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Published: Monday, 4/4/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Postal Service admits missteps

Lima hub mail sent to Toledo for sorting before kinks smoothed

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Terry Robinson sorts mail United States Postal Service sorting facility in Toledo. Terry Robinson sorts mail United States Postal Service sorting facility in Toledo.
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Mistakes were made.

That's the conclusion of a U.S. Postal Service Inspector General's report on the transfer of mail last year from Lima, Ohio, to Toledo so it could be scanned, postmarked, and sorted.

Complaints about delayed or lost mail in the multicounty 458-prefix ZIP Code district followed.

Before the switch, mail in all or parts of Allen, Defiance, Henry, Paulding, Van Wert, Mercer, Darke, Putnam, Auglaize, Shelby, Wood, Hancock, Wyandot, Hardin, and Logan counties was sent to Lima for processing. The Postal Service, which is struggling to reduce costs, concluded it could save $2.3 million annually by closing the processing center in Lima, taking that mail 80 miles to Toledo for the work, and then returning it to the Lima hub.

The Inspector General's officer said the new system has not operated smoothly.

Reasons include:

  • The volume of mail was underestimated by 7 percent.
  • The Toledo processing center was not adequately staffed.
  • Trucks were consistently late arriving at the Lima hub.
  • The lack of an implementation team created inefficiencies.
  • Management adopted the operational change during the peak mailing season without making needed adjustments.


Victor Dubina, spokesman for the Postal Service's northern Ohio district, noted that the Inspector General also concluded there was a valid business case for the consolidation. He said the report was well received by management, and the Postal Service would strive to correct weaknesses.

"We remain committed to improving the level of service to meet the expectations of our customers," he said, adding that mail volume has dropped sharply and the Postal Service has no choice but to continue with its cost-cutting campaign. "When you're talking about a volume drop, what you're really talking about is a revenue drop."

But Lima Mayor David Berger said transferring the processing operation to Toledo was a bad idea from the start and his constituents continue to experience poor service.

"We have absolutely no confidence that this will be corrected. We're actively encouraging people to find other ways to get their business done than with the Postal Service," he said.

Mr. Berger said the government is "not looking at all the costs of what would be required to get back to normal service."

Tara Joyce, marketing director at Lima Harley-Davidson, said she no longer uses the Postal Service for mass mailings.

She said it bungled the delivery of 5,000 newsletters filled with sales promotions that were mailed Oct. 29 and delivered the week before Christmas.

"We're doing a lot of Internet and more TV and radio and direct e-mail," she said. "We haven't given it [the Postal Service] another chance."

Contact Carl Ryan at: carlryan@theblade.com or 419-724-6050.



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