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Some Whatcom County post offices face challenges, mail recipients seek delivery solutions

The line of customers picking up packages stretches outside the Ferndale Post Office (July 25, 2022). Photo: Whatcom News

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — While service level problems including delivery delays is not exclusive the Ferndale Post Office (PO), it and its customers appear to currently be suffering the most as delivery customers find themselves without delivery service for days and are waiting an hour or more to pick up the mail and packages that would have been delivered.

Ferndale PO customers have been complaining about deliveries not being made and when they go to the Ferndale PO to inquire, it can take an hour or more to learn if the items can be located or not.

For many, the full parking lot and an extended line of customers came as a surprise. A customer who showed up to claim a certified letter told Whatcom News. “I do not know who the certified letter is from, and I cannot afford to wait an hour away from my work to find out.”

Other Whatcom County post offices are seeing and have seen similar challenges.

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Whatcom News was told the Lynden PO recently has mostly recovered after being in a similar state when its postmaster retired unexpectedly in June of 2021.

A carrier annex building was recently built in Lynden to service trucks and mail distribution operations. There is no customer service store at the carrier annex.

“It has gotten better,” Whatcom News was told by a business customer, “but when there is only 1 person in the office, delivery to post office boxes take a back seat to the customer service counter.”

The Acme PO has been reportedly reducing its customer service levels as well. A business customer told Whatcom News it was recently announced that due to a staffing shortage, the post office would temporarily be opened only until 11am, instead of the typical 4pm closing time.

Whatcom News was told Lynden customers filed about 170 “Help with a Federal Agency” complaints with Washington District 1 US Representative Suzan DelBene’s office which was attributed to having a positive impact on resolving problems.

“Now Hiring” posters were visible at several of the Whatcom County PO locations Whatcom News visited today, July 25th.

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Click the photo to be taken to USPS.com/Careers

A survey of online services commonly used by job seekers, including CraigsList and WorkSourceWA, found no recent job postings for local mail carrier positions. Another service, Indeed, did show job postings for the Lynden and Blaine POs but noted that they had been posted over 30 days ago.

Washington 42nd District State Senator Simon Sefzik told a group of Ferndale PO customers complaining on Facebook that DelBene’s office is aware of problems at the Ferndale PO and “has caseworkers on this issue.” He added, there is “not much that can be done to address the issue immediately.”

Not only does the problem not appear to be primarily around the Ferndale PO, but it also appears to be impacting postal service in other states. Staff shortages appear to be the primary reason for the low service levels and staffing shortages in turn create more workloads and extended schedules for those who are working, resulting in higher turnover rates.

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9 Comments

  1. David Trasoff July 25, 2022

    Why is this happening just as many people are returning their election ballots by mail?

  2. Jax July 25, 2022

    Lummi Island went a couple of days recently w/ no mail delivery. Carrier was ill, and there’s no back-up carrier plan by the USPS. Also, even on a normal day all mail to Lummi Island goes through Ferndale.

  3. Fran Schwab July 26, 2022

    We get consistant hang-ups from the Orleans Ave Branch Supervisor. Missing Packages and mail delivered to wrong addresses are a very common issue. Week before last it covered a two block area. Sadly some just throw it away when it is misdelivered and keep packages. So fed up!

  4. Pat on Lummi Island July 26, 2022

    An employee at the Ferndale office went out of her way to help us when we were waiting for some medicine that got stuck in the mountains of backlog. She searched through piles of packages unable to be delivered to Lummi Island last week and she called us after hours when she found our package! I didn’t get her name so I cannot tell her boss how much we appreciated her dedication to providing good service in the face of challenges…thank you to all you
    conscientious PO employees who are doing your best under very difficult circumstances.

  5. Jessie Tanksley July 26, 2022

    To make matters worse, I know a number of people who have applied for USPS in Whatcom county and their online applications go to some black hole with no response after many months.

  6. Anson W Chamblin July 26, 2022

    We all understand labor shortages; every level of commerce and industry is affected by this phenomenon. The complaint I have is that the Postmaster in Ferndale did not think it necessary to even inform the public about this crisis. Expecting a package? Well, you can wait forever, confused by the “undeliverable” status of your package when you check with the online retailer. When you go down to the local post office to inquire, you’re surprised by the throngs of other confused customers, none of whom has received any notice of this, no “you have a package waiting for pickup” tag left in your mailbox, no mailing sent out to the community informing us of this unfortunate situation, not even a notice posted on the door informing the public of the new policy. Expecting a delivery? Come on down, hang around an hour or two, and we’ll see if we can find it for you. Oh, and did we mention that your home mail delivery is only going to be a couple of times per week now? No, we did not. We didn’t tell you about any of this. I spent 2 hours and 40 minutes at the Ferndale office yesterday picking up two packages. When I thanked the employee for her patience during this crisis, I suggested that it might help inform the public if they’d simply post a notice on the door announcing the (we hope) temporary policy and the new procedure for picking up your package. She looked confused, and responded, “well, it’s all over Facebook.”

    Come on, Ferndale Postmaster, we know that you can’t create employees out of thin air, but you can at least provide some basic information to the public. Post some information on the door, send out a mailing to the community. Oh yes, and how about throwing a few tarps over those mountains of packages sitting out in the back lot. I’m sure that a lot of that stuff will be better off not baking in the sun or soaked with rain (yes, it will eventually rain again).

    I’m also disappointed to hear the response from State Senator Simon Sefzik, saying that there is “not much that can be done to address the issue immediately.” Hey Senator Sefzik, do you understand the magnitude of the problem? Do you realize that some people CANNOT get to the Post Office? Do you realize that many folks CANNOT hang around there for hours, cannot leave their kids that long, cannot be aware from work or their business that long? Do you realize that many folks rely upon mail order pharmacies, and that the most vulnerable among these, the most medically fragile, are precisely the ones least likely to be able to hang around the lobby of the Post Office for a few hours? So when Senator Sefzik says “can’t,” what he really means is “won’t.” It’s certainly possible to share other government employees with the local USPS staff for a temporary assignment. You don’t think that sudden loss of mail delivery is a bona fide emergency? The public feels otherwise…send over some National Guard or Reservists to help the PO get over the hump. Senator Sefzik, do you really mean that Americans CANNOT solve a simple temporary staffing problem that is causing actual harm to the local community? God help us all if that’s the kind of attitude our leaders have….

  7. Jimmy C. July 26, 2022

    Over a week, no mail. Could see that it was processed and in the Ferndale Post Office. Finally, on Sunday got some back-mail. Went in person, at 0645, at 7:00am someone came out and took EVERYBODY’s name/address. 3 HOURS LATER, came out, couldn’t find the packages, nor mail. Left empty handed. Called Senator Maria Cantell’s Everette office, got hung up on by her staff. He would only spout a canned response to my direct question: Does Senator Cantwell realize the impact on people not receiving U.S. Mail? Seems to me the gov’t, not just the Post Office, is broken.

  8. Cathy July 27, 2022

    Does this have anything to do with the federal Covid vaccination mandates deadline ??

  9. Kelley July 28, 2022

    I got a whole bunch of my packages yesterday. The USPS truck was on my street at 9pm last night and the carrier was still totally loaded with deliveries. Props!

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