2016 | News

Complaints Persist About Mail Delivery From Post Office in Bethesda

Rep. Chris Van Hollen asks postmaster general for investigation into late and incorrect deliveries

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Mail delivery vehicles at the Westlake Post Office in Bethesda

Aaron Kraut

Rep. Chris Van Hollen says his office is still receiving complaints about mail service in Bethesda, despite promises from U.S. Postal Service (USPS) officials three months ago that the problems related to late deliveries, deliveries to the wrong address and periods without any deliveries would be fixed.

In a letter sent last week to Postmaster General Megan Brennan, Van Hollen wrote the complaints have been prevalent from residents who receive mail from the Westlake Post Office in Bethesda ZIP code 20817 and the Wheaton Post Office in Silver Spring ZIP code 20902.

“My staff has been in frequent communication with local post office managers to rectify these problems,” Van Hollen wrote. “Although corrective action has been taken in some cases, including placing mail alert cards at addresses and giving service talks to post office employees, the issues persist.”

Van Hollen asked Brennan “to investigate the reason for this level of unacceptable service and take the necessary measures to ensure that my constituents receive the quality of service that they desire.”

On Thursday in a meeting room at the Westlake Post Office, Van Hollen’s office organized a follow-up session with post office managers after they heard complaints from residents during a similar meeting in March.

At that meeting, Hugo Aldana, the officer in charge of the Westlake Post Office, gave his cellphone number to residents and suggested they call him personally if they have delivery or service issues. A few of the roughly 20 residents in attendance Thursday said they had called Aldana and noticed a slight improvement in service since March.

But many said the same issues persisted and almost every one of the approximately dozen residents who made complaints said the post office is still doing a poor job when residents request that mail be held while they are on vacations or business trips.

Landon Lane resident Rochelle Mendoza said she’s had medicine addressed to her delivered to the house across the street. Another resident said the number of days with zero deliveries to his home has decreased since the March meeting, but there were still two days with no deliveries over the last two weeks.

Paul Gubisch, who lives on Sonoma Road in the Ayrlawn neighborhood, said he’s seen a quickly changing cast of mail carriers in his neighborhood.

“Can we get our full-time carrier back?” he asked Aldana, who said the Westlake Post Office was short-staffed at the moment. He said managers interviewed 75 potential new mail carriers this week.

Aldana said USPS hired 50 new carriers for the Westlake facility over the past six months, but only 18 remain. He said the rest either resigned or were let go because of poor performance or because they violated safety standards such as talking on their cellphones while driving a USPS vehicle.

“Believe it or not, we have found carriers sitting on the back of their trucks waiting for the rain to stop,” Aldana said. “A lot of people come into the post office thinking they’re going to get a cushy job and it’s not.”