Chappy residents disgruntled with postal delivery

First-class mail lost — medication, newspapers late or missing, residents say.

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Shirley and Ted Dewing are Chappaquiddick postal customers displeased with the mail service they've received this year. — Rich Saltzberg

The U.S. Postal Service mustered help for the Edgartown Post Office in recent weeks after a litany of dismal reports from customers reached its ears. However, on Chappaquiddick, the Vineyard’s island within an island, issues have continued with deliveries.

Chappaquiddick residents Ted and Shirley Dewing, both in their 80s, haven’t been getting their newspapers or mail in a timely manner for months. Shirley Dewing said she decided to call the Vineyard Haven Post Office, the supervisory Post Office for Edgartown, on Friday, August 10, and look for answers. The woman who answered wasn’t giving her the answers she wanted.

“I finally asked to speak to a supervisor,” she said. “She said both supervisors were out. She said, We’re trying to sort the mail and this phone keeps ringing. Well, on Friday, I must have called 13 times and it rang and it rang. I thought they turned the ringer off. But that’s not what happened, because of what she said. So I said to her, Well, I’ve already called The Times, and she said, ‘You called The Times? Why did you do that?’ Because I’m sick of not getting mail and the mail service. Since that time, the mail was delivered on Sunday; it was delivered this morning a little after 10 — always would come in the afternoon.”

“I finally asked to speak to a supervisor,” she said. “She said both supervisors were out. She said, We’re trying to sort the mail and this phone keeps ringing. Well, on Friday, I must have called 13 times and it rang and it rang. I thought they turned the ringer off. But that’s not what happened, because of what she said. So I said to her, Well, I’ve already called The Times, and she said, ‘You called The Times? Why did you do that?’ Because I’m sick of not getting mail and the mail service. Since that time, the mail was delivered on Sunday; it was delivered this morning a little after 10 — always would come in the afternoon.”

Dewing went on to say when she and her husband were crossing on the Chappy ferry recently they saw a black car with white government plates “loaded with Chappy mail.”

Last Monday, after returning with her husband from the day program at the Center for Living in Vineyard Haven, Dewing saw the same black car delivering mail to her Chappaquiddick Road mailbox.

“We do have vehicles on the island for use by Postmasters and Supervisors to perform street supervision, deliver Express mail or to deliver a route if necessary,” US Postal Service spokesman Steve Doherty wrote in response to an inquiry about the sedan.

Dysfunction started the first of the year with turnover in mail carriers, Dewing said. Eventually subcontractors were used, and service worsened.

“So maybe they’re trying to clean up because they know something’s going to happen with the paper,” Dewing said.

“It shouldn’t be this way,” Ted Dewing said.

“Chappaquiddick has a new Rural Carrier who is getting up to speed I’m told that while some deliveries may be later in the day, all mail is being delivered daily,” Doherty wrote.

The Dewings are not alone in their disapproval of mail service on Chappaquiddick.

“I have not had an MV Times in a month,” Chappy resident Elizabeth Villard said. “The problem is it’s a different person every day — at least it has been.”

A Chappy Ferry captain, Villard said she sees everybody who crosses. However it was as a passenger on the ferry Tuesday evening that she saw the black sedan. She said she asked the occupants if they were delivering mail and was told they were because several postal vans were out of service. She notice mail bins with leftover mail in the backseat. In addition to the driver, there was a person in the front passenger seat. Since the vehicle wasn’t left-hand configured, she suspected the passenger’s job was to deposit mail in mailboxes.

“If they’re understaffed, why are they doing that?” she wondered.

On Chappy Villard lives down a long private road, with nobody else on it in the winter.

“I”m the last house on North Neck. That’s the one that runs along the harbor.”

Delivery to her house proved problematic, so in 2008, Villard said she asked the Edgartown postmaster for permission to situate her mailbox beside Shirley and Ted Dewing’s.

The new postal carriers don’t seem to understand where her mailbox is, she said: “Surely there’s a map somewhere that says where the mailboxes are.”

On the other hand, she said she does have sympathy for some of the mail carriers. Some appear to finish a shift in Aquinnah before boarding the Chappy Ferry in the afternoon or evening, she said. She recalled transporting a mail carrier over to Chappaquiddick at 5:30 pm.

The Times has not been able to confirm such a shift with the Postal Service.

 

UPS takes heat on Chappy too

Villard was also critical of UPS deliveries on Chappaquiddick. She contended UPS dumps Amazon packages at the Vineyard Haven Post Office as a timesaving measure instead of delivering them. She also said UPS has set up a makeshift package depot in a cargo container at the Chappy Store. Chappy residents then come collect the packages from the unlocked, unguarded container when they choose.

“They just dump them in there and feel that they’re done …” she said.

UPS spokesman Matthew O’Connor deferred to Amazon regarding the course of particular Amazon packages. He noted UPS provides a service called SurePost, where Post Offices make that final-mile delivery on parcels. SurePost can be used by any shipper, he said. What a customer pays for shipping is often the deciding factor. Free customer shipping often translates into SurePost because it’s more cost-effective for shippers. O’Connor verified there is a container in use on Chappaquiddick. It’s been in place for about 10 years, he said.

“It functions similarly to a UPS Access Point,” he said.

“Life isn’t meant to be lived waiting for packages,” the UPS website states. “Send yours to a UPS Access Point location, local businesses we’ve partnered with, and collect them when it suits your schedule. You’ll know that your package is secure and, with locations open during weekend and evening hours, you won’t have to rush.”

O’Connor said UPS partners with florists, dry cleaners, delis, bicycle shops, and coffee shops to choose to serve as Access Points, and like the UPS Store in Vineyard Haven, the Chappy Store property served as a package location prior to the establishment of the Access Point program.

“We have nothing to do with it,” said the Chappy Store manager, who declined to provide his name. The manager said the container is run by UPS alone.

 

Hand delivery and delayed meds

Concerning the U.S. Postal Service, Villard said letters sent from her daughter in New London, Conn., have taken two weeks to reach her.

Her misgivings about the reliability of mail in Edgartown are such that she refuses to mail her real estate tax payments, and hand-delivers them to the tax collector in Edgartown Town Hall.

“There’s no way that I would mail anything financial from Edgartown,” she said.

Ron Rizun, who lives on Enos Avenue on Chappaquiddick, has had trouble receiving his blood pressure medication on time. “We depend on our pill deliveries,” he said.

Rizun said the medication has been up to a week late, and he’s had to go to his doctor to get interim prescriptions. He and his wife are not receiving newspaper deliveries with any consistency, he said. Along with wanting to learn what’s going on on-Island, Rizun said, he and his wife rely on the Stop & Shop circular that comes with the paper. “We just have to keep our fingers crossed and hope it comes,” he said.

He recalled one letter carrier he encountered who told him the Postal Service established a strict schedule of 10 am to 4 pm. Any mail not delivered by 4 pm went back on the ferry with the carrier, he recalled being told.

Recently, Rizun said, it seems like mail service has improved.

The Times was not been able to verify Chappaquiddick postal customers’ assertions with the Postal Service, as their spokesman didn’t reply to inquiries prior to press time.

 

5 COMMENTS

  1. I have to believe the Post Office could do better…..be nice to hear them say so in a clear and visible way.

    One question, why in the world would MV Times choose to characterize these legitimate complaints as “disgruntled Chappy residents” ? These complaints do not suggest a “sulking dissatisfaction” in anyway — they strike me as quite legitimate and unacceptable.

    Does the MV Times have a built-in bias towards Chappaquiddians?

  2. Thanks. Was slightly kidding in my comment — but did not want to see Chappy folks’ legitimate concerns diminished — they should be able to get their mail in a highly dependable way — the delivery route is really not that complicated — nor is it that many people.

  3. The only thing sure about Sure Post is that it is sure to be late or misdirected. Sure Post is fraudulent. As for the quality of delivery, you get what you pay for – maybe. This is yet another example of islanders being expected to do an important job for sub standard wages. Wake up, Islanders.

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