FERNDALE, Wash. — Postal Service customers in Whatcom County are demanding answers as mail delays have slowed deliveries to a trickle in some spots.
“We have not received mail or packages in two weeks,” said Renee Miller of Ferndale. “They mark things delivered that they do not deliver, it’s at the post office lost. This is poor management. They have even stopped answering the phones it’s so bad.”
There are reports of people having to go to the post office themselves to pick up the mail, only to be told it can’t be located.
Customers have reported waits of 30 minutes or more.
There are concerns about medications not being delivered and some of the backed-up packages have been seen sitting outside in the blistering heat.
Sources told KING 5 that postal workers are being forced to work six-day weeks to make up for the backlog.
One source tells KING 5, “I know one man who is on light duty so they allow him to work only eight hours. It's not sustainable.”
Congressmembers Suzan DelBene (D-WA) and Rick Larsen (D-WA) sent a letter Wednesday to the U.S. Postmaster General.
It reads in part, “Doctors have reached out to express concern that they are unable to send medications. Furthermore, Washington uses an entirely vote-by-mail system and with the state primary election less than a week away, we are worried about the impact that these delays are having on the timely delivery and return of ballots.”
The congress members wanted to know all steps USPS is taking to ensure the timely delivery and return of election mail in Washington state ahead of the Aug. 2 primary.
The letter asked for measures USPS is taking to address staffing shortages in Washington state, proactive moves needed ahead of the November general election and how the agency is using resources and requirements in the Postal Service Reform Act to improve timely mail delivery.
A spokesperson for USPS sent KING 5 a statement Wednesday morning in response to the delays at the post office.
COVID-19 and "other unavoidable situations" led to lower staffing levels, the spokesperson said in the statement.
All ballots for the Aug. 2 primary have been delivered, according to USPS. The post office is behind on packages, but is expected to be caught up by Friday or Saturday.
USPS said it is actively hiring rural carriers and clerks to improve staffing.
“The Postal Service strives to always provide the best possible service to our valued customers," the spokespersons said in the statement. "We apologize for any inconvenience that may have been experienced by customers living in Ferndale. A variety of factors, including a fresh round of COVID-19 impacts and other unavoidable situations hurt our local staffing levels and we simply could not provide consistent service.
"Local and regional management are involved in resolving the issue and have taken aggressive steps to address the concerns, including flexing every available local resource and borrowing personnel from around the state to augment the office. We appreciate the patience of our customers and we apologize for inconsistency."
USPS said customers can click here and then on "Contact us" at the bottom of the page or call customer service at (800)-275-8777 with any concerns.