USPS: When in Doubt, They Shred!

Earlier this year, from its offices in Washington, DC, the Rail Passengers Association mailed a special appeal for contributions to its entire membership. The mailing consisted of the outer envelope, an enclosed letter from our president and CEO, Jim Mathews, and a postage-paid return envelope. In his letter, Mathews asked for monetary support of the association’s work . . . support in addition to annual dues. 

As usual, our members answered the call, responding with—if past experience is any indicator—a flood of contributions, large and small . . . contributions that were returned to RPA in those postage-paid envelopes.

However, offering neither warning nor explanation, the U.S. Postal Service has acknowledged that most of the 3,000 responses to the RPA appeal were mistakenly sent to the Dead Letter Office . . . and shredded!

Based on averaging the results from previous mailings, a conservative analysis estimates a loss to RPA of at least $160,000. Obviously, for a non-profit organization like ours, the loss of income in an amount like that has a seriously negative impact. 

Of course, CEO Jim Mathews went to Post Office officials and politely-but- forcefully asked what they proposed to do about this situation. What he got was the classic “We’ll get back to you.”

Some weeks later, when asked about this incident by a member of the media, a Postal Service spokesperson said, “We were in contact with the association and the matter has been resolved.”

Resolved? Really??  For the record, as of this date, no one from the Post Office has been in communication with anyone with the Rail Passengers Association. Apparently the postal authorities do indeed consider the matter “resolved”.

The young man who delivers our mail here on Maui is part-Hawaiian and in his early 20s. I happened to be at the mailbox the other day when he drove up. He smiled when he handed me our mail and said, “Good morning, Uncle!”  Of course, we’re not related in any way, but calling me “uncle” is the local way of being friendly, but showing respect at the same time. 

That young man could teach the big bosses at the United States Postal Service back in Washington a thing or two about respect.

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For the record, as most regular readers know, I am a long time member of the Rail Passengers Association, having served two terms as a member of the organization’s Board of Directors. RPA is a non-profit organization with members in all 50 states. Its mission is to be an advocate for more and better and faster passenger trains.