WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — Locals who rely on deliveries like school supplies and diapers for their children claim the US Postal Service repeatedly fails to bring them their packages — forcing residents to trek to the post office despite paying to have them dropped at their doors.
In response, more than 200 people have signed an online petition saying that residents who fall under the jurisdiction of the Washington Bridge and Audubon post offices have struggled for years with receiving deliveries.
“It has been our common experience that instead of our awaited packages, we receive in [their] place postal slips in our mailboxes stating that package delivery was attempted by the post office, but there was no one home,” the petition reads. “This happens while we are each waiting at home for packages to arrive and know very well that no attempt was ever made.”
The lack of deliveries forces locals to schlep to the post office and wait in lines for up to an hour to retrieve their packages, they said. For those who take care of small children or elderly family members, that poses more than an inconvenience.
Cheryl Burgos, who helped start the petition, moved to Pinehurst Avenue near 178th Street in December and immediately noticed the problem. She posted about it on a listserv for neighborhood parents and said she got more than 100 responses from people who live in in the 10033 and 10032 postal areas served by the two stations.
“When I started reading about people with premature babies who can’t leave their homes for months and aren’t getting their deliveries, or people with newborns, it became a very serious issue,” she explained.
On a recent Saturday, Jahayra Chrismer bundled up for a trip across town to the Washington Bridge Post Office from her apartment near 181st Street and Riverside Drive. She was trying to track down a package that the online system said had been delivered to her house three days earlier. As she headed out of her building, she noticed a pink delivery slip affixed to her mailbox.
“It said that 15 minutes prior, the post office had supposedly rung my bell and the package couldn’t be delivered because no one was home,” Chrismer said. “I was home and I had a note downstairs that said, ‘I’m home. Please ring the bell.’”
Chrismer said she relies on online shopping for things she cannot find locally.
“I homeschool my children, so I need supplies I can’t always find in the neighborhood,” she said. “Them not giving me my supplies slows us down.”
Other residents said they are lucky if they receive an attempted delivery slip at all.
“Sometimes they leave notices, sometimes they don’t,” said Chassidy Ryals, 24.
Ryals, a graduate student studying social work, said she has become fanatical about tracking her shipments online, but even that doesn’t always result in deliveries. She said she recently went to the post office after the online system there had been an attemped delivery, even though she never received a slip at home. When she got to the post office, she was told her package hadn't arrived at the station in the first place.
Other residents said that, in some cases, by the time they are told they have a package waiting at the post office, it’s already been returned to the sender.
Re-delivery requests, one of the options offered on the delivery slips, are also a waste, they added.
“I’ve scheduled multiple re-deliveries,” Ryals said. “I’ve never even had an attempt made according to the online tracking.”
Like many other residents, Ryals has made multiple complaints, both in person and through the USPS website. In early February, when the situation did not improve, she sent a letter to the postal service’s consumer advocate detailing 11 packages that were not delivered to her in January alone.
She received a response saying that Elvin Mercado, the city’s postmaster, would speak to the carriers in the area. However, the situation has not gotten better, Ryals said.
“It is very frustrating,” she said. “We’re paying for the shipping of these items and no attempt is being made to fulfill that obligation.”
Many residents pointed out that they have no problems with their regular mail delivery, including packages that are small enough to fit in the mailbox.
But "when it comes to larger packages, that’s the issue,” said resident Alex Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, who has lived in the neighborhood for 12 years, said Audubon Post Office employees told her the problem lies with delivery drivers from the nearby Fort George Station, which technically serves the 10040 zip code.
She was told the Washington Bridge and Audubon post offices are small and only use carriers on foot so Fort George drivers deliver packages above four pounds to nearby addresses. A postal worker from Washington Bridge confirmed this.
Rodriguez has complained several times to the truck delivery supervisor at the Fort George Station, she said.
“Last summer I had a very firm discussion with him. Suddenly, all my packages were being delivered on time, no problems,” she said. “After a month and a half, it all went haywire again.”
An employee at the Fort George station declined to comment for the story.
Connie Chirichello, a spokeswoman for the USPS, encouraged residents to report incidents through the USPS customer care call center.
“As a customer service-oriented business, we take concerns such as these very seriously,” she said. “Postal management monitors service performance regularly so that if irregularities are detected swift resolution can be made.”
Chirichello did not respond to specific questions about the number of complaints received or how the USPS plans to address the issue.
Residents are hopeful that by banding together, they can get the problem resolved.
“We don’t have a car and we don’t have the time,” said Dani Halpern, a medical student with a 6-month-old daughter, about why she and her husband choose to purchase items like diapers online.
Halpern lives at 186th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, just a few blocks from the post office, but said she doesn't have time to chase down her deliveries despite the proximity.
“If we have to spend all of our time going to the post office, which is only open from 9 to 5, it kind of defeats the purpose,” she said.