Mail Problems Continue, Postal Service Reps Hear Concerns

By Emily Morris on April 1, 2014 8:57am 

 Steve Niketopoulos (far l.), leads a meeting with Bill Hedrick of the Postal Inspection Service; Andre Martin of the Office of the Inspector General; local post office reprentative S  hoca Moore  ; Paula McHenry of Postal Service customer service; Anthony Vaughan of the Postal Service; and Karen Schenck, Chicago's district manager of the Postal Service. 
Steve Niketopoulos (far l.), leads a meeting with Bill Hedrick of the Postal Inspection Service; Andre Martin of the Office of the Inspector General; local post office reprentative S hoca Moore ; Paula McHenry of Postal Service customer service; Anthony Vaughan of the Postal Service; and Karen Schenck, Chicago's district manager of the Postal Service. 
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DNAinfo/Emily Morris

WICKER PARK — When Ukrainian Village resident Kurt Enzinger went to answer a loud banging on his door last Thursday evening, he said he missed his postal worker but found glass from his window strewn across the floor along with his mail.

"There was a package on the ground and glass everywhere," Enzinger said.

The mail carrier, who had moved on to deliver to the next home, told him it was an accident and that there was nothing he could do about it, Enzinger said.

Since then, Enzinger said he's had trouble getting anyone from the Police Department or his local post office to look into it.

"I got pretty angry," Enzinger said.

The 25-year-old was just one of the neighbors who showed up at a meeting with representatives of the Postal Service, Postal Inspection Service and the Office of the Inspector General Monday night at Pritzker School, 2009 W. Schiller St., to discuss problems with mail delivery in the 60622 ZIP code.

For area residents who have been complaining about lost or stolen mail, damaged packages or items delivered late at night by postal workers wearing headlamps, the meeting organized by Ukrainian Village Neighborhood Watch founder Steve Niketopoulos was the first time some felt their concerns were heard by the Postal Service.

"I think it went as well as it could go, seeing as it's the beginning," said Niketopoulos, who added that he plans to follow up with the service to see if there are changes.

The Postal Service blamed delivery problems citywide on a mix of weather and staffing issues.

"As you know this has been a rough winter for us, and it’s taken a toll on our carriers," said Paula McHenry, who works in customer service. "Some of our older carriers decided it was time to retire, and some of our newer carriers weren’t prepared for dealing with the cold on top of learning the job."

Several mail carriers in the city have been robbed or otherwise attacked, including one robbed at knifepoint in Wicker Park in February.

 Ukrainian Village resident Kurt Enzinger, 25, said he found a package delivered to his home last week amid shards of broken glass from his window.
Ukrainian Village resident Kurt Enzinger, 25, said he found a package delivered to his home last week amid shards of broken glass from his window.
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Provided by Kurt Enzinger

Postal spokeswoman Karen Schenck said there are plans to hire 200 part-time city carrier assistants by the end of April to help cope with the mail carrier turnover problem.

Responding to complaints about mail theft, Andre Martin, a spokesman for the Office of the Inspector General said, "There are always one or two bad apples that spoil the bunch.” 

Martin asked that those who think their mail has been stolen contact the national office so it can investigate. 

McHenry acknowledged the stress and wasted time postal customers experience waiting in line for packages at the Wicker Park Carrier Annex at 1419 W. Carroll Ave. and the Wicker Park Post Office, which moved from 1300 N. Ashland Ave. to a smaller space at 1240 N. Ashland Ave.

In general, Postal Service representatives echoed the same suggestion: to call 800-275-8777 to report mail issues. They said each call creates a record of the matter that is investigated.

While not everyone said they felt confident their problems would be addressed, Enzinger said he was "appreciative" that he had a chance to talk with someone about what happened to him. A Postal Service spokesman told him he would make sure the problem was addressed.

"It makes me feel better," Humboldt Park resident Andrew Willoughby, 26, said. "At least they came out and talked."

Willoughby said he sometimes receives mail intended for former tenants, or his landlord finds packages meant for him in seemingly random places on the property.

"I just don't trust that it's going to get delivered," Willoughby said.

Bucktown resident Victoria Fuller, who said she was initially frustrated with the lack of answers, said she felt concerns were being addressed toward the end of the meeting when postal representatives met with community members individually.

“They wanted to make things happen," Fuller, 66, said.

But Fuller said she worried about how those issues would be dealt with in the future, when she'll have to rely on an 800 number.

"You can’t always talk to the higher-ups once you have another problem," she said.

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