Expecting to pick up packages at the USPS trailer, above and at right, customers were instead informed of the facility’s closing.
“Give us a little time; we’ll get better,” U.S. Postal Service Public Information Officer Maureen Marion said last week about changes recently implemented at the Cruz Bay Post Office.
Customers who waited in line in the Cruz Bay Post Office for more than 45 minutes last week, however, were not thrilled to hear the USPS asking for more time.
At issue is the closure of the trailer next to the Cruz Bay Post Office which has been used for years as a place for customers to pick up packages and free up some space in the over-crowded main facility.
With no notice to the public, USPS Regional Administrator Steven Hernandez decided to close the trailer effective Monday, January 23. Customers accustomed to retrieving packages at the trailer last week found the facility locked and a notice on the door announcing the closure with no explanation.
The use of an outside facility to store mail is not a common practice within the USPS, according to Marion.
“We want the St. John Post Office to be just like every other post office in the entirety of the Caribbean and the contiguous United States,” said Marion. “We do not use separate facilities. We want to keep all of our stuff in one spot.”
“The fact that we had a separate facility just for packages for pick up is not typical,” Marion said.
Marion was not sure if Hernandez actually visited the Cruz Bay Post Office before making the decision or not.
“The decision came from the district manager who is based in Puerto Rico,” said the USPS PIO. “I am not sure if he visited the facility or if he was in contact with the staff at the facility. But he is at the top for the decision and the buck stops right at his table.”
Closing the package trailer has also enhanced security for USPS customers on St. John, according to Marion.
“One of our concerns is to have mail in the most stable location,” she said. “Mr. Hernandez is new and is taking security with mail very seriously. He believes short-term maybe you have a question mark, but long-term this change is going to help us with a lot of the issues that we need to address.”
“We want mail inside our buildings for security reasons,” said Marion.
While admitting that the USPS did not “get off on the right foot” in terms of the trailer closing, Marion explained that the move is just one step in an overall planned revamping of the facility.
“We know that there is a lot of work that needs to be done and that the start of this process was not a smooth one,” said the USPS PIO. “We are committed to making it better for people on St. John. For our purposes this is a very unusual situation and we’re going to handle it as a priority because we want to get it right.”
“We know that it is going to get better; there is no question,” said Marion. “The district administrator knows that there is a need for us to re-access what we’re doing at this facility and we believe that having separate units is not going to be helpful.”
USPS regional officials are fully aware that they have a lot of work to do to improve service at the Cruz Bay Post Office and nothing — not even relocating to a new facility — is off the table, according to Marion.
“We are just at the beginning of this resolution process,” said Marion. “We are certainly not even at mid-stream, much less the end of this. We have a lot of work to do and we are committed to doing what we have to do.”
“The first step was getting our hands around the whole of the situation,” said the USPS PIO. “We’re looking at our space and our foot traffic and I would say that relocating is possible. Nothing is off the table at this point.”
While reopening the package pick-up trailer is not likely, customers can share their opinions about the USPS move by calling 1-800-275-8777, according to Marion.
“At this juncture, I don’t think the storage unit for use as a distribution point for parcels is going to happen, but I’m not going to take anything off the table,” she said. “We recognize that it is a difficult situation but Mr. Hernandez is committed to making it better for St. John.”
“First and foremost I would suggest that customers be patient because we are working hard to assess the situation behind the scenes,” said Marion. “Then we always tell our customers to call our 1-800 number because it really helps and people really listen to the comments.”
Calls to the 1-800-275-8777 number are recorded and the messages are listened to by the top brass at USPS, Marion added.
“If 10 or 15 people call with the same issue coming out of the post office, that information goes upstream and goes a long way to helping us improve service,” she said.
There are more actions being taken behind the scenes to improve service and the decision to close the package trailer was not made on St. John, Marion explained.
“I hope that people will be patient and know that while the local office is going to be a part of the remedy, they are not immediately able to make a day-one change,” she said. “We are working on the issues here and there are things going on behind the scenes to improve service.”