Vermont postal problems persist

Published: Aug. 24, 2022 at 6:43 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Postal problems continue in Vermont, with many people forced to go to the post office to make pickups or the mail not showing up at all.

Officials say there are many factors impacting the USPS’s ability to deliver mail in a timely manner, but right now it appears that the main issues are staffing shortages and a recent increase in COVID cases

“It’s a simple struggle. It’s just that it’s not there and the doors aren’t open,” said Mike Van Tassel, a Burlington resident frustrated over lack of consistent mail delivery in recent weeks.

A COVID outbreak is responsible for the latest problem. Sources inside the postal service tell WCAX News that about half the staff at the carrier facility on Pine Street are out sick, causing major disruptions. A sign on the door tells visitors to the facility to wear a mask because so many workers have tested positive.

People we spoke to say that they’ve tried coming in person to receive their mail for multiple days in a row but haven’t been able to talk to anyone at all or get their missing mail. “They’re usually fantastic at Burlington and South Burlington mail services but it’s been a rough week for them, a rough month, a rough ten years for them even,” Van Tassel said.

This is just the latest of many disruptions to mail service over the past year. Residents throughout Vermont have been feeling left behind by the U.S. mail system. USPS officials say that their resources are normally stressed during the summer months but that temporary issues with employee availability due to COVID outbreaks have continued to strain available resources. They say they’re exhausting all their resources to try and stay as productive as possible by delivering mail earlier and later in the day, on Sundays, and having postmasters, managers and supervisors deliver as well.

“COVID did not help. So, people that were near retirement or at retirement age decided during COVID that they were going to go, so that left a lot of empty openings,” said Ashley Hamilton, a USPS recruiter. She says the only way to ease the strain is to hire more mail carriers. “I feel like we are making good headway in Vermont, because when I started in January, we posted 100 jobs a day in their location and now the average is about 60.”

Officials say that if you are continuing to have problems, the best way to receive assistance is to keep calling their customer care line and leave a message: 800-275-8777.

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Staffing shortages continue to slow mail delivery in the region