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Going Postal: How Can We Fix The Worst Post Offices In Brooklyn?

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"The dreaded line wraps around twice" (Photo by Chelsea Moquin / Google)
“The dreaded line wraps around twice” at the Flatbush Post Office, 2273 Church Avenue. (Photo by Chelsea Moquin / Google)

A recent News 12 story that documents the hour-long lines and flippant managers at the 11226 Post Office has cast an aggrieved public service at 2273 Church Avenue, between Flatbush and Bedford Avenues, into the media limelight.

Correspondents made Flatbush a contender for the “Worst Post Office in New York City”, which sparked an outpouring of stories from other local branches competing for the title: 11218 in Kensington and 11225 on Empire Boulevard in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, where conditions have been driving customers and employees close to going postal.

Customers complain about waiting between one and two hours on a line that often snakes through the store and around the block.

Darleen Reid-DeMeo, Senior Public Relations Representative for the US Postal Service, told DPC that there are 13 clerks working at the Flatbush PO, and only one mail handler who is responsible for prepping and moving mail inside the office.

Package pick up line, Church Avenue, March 2016. (Photo by Jason Alicea / Google)
Package pick up line at 2273 Church Avenue, March 2016. (Photo by Jason Alicea / Google)

Darleen Reid-DeMeo started out as a letter carrier when she began working for the post office 30 years ago. “The routes that the carriers have are much longer than people ever dreamed. My routes had anywhere between 800 and 1200 deliveries a day, regular mail plus parcels,” she said.

In the Flatbush PO, 65 letter carriers make 36,233 total deliveries on 35 routes and 8 parcel routes, said Reid-DeMeo. Most of those routes are walk-outs, meaning carriers deliver mail entirely on foot.

In addition to an understaffed office, customers gripe about overworked and quick-tempered employees. Some commenters noted that they have been screamed at by employees, or just simply brushed off.

In the News 12 video, one employee threatens to break the correspondent’s camera as the video is rolling.

Two years ago, a Marine Park postal worker was arrested for hoarding 40,000 pieces of mail (equalling 2,500 pounds of mail), but Federal prosecutors dropped criminal charges in February of this year, according to the New York Daily News. While this was one case of a law-breaking mail carrier, for Flatbush, the postal problems are systemic.

Inconsistent delivery service plagues customers at both Flatbush, 11226 and Empire, 11225 — leading even more people to the dreaded package pick-up line. Many say that packages just won’t get delivered, and carriers won’t ring the doorbell and can be sloppy with pink slips.

“It’s a mess up here, seriously,” said neighbor Amy Win of the Empire Post Office, 11225. “I avoid ordering online as much as possible because of the mail situation. I rarely see pink slips; I check tracking online daily if I’m expecting something. I think it’s the inconsistency which is most maddening. Some of the carriers are great, but I can’t count on the service overall.”

Pink slip received by a neighbor in August 2016, from October 2015, from 11215 PO. (Photo courtesy David Y'all)
Pink slip received by a neighbor in August 2016, from October 2015, from 11225 PO. (Photo courtesy David Y’all)

I’ve been home on multiple occasions waiting to recieve a package and then I check online and it says I wasn’t there and there is just a slip in my mailbox. It’s consistently been an issue in the 5 years I’ve lived here. And this is on top of atrocious lines to get it when I do go to the post office,” writes neighbor Anni Irish. 

Empire PO, 11215. (Photo courtesy: Jenny S Ulloa)
Empire PO, 11215. (Photo courtesy: Jenny S Ulloa)

Commenters have suggested a number of underlying reasons for the years of terrible service on the package pick up lines. For one, overcrowding — in recent years there has been an increase in Flatbush and PLG housing development, without expanded funding for the Post Offices.

“Where there once was one family occupying a two or three bedroom apartment, you now have roommate shares. I’m not surprised the lines in this neighborhood post office are out the door,” writes commenter Yolanda Ladell.

Carol Wright, whose family has lived in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens for 50 years, writes, “The dramatic increase of residents in the neighborhood coupled with very little urban planning has led to ridiculous amounts of congestion and lines and crowding.”

Inequality of public services is also a hot button issue. “I think that it can bring attention to the inequality of the way services are distributed around the city — from quality of public schools, to quality of postal service, you receive something very different depending on where you live. I frequently go to the post office on 7th Avenue in Park Slope, where there is never a line and it is pleasantly air-conditioned,” said commenter Amanda Schulman Brokaw.

(Photo by Amanda Plowman)
One customer brought his own stool for the wait. (Photo by Amanda Plowman)

The US Postal Service responded to News 12’s inquiry by saying that workers can’t deliver packages safely and securely in the Flatbush neighborhood. But what does that mean? Is our neighborhood so theft-riddled that mail carriers can’t do their jobs?

“What’s happening is, if you are a letter carrier with a package and cannot leave it at the location safely — meaning not into a box or in line of sight — we’re instructed to bring it back for the security of the package,” Darleen Reid-DeMeo, Senior Public Relations Representative, told DPC.

In addition, in large apartment buildings, if a vestibule door lock is broken and the post office doesn’t own that lock, it contributes to the problem, said Reid-DeMeo. “The postal service doesn’t own many of the neighborhood’s locks, so we’re dependent upon [private owners or management companies]  to replace broken locks.” Mail carriers are instructed to bring packages back to the PO rather than leave them in an unlocked vestibule.

And her response to the complaints about carriers not buzzing apartments or failing to leave pink slips for undeliverable packages?

“We can bet dollars to donuts that, based on the recent surge in media attention, we are focusing on training and retraining our employees,” she said. “We’re pow-wowing at the highest levels to address this issue long term. Short term, we have a packages only pick-up line and we’ve extended the hours at the Flatbush Post Office. But it’s going to need a broader fix.”

Customers can take action to report an unsatisfactory mail carrier, said Reid-DeMeo. “Go to USPS.com and contact us. That makes a permanent electronic record of the issue, gets into our computer stystem, routes to the office and gets to the supervisor at that office. There’s a dialogue that happens. it’s not just a piece of paper, it’s a dialogue and computer record. We’re going to follow through,” she said.

But for Seth Kaplan, who has lived in the neighborhood for 20 years, this issue goes beyond individual complaints and even beyond the city and state level. Kaplan told us he is organizing a campaign to contact Megan J. Brennan, the Postmaster General of the United States. “I’ve seen this go around before for the entire 20 years I’ve lived in Brooklyn. Articles, elected officials… not much changes,” said Kaplan.

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26 COMMENTS

  1. I am so glad to see this getting attention. Our experiences have included them lying, us being sent away indignantly “you said you would call when you foung the package” “Did we call?” “No” “Then obviously we did not find the package!”, a driver literally wanting to drop “came by” note but not being abled to becuase I was waiting for him and so he looked at me and took off. Once when we complained that a package that was not supposed to be left on the porch was stolen, the driver came to my house and yelled at my child who made the mistake of answering the door. After many phone calls one insured package arrrived torn open and empty. Our magazines regularly arrive a week or two late with evidence they have been read by others before we got them. And my favorite, a package from China took 6 days to get to Brookyn and 3 weeks of raising hell to get to my door. We had to file a compaint with the postmaster general. This is something I recommend everyone do. It scared them. Sadly, when I was on the phone with the national line that is supposed to track packages, the lady sighed and said “oh, you are in Brooklyn. That’s different. Chicago and Brooklyn things always go missing and it’s hard to track.”
    So this is not news. They just have not been inspired to do anything about it.

  2. The best way to solve the problem is by directing all of your business to their competitors. Send as much as you reasonably can via UPS or FedEx.

  3. There are over 106,000 people in the 11226 zip code. That number was from the 2000 Census and is more than many American cities. The number must be thousands more since there is rampant development taking down single family homes and putting up multi family dwellings with little thought to services in the area. Is the USPS giving our completely overtaxed outdated post office adequate support, staff and equipment or simply dumping staff there who are burnt out or incompetent? This is a complicated problem needing political backbone to address.
    I have lived in this zip code for about 20 years and my family has been in the neighborhood since 1945. The incompetence of this post office only seems to get worse every year!

  4. Burlington Vermont has 42,000 people and three post office buildings. Portland Oregon has 64,000 people and several post office building. Just saying.
    Eva Lewandowski

  5. Thank god this is getting attention, this post office really is the worst in Brooklyn. The place is a nightmare and outside of a few of the mail carriers there are generally horror stories with deliveries too. I’ve had plenty of times where I was home all day and I get an email notification that I “missed” my package. Of course there will be no physical notification at the address because no one ever showed up. I had one incident where my package “disappeared”, they didn’t deliver it and they had no idea of where it was, and they swore to me it was delivered even though I was home that day and no one ever showed up. Magically when I went online and submitted a complaint and called up the USPS to file a complaint I got a call from the Post Office that they found my package and was going to send it out right way.

    Really everyone in that office should be fired and an entirely new staff brought in, I’m sure there are one or two good people in there but I highly doubt the capabilities of the USPS finding out who those people are and keeping them and jettisoning the rest so its best to dump them all.

    Thank you News 12

  6. Oh, they’re all terrible. Can’t wait until some wonderful day in the future when we stop subsidizing them and they are finally out of “business” forever.

  7. Your tax dollars hard at work.

    I wish I could get my magazines and letters FedEx’d to me or UPS’d, yet sadly, it is against the law for them to provide that kind of service, lest they make the post office look even worse than it already is.

  8. FedEx is every bit as terrible as USPS – their website is poorly designed and frequently malfunctions (doesn’t even work with Chrome), their pickup guys don’t know what they’re doing, their systems are not fully integrated so different employees all have the same info about a package, you can’t get a receipt until seven days after a package is delivered, etc etc. And they managed to lose one of the eight packages I had in an international shipment and then lie about it. NEVER AGAIN.

  9. The fact that FedEx and UPS use the post office is proof that when it does not financially benefit them, private entities simply won’t provide a service. Taking USPS away won’t force others to serve the public better. Private companies have no obligation to the public whatsoever. They will just do what any free market company would do, stop serving where it does not fit their needs. That is why we have a government service.
    And the thing is, we don’t have to go far to see where the PO does fine. Go to the Post Office on Church and MacDonald. The manager walks up and down the very short line to help people prepare for the fastest service possible. The difference in service from it’s “sister” operation at 2273 Church Ave is astounding. Even for Passports with photos, they have you in and out. Our neighborhood is special in its ghetto treatment. This is an election season for our Assembly spot. Every one of Jim’s Brennan’s aspiring replacements should have this question put to them. There are house parties to meet them going on this weekend. I urge anyone invited to one to put this issue front and center. Our public representatives have really let us down on this issue.

  10. I agree with you re FedEx and UPS, but the Post Office branch at Church & McDonald has been terrible for ages (go search for that viral video from about 10 years ago…). Thankfully they got a self-service machine for mailing, which makes it a bit more tolerable than it used to be.

  11. If developers and landlords continue to split single apartments into 2-4 units, or building new multi-unit buildings, thereby creating 100-400% more delivery addresses, the Postal Service needs to be increasing staff and infrastructure to keep up with demand for delivery of letters and parcels. I would have thought they’d examine the demographics after each new census. Even though they have thousands of new delivery addresses they still function on an antiquated operating plan based on really old data. So what they do instead is double and triple the deliveries of their current letter carriers. They need to start counting their customers and plan accordingly.

  12. Long lines, but I have never had trouble with a rude employee. Probably the fact is, really, that we all shop by mail, and most people don’t have safe spots where packages can be left. Besides the constant casual theft of packages left near apartment building mailboxes, there’s the more strenuous act of walking onto the front porches of private homes and stealing — and we’re all in the same boat, apartment dwellers and home owners. This post office is inadequate for what it has to do– it just can’t keep up with people collecting their packages.

    (Which isn’t to say that sometimes mail deliverers say you weren’t home when in
    fact you were, and waiting, waiting ….)

    It’s a new world, Golda.

  13. I don’t think the argument is against the USPS in general its more so this particular branch/office which is horrible. USPS’ website is great for tracking packages, I like that they give you an image of what mail is coming and if you sign up for MyUSPS (I think that’s the name) it will tell you when packages are coming even if you didn’t have the tracking number. However once your mail arrives at this branch you are delivered into the pits of hell.

  14. Don’t you just love it when you check the tracking number of a package you’re expecting and you see that a delivery was attempted at a time when you were home? No slip left either. So . . . you print up the page with the tracking info on it to the post office and hope to God they can find it!

  15. Nothing is perfect. FedEx and UPS are dramatically better. No question. I’m sorry you had a package lost or stolen one time. Life happens. Relative to the USPS, it is no contest. And with more competition and innovation, that industry could get even better still.

  16. Time to remove that giant chip off your shoulder and move on. Six comments on the same thread all saying the same thing is a bit much. Next!

Comments are closed.