Today’s round of questions, my smart-aleck replies and the real answers:
Question: Mail service in Asheville seems unreliable. Using the U.S. Postal Service’s Informed Delivery service, I get notifications about pieces of mail that should be delivered to my home mailbox. I’ve been told that the images of the expected mail pieces are captured at the point the mail is posted, not when it’s received by the destination post office. We have lived in Asheville a couple of years now, and there have been numerous pieces of mail that show up in the Informed Delivery notification but are never delivered to our house. There is no way for the USPS to track these pieces of mail if they are just sent first class, rather than using registered or other more costly options. Besides mail that just disappears, I’ve had mail delivered weeks late. One recent letter was postmarked March 21 and it was delivered on April 19. This letter was sent from an address in Asheville to my home, also in Asheville. I know our mail is processed through Greenville, South Carolina, which adds some time. However, I’m concerned that there are some flaws in the system that allows items to be lost and never accounted for. Do other people have this problem? If so, what can be done to troubleshoot the delivery problems and correct them?
My answer: See, this is why I signed up for the Postal Service’s “Don’t Want to Know” mail delivery service. If you have no expectations, you’re not disappointed.
Real answer: U.S. Postal Service spokesperson Philip Bogenberger explained how this is supposed to work, and usually does.
“Customers who sign up for Informed Delivery receive an email each day with images of mail that should arrive in their mailbox soon,” Bogenberger said via email. “Those images are captured during mail processing when the mailpiece goes through an automated machine.”
Informed Delivery is free for all customers who sign up, by the way.
“Most customers in Asheville are receiving normal delivery,” Bogenberger said, adding that they will monitor delivery for the address of the reader who sent me the question. “Customers who don’t receive mail that appears in their Informed Delivery or who have delivery questions should contact their local Post Office or call 1-800-ASK-USPS.”
If you think mail theft is occurring, file a report with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at www.uspis.gov
As far as the mail processing going on in Greenville, South Carolina, that is correct. The USPS shifted mail processing to Greenville from Asheville in 2012, so our mail does indeed go down the mountain and come back up, just to make it across town.
But, that should not be contributing to poor service, Bogenberger said.
“A point of clarification, mail processing in Greenville, S.C., should not impact delivery times due to its proximity to Asheville,” Bogenberger said.
Asheville and Greenville are about 65 miles apart.
Question: I’m traveling out of the country this summer and reached out to the Buncombe County Health Department to schedule a vaccine appointment. The immunization clinic said the county was no longer doing foreign travel vaccinations and referred me elsewhere. When did that change, and why?
My answer: These kinds of inconveniences are the main reason I don’t travel overseas. Well, that and having no money …
Real answer: As with so many delightful developments over the past few years, blame COVID.
“The Buncombe County Health and Human Services Immunization Clinic stopped offering Foreign Travel services during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to shift resources and staffing to necessary pandemic response efforts,” Health Department spokesperson Stacey Wood said via email. “Foreign Travel is not a mandated public health service, and there are several local clinics that provide this service.”
The Health Department provides this information about clinics that offer the vaccines for foreign travelers:
- Advanced Occmed Asheville — Tel. 828-505-7033.
- Mission Infectious Disease Associates Asheville — Tel. 828-213-7660.
- American Family Care Urgent Care Arden — Tel. 828-641-0960.
- Passport Health, Greenville S.C. — Tel. 864-631-2268.
The vaccine service stoppage in Buncombe may not be permanent.
“While foreign travel services are not mandated, we hope to be able to resume this clinic if the resources needed to support this service are approved,” Wood said.
Got a question? Send it to John Boyle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 828-337-0941.