Monday, September 24, 2012

I Hate Red Tape!

It seems that a majority of young people these days aren't willing to accept responsibility for their actions, and their lives. But this post is not about that. Turns out, I'm not sure I can blame them. Governmental agencies seem to have set the precedent.

August 30th we were informed that the city no longer liked my address, because it included a "½" in the address. The letter indicated the change was immediate, and that I was to inform everyone ASAP! So I did, including completing the online USPS change of address form, which cost me $1.00 to verify my identity. Every account I have now has my new address. Every bill I get is sent to my new address. Turns out following the instructions of the all-knowing City of Nampa was a big, big mistake!

My young friend, Shelby, has been sending me postcards all summer, from wherever the family was visiting. Shelby's mom, Kathy, and I went to high school together, so it's been a super way to reconnect. To return the fun, I ordered some postcards online. Per the official letter, I gave them my new address. I tracked the package online, all the way to Nampa, where the USPS decided it was "Undeliverable as addressed." What!!

This morning I went to the post office to find out what happened. In my most polite voice, I asked the man behind the counter to explain to me how this could have happened. He went back to another computer, printing out the same tracking sheet I had printed. "Without seeing the actual package, I can't tell you why it wasn't delivered." He referred me to the postal annex here in Nampa, where they handle the physical letters/packages.

Out to annex I drove. A very nice man, coincidentally named Chris, tried to help me. He didn't know why the package was rejected either, but when I told him about the recent address change, he said, "I remember writing a note about that address to the carrier. Let me check something." So I waited, in a prison-like anti-waiting room; nowhere to sit, very small, gray.

He came back a few minutes later. "I called the Canyon County Assessor's Office. They said your new address doesn't exist. The address is still your old one." WHAT!?! What do they mean it doesn't exist? He told me that until the post office received official word, they can't just create an address. So everything  addressed to my new address would be automatically returned to sender, some of it not even making it to Nampa.

So I drove down to the city - they made the change, and sent the official letter. Apparently the address-guy's last day was Friday, and the new guy wasn't in, and wouldn't be in until tomorrow. I said, again in my most polite voice, "I want to speak to someone, in person, and I'll wait until someone comes in."

While waiting, I decided to make some calls. First I called the assessor's office. The first person I spoke to checked her computer and told me that my new address was already in the system. So who did the USPS guy talk with? I have no idea. I asked her to call the post office.

Next, I looked through the paperwork from the city, and discovered that an email had been sent to the Nampa Postmaster. I called him. He said he would have to check if he had received official notice from the city. "I know you've received it because I'm looking at the official notification email, with your name on it. Plus, I let you know when I changed my address online. You were happy to take my money for that." He said he'd "check into it." I'm pretty sure that means, "It's not my problem and I'm not going to do anything at all."

By the time I got off the phone with the postmaster, I was getting more and more frustrated. However, I had made the decision to keep my polite demeanor throughout the whole ordeal. I noticed there were two new men in the city office, so I went back to check if there was someone to talk with. The right person wasn't there, but the old (three or four back) address guy was there. I explained the issue to him, pointing out the deficiencies of their system. For example, if my new address isn't going to take effect for a month, why does their letter say I should contact all my people and change the address immediately? It should have said, "This address change is effective immediately. But don't take any action changing your address with billers for at least a year, because it will take that long before all governmental agencies will be notified and accept the change."

While it may be true that it takes time for "everyone" to know about the new address, the Nampa Postmaster knew about it August 30th, via an official email. The package I was expecting made it all the way to Nampa. Even if nobody else knew about it, he knew. I should have that package in my hands right now. But I don't because someone (the postmaster) dropped the ball.

For a brief moment, I regretted the email I sent to the USPS. After finding out how inept they've been, I'm glad I sent it. I was polite, but firm. After explaining the problem, I finished the message: "I expect my dollar refunded. I expect to be reimbursed for the additional shipping. I expect apologies from the USPS, the Nampa Postmaster, and my mail carrier."

Now, I'm waiting for return calls and emails, which I'm not much expecting. And I don't expect anyone to accept responsibility for what they've done. No one is going to say to me, "I dropped the ball. It was my fault and I'm going to make it right." This just confirms that I will avoid the USPS whenever possible! There are great people working there, but the system is ridiculous - in my opinion.

I hate red tape.
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