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Long lines, lost mail, area residents give post office agent an earful

One board member came forward with a bag of mail misdelivered to her address over the past six months. Another had a package of medication that had been misdelivered to her home a week ago, and had not yet been picked up by the post office, despite a call explaining the situation and the promise of a pickup. United States Postal Service representative Archie Warner accepted both the bag of mail and the packet of prescriptions – as well as numerous criticisms of the USPS — with a slightly sheepish smile. The post office, he told members of Community Board 17, has been, “Trying to change the way we operate. What’s in the past, I can’t correct,” he went on. “But, taking over, I will make a difference.” Warner assumed the position of manager of customer service operations earlier this month. Individual post offices are being monitored more closely than in the past, Warner said. Approximately 80 percent, he told his listeners, have webcams in their lobbies. “I can watch the lobbies, to see what’s going on. I know we’re still dealing with long lines.” Since, he said, the post office standard is a maximum five-minute wait (a remark that elicited laughter from the crowd), when he sees one, Warner said, he can, “Call and tell the manager to either open another window or have someone in the lobby to help the people.” In addition, Warner said, he is trying to get consistency in terms of the times of mail delivery. “In the past, we had a situation where mail comes at 11 a.m. one day and 3 p.m. the next,” he remarked. Now, he said, the agency is using a computer system whereby letter carriers, “Scan locations, so we can know their arrival time and what time they get back to the office, so they are not out there on their own, just walking around.” However, the crowd gathered at the Top Civic Center, 1098 Utica Avenue, for the board’s January meeting, did not appear to be convinced. “I know full well the post office is not making an effort at all,” contended board member Albert Payne. “I got one piece of (misdirected) mail five times.” To get it to the proper recipient, he said, he finally put it in another envelope, stamped it and sent it on its way. Payne’s complaint was only the beginning. During a session that lasted perhaps 25 minutes, numerous issues were hurled at Warner and Andrea Burrows, the post office’s customer relations coordinator. The complaints ran the gamut from problems with deliveries to unsatisfactory lobby conditions. Board member Renae Smith complained of problems getting mail that was sent to her post office box at the Rugby Station. Board member Kenrick Wescott recalled waiting outside the post office for his wife for a full hour while she transacted her business within. “I thought she had gone someplace else,” he told Warner. Terrence LaPierre, another board member, had a different complaint. The Farragut Station, he remarked, is closed on Saturdays. In addition, he said, there is only one window open, “Most of the time, and there is no air conditioning in summer.” While, said Warner, he can’t promise Saturday opening at the station, he told LaPierre that he would bring the matter up with the postmaster. In addition, Warner said, “I can increase monitoring over there. I will pay them a visit before the week is out.” One thing that might help relieve the crowds at local post offices would be the installation of an automated postal center (APC) in one of the local stations, suggested board member Phillip Lieberman. “It would alleviate the lines, but we’re being denied it because we don’t use credit cards to buy stamps.” “To get one into the area,” responded Warner, “would take some help from the community board. I alone wouldn’t be able to convince them to put an APC in place. It’s an excellent tool, but to get it takes a lot.” Warner offered up another way of easing problems. The Brooklyn post office, he said, is going to, “Work with the community boards. They’re going to be part of it in making a difference. They have direct contact with us and they will demand answers.” Forwarding complaints to the USPS, Warner added, is a key to solving them. “We rely on feedback,” he told his listeners. “It’s just human nature. When someone gets away with something, they are going to continue doing it.”

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