BENNINGTON — On the morning after the Banner announced it would be switching to home delivery via the US Postal Service, residents clapped back at the paper with emails and calls, saying Bennington Post Office is skipping mail deliveries and that it was inadvisable to switch to USPS in its current state.
Margaret Sumner, of Harrison Avenue, who sent us a note Wednesday, writes: “This is a terrible time to be believing that mailing the paper insures it will be delivered daily. ... We often go two or three days with no mail delivery. Please reconsider!”
Selma Milchen says: “We at the west end of Bennington have not had a Saturday delivery of mail for 5 weeks. If this continues, we will not receive the Saturday paper, with all its ads, until Monday, if then. This is unacceptable! ... It is a shame to encourage [Postmaster General Louis] DeJoy by increasing the revenue of the USPS.”
Subscriber Tom Blakely says: “I was just wondering if you are aware of the USPS delivery issues we are experiencing in Bennington recently. We sometimes go 2-3 days without any mail delivery, and when it does come it’s usually 7 p.m. or later. Packages that are marked ‘out for delivery’ often arrive days later. I hope you have better luck with Banner deliveries!”
“I would note that for the last year, USPS mail delivery has been very inconsistent,” adds Banner subscriber Mike Thompson. “In fact, my business and home has regular stretches of time where no mail is received for at least 2 days, often more.”
USPS Strategic Communications Specialist Steve Doherty didn’t respond to a request for an interview with the Banner. Doherty did reply by email, seeming surprised that neighborhood routes were experiencing days without mail deliveries.
“I’m not sure what you mean by ‘down routes’?” replied Doherty to a question on why residents weren’t receiving mail routinely.
He did acknowledge that the pandemic did cause excess pressure on the USPS. “During the pandemic our routine has been anything but typical and we have faced pockets of issues with employee availability,” he said.
Doherty said carriers might be off because of sick leave, vacations, military leave or for other reasons; the Banner asked Doherty how many USPS staffer were out, but had not heard back by press time.
He added that personnel from neighboring offices would be made available to deliver routes as needed, but how many USPS personnel have been transferred to this region is still unclear.
Some carriers are delivering portions of other routes in addition to their own route, for overtime pay, said Doherty.
“This may result in mail being delivered (as one of your readers alluded to) into the evening hours,” said Doherty.
He said the USPS is committed to first class service. He also said the agency is hiring.
Jordan Brechenser, publisher of the Banner, said Vermont News & Media, the paper's parent company, is working with the Post Office "to ensure our agreed same-day delivery would occur as planned, not only on the local level, but with the district office as well.
"All options are on the table, and our major concern is assuring our readers get their newspaper daily," said Brechenser on Wednesday.
“We are currently hiring for the holiday season and beyond. Readers considering a job with the Postal Service can visit usps.com/careers and search, by state, for positions in their area,” Doherty wrote.
The Banner could not ascertain when the USPS expected to stabilize its staffing in town and elsewhere in the region.