Mail Bag

You may recall the latest news from the U.S. Postal Service’s inspector general. That office investigated the impact of the partial consolidation of Roanoke’s mail processing and distribution center into one in Greensboro, North Carolina. The auditors concluded the consolidation had no impact on customer services “scores.”

The January reader mailbag kicks off with some folks who beg to differ. If they could score the postal service, it sounds like they would give it an “F.” We should assume that stands for “failure,” rather than a less kind phrase that ends in “up.”

One is of the dissenting readers is Bonnie Sumner.

“I received notification that my house payment mailed Jan. 4 from Christiansburg had not been received in Texas and I was being assessed a $100 late fee,” she wrote. “Just to make sure, I went by the bank today [Jan. 24] to ask if the check had posted. (There’s no online banking at this institution).

The answer: No.

So “I called the post office and all the man could do was politely apologize and sympathize. When I called the financial institution to explain what may have happened, the woman replied, ‘Oh, I understand. We’ve had that happen here, too.’ She graciously removed the late fee and I will mail another check making sure I get delivery confirmation.”

Bonnie, we hope your second check gets there.

Molly Rutherfoord of Roanoke feels similarly aggrieved.

“I have tried to support the Post Office but not anymore! On Dec. 6 I sent some legal papers to Asheville, [North Carolina] by Priority Mail with guaranteed 2 day delivery. It arrived 9 days later. The very nice man behind the counter at our downtown branch said it was probably delayed in Greensboro. I’ll be using FedEx in the future.”

That seems odd, because I’ve always been told priority mail does not go to Greensboro, that it’s processed in Roanoke.

Jackie Bledsoe’s experience was worse. She mailed two packages Dec. 9. One was addressed to Midlothian, Texas. The other was addressed to her granddaughter in Wilmington, Delaware, where she was expecting a baby. The total first-class postage was $16.17.

“The package to Texas arrived in about a week,” Bledsoe wrote. But “the box to Delaware has never arrived. When it didn’t arrive in time for Christmas I went to the Salem post office and asked that it be traced.”

Bledsoe discovered that was impossible. Because she had sent the boxes via first class rather than priority mail, there was no tracking number, and there’s no way to trace items sent first class, the clerk told her. She wanted to know whether the boxes went through Greensboro.

No, the clerk answered. Boxes go directly from Roanoke.

Bledsoe reasons that the missing box could be in only one of several places: The Salem, Roanoke or Wilmington post offices; the Roanoke or Delaware distribution centers; or on a truck.

“How difficult could it be to contact each facility and ask?” she said. “Isn’t there a ‘dead letter or package’ office?”

I can’t answer the former question but here’s the answer to the latter: The postal service operates a Mail Recovery Center in Atlanta. To begin a search there, you could go online at https://www.usps.com/help/missing-mail.htm.

The Jan. 24 column featured Brenda Turner of Rocky Mount. She’s unhappy that a Roanoke boutique where her son purchased her Christmas gift would not give her a refund. Now she has a store credit for slightly more than $400 that she doubts she’ll ever use. That’s because Turner couldn’t find anything in the store that she wanted.

Terry Hamilton of Roanoke County offered a creative solution:

“Ms. Turner may be able to sell her credit to someone who shops at the unmentioned retailer. She may have to sell at a discount but at least she would recover some of her money. Had to do that one time myself,” he wrote.

And how could Turner find such a buyer? She lives in Rocky Mount and the store’s in Roanoke. The answer could be a free ad on Craigslist. But it’s probably worth checking first with the boutique, to ensure store credits are transferable.

The Jan. 19 column called out political commentators who for years had pushed the harebrained idea that Barack Obama might seek to hold power rather than peacefully relinquish it to President Donald Trump.

These are the same folks who often called Obama “a dictator” because of the executive orders he issued. (FYI, according to historians at the University of California-Santa Barbara, Obama issued fewer than presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Harry Truman, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, Warren Harding, Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt.)

Anyway, Leo Watkins of Troutville liked that column; in an online comment he reacted to it with some words about the new president and his supporters:

“They confuse a sick, gaudy, loud, fraudulent, creepy, old, cowardly bully with the second coming of Christ because they saw him play a smart man on TV once.”

Last but not least, there were a couple of readers who wrote notes of thanks.

One was Donna Speas of Roanoke.

“Every year I look to your column for the contribution week for Soup for Seniors, one of my favorite local charities,” she wrote. “I’m convinced that you writing about it yearly is the reason that contributions have increased so much.”

Aimee Lawson, the director of development for the Local Office on Aging in Roanoke, agreed.

“Thank you for another fabulous article on Soup for Seniors!” she wrote. “We are already getting tons of calls from volunteers and have received a few online donations.”

Don’t forget, folks, that one-week, no-overhead charity collection drive runs from Feb. 6-10. More information on what to donate and where is in that column, published Jan. 12, and can still be found online.

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Dan Casey knows a little bit about a lot of things but not a heck of a lot about most things. That doesn't keep him from writing about them, however. So keep him honest!

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