Feb. 3, 2004 — More than 15 irate customers of the U.S. Postal Service aired their complaints Monday evening during a meeting called by V.I. Delegate to Congress Donna Christensen.
Christensen said she called the meeting, which was held on St. Thomas and simultaneously on St. Croix via teleconference, because she had received several letters and e-mails from residents regarding the territory's poor mail service.
V.I. Postmaster Louis Jackson attended the meeting on St. Thomas to hear the complaints of the customers.
"What I'm hearing pretty much is not good news," Christensen told Jackson before letting the attending residents voice their concerns.
Attorney Linda Baxter of St. Croix said, "My first concern is the delay in delivery." Baxter said one letter sent out to her by a client on Dec. 28 did not reach her office until Jan. 8. She also complained about damaged mail and post offices not opening on Saturdays during the holiday season.
Last October, the U.S. Postal Service routed all inter-island mail to Puerto Rico where it would be sorted by machines and sent back to the territory the next day in an effort to cut costs.
"It's more economical and makes more sense business-wise," Jackson said of the postal service's decision. He added that 500 pieces of mail per hour were sorted manually in the Virgin Islands. With the machines in Puerto Rico, 32,000 pieces of mail are sorted each hour.
However, Baxter and other residents said since this change was implemented, their local bill payments and other mail were being delivered late.
"It is not making the mail any quicker," Baxter said of the new change. We are supposed to be treated as part of the United States and not like some Third World country."
Baxter said she and other attorneys would consider filing a class-action lawsuit against the U.S Postal Service. She encouraged the attending residents to save their evidence of late and damaged mail.
"We are going to continue to push this effort until we get what we deserve," Baxter said. "And that is good postal service. I want to see results; I'm tired of explanations."
St. Croix resident Richard Grant said, besides arriving late, his mail is also arriving damaged. "Since October I've had more wet mail, I've had mail that has been slit and patched, and I've had mail that has been on frequent flyer trips all the way to St. Kitts," Grant said.
"I have no idea where my mail goes," St. Thomas businesswoman Cheryl Miller said. Miller said when she moved from St. John to St. Thomas much of her mail was not forwarded to her new address.
"I have had $3,000 worth of checks go to the old address and not be forwarded to my new address," Miller commented. Miller said since her forwarding ran out in October, the problem has become worse. She has had to call clients to put stop payments on checks because she was unable to receive and track their mail.
Several postal employees also voiced their concerns. Roy Williams, a postal employee from St. Croix, said mail carriers are being told to come back to the office at a set time, whether or not they have delivered all mail, and this could be a reason for the delinquency. Williams said no overtime is given to ensure that customers' mail is delivered on time.
"There is a lot of corruption in the office," Williams said. "There's not only corruption against customers, there's corruption against employees."
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