PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — One day recently, Al Gameos got mail in Wilkinsburg, but none of it was his.
“I got three different pieces of mail from three different streets,” he said.
On the Northside, Paul Pongrace says mixed up mail has forced people to become carriers themselves.
“People in the area are walking from one street to another street basically delivering their own mail,” he said.
But perhaps most shocking is Kevin Whalen’s experience: his wife saw their mail carrier putting something in their garbage can.
“So I came outside lifted up the lid and all this mail was in here,” he said.
KDKA’s Andy Sheehan: “He just dumped the mail in the garbage?”
Whalen: “Just dump the mail in the garbage and he actually made an attempt to hide it. He actually put it down alongside and under a bag.”
The Postal Service says if it’s true, that’s not OK.
“If that individual is guilty of what has been alleged here, he or she is going to face serious consequences,” said Tad Kelley with the US Postal Service.
The postal service here in Pittsburgh is investigating all of these incidents. But we wanted to know: is this isolated or part of a larger problem?
“Pittsburgh is a great city for service,” Kelley said.
The Postal Service says our region has one of the best delivery percentages in the nation — 97 percent. But since we aired our first story on mail problems in the city’s east end, we’ve gotten more complaints about lost bills, checks and important notices.
SHEEHAN: “You do acknowledge that you’ve hired a lot of part-time employees. There is sort of a learning curve.”
KELLEY: “There’s no question about it, there’s no question about it. We’ve had a lot of retirees.”
With less demand and greater competition, the postal service nationwide has shrunk from 800,000 to 500,000 workers. The postal service has replaced longtime mail carriers with new employees who are part-time and paid less. And many of the complaints involve the part-timers.
“They’re being trained and there’s a learning curve to this job,” Kelley said. “It’s not the easiest job to do, it’s a physical job. But it’s a job folks take very much pride in and there are circumstances where we have poor service and for those, we want to apologize and we want to correct them.”
The smaller workforce has also resulted in a consolidation of sorting center centers — another possible reason for misdirected mail like a letter mailed in Wilmington, Dela. to the internal revenue service in Hartford Connecticut which was delivered to a house on Beacon Street in Squirrel Hill. But Kevin Whalen says there’s no excuse for mail being delivered to his garbage can.
“I can’t say this is all the time,” he said, “but just for it to even happen once I think is once too often.”
The postal service says it investigated and the carrier admitted to throwing away the mail and has been fired.