Letters: Readers Chime In With Post Office Woes

Friday January 13, 2006



Your article about poor service at the South Berkeley Post Office was very timely and right on the mark, but one should not lose sight of the fact that similar conditions prevail at all the Berkeley post offices, not just in “the poorer parts of town.” The U.S. Postal Service does not seem to discriminate to whom it offers poor counter service, at least not in Berkeley. I have never been to any Berkeley post office when I did not have to wait 20 to 40 minutes. 

Even though I buy my postage-paid priority mail labels from the USPS website, the package still has to be handed to a clerk in person, and for that one has to take a number. This completely negates the convenience of online postage purchasing, when one still has to stand in line for what seems an interminable length of time. 

I have just about given up going to any Berkeley post office; one will receive much quicker service at both, the Albany and El Cerrito post offices. Even though I may have to drive a few miles, the time saved and frustration avoided, make it worthwhile. 

That said, the U.S. Postal Service does a phenomenal job of delivering the mail—if only they could put a few more clerks at the customer counters. 

Peter Klatt 





The Adeline Street Post Office is not the only local post office with serious understaffing problems. North Berkeley’s Shattuck Avenue office, although in a more affluent part of town, has shut down three Saturdays in the past year when it was clearly supposed to be open for box access and stamp purchases. Customers hovered bewildered, in front of this “semi-independent” federal agency, scratching their heads or repeatedly trying to push open the locked door in utter disbelief.  

The post office is not a local mom and pop store or private corporation. But you wouldn’t know it by its increasing propensity to allow market forces to dictate its service profile. Another example of deregulation making our lives more stressful. Oh, and don’t forget to stick it to them with an extra two cents this year for a standard letter. Obviously, they need our help! 

Marc Winokur 





Your Jan. 10 front-page story, “Waiting in Line at the Adeline St. Post Office,” rang true to me. When I first moved from the Peninsula to Rockridge, Oakland some four years ago, I rented a post office box at the Temescal North Oakland branch station at 4900 Shattuck Ave. The lines were long and slow. Parking in the tiny little shopping center was often hard to find, but at least it was unmetered, a treat in the Berkeley-Oakland area.  

Finally, I wised up, drove through the Caldecott Tunnel to Lafayette, where I rented a box at the post office located on Mt. Diablo Boulevard. The lines were much shorter and the service was more pleasant. Parking is free and easy in this strip shopping center, which has a Trader Joe’s, a Longs Drugs and a Diablo Foods all close to the post office. 

Now I do virtually all of my shopping in Lafayette, Pleasant Hill and Concord. Traffic is rarely a problem, parking is free and there are no worries about street crime. I do not know exactly why Berkeley and Oakland are such unpleasant places to shop in with their endless traffic, rude bicyclists, rude pedestrians, ubiquitous parking meters and with security guards hanging around the larger stores.  

My late brother labored as a mail handler for many years in the Oakland West Annex of the Post Office. At family holiday gatherings he used to regale us with stories of postal management incompetence and the generally depressing workplace environment. If you don’t care for poor post office service you may call their universal 800 number and complain. Good luck. Two years ago, I called to inquire as to why they had stopped delivery of my late parents’ mail and a man rudely informed me that, “Dead people don’t get mail.” He was wrong, of course. This sort of mail is easily forwarded after filling out a form and showing proper identification.  

Another insult from the post office is their annual increasing of their rates charged for their fourth-class parcel post mail to where it almost matches their first class mail rates. Now it is cheaper to use the United Parcel Service (UPS) for shipping small packages cross-country. And UPS even throws in free insurance and tracking, too. Now the United States Postal Service feels that it has to advertise with ads during the Olympic Games and even for Lance Armstrong, the American bicyclist who has won several Tour de France races recently. Someone has to pay for all this expensive, but unnecessary, advertising. You and I pay for it with higher postal rates and longer, slower lines at the window.  

James K. Sayre