I moved into a new apartment here last month. During the month I began receiving mail directed to the prior tenant. I was unable to intercept the mail carrier at delivery time to speak to them about the matter, so I started bundling the prior tenant's mail with a rubber band and attaching a note to please forward, or return, the mail because the person named on the mail no longer resided at this address. Despite receiving mail for myself, the old mail was never collected by the postal carrier.
Then last Friday, May 2nd, 2008, I expected to receive my Social Security Disability check, but it didn't come. My check is normally received on the 3rd of each month unless that day falls on a weekend or holliday, then it arrives on the first business day prior to that weekend or holliday. So, I thought it might come on Saturday the third, but it didn't. My rent is due on the first of the month, but the landlord agreed that I could pay it on the third when I get paid. But, there was no check in the mail.
I am a full-time student at Strayer University in Washington, D. C., and I had classes and Midterm examinations on Monday, and Wednesday of this week, so the earliest I could backtrack to find out what happened to my missing check was Tuesday, May the 6th. Meanwhile, I checked my former address, but the check had not been delivered there. On Tuesday morning (yesterday) about 7am, I contacted Social Security by phone and discovered that they had sent my check to my new address in the normal payment cycle so I should have had it. I was told they could send another check, but I told them I would rather wait to see if the new check arrived late, because I needed to cash it immediately to pay my rent which was now overdue. At about 3PM having not detected the mail carrier's arrival, I checked my box, which is a locked box just a few feet outside my door, and the postal carrier had already arrived. I found the rubber band removed from the bundle of former tenant's mail, the note I wrote to the carrier missing, and a notice that a "Treasury Check" had been returned to the post office because the carrier was unable to deliver it. If he couldn't leave it in the box he could have walked a few steps to my door and knocked, but the carrier didn't...
I called the phone number given on the USPS "Sorry we missed you" notice (800) 275-8777 and ended up speaking to "Shaylah" who took my complaints for the mail carrier not delivering my check to me, and for not picking up the prior tenants mail. I was given two corresponding confirmation numbers C03750642, and C0R10107290, and told that orders to deliver and pickup the mail would be issued to the carrier. I also told Shaylah that I was visually impaired and did not drive, and that I wasn't even sure where the local post office was at. If I needed to physically to the post office, I would have to wait until I could figure out how to use the public transportation system to get there. She said she would order the carrier to deliver the mail, and I should have it tomorrow. I was satisfied that the matter was resolved at that point.
I because of the numerous problems trying to get the mail carrier to cooperate in picking up the old mail, I felt another complaint to the USPS Inspector Generals Office parallelling my complaint to the local post office was in order. So, I did that as well.
Today after finishing my class and another Midterm exam at Strayer, I returned home only to find that the prior tenants mail I repacked up with a new note on it, was undisturbed, and there was no check. I entered my apartment and was about to call the local post office again, when they called me. The first person I spoke to asked me if I had filed a complaint, and I said I did. Then they told me that it said on the report that I had said that I received my check. I told the person I did not receive the check, and that is why I complained. I was told yesterday, that I could expect delivery today. I was corrected and told that the report said that I had received the check, but that the mail carrier had returned a check to the post office again, as he had been doing since last Friday. This is when I learned that the mail carrier had been taking the check back to the post office each day, but didn't notify me about it until Tuesday (yesterday). Meanwhile, I am trying to get this lady to understand that I never told anyone that I received my check, but that I have said I am waiting for delivery of a check, when she transfers me to another lady. The next lady was simply overbearing. I could never seem to get a word in, and she was speaking very loudly. She said the mail carrier does not always check the box, so mail to be returned might not be picked up. (She was defending the carrier). I pointed out that despite numerous times during the past month when the carrier delivered mail to my address, the prior tenants mail was always left behind. However, I was interrupted numerous times before I could even make this clear, which seemed to irritate this lady. As to my check she claimed that the mail carrier could not deliver it to my mailbox because he did not see my name on the box. There hasn't been any name, just the apartment number for as long as anyone here at the apartments can remember... but, this was the reason today that the carrier decided they warranted not delivering my government check. The lady said the carrier cannot deliver to my box until I get a name put on it. I tried to tell the lady that the carrier had been delivering mail all month long, why was there an issue now that they knew I needed this check, but was again interrupted several times, with a final comment to call the office tomorrow, then the lady hung up on me. Never even had a chance to get her name.
After the rude treatment by the local post office, I called Social Security to inform them of the situation. They apparently, cancelled my prior check without telling me and reissued another check, so there will be another week delay. Oh, by the way the landlord stuck a notice on my door saying my housing was being reviewed, apparently they are considering eviction for non-payment of rent. So, while discussing the matter with Social Security I brought up the possibility of an emergency payment from the local office, but I was told that because they cancelled my current check, and are issuing a new one, that they can do nothing until after the next check has been given a chance to reach me. So, I am facing another weeks delay... I don't think this is helping my housing situation at all.
While checking my e-mail after calling Social Security, I found that the USPS Ofice of the Inspector General had returned my complaint, referring me to the UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE CONSUMER ADVOCATE OFFICE with a snail mail address, and a toll telephone number to contact them, which I will follow-up on tomorrow, though it doesn't appear that Inspector General's Office is really trying to expedicously help me in my immediate desperate situation.
My take on all of this is that I am stuck with a mail carrier that could give a d**n about delivering mail. Worse, the folks at the local post office who oversee complaints, or instructions to the carrier, could care less either. The Inspector General's Office booted this into someone elses court, and Social Security is sending checks, and if they aren't being delivered, it's not their jurisdiction.
One final note, I was on automatic deposits to my bank account when last month for some inexplicable reason, my SSA benefit check came in the form of a check to my surprise. I didn't find money in my bank account as I expected, and had to track down the problem. That is when I discovered that Social Security had sent me a check to a former address. While physically at the Social Security Office I was told that they had no record for automatic deposits for me and that I had to give them my bank account informtion. When I later learned that the change wouldn't affect me receiving another check before the automatic deposits started (SSA seems to have discovered that I was on automatic deposits on their own) up again, I did nothing and let them send me another check this month, fearing that I did not want to make any changes that would cause me to receive a late payment, so that I would be certain that I could pay my new landlord on time. Ironic, that this situation should now develop with the mail carrier, when it is likely that this is the only check they would ever have the chance to screw up, on my account.
It is a sad day indeed when disabled people are treated this way by the people we rely upon for basic services. Being evicted for not paying your rent because some mail carrier simply refuses to do their job, and everybody knows what the problem is but does nothing, is outrageous. And, the lack of concern on the part of the local post office is... I have no words to describe it, it just makes me sick. I thought maybe you could help, because I don't know how to impress the mail carrier that they should deliver and pickup mail, I just don't, and with the damage that is being done I wonder, what did I do to deserve this?
Oxon Hill, Maryland
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