Post Office Delays Lead Residents to ‘Frantically Search’ for Mail


The Planetarium Post Office. Photo by Charley Lhasa.

By Nicholas Wu

Mail from one local post office has been delayed so often that a local assembly member wrote to the postmaster general to try to get things jumpstarted. The Planetarium Post Office on 83rd Street between Columbus and Amsterdam has had significant delays in getting mail to customers, according to residents and Assembly member Linda Rosenthal.

Starting at the end of May, Nicole — who asked that her last name not be published — started to notice that she was suddenly not receiving any mail at her apartment on 86th between West End and Riverside. She kept waiting, but day in, day out, she opened her mailbox to find absolutely nothing. And she wasn’t the only one. Kevin G, a neighbor who lives at their building, posted a letter in their lobby asking if anybody had experienced uncharacteristic delays in mail service. “Within about an hour, I got emails from four other tenants in my building saying that they haven’t gotten mail at all either,” explained Kevin. Both of them tried to dig deeper and find out what was really going on. Nicole turned to her messages from Informed Delivery, a service offered by the USPS that sends images of the pieces of mail expected to be delivered each day. By combing through her emails, Nicole deduced that she had not received any mail since May 25th, and all the images of the mail that she was receiving from Informed Delivery had never been delivered. Kevin said he went directly to the Planetarium Post Office multiple times starting on June 15th. 

He said he got a wide array of responses and reasons: one teller at the Planetarium PO told him that it was because the mailmen and women were getting vaccinated, so there was a shortage of workers. “The gentleman who I next spoke to told me that I just hadn’t received any mail for the past week.” The manager he spoke to after the first two exchanges emphatically claimed that they had been delivering mail to his building every day. After further questioning, a supervisor came back to Kevin with some long-awaited mail: “They went and brought nine pieces of mail. They said that this was just for today, just 20 minutes after they had told me that I had no mail for the past week,” he said. Although he thought that his problems were now mostly resolved, it took several more days for the building to receive mail from the prior weeks. Some of Kevin’s mail was postmarked from over a month before, he said.

“I have IRS letters and bills that are now way past due.” He said he was forced to pay a $362 penalty to the NYS tax board. Nicole similarly received bills that were overdue by the time she opened the envelopes. Nicole, who receives medical prescriptions through the mail as well, now has severe qualms about relying on USPS for such important tasks: “It does make me nervous to refill my prescriptions because I usually order three months at a time and that’s expensive!”

The Planetarium Post Office’s issues are not unfamiliar to others on the Upper West Side. In fact, it has been so bad that Rosenthal wrote a complaint to the Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s office, saying that residents were forced to “frantically search” for vital mail. “We had been getting so many calls,” she said in an interview.

Chuck Zlatkin, the Legislative Political Director of the NY Metro Area Postal Union (the largest branch of the American Postal Workers Union), said that the issues that people on the Upper West Side and throughout the city are experiencing start from the very top of the USPS. “Fundamentally what people are seeing locally is really a national problem, a severe problem,” he said. Zlatkin specifically cited Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s ten year “back to basics” proposal which has been characterized as an austerity plan. The proposal, while saving the USPS more than $160 billion, will lead to “longer first-class delivery windows, reduced post office hours and higher postage prices,” The Washington Post reported. 

Zlatkin said that most union members are against DeJoy’s changes. “To many of them it’s more than just a job. They’re aware of how important that mail is,” he said. Workers at the Planetarium Post Office did not make any supervisors or administrators available for comment. A USPS spokesperson wrote in an email that “The postal service remains committed to working with our partners in government to resolve all stakeholders inquiries.”

The spokesperson said that it would not respond in more detail until it sends a letter back to Rep. Rosenthal.

Zlatkin asked for patience and understanding from customers: “They’re humans too, and we’re all hurt if people are turned off from using the postal service.”

NEWS | 79 comments | permalink
    1. Upper west Side Owl says:

      I know a few of the postal workers who work in the high 80s there a lot of stuff they cant mention but the big thing is it is the top doing damage to the system. This is a service it is meant to serve the public not make a profit. I suggest all Upper West Siders to call your reps and say to continue bothering the USPS higher ups to return the previous system that worked.

    2. Kenneth says:

      Our building receives mail distributed from the post office on W83rd. It is now not unusual that one day a week there is no mail delivery all. This started last fall.

      • Tracey Tetro says:

        The same has happened to all the residents in my building on West 85th Street. At least one to two days a week no one receives any mail. It’s seems to be getting worse instead of better.

        • Tracey says:

          I always know when our regular mail person, Randy is off or on vacation….Randy ALWAYS delivers the mail every day, on time and early!! The USPS needs more carriers like Randy!!

    3. John says:

      I live on West 63rd street and CPW and our mail is supper slow. Takes about 2 weeks to get mail from relatives in North Carolina and Boston. Some weeks the mail is only delivered 4 days a week usually skipping Wednesdays and Saturdays only packages come on those days.

    4. West 80s says:

      We noticed this too. Many days in a row with no mail at all. It was so strange we would remark on it. Now we see it’s not just us. Unacceptable.

    5. Judy Harris says:

      I want to praise our mail deliverer, YaYa. She is much earlier than our previous delivery people, and she goes out of her way to make sure I get certain things in a timely manner. She is very dedicated and friendly, and I hope will be part of the neighborhood for a long time.

      • Cato says:

        You’re very lucky. YaYa had been on our route for years but was recently moved. She’s terrific — actually knows the people who go with the names, she’s diligent and she takes her job very seriously. (I was afraid the USPS had fired her for just those reasons.)

        She also *loves* dogs and always carries treats so they love her too.

        YaYa has a real fan club, and she’s greatly missed on her old route.

      • Leon says:

        I think we might be amongst those transitioned to Ya Ya. Our mail has been coming much earlier for the past few months and on the rare occasion I see the delivery person, she fits the description given. We have had little or no problem with mail.

        On the other hand, going to the 83rd Street post office is usually a nightmare. There are a few decent people there but most personify the term “passive aggressive” and show zero sense of urgency. They have zero incentive to work hard.

    6. bernie says:

      Haven’t you people heard we are in the middle of a worldwide pandemic? Give these guys a break if you have to wait an extra few days for your mail.
      Keep double/triple masking and stay safe!

    7. NH says:

      The service is horrible and needs to be improved. They seem to service one customer per fifteen minutes – are often confused about basic things, including honoring appointments for passport services. Not placing blame on anyone in particular here – but going to this post office is a 2 out of 10 quality experience.

    8. MAD says:

      I’m on West 74th St. and we are part of the Ansonia P.O. district. Often, we have no mail delivered at all; some days we get a bunch of junk mail and a few first class pieces. It once took almost 30 days to receive a check from a client in Northern Virginia. Truly unacceptable!

      • Jay says:

        MAD:

        Except not getting mail on some days, everything else you complain about is not necessarily related to Ansonia Station.

        Also do you really mean to imply that lots of junk and a couple 1st class letters is a new thing?

        • MAD says:

          Jay, I only mentioned Ansonia Station because it’s the one that serves my neighborhood. Actually, I seldom get piles of junk mail, so to have it come in one big clump is rather unusual. And 30 days for a piece of first-class mail is not acceptable.

          • Jay says:

            MAD:

            And yet, I some times get piles of junk mail, same post office different street of residency.

            And again, the 30 days for a piece of first class mail may have nothing to do with the Ansonia Station.

    9. Wayne Z. says:

      Lived all over this great city of ours, and I must say the 83rd St PO is the worst I’ve ever had the displeasure of relying on. Undelivered mail, late mail, false ‘package delivered’ scans, no ‘package delivered’ scans, packages left in vestibule only to be stolen, etc.

    10. D says:

      This is not a new issue. This particular post office branch is by far the worst I’ve ever experience. Not only are the people who work their incredibly rude, some are just flat out incompetent and others are as lazy as can be. I feel like the Planetarium Branch is for postal workers who have failed in other offices and have been reassigned here. The bottom of the barrel.

    11. UWSRJ says:

      Our mail person stopped delivering to our building at one point last year, because we had turned off the vestibule light during the daytime. Apparently our mail person has eyesight issues.

      We’re happy to leave the vestibule light on, but we had to literally chase down the mail person to learn that this was what was going on.

      This is not remotely acceptable.

      And it definitely causes me to think that the less I rely on the post office, the better.

    12. Jay says:

      Planetarium Station has had a bad reputation for decades.

    13. Annie says:

      These personal anecdotes indicate that service from USPS is indeed unreliable and spotty for some residents. I live on Broadway and 70th within the Ansonia PO area. I keep track of incoming mail via informed Delivery and have never had any delays, missing mail, or no mail deliveries. Our longtime carrier, Sam, is on site every day delivering our mail. My building has over 350 units so I wonder how deliveries are handled by USPS management.

      • Dana says:

        Let me add to Annie’s praise of our mail carrier, Sam. He is a treasure. He was out on family care leave and delivery to our building suffered immediately. I’m sure my entire building was happy when Sam returned to his route recently. He’s been “our postman” for several years. He knows us all and is always cheerful.

    14. Fed Up says:

      All thanks to Former Guy’s appointment of Louis DeJunk Mail as Postmaster General, whose singular goal is to destroy our mail service. Winning!

    15. U.S. Male says:

      “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”
      Once true, but NOW there’s Postmaster General Louis “No-Joy” DeJoy who, according to CBS News, wants to slow the delivery-time from three days to six.
      DeJoy, a Republican donor with ZERO mail experience, was originally appointed by Trump in 2020, some say to destroy Trump’s anathema, voting-by-mail.
      Something else for which we can thank Donald.

    16. soldier says:

      “Chuck Zlatkin, the Legislative Political Director of the NY Metro Area Postal Union” blames “the top” – of course he does. The workers at the Planetarium station (federal employees whose paychecks kept coming during the pandemic) are horrible. When we went to complain about mail non-delivery, she accused us of lying, then called us “you people.” They are untouchable. Service like that does make one wish for privatization of USPS – it can’t get any worse.

      • soldier says:

        *She* – the station supervisor.

      • Jay says:

        soldier:

        “Service like that does make one wish for privatization of USPS – it can’t get any worse.”

        That’s the plan. Yes, it can get worse and more expensive.

        And no, privatization isn’t the answer. Look how well that works for medical insurance.

        The Planetarium Station has had a bad reputation for decades.

        Calmly list your complaints about your interactions with the manager at Planetarium Station, and the delivery failures you noted, specify dates. Keep the list to under a page. And send the letter (not email) to Jerry Nadler.

        • soldier says:

          You have choices with medical insurance. With USPS you do not. And judging how *well* the USPS – federal agency – works, I’ll take private any day.

      • Chuck Zlatkin says:

        Postal workers continued to receive their paychecks during the pandemic because they continued to work. They continue to deliver mail, go to work in mail precessions centers at night, while most people were home or quarantined. They had to work while under the stress of wondering if hey were exposing themselves to the virus, bringing it home to their families. The problem with the postal service is not the worker. Privatization means slower mail, higher prices, shorter hours at post offices and the elimination of home delivery. Yes, it can get worse and it will if privatized.

    17. Annoyed says:

      So many lies. We’ve been told that carriers don’t come in because they can’t get overtime. We had a nice carrier but she is out in disability. Not her fault but she needs to be reassigned to indoor job. We deserve a permanent carrier on our route. We get a new one every
      few days. Also told there is a hiring freeze. Don’t know what to believe. But clearly DeJoy has is destroying the postal service. It’s worse than a third world country on West 86 Street. Time to organize protests!

    18. West Ender says:

      The PO on 104th is the worst, hands down. Just have a look at their Yelp reviews. There is no incentive for anyone who works for the postal service to do a good job.

      • Julia says:

        But we haven’t had serious problems with mail delivery from this station. A little sloe but nothing major.

        • West Ender says:

          Speak for yourself. That PO is notorious for not delivering packages and/or lying about attempts to deliver packages. I believe they also had an issue with mail being stolen out of the mailbox in front of the station.

      • Zoe says:

        104 station is a nightmare. We often do not get mail, many items go missing, and when mail is delivered we often have items for other addresses! We take turns redelivering the, around the neighborhood but I can’t imagine everyone does this. Anyone that relies on mail service for bills, paychecks and prescriptions is at risk for sure.

        • West Ender says:

          My non-doorman building frequently gets mail and packages for residents of the non-doorman building next to us. (One time there was a W2!) I always take the mail or package to the neighboring building, but come on; shouldn’t a mail carrier pay attention to the address? If I made those kinds of basic errors at my job I would be on a PIP.

    19. Debbie says:

      I had the same problem … I got no mail for about a week in May … I had 5 bills that were late because I never got them. Thankfully, when I called the companies, they didn’t charge me a late fee. I live in upstate NY in a small town.

      • Boris says:

        Be patient. The mail carriers have a long walk from the Planetarium Station to your small upstate town.

    20. Truth and Reason says:

      I also live in the Plantation Station area (upper 70’s) and have Informed Delivery. Informed Delivery is supposed to be what you get in the mail THAT DAY. Since March of last year, it is not at all uncommon for some of the items in my alert to never arrive. I have also come to expect that it will take normally 2 to 3 days and sometimes a week for mail in any given day’s alert to show up.

      I also understand the people talking about the rudeness and unprofessionalism at Planetarium Station. I used to walk to Anasonia just because they were so disagreeable. I actually had a guy in Planetarium Station yell at me and call me stupid once. I do have to say, though, about two years ago, they got a whole lot nicer. I’m not sure if the bitch*er people retired or what.

    21. MAD says:

      I know this is off-topic, but anyone have flickering lights tonight around 6:30 p.m.?

      • lynn says:

        I realize this response is a day late, but yes, there was a little light show in my apt yesterday. The first thing I checked was the computer modem and it was resetting itself so the power must have gone out for a few seconds. 🙁

        • MAD says:

          Hi, Lynn. I got a response to a Facebook post I did yesterday night, and the post-er said that she thought there was a small tornado on West 63rd/64th and Freedom Place around 6:25 last night. Sounds like you were affected by it. Nothing here re-set.

    22. Ben B says:

      My experience dealing with the Planetarium Post Office is beyond reason. Incredibly poorly ran. I wish I could say I’m shocked reading this; but instead, this makes sense with the disorder I have experienced. I sincerely hope that the office becomes managed satisfactorily and I’m glad that this important issue is being aired.

    23. LK says:

      Planetarium is the Dick’s Last Resort of post office branches. We should make it a tourist attraction.

    24. A. S. says:

      Thank you to the West Side Rag for reporting this, and to Linda B. Rosenthal for taking action on behalf of the residents. I hope USPS roots out the problem at that mail center and fixes it.

      Our postal office is the Ansonia and they’re great, as is our regular mail carrier (thanks, Lisa!) and the others who cover our route.

    25. nathan lubow says:

      include 465 west end avenue in the complaint.

    26. Boris says:

      Complaints about bills going unpaid are a waste of time. Anyone who has internet access and is even mildly internet savvy (posting on the Rag) can see/get their bills online. The same goes for paying bills.

      • nemo paradise says:

        This is a classic “Let them eat cake” response.

        And every bit as ludicrous. “Our service sucks? Then use something else.” Hardly a survival strategy.

        Of course, the railroads put an end to the Pony Express, which is about where we are with the USPS. It survives today largely to serve a huge junk mail machine, which uses taxpayer dollars to finance its operation.

        • Boris says:

          If you frame it as the USPS saying that their service sucks so use something else, then your comment makes sense. But that’s not what’s going on here. People make routine decisions all the time among alternative methods of doing practically anything. It’s called having options.

          • nemo paradise says:

            Okay.

            “Their service sucks? Then use something else.”

            There. Fixed it for you. Next?

    27. Paul says:

      Our building in the Upper 70’s received no mail today at all. Last week we had a day as well where nothing was delivered. Guess I can’t complain since some people went weeks without any mail at all.

    28. UWSider says:

      Our PO is 104 and I have had several letters and packages go missing – never to arrive. They consistently deliver another apartments’ mail to our address, and we have days with no delivery. I have gone to the PO searching for packages, only to have them tell me my carrier was out, so no mail delivery that day. DO NOT go to them for passports. We arrived for our appointment to find out that they did not have a camera that day – there was no attempt to let us know, and asked us to go get a photo and come back. We had another engagement, so we had to reschedule three weeks later. Still do not have the passport from April 16.

    29. Patricia Lakin Koenigsberg says:

      This EXACT problem was experienced by our neighborhood on West 77th and 78th Street about one year ago when our beloved mail carrier retired. Until we got a regular appointed on our route, mail [not admitted by Planetarium PO] sat undelivered in the post office. When I called Rosenthal’s office I was told they couldn’t help. Thank you Jerry Nadler! I was in constant contact with someone from his NY office who finally was able to intervene and help. BUT–despite living on West 77th Street–I only go to the post office at Columbus at 68th Street as that post office is a joy to visit–competent and FRIENDLY staff–none of whom are behind bullet proof glass portions–Planetarium PO is notorious for being poorly managed.

    30. 72RSD says:

      It’s pretty rich to watch the USPS blaming longstanding service issues on the Postmaster General efforts to reign-in a highly unaccountable bureaucracy.

      Biden could fire the Postmaster General at any time. That he hasn’t suggests USPS really does need to go “back to basics”.

      • sudden_eyes says:

        The President cannot fire DeJoy. There is a board (currently heavily Republican) that can fire him. The President is in the process of appointing new members to that board.

    31. sudden_eyes says:

      Congratulations to those who get their mail from Ya-Ya! I too need to give a shout-out to Jenny, also working out of Planetarium. She works super-hard to get our mail to us!

      • Patty Lakin Koenigsberg says:

        Agree…there are many dedicated postal carriers especially at Planetarium, YaYa and Carla and in the past, our postal carrier Kathy…The problem occurs, in my experience, if a carrier is out sick or retires….good luck getting someone assigned to the route. That was our problem. When we were assigned someone, we posted welcome signs on our door and trust me, welcomed her with open arms. She, like the others mentioned are TRUE professionals.

    32. Newcavendish says:

      This is a real problem. I have not received parcels and letters expected from England for over a month. Ordinary bills that I am told by the senders have not arrived for weeks and weeks. It’s really quite intolerable. Trump hated the Post Office, but Biden should be trying at least to bring it up to a minimum standard. It has a long way to go. Obviously, there are structural problems. I’d give up Saturday delivery, for example, for more reliable basic service.

    33. Peter Bloch says:

      I live on the West Side with a different post office. Some times mail is a bit late but we have nothing like what’s described here. Clearly there’s a real problem with the Planetarium post office way beyond the generic slow down and covid difficulties

    34. linda says:

      I was told by my postmaster in the 60’s that there is a severe shortage in postmen/women and that he in fact had to serve more buildings in a day than usual. Apparently there is also a freeze in hiring.

    35. Vivian Chill says:

      Our former mail sorter was sorting mail that had been delivered the previous day. When asked what was going on she replied that many workers are “out sick” and not coming in. The Ansonia PO is extremely short staffed and our postman only works on Saturday. Otherwise, she is home, caring for her child. She said that the problem is in response to the Postmaster General.

    36. Janet W. says:

      President Biden would do this country an enormous favor & get rid of Trump ally Dejoy. He is preparing the way to end mail-in ballots for the Congressional midterm election & next Presidential election. Dejoy was placed in his position to help Donald Trump. He doesn’t care about postal workers or the US electorate. He only cares about ending mail-in voting.

    37. Erna Weber Daniel says:

      600 West End Ave. Also had weeks when there would be one or two days without mail delivery. Happy to receive the mail late rather then never…..

    38. Kathleen says:

      I lived on 84th Street for 7 years and this PO is the worst I’ve ever had to deal with. They were consistently slow and rude, seemed completely uninterested in helping and often seemed to intentionally take their time, making lines of customers wait. This has nothing to do with the pandemic, it’s been going on for years.

    39. Janet W. says:

      Regarding service from Cathedral Station @ 10025, several days in the past 4 weeks the deliverer forgot to lock the door on my side of the lobby mailboxes. First time 35, 2d time ca. 60 mailboxes were exposed & accessible to anyone who got into the lobby through our sensor-controlled “supermarket” doors. Complaints got the situation under control. NO word from the local PO manager. We don’t even deserve recognition for THEIR mistake – & what a mistake!

    40. Fran GROSS-ROSENTHAL says:

      This is not new. It has been happening for
      several years. I used to call Gale Brewer’s
      office. This is the worst post office in the
      city.

    41. J. Stadler says:

      The problems with the Planetarium Station has little to nothing to do with the Postal Service cuts. It is the worst, most disorganized, inefficient post office in the City. The workers there are pathologically inept. They constantly lose mail; their delivery people constantly deliver mail to the wrong apartments. Complaints are ignored. They are all in cahoots with each other to obfuscate, lie, deny and work as little as possible. I speak from personal experience. And trying to get the Post Master General to even consider doing anything about that particular office is hopeless.

    42. mh says:

      I’m on 75th Street and my mail delivery has been spotty since the start of the pandemic. But the people who work at the Ansonia post office are incredibly nice, helpful, as efficient as possible, and a pleasure to deal with. Giving credit where credit is due.

    43. Isabella says:

      It’s not just Planetarium Station that’s a problem. The post office at 700 Columbus Ave. has lines just about out the door every single time I’ve gone there in the past few years. It wasn’t always like this. When I am met by this ridiculous line I get on a bus and go to 67th and Columbus. It’s almost always a much shorter wait and much more helpful and pleasant postal employees as well. Trump’s anointed head of the post office needs to be removed asap before he completely dismantles the USPS! Which is precisely what he’s doing in order to privatize it. Linda Rosenthal needs to write to the President, not Mr. DeJoy.

    44. Robin says:

      I live on the south side of 86th Street between West End and Riverside. In addition to experiencing mail delivery issues since March 2020, our service has been compounded by the fact that our regular carrier has been out on disability for most, if not all, of this year. I was told by a neighbor that the USPS will not authorize overtime for workers who want to pick up extra shifts. Therefore, on many days of the week no one is available to deliver our mail.

      There’s got to be a better way, either hire new people or authorize the overtime.

    45. Missing Mail, too says:

      This has been going on for over a year on the southern border of 10024/10023. I lived in 10023 for 25 years – and never once had a problem (in the Ansonia PO district). Moved 5 blocks north to the edge of 10024 (the Plantarium’s jurisdiction) and delivery is scattershot at best. I got the “short-staffed” excuse multiple times, even when unemployment rates were recently at a peak. I also got some BS that our carrier was in an unrelated accident and couldn’t be replaced for over a year due to some contractual thing. Many times, we get mail after 9 pm as well, which means we have no regular carrier and they have to use a sub who starts at 5pm.

    46. Pluto 5 says:

      The planetarium post has that name because it is populated with the space aliens from the MIB series of films. It’s essentially an intergalactic UN. The reason it upsets them when actual UWS humans come in for postal service is because it takes them away from the work of trans-galactic diplomacy.

    47. David & Joaie says:

      We had YaYa on west 83rd street for a long time and we concur she ea the best ever.We miss her.

    48. Susan Katz-Serby says:

      1. Have to agree that delivery service from the Planetarium branch is dismal; we’ve suffered damaged and even empty envelopes addition to nondelivery.
      2. Unfortunately, serious flaws have existed for years and at other branches. In a medical building near Einstein in the Bronx, open unsorted bags of mail containing checks were left in the lobby. In Scarsdale, a diplomatic pouch bearing multiple passports disappeared from our branch while bags of vintage undelivered mail were discovered. All of this was more than 15 years ago.
      3 Finally, another SHOUT OUT to Yaya, who is not only the consummate professional mail carrier, but a joyous person and a dog whisperer beyond compare. (Worshipped by our dachshund.) Thank you, YaYa!