January 19, 2001
Congressman Henry A. Waxman
8436 West Third Street, Suite 600
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Dear Congressman Waxman,
Since October, mail to my Santa Monica address has
been repeatedly returned to sender. This has caused me grave difficulties,
cancelled credit cards, etc. I have repeatedly complained to the Post Office.
They refused to take my complaints seriously ("you're probably getting
no mail because no one is sending you anything") until I could bring in
copies of returned mail. Several times I presented copies of returned mail
to supervisors in my postal station, and each time they promised that it
would not happen again. After each in-person talk with a supervisor making
photocopies of my returned mail, my mail delivery resumed for a brief period
of time, then stopped again. Below is a chronology of events beginning
I am attaching photocopies of a small number of envelopes
that have been marked return to sender. I have many more of these if you
would like to look through them.
2nd week of October--mail stopped being delivered
to my apartment, despite the fact that my name is on the mailbox
throughout October I made several complaints to the
Post Office's (800) number. First I was told "you may not be receiving
mail because no one is writing you" or "mail delivery may have backed up;
wait a week or 2". Even after I reported to the (800) number that I had
received phone calls from my creditors stating that mail addressed to me
had been returned to them, the Post Office wanted to see the return envelopes
(very difficult to do because banks and credit cards companies generally
do not keep the envelopes on returned mail, and even when they do, they
couldn't send them back to my Santa Monica address without fear that they
would be returned again).
Oct 27th--I filed a formal complaint with
the (800) number (case CO4520778) and was told to call back several days
later to see the status of my complaint
Oct 31st--I called and was told that the
supervisor had informed the carrier about the problem on Oct 28th,
yet I was still not receiving mail
Nov 6th--I visited the Santa Monica postal
station and talked with a female supervisor who told me that it should
now be resolved. Then for several weeks I intermittently received mail,
but most of this was marked with stickers indicating that it should be
returned to sender because I no longer lived at the address and had no
forwarding order on file (despite the fact that my name had been on the
mailbox for approximately 6 months).
Nov 22nd--I filed a written complaint using
the post office's "Consumer Service Card" (copy attached). No one has ever
tried to contact me about this (unless perhaps they sent me mail that was
returned to them).
Nov 27th--I again visited my postal station
and talked with Supervisor Myron Kudanovych who made photocopies of about
10 returned-mail envelopes and said that he would investigate what happened
and correct the problem.
Nov 28th--Postal supervisor Kudanovych called
and told me that they "don't really know how this happened", "there's always
human error", and "there's no guarantee that this won't happen again".
He apologized for their mistakes, and agreed to write me a letter that
I could try to use with creditors to get fees removed, restore my credit
Nov 29th--Postal supervisor Kudanovych gave
me a handful of copies of the apology letter (attatched). I told him that
I would be in Northern California for a month in December and asked him
how it would be best to deal with my mail while I was gone. He told me
that I should not attempt to use the Post Office's temporary
forward service for fear that it might initiate a new round of letters
returned to sender. He assured me that if I had the mail held at the post
office for a month, there was absolutely no way that any of it would be
returned to sender. Despite the fact that this would mean missing various
bills, I submitted a form asking the post office to hold my mail at the
station from Dec 6-Jan 8.
I received mail until I left town on Dec 6. Mail then
was held for me.
Dec 18th--I had a brief meeting in Los Angeles
and dropped by my post office. I asked whether picking up mail held for
me thusfar would cause any misdirection problems for mail that would arrive
over the next few weeks and should be held until Jan 8. After being told
that there was no problem picking up mail in the middle of a "hold at post
office" period, I picked up 50+ pieces of mail.
Jan 8th--I returned to town and came in to
pick up my previous 3 weeks of mail that should have been held at the post
office. A clerk named Michael looked for my held mail for half an hour
and couldn't find any. He finally told me that, since my hold had just
expired, my carrier must have taken the mail to deliver to my apartment,
and that I would probably find it at home that evening. There was no mail
at my home that evening.
Jan 9th--I went in to the post office and
spoke with Larry Young, the station manager. He found 2 pieces of mail
that had been held for me over the past few weeks. (Clearly, there should
have been much much more than that, and the rest was undoubtedly returned
to sender.) He could not explain why, on the previous day, the clerk had
been unable to locate even those 2 pieces after half an hour of searching.
I explained to him my ongoing problems, and he said that he was surprised
that no one had made him aware of these. He made photocopies of some of
my returned-mail envelopes, apologized to me, and promised to investigate.
He took down my phone number and promised to call me in a day or 2. (He
Jan 18th--I called station manager Young,
and at first he had trouble remembering my case ("we get so many cases
here, it's hard to remember which one you are"). Finally, he seemed to
recall. I angrily asked him why no one had called me like he had promised,
and he responded that he had returned my case to a supervisor (presumably
Kudanovych) to handle. He promised to call me the next day (today), but
it is the end of the day and he hasn't called.
I find the actions of the post office outrageous
by any standard. Not only are they returning my mail to sender, but they
repeatedly making promises that they do not keep (that it won't happen
again, that they'll call me to follow up, etc.).
This has been extremely troubling for me. Not only
have I experienced financial hardships (credit cards cancelled, checks
bouncing, large fees for missed dates), but this has been devastating personally.
There's no way to explain how horrible it is to have your mail sent back
to sender, particularly when you don't even have a complete list of who
has been writing. And though now I have been getting mail delivered for
an entire week (except for yesterday), I have no confidence that this will
continue because the post office has repeatedly promised that they had
taken care of the problem, but then several weeks later my mail resumed
being returned to sender. In fact, I think that since October, there have
been many more days when my mail was marked 'return to sender' than days
when my mail was actually delivered.
There are also larger problems here. If this is happening
to me, it is probably happening to many other people (witness the station
manager having so many complaint cases that it took him some time to recognize
who I was, even though I had talked to him at length 9 days before). In
addition, everyone I've talked to at the post office (the 800 number, other
branches, carriers) has said that I should never submit a temporary forward
form because temporary forwards so frequently cause mail to be returned
to sender. (If the post office can't get temporary forwards right, why
don't they just stop offering this service?)
So could you please look into this matter? For contacting
me, it might be better to use my office address (where my mail delivery
is much more reliable) rather than my home address, but I am including
both. Thank you very much for your attention to this matter.