Frustrated Chevy Chase and Bethesda residents told U.S. Postal Service (USPS) officials Thursday night about a litany of delivery problems.
About 20 residents attended the meeting at the Westlake Post Office on Motor City Drive, where six local United States Postal Service officials sat at a long table at the head of the room and listened as resident after resident complained about receiving their neighbors’ mail, not receiving mail and the post office failing to hold mail.
“This is not just a problem that’s one or two people,” said Mike Perez, an Old Georgetown Road resident. “This is a big problem and it really shows a lack of service mentality and commitment to your customers.”
Perez said he gets his neighbors mail at least twice a week. He said he frequently travels and, despite making a hold mail request, the post office still delivers his mail about half the time. He said that when he returns from trips he regularly finds his mail “falling out” of his mail box or placed in a box on his front stoop, where the thousands of motorists that pass by his house daily can see it.
“You’re insensitive to the security concerns of our mail,” Perez said.
Allen Weissman, a resident of Westfield Drive in Bethesda, said he went through a two or three-year period when he would get mail at 6 p.m. or later. He said he and his neighbors often delivered each other’s mail.
“We have absolutely no faith in the post office here,” he said.
Weissman said he recently called Hugo Aladana, the officer in charge of the Westlake Post Office, about holding his mail while he was on an international trip. But Weissman said his mail was delivered nevertheless.
Aladana, who was at the meeting, said he remembered talking to Weissman and apologized for the error.
The postal problems have been happening since at least 2013, when Chevy Chase Village filed a formal complaint to the U.S Postal Service about performance issues. At that time, residents complained about receiving mail as late as 10 p.m.
At the meeting Thursday night, residents also said employees at the Westlake Post Office frequently hang up on them or provide poor customer service when they call.
After the airing of concerns, Michael Vecchitto, who oversees U.S. Post Office operations in Montgomery County, said the problems will be fixed. He said he installed a new management team after taking over operations in the county a year ago.
“I commit to you we will get it straightened out,” Vecchitto said. “It’s embarrassing, you’ve heard enough apologies. It’s simple, basic service that we should provide. I am a resident of Bethesda, I expect the same service.”
John Samuels, the USPS district marketing manager, said residents should see “immediate changes” in the performance. Samuels also said the post office would have a “service talk” with its employees and schedule a follow-up meeting in 90 days to see if service has improved for residents.
The meeting Thursday night was set up by U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s office and on Friday Van Hollen’s office sent out an email saying that if the problems persist, residents should contact the congressman’s office.
“Congressman Van Hollen intends to stay engaged until this community has the post service that it expects and deserves,” the email said.