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Postal service must improve in Maine

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“Has anyone signed up for Informed Delivery?” I asked the postmaster in our small, rural post office. I read the U.S. Post Office Welcome to Informed Delivery brochure, but still couldn’t figure out why I would want the post office to email me photocopies of the mail arriving in my mailbox each day. What’s the advantage? My mail is delivered daily to my mail box anyway.

My Postmaster said the USPS is “all excited” about Informed Delivery as a way to help compete with the customer service of UPS and FedEx. “No one here has signed up for it,” my postmaster said. He thinks it might be more popular in cities.

I’ve had the Informed Delivery brochure on my desk for three weeks, trying to pinpoint its appeal. I may not be interested in a daily email “preview of [my] letter mail,” but if I keep at it, perhaps I’ll understand Informed Delivery’s appeal to others, including the USPS.

I watched online news reports from national and local television stations. I learned the “free and optional notification service” is not available in all towns and cities. On informeddelivery.usps.com you can type in your zip code to see if you’re in or out. Also, Informed Delivery is not available to businesses. Residential addresses only.

Still confused I decided to canvas post offices in Piscataquis County: Dover-Foxcroft, Guilford, and Greenville.

Dover-Foxcroft Postmaster Shelley answered the phone. I introduced myself and explained the purpose for my call: “Hi. My name is Scott Fish. I write a weekly column for the Piscataquis Observer. This week I’m writing about Informed Delivery. I’m wondering what kind of response Informed Delivery is having in Dover-Foxcroft.”

Shelley likes it and uses Informed Delivery, saying it “worked out fine for me.” A few other local postal workers use it and like it, she said, but she isn’t aware of any other local takers. Shelley also said Informed Delivery photocopies are of “letter size mail only.”

Next, during business hours, I called Guilford’s post office and got a busy signal. Greenville’s post office was busy too. No one ever answered the Guilford post office phone all day.

After an hour, Greenville’s phone was answered by the Postmaster. She said, “I haven’t heard of anybody” using Informed Delivery. The Postmaster gave me a phone number and asked me to call Tom Rizzo in Portland, the communications guy for the USPS northeast region. I should speak with Tom, she said.

At 11:20 a.m., Mr. Rizzo’s voice message said he was out of his office from May 20th to June 5th, leaving a second phone number for callers to speak with someone else in USPS Consumer Affairs. Assuming, since I was calling 45 days after Mr. Rizzo said he would be back, I left a detailed voice message.

Three o’clock came and went. I called Rizzo again. Same voice message.

I called Rizzo’s second number. Pam with Consumer Affairs said she wasn’t the person to talk to, but would see if Tom or her manager could “talk right now. Do you mind holding?” Pam asked. No one was available. Pam took my phone number for someone to “get back to you and talk to you.”

Tom Rizzo called today at 10:51 a.m. to say I should call USPS Communications Programs Specialist Stephen Doherty in Boston, MA, who now “acts as spokesman for the area.”

It’s now 12:12 p.m. — column deadline time. I left voice messages for Mr. Doherty at his office and cell phone. If I hear back from him with information about Informed Delivery in Piscataquis County — I’ll write about it in another column.

If the USPS is serious about improving customer service, business phone etiquette, not Informed Delivery, might be the place to start.

Scott K. Fish has served as a communications staffer for Maine Senate and House Republican caucuses, and was communications director for Senate President Kevin Raye. He founded and edited AsMaineGoes.com and served as director of communications/public relations for Maine’s Department of Corrections until 2015. He is now using his communications skills to serve clients in the private sector.

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