
Since this crisis began, Pascrell says he has been aggressively demanding accountability.
On May 21, Pascrell wrote to USPS Inspector General Tammy Whitcomb demanding an investigation of turmoil at the USPS, purportedly stemming from a pattern of interference engineered by the Trump Administration in its efforts to destabilize the post office.
On Aug. 12, Pascrell again called on IG Whitcomb to probe postal turmoil.
Learn more about the writer ...
Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.