In November 2015, the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Government Relations sent us a Congressional request regarding complaints with mail delivery and customer service operations at the Austin-McNeil Station, one of 14 Postal Service stations in Austin, TX. Customers complained about inaccurate and untimely mail delivery and unprofessional conduct at the facility.
The Austin-McNeil Station is in the Rio Grande District in the Southern area. In fiscal year (FY) 2015, this facility delivered over 20 million pieces of mail, including 780,394 packages, on 13 city and 14 rural delivery routes to 26,113 delivery points. The station also completed 136,805 retail customer service transactions. The Austin-McNeil Station has experienced a high level of management turnover, with eight different managers from June 2015 to January 2016.
During FY 2015, the Postal Service received 1,906 customer complaints about mail delivery and customer service at this facility. Of these complaints, 1,338 (70.2 percent) were about mail delivery – an increase of 23 percent over FY 2014.
Austin-McNeil Station management met with customers during a local homeowner’s association meeting in September 2015 to hear their complaints.
Our objectives were to evaluate delivery and customer service operations at the Austin-McNeil Station.
What The OIG Found
We identified significant deficiencies in the unit’s mail delivery and customer service operations. Specifically, we confirmed allegations of inaccurate and untimely mail delivery. Additionally, we identified 2,359 stop-the-clock scans performed after 7 p.m., 97 of which were falsely scanned at the station and an additional 2,262 of which were questionable. We referred these scans to our Office of Investigations for further review. Also, we observed four packages scanned as delivered although they remained at the station. Finally, 17 of the 1,338 customer complaints about mail delivery were not closed within 72 hours.
These deficiencies occurred due to supervisors scanning packages at the end of the day to avoid reporting delivery scan failures and a high level of management turnover. Also, management and station personnel misunderstood complaint resolution policies and failed to maintain customer complaint logs.
These deficiencies negatively impacted customer service and likely contributed to the 23 percent increase in customer complaints about mail delivery from FY 2014 to FY 2015.
In January 2016, while our audit was in process, the Postal Service filled the vacant station manager position. The new station manager implemented corrective actions to improve customer service, such as creating undelivered package and customer complaint logs, and emphasizing the importance of following up on packages held in the station.
What The OIG Recommended
We recommended the manager, Rio Grande District, ensure management understands its responsibility for overseeing mail delivery, package scanning and reporting requirements; re-emphasize that the customer complaint log should be maintained and complaints should be addressed promptly; and clarify the district’s policy for resolving and closing customer complaints.