ITHACA, N.Y.—If you’re a resident on South Hill, you might have experienced a lapse in letters and other items mailed through the U.S. Postal Service over the Thanksgiving holiday.
As the world continues facing labor shortages and supply chain problems, mail delivery companies have seen the brunt in terms of shipping, and domestic logistics have meant that delivery companies have had to compensate for manufacturing delays.
South Hill residents had not gotten their Postal Service mail delivered between Nov. 26 and 28, 2021, and when carriers do drive through the neighborhood, they usually stop at a single house and drop a lone package, according to residents. After three full days without mail, South Hill resident Ruth Katz finally flagged down a carrier to ask when normal delivery services may return.
“When I saw a mail vehicle pull up to a house to deliver a package, I ran out and flagged the driver down,” Katz said. “He said they were aware of the issues but just haven’t been able to get to the regular mail because they have to deliver packages first and that they hope to get back to the regular mail soon.”
Katz said that when she spoke to someone at the post office over the phone, they were also unsure when Postal Service mail would be delivered and that it was currently sitting unsorted on a truck. For this reason, residents were also unable to pick their mail up in person at the post office.
“I don’t blame the boots-on-the-ground carriers or post office management, of course, but I wonder if we can do it differently,” Katz said. “Maybe every other day they would be able to prioritize regular mail to help spread it around.”
In October, the Postal Service implemented new standards of service to “promote delivery consistency, efficiency and reliability” for customers that added an additional day or two of transit-time considered standard for longer distances.
The U.S. Postal Service is anticipating to deliver more mail than any other carrier, likely between 850 and 950 million packages and 12 billion cards and letters. For this reason, the company is urging customers to ship any holiday packages early to ensure receipt by Christmas. USPS officials were unavailable for comment on this story, however.
Katz said that the neighborhood did receive mail Dec. 1 but that she is still waiting for something from her son that she hasn’t yet received. She said that she can’t be sure where it got held up. She added that she hoped the delay wouldn’t occur again but that it does seem likely due to supply chain and shipping issues everyone is facing.
Neighborhoods in downtown Ithaca have also noticed slow and unreliable mail delivery. Carol Cedarholm, a resident in downtown Ithaca, said the delays have only been noticeable recently.
“Our regular mail carrier for the last 27 years did a great job, and although he did mention difficulties and that he would have to pick up additional routes, and he worked weekends, we rarely noticed an issue,” she said. “He retired just before Thanksgiving and that is when we all really started noticing issues, not getting mail every day and sometimes getting it late.”
Cedarholm also spoke with a carrier when she saw them deliver to her neighborhood very late one night. The carrier told her that he had taken another route in addition to his normal route because of staffing issues.
Others in the downtown area have been experiencing delays and undelivered items for several weeks now, and the USPS has been updating its website to reflect service disruptions. International mail intended for certain destinations were suspended indefinitely due to COVID-19 beginning Dec. 10.