Grade Your Government: U.S. Postal Service Part 2

By Taylor Hemness - email

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) - James French is in his fourth week on the job as postmaster for the city of Tyler, so he's still in what he calls the assessment phase. So, when we told him that people were telling us that the lines are too long, he said it's a problem he's well aware of.

"I will be looking seriously at that, and that was my first priority, is to assess that aspect of the service, and make improvements there," French said.

He didn't just hear about it from us. During our visit, a bulk mail customer got to meet the new postmaster, and told him about her personal experiences.

"I frequently come and the line is at the door, and I spend 40 minutes sometimes waiting, depending on who's in front of me," the customer told French. "I don't have time to do that, so I'm really looking forward to that change."

She and others we spoke with agree on the big problem: a lack of postal workers.

French says that's a result of the way postal customers have changed.

"They're disappearing," French said. "They're using other sources, e-mail, pay your bills by e-mail, ordering merchandise through competitors. Last year, we lost $7-billion as a result of declining revenues and declining volumes. We're struggling as an organization to readjust our staffing matrix to meet those declining volumes."

"The biggest problem is we really just don't know where the end in sight is, in terms of when will this volume level off."

So are those long lines enough to earn bad grades for the postal service. If A is excellent, C is average, and F is failing, how did people grade the postal service?

"I'd give 'em an A," said Ellen Green. "Little things like that don't tend to bother me."

"C," Joe Tew said. It needs to be upgraded much quicker than it looks like they are willing to do it."

"An F. It's fixable," said Joe Williams. "I mean it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. You can fix this."

And, that's the plan. The postmaster told us just because he's new in town, doesn't mean he's waiting to make some changes.

"People come during lunch, that's when they're off, and that's when we need to be staffed up to meet those needs," French said. "And, I expect before the holiday season arrives, that we'll be prepared to meet those needs."

The lowest grade came from Loma Allen, the man who's been fighting with the local post office to change how the mail is delivered to his Tyler retirement community.

"F-. I think three years ago I probably would have given them a C or a D, because I had not had that type of close personal experience with them."

French said that he's not certain what can be done for Mr. Allen, but he'll look at that problem, too.

"Anything that concerns customers and their happiness with our service, is a concern of mine."

French also said that just because you hear voices in the back of the post office when you're standing in line, doesn't mean that those people are choosing not to help.

There are different unions in the postal service, and members are trained for specific jobs.

As for the final grade from our viewers, we had more than 130 responses from people we talked to, and those who filled out a survey on kltv.com, and the average grade was a C.

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