Monday, January 14, 2008

Going Postal: The Times Plaza Post Office Chronicles, Part I

Complaints about and evaluations of postal service in Brooklyn never fail to amuse and enlighten. This one is about the Times Plaza Station on Atlantic Avenue between Third and Fourth Avenue. The comments come via the Boerum Hill Yahoo group, where a member has solicited and collected comments from readers to share with the officials at the post office. This is not the first time Boerum Hill residents and the Boerum Hill Association have tangoed with this particular post office. (Nor is this the first time we've posted about people's problems with mail in Boerum Hill. There is this post, for instance, and this post.) In any case, here are a few excerpts from a very long list of emails expressing deep affection for the Times Plaza Station. The person who collected them writes to the postal official to whom she sent them, "We would appreciate hearing from you what the course of action from the Brooklyn Postmaster's office will be, what we can expect in terms of changes and improvements, and what the time-table will be to implement these." We start with this:
My daughter, finally, finally finishes her ten college applications- My daughter, finally, finally finishes her ten college applications...We walk over to Plaza Station, relieved, nervous, proud. Lines are long, but that's okay. Finally, it's our turn at the Automated Postal Center (as they have trademarked it). And one by one, we weigh the manila envelopes containing her extra materials, opt (thank god!) to send them certified mail (in case, god forbid, we'll need to track them), slap the labels on-- and send them on their way! And now they're coming back. One by one. Insufficient postage. Two showed up yesterday--each one 39 cents short. According to the tracking, three more are trying to make it back to us. A fifty percent failure rate.

And what are we supposed to do now? Get the postmaster or postmistress to write letters on my daughter's behalf? "Dear Carleton College, Please excuse Eliza for missing her deadline. It wasn't really her fault"? I've been reading a book of letters that John and Abigail Adams sent one another, when he was in Europe and she was in Massachusetts. I think they had a better success rate getting their mail through than we do.
And this:
One of the most common complaints seems to be failure to deliver packages,
leaving a note and not knocking or ringing the bell. The postal rules once required that a second -- and third-- attempt to deliver be made. Now only one seems to be the rule. The laziness of the postal carriers must account for their failure to climb the stoop steps. One of my favorite bad experiences: I was in line (very slow moving) and watched a clerk arrive behind his window. He then took 10 minutes (I timed it) to put on and tie his tie! A couple of years ago, but representative of the clerks' attitudes. No manager ever stays very long -- we make contact, promises are made, things get better. Then the manager leaves and everything reverts to "normal.'". Any clerk who is responsive to the customers soon leaves. No doubt pushed out by the other clerks.

I do not go there any more, choosing to spend more money on UPS. I order my stamps by mail, a great service. My husband in the early 70s was writing letters to the postmaster general, congressmen, senators -- and here we are more than 30 years later with everything the same. Good luck.
And this:
I recently moved to the neighborhood and am shocked by the poor service provided by the PO. I have had THREE separate packages returned to sender. One more package was permanently lost. No notices were left at my address alerting me to the packages at any time. The times I have been forced to venture to the actual postal facility were most discouraging and frustrating. The stamp machine never works
(why is there only one?), the lines interminable, the package window is rarely open, and the facility is dirty and unkempt...
We could go on, but we will wrap up with this:
We have had so many awful experiences at Times Plaza that I don't know where to begin. As a matter of fact, I now use an address in Dumbo as a way of avoiding the post office on Atlantic Avenue as much as I can. In any case, here is the most recent fiasco from Times Plaza...In mid-December, my father, based in Sweden, sent me a large box of books. When they attempted to deliver the very large cardboard box, I was not home so they left it outside my house at 181 Wyckoff Street in the rain. It was not stolen, as it might have been, but almost all of the 30 books in it were ruined by the rain. I used to live in Iran, and I can confidently say that the level of mail service in this area is worse than that third-world country. I also used to live in Sweden, a country in which a post office manager proudly saying that they manage to deliver 95% of mail (like someone at the Brooklyn head office said to me a couple of years ago when I called to complain about service) would lead to the person being fired. 5% of mail gets lost?! That's something to be proud of?
There are so many tales of despair and woe that we'll continue with Part II tomorrow.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This has been going on for a long time. See the dateline on this article.

12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Times Plaza has nothing on the Adelphi PO on Fulton. My address is 16. I get all mail in their service area addressed to "16" anything. I dealt with it OK until I started getting the mail for 16 Court Street, a huge ofc bldng across from the Courthouse. Bags and bags of it dumped inside my tiny brownstone's fence in Clinton Hill. I called, complained, nothing. Finally I loaded up ten bags of this crapon an industrial strength dolly and wheeled it down to Adelphi, demanding to see a supervisor. They hauled one out, and she threatened to have me arrested for the federal crime of interfering with the US Mail. You can't make this stuff up.

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ever been to the Red Hook PO. Lucky if anyone is even working.

9:35 PM  

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