Saturday, March 28, 2009

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

It's the last part of the Stevie Wonder song that's been causing us problems at the office. It all started last week, when we realized that our mail delivery had substantially slowed. Then, one day, we had no mail at all. With the number of people in the office, this only happens on holidays, when there isn't any mail delivery.

A call to the post office revealed the problem -- our mail had been deliberately stopped. Our local postmaster had decreed that the address we had used for the nine years we occupied the office was no longer sufficient. He then decided that all of the businesses in our building needed to change suite numbers. Of course, neither he or anyone else at the post office bothered to tell us about this beforehand, so our mail ended up being returned to sender as undeliverable.

No mail -- including payments from clients, bills from vendors and correspondence related to various pending legal matters, including from the courts. In this economy, a prolonged denial of our mail delivery could put a number of small businesses out of business.

Our efforts to deal with the postmaster were rebuffed. We requested that he put the new requirements in writing and explain the necessity for the change, as well as provide us with a phase-in period before ceasing our mail delivery. He laughingly refused to do anything. He basically read his role as being the "master" and forgot about the "mail" part. So, we spent much of this past week filing complaints, contacting the postal service and our representatives, trying to restore our delivery.

Imagine our surprise when one of the LLWL picked up her Inky Thursday morning, to discover that Hateful Harrison, our postmaster, was featured in a piece by Daniel Rubin. In Dog stops mail; customer howls, Rubin describes the travails experience by a neighborhood who also stopped receiving their mail delivery when postmaster John Harrison abruptly changed the delivery rules for them. The column reports:

[S]even households received "Dear Postal Customer" letters, informing them their delivery might be suspended due to safety concerns. They learned they needed to install mailboxes at the curb so carriers could reach them without having to leave their trucks.

And that was the last day mail was distributed to this old pocket of Whitemarsh Township.

Bart Levy relies on the mail to receive legal papers and rent checks from tenants who live in his properties.

He said postmaster John B. Harrison had told him he couldn't put a box just anywhere; the Postal Service would have to come out and determine the safest location. This investigation, Levy said he had been told, would take an unspecified amount of time.

After Levy, a lawyer, brought suit, concern about a dog was used as justification for the new rule, although Rubin discovered that the dog was in fact fenced in. It took the lawsuit to reach a resolution among the parties that restored mail delivery.

Of course, our tales of mail woe were merely a microcosm of the mail madness that enveloped Philly last year. See, e.g. Complaints about service piling up - like mail that isn't being delivered and Docs blast delays in the mails. For the whole Philly Daily News series on the mail tales, see Dead letters.

Perhaps it was the bad press from the article, along with our complaints and letters, but our mail finally resumed by week's end, even if it was lighter than usual.

So, at least we can finally sing "Signed, Sealed & Delivered" with Stevie & Beyonce:

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