Bad weather, as well as labor shortages, may have affected local mail delivery recently. (USPS file photo)

In the past two weeks the RoundTable has heard from several concerned Evanston residents about delays of days or weeks in mail delivery.

Colleen, a retired technology executive who recently moved back to Evanston with her husband and asked that her last name not be published, said her condo had not received any deliveries between Jan. 6 and Jan. 12.

She had been anticipating mail because she uses the Postal Service’s Informed Delivery service, which lets consumers see digital images of envelopes en route to their address, along with the tracking numbers of packages on their way. Colleen said she called the post office to inquire and was told there are 40 routes in Evanston and the area was down 15 mail carriers.

“I understand it, but it may be an unsolvable dilemma,” she said. “I especially feel bad for people who are awaiting delivery of medications or who don’t receive Social Security payments electronically.” 

In a prepared statement, a regional spokesman for the U.S. Postal Service acknowledged there have been problems.

“Local management is aware of delivery issues in Evanston and is taking steps to address the concerns,” said Timothy Norman, part of the USPS communications office that serves Chicago and the Illinois district that includes Evanston. “This office has returned to full delivery of mail this week. We appreciate the patience of our customers and the efforts of employees during challenging times.” 

Norman said the Postal Service “is not immune to the human impacts of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.”

The spokesman said postal customers with delivery problems should contact their local post office. “The Postal Service will diligently continue to investigate customer’s concerns and correct deficiencies,” he said.

There are various ways residents may notify the Postal Service about service issues:

  • Customers can go to the USPS website, and click on “Contact us” at the bottom of the homepage.
  • The official Twitter account of the Postal Service, managed by the social media staff at USPS HQ, can provide help. For customer service, tweet @USPSHelp.
  • Visit the Evanston post office at 1101 Davis St. or call 847-328-6288.

In Illinois, at least 100 mail carrier positions are unfilled, according to the USPS website’s career section. As Norman mentioned, illness is a factor. The remaining staff have more work to do with fewer personnel, thus increasing wait times. Training new hires takes time and new carriers take longer to complete deliveries until they learn their routes. Winter weather hazards of ice and snow also contribute to service delays.

In the past, to reduce expenses carriers were asked to reduce overtime. When asked about the current overtime policy, Norman said, “The use of overtime hours is based on operational needs. We flex available resources to match the workload.”

The USPS Office of the Inspector General issues reports and audits “to protect assets and revenue, ensure efficient and economical mail delivery, and safeguard the integrity of the postal system,” it says on its website.

The Inspector General’s Office has an online list of “Hotline Helpful Links,” including “I’m having a problem with the delivery of my mail,” for a variety of consumer postal concerns.

It also posts a performance map dashboard for the entire country that reports quarterly service scores. On Jan. 14, the map showed that Chicago was one of 11 districts with below-standard delivery times.

The standard delivery time for first-class mail is two days and the target goal percentage for Chicago was 87.8%. The actual delivery time during the fourth quarter of 2021 was 85.3%.

Just as this article was going online, Colleen called back to report that all of the mail she and her husband had been expecting Jan. 6-12 had just been delivered that day, Jan. 14.

Wendi Kromash

Wendi Kromash is curious about everything and will write about anything. She tends to focus on one-on-one interviews with community leaders, recaps and reviews of cultural events, feature stories about...

2 replies on “Slow or missing mail is another pandemic casualty”

  1. Nondelivery is not a problem unique to Evanston. Out here in west suburban River Forest we can go 3-4 days without mail delivery, especially when our regular letter carrier is off due to illness or family emergencies (poor fellow lost his sister, brother, and mother in 2021). All too often USPS Informed Delivery reports that a bill is on its way and it never arrives. Louis DeJoy has done everything possible to destroy the USPS — and he’s succeeding. This is typical of the GOP’s efforts to destroy the federal government whether it be the USPS, IRS, HUD, or Dept of Justice.

  2. I live in a senior building here in Evanston. And since our former carrier took a different assignment. We’ve haven’t been getting our mail until between 5pm and sometimes 7pm or later. Or recently not for 2 or more days.
    This is a very bad situation for all of us in this building. It needs to be fixed as soon as possible. Many of our residents including myself get medication. That help us to survive.

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