Area residents from Signal Mountain to Soddy-Daisy are complaining of a recent uptick in issues with their mail service, including dayslong delays, undelivered and ruined packages and mail delivered to the wrong addresses.
Signal Mountain resident Michelle Michaud said she hesitates to send anything through the U.S. Postal Service without paying for extra services such as insurance, signature services or delivery confirmation.
"I've had a ton of stuff just flat out not get delivered," she said, adding that she had this experience before Christmas of 2019 and 2020.
But her problems aren't just happening during the busy holiday season.
A book she mailed to the Nashville library earlier in 2020 never arrived and has yet to be found, Michaud said.
Amy Sandy said her mail carrier in Soddy-Daisy often leaves her outgoing mail in her box, despite her flag being up, and just adds her incoming mail to the box.
"That stopped happening when I put a sign on the door," she said of the sign she made to put on the front of her box asking the carrier to pick up her outgoing mail.
The carrier also stopped cramming large packages into the box after she emailed the postmaster, who informed Sandy that she recently reminded her carriers not to use force to squeeze packages into boxes — though that instruction happened just before Sandy's incident occurred.
She sent photos of the package forced into the mailbox, as well as the crushed, wet box once it was removed, along with her complaint. The postmaster responded that the photos sent were "plenty to move forward with corrective action," suggesting that a complaint backed up with photos is more actionable than one that isn't.
Sandy said it's also not uncommon for her to receive others' mail, although that was a bigger issue when she lived in the Brainerd area before moving to Soddy-Daisy last year.
Susan Wright, with USPS corporate communications, encourages customers with postal issues to call 800-ASK-USPS.
"This allows us the opportunity to address the specific problem as well as document the occurrence," she wrote in an email.
She also suggests that customers may want to register for Informed Delivery, which allows residential customers to receive a daily email with electronic images of their incoming mail.
"In addition to viewing digital images of letter mail, customers can manage package delivery through the Informed Delivery dashboard," she wrote. "Informed Delivery provides registered users with email notifications, or users can download the USPS Informed Delivery App to view incoming mail and track incoming packages anytime, anywhere on a smartphone or tablet."
Sandy said she signed up for Informed Delivery about a week ago and is very pleased with the service. She finds it concerning if she goes a day without even receiving a piece of junk mail, and she likes knowing what she can expect.
She added that even with Informed Delivery, users are warned that mail may come three or four days after it's expected, and are asked to wait a week before making a complaint.
The service is free, and customers can register at informeddelivery.usps.com.
To prevent your carrier from leaving packages outside in the weather, customers can use the USPS Delivery Instructions service on eligible packages.
A link to change delivery instructions can be found on the package's tracking page, where customers can specify a location for the carrier to leave the package, change the delivery address or request that it be sent to the post office.
The service is not available for some packages, such as those that have already left the post office for delivery, require a signature or have insurance over $500.
Michaud said the Postal Service's tracking system seemed to greatly improve around mid-December 2020, but she's still wary about sending packages through USPS.
"I have a visceral reaction to taking any kind of item to the post office now," she said. "It's just unfortunate."
Contact Emily Crisman at email@example.com or 423-757-6508.
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