By Seth Daniel
There’s a problem when South End resident Nancy Farrington doesn’t get her weekly copy of US magazine.
It means that many other people who also like to read her weekly copy of the magazine also don’t get the treasured weekly periodical.
And Farrington and many others in the South End haven’t been getting their magazines, letters and packages with any reliability for some time. The long-time Southender, who recently moved back to the neighborhood, said she has been shocked to find out that her mail is rarely on time, and sometimes not there.
That includes US magazine.
It’s a common problem, but one that new Roxbury District director Michael Shea said will change soon, as he has many changes in store for improving the reliability of the delivery service and to improve the customer service experience at the Cathedral branch office.
“I took over the Roxbury Post Office back in September and what I found very early on is there were some very serious concerns in the communities we serve,” he said, noting that the Roxbury office serves five zip codes, including the South End.
He said some of the most serious problems were in the South End, though those concerns did not include ‘Chris,’ the most popular mailman on Tremont Street. ‘Chris’ has been on the route there for more than 30 years and is very popular in the community.
Shea said he is going to start with making the Cathedral Post Office branch a much better experience, adding a new position to the office and also adding kiosks.
“I promise you it will be a lot easier and we’ll bring those lengthy lines down,” he said.
For home delivery, Shea admitted that package delivery has been bad in the South End.
He said things will only get more complicated as the Post Office is working with Amazon to expand delivery exponentially to homes, in particular the Amazon Fresh offering that is just now coming online in Boston.
He said there will be two new routes added to the South End over the next two months to accompany the existing routes.
“A lot of the missed deliveries to your homes comes from short staffing, undertrained staff and overworked staff,” he said. “In two month’s time, we hope that is fixed.”
Many at the Forum said they often get their mail at late hours and find that there is a rotating crew of new postal carriers.
“The goal is to have all our mail deliveries done by 6 p.m. every day,” he said. “That can vary due to Mother Nature. If we have employees unfamiliar with the neighborhood, that can happen too. New employees take a while to train up. On the surface, it seems straightforward, but there is a little complexity that is only solved by training.”
He also explained that every carrier “owns” a route. They bid on that route and, if they win, they own it. Many times, carriers on a route will bid on another route, he said. If they get it, their old route is left without a regular carrier, and that leads to substitute carriers who don’t know the neighborhood.
He said they hope to hire from within the neighborhood as much as possible, as it promotes more accurate delivery and more long-term carriers.
Later in the week, Farrington reported that she got her latest edition of US magazine, as well as the missed issues. She said Shea had followed up with her several times.
Shea said anyone with any concerns can reach him by e-mail, ironically, at [email protected].