Postal workers may brave rain and snow to complete their appointed rounds but they can’t fight a bad contract. That’s what hundreds of Jackson residents are fuming about as Jackson’s postal mess finally got a hearing in front of Jackson Town Council members last week. The council responded to a petition. A pregnant woman helped start it after she broke down at a post office counter when a special pillow she ordered to help her sleep was sent back for lack of a post office box number.
Residents have learned that packages received for delivery to post office boxes are routinely returned if addresses on them don’t include a box number. The problem in Jackson begins with contracts the post office here has with United Parcel Service and FedEx. Those call for the post office to deliver packages “the last mile.” In Jackson, because there is no home delivery, that means putting packages, or notices thereof, in individuals’ and businesses’ post office boxes. The post office likes the contracts. Under financial strain, the U.S. Postal Service welcomes deals that bring in money.
The deal is promoted by shippers. The cheapest delivery to a Jackson address is one in which the post office is tasked with “the last mile.” Too often, that last mile turns into a boomerang trip that could be a thousand miles long. It’s enough to drive a person mad.
The reason? Senders don’t know the secret. They hire a company (UPS, FedEx) that specializes in delivering to street addresses. Instead, under the cheapest options available to senders, they drop packages in the lap of the post office. Under financial strain, however, the post office doesn’t have the manpower to look up a person’s post office box number.
The secret that senders must know is to include both a P.O. box number and street number on the address label. This must be done regardless of what limited options are available for shipping on countless websites. Many of them specifically call only for a street address. That means ignoring Internet instructions — something we’ve been trained to avoid.
The Postal Service has options, including rejecting a senseless contract. UPS and FedEx also could do better. Perhaps they should tell customers it’s impossible to deliver in the town of Jackson under the cheapest rate. While the debate is in its infancy, these three businesses need to come together to forge a solution. Or be known as a triumvirate that makes pregnant women cry.