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Virginia worst in the nation for on-time mail delivery

Vaseline 1 month ago

Did you see Friday’s Roanoke Times article (page A8) about a mail truck fire on Interstate 64? We picked that up at The Virginian Pilot in Norfolk. Its fourth paragraph bears repeating:

“Virginia ranks worst in the nation for on-time mail delivery,” the article said, citing a report released earlier this month by the U.S. Postal Service Office of the Inspector General. The watchdog found “significant problems at a new regional processing facility in Richmond that processes mail for Hampton Roads.”

Chart from Postal Service Inspector General report

This chart, from a recent audit report by the US Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General, shows that Virginia has the worst record of on-time First Class mail in the country. In Virginia, 66% of First Class mail is delivered on time. That is more than 20 percentage points below the national average, namely 87.2% on-time delivery. Source: US Postal Regulatory Commission.

Then Casey

We’ll go into some details below.

But Tom Bailey, who recently moved to Sherwood Avenue (a few blocks from the Raleigh Court post office), was hardly surprised. Shortly after that report came out, the octogenarian had a blatant experience with mail misdelivery.

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Before moving to Raleigh Court, Bailey lived on Howbert Avenue Southwest, in the nearby Wasena neighborhood. Even there, the occasional error landed in his mailbox, Bailey told me.

“About once a month I would receive someone else’s mail, and I would take it upon myself to deliver it to their house myself,” Bailey noted. After all, that’s good for the neighbors.

Tom Bailey



“You know, these things happen,” Bailey added. “I’m concerned about it in the sense that I’m a veteran and I get all my medications, which are quite a few, in the mail.”

Since moving to Sherwood Avenue, the same thing would happen occasionally, he added. Then came April 8, a Monday. That afternoon, Bailey received fourteen pieces of mail. Four were addressed to his home in the 1500 block of Sherwood Avenue.

And “I got ten pieces at once that didn’t belong here,” Bailey told me.

One was addressed to 1920 Wakefield Road, a street that intersects Sherwood. Two pieces of mail were destined for 1420 Sherwood, and two others were destined for 1508 Sherwood Ave.

And there was one each for: 1520 Sherwood; 1516 Sherwood; 1512 Sherwood; 1424 Sherwood and 1420 Sherwood. In total, four of the fourteen pieces of mail Bailey received that day ended up in the right place.

Tom Bailey emails on April 8

On the right are four pieces of mail addressed to Tom Bailey’s home on Sherwood Avenue. A postman delivered them on April 8. On the left are ten other pieces of mail that Bailey received the same day, addressed to other homes on Sherwood and Wakefield Road nearby.


It just so happened that Bailey had to send a package around that time. So when he took that to the Raleigh Court Post Office, he took the misdelivered stack with him. When he got to the counter, he handed it to a clerk and told her what it was.

She replied, “Oh,” and put it aside, Bailey told me. Presumably that stuff was eventually delivered. (Most of a photo Bailey sent me turned out to be junk mail.)

I was looking for an explanation from the US Postal Service on how so many pieces of mail could be misdelivered at once. Here’s the response from Philip Bogenberger, a spokesperson for the Postal Service in Charlotte:

“The Postal Service delivers billions of pieces of mail and packages across the country each year with the goal of timely and accurate delivery,” Bogenberger wrote in an email. “In this case, some mail items were accidentally delivered to the neighbors. We will inform the carrier of this. This can be remedied by leaving the mail items with the carrier, who can have them delivered properly.”

I also contacted a postal worker I know who spoke anonymously for fear of retaliation at work. In Roanoke, the carrier said letters for courier delivery are first pre-sorted by machines before carriers pick them up — and it’s not uncommon for the machines to missort the mail.

Bailey is not the only postal customer experiencing incorrect deliveries. Another is Richard Evans, who lives in Roanoke County and receives his mail in a box at the Cave Spring post office. Evans has also noticed an increase in incorrect deliveries.

He subscribes to Informed Delivery, through which the postal service emails him a daily photo of the mail Evans can expect to receive that day. He said about 60% of the mail Informed Delivery told him would arrive in his mailbox the same day.

In fact, the mail destined for Evans’ mailbox first ended up in other people’s mailboxes. Evans realized this from a letter he recently found in his box. It was postmarked April 16 in Greensboro from Pinnacle Bank in Tennessee and was addressed to Evans and his wife.

Richard Evans delivered the mail

This letter, postmarked April 16 in Greensboro, recently found its way to Richard Evans’ mailbox at the Cave Spring Post Office. It was originally misdelivered to another PO box, and the person who received it scribbled the above message before returning it to the USPS.

Richard Evans, SUBMITTED

By the time Evans took it out of its box, the previous (wrong) recipient had circled Evans’ address and box number and scrawled “Wrong Box # Again” on the front.

Now about that report from the US Postal Service Office of Inspector General. It showed that Virginia was last among the fifty states in on-time delivery of first-class mail. In Virginia, about 66% of first-class mail is delivered on time, according to the report.

The inspector general found that the problems originated at the Sandston processing facility in Richmond. Here’s how the Richmond Times Dispatch put it:

“Richmond is the first center to be transformed as part of (Postmaster General Louis) DeJoy’s $40 billion Delivering for America plan to modernize the post office and consolidate mail processing operations.

“DeJoy announced that plan in 2021, saying it was necessary to save the agency from financial collapse… The OIG audit took place in Richmond from July 29 to December 1, 2023 and included interviews, document review, personnel analysis and a observation. of facility conditions.”

Louis DeJoy

Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, appointed in 2020, came from the private sector, where he led a national logistics company, and won the good graces of then-President Donald Trump through massive campaign contributions.


The audit found boxes of mail that had been sitting in Sandston for months, unprocessed, and in one case an employee sleeping on a forklift while auditors were present.

A big part of the problem was newly installed machines known as high-output package sorters, or HOPS. They were supposed to sort 8,500 packages per hour, but didn’t work for weeks after installation.

Although the new machines were intended to reduce the number of times mail was trucked, the fact that they malfunctioned actually created more work at the facility.

“There was a 706% increase in additional trips, a 185% increase in canceled trips and a 30% increase in late trips to or from the facility during the first 18 weeks after launch compared to the previous year,” reported the Times-Dispatch. .

DeJoy was hired in 2020 and serves at the pleasure of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors, who are appointed by the president. There are nine governors who serve staggered terms.

So far, President Joe Biden has appointed four of the governors, or less than half. He recently sent the nomination for a fifth to the US Senate for confirmation.

If and when that happens, Biden’s appointees will have a majority in the administration for the first time since Biden assumed the presidency.

And things may change, but don’t hold your breath.