USPS: We're Working on Fixing Service Problems

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WASHINGTON--A postal official acknowledged yesterday that there have been several service problems around the country but said the agency is working to fix them.

Problems have been reported in Southern California, Florida, St. Louis "and a little bit in Chicago," Paul Vogel, USPS vice president of network operations, said at the MTAC meeting. "We know where those problems are. There is nothing systematic about those places. It's not a nationwide catastrophe. Slowly but surely, they are coming back to life."

Vogel said Deputy Postmaster General Pat Donahoe has created a 24-Hour Clock Process focus that involves daily communication back to headquarters about any problems -- followed by immediate plans to make sure they are corrected.

Vogel also reiterated the fact that the closing of facilities in conjunction with last year's consolidation and transfer of processing operations from Marina del Ray, CA, to Los Angeles and Long Beach had nothing to do with service problems in the Los Angeles area.

In a presentation earlier, Vogel offered an overview of the Evolutionary Network Development program, which will phase out facilities that handle single products, such as bulk mail centers and international service centers, and create regional distribution centers focusing on shape-based processing.

Vogel also said the postal service had a smooth holiday season last year, with an increase in volume but no service problems. Unlike other years, the USPS saw an influx in mail the week after Christmas.

"The week after Christmas was extremely heavy, particularly in packages, and this is the first year we've really seen that much volume the week after Christmas," he said.

The only explanation officials could come up with, Vogel said, was that there may have been a lot of online shopping happening on Christmas Day. The USPS ran into "a little bit of a problem as a result of the influx of volume, because by then "I had taken down the [holiday] network. But FedEx was able to step up and give us a lift."

As a result, Vogel said, "we have to do better the week after Christmas. This is a learning process we are in."

Vogel also offered an update of mail service in New Orleans and said it was getting back on track. The area will have a new processing and distribution center, and operations at the new processing plant are expected to resume in the spring.

Melissa Campanelli covers postal news, CRM and database marketing for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

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