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‘Two-day shipping became two-week shipping’

Students are losing trust in the on-campus mail service after some packages have become delayed and damaged. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE


With the delayed arrival of sometimes damaged packages, many students are frustrated with the mail service on campus.

UPS, FedEx, DHL and other non-USPS carriers deliver directly to the residential mail centers that correspond to the residents’ housing assignment, according to Andrew Johnson, director of operations and outreach with Housing and Residential Education (HRE).

Johnson said the mail that is received is packaged the same day and residents are notified within three hours of when HRE shelves a package for pick up.

However, students are still reporting lost packages that are taking months to arrive.

Even with reputable brands like Amazon, resident Heather O’Connor wrote in a message that her “Amazon Prime two-day shipping became two-week shipping.”

“My contacts were supposed to come in five days but I didn’t get them for two weeks, so I was blind for about a week,” O’Connor said.

According to Johnson, the mail center has processed over 17,000 packages in 2019 so far and over 66,000 in the 2018-19 school year. HRE has employed two full-time staff members and approximately 60 student staff members in the two residential mail centers.

In order to keep up with growing demand, HRE has taken steps to prevent the delayed packages. In fall 2018, HRE added a Mail Center Supervisor, as well as four student leadership positions to help when the full-time staff are away from the residential mail centers, according to Johnson.

“HRE is consistently working with our various partners to increase the service level to our residents,” Johnson said. “The best thing residents can do to reduce frustration is to wait for the notification from HRE that their package is ready for pickup at their appropriate mail center.”

Summit resident Lily Eberhart said she ordered a package the Friday before fall move-in for marching band. She waited a week before contacting the mail service and said they kept “sending her around saying it would show up.”

“Eventually it got close to the first home football game when I needed it so I just ordered another one.” Eberhart said. “About a month later, I got an email saying I had a new package, and it was the item I ordered before classes started — with a shoe print on it.”

Though her next mail delivery was not damaged, Eberhart was taken by surprise when she opened the unexpected mail.

“(On Feb. 4) I got a letter that wished me a great end to my fall semester, and I was confused until I looked at the envelope and realized the post-mark date was (Nov. 23),” Eberhart said.

Eberhart said she is still waiting for a package she ordered on Sept. 16 that has yet to show up.

Other residents, such as Alekya Attanti, had a similar frustration with late packages.

“I waited probably three weeks and it was a textbook, so that sucked,” Attanti said.

Another student shared a similar sentiment.

“I’ve heard letters take longer for some reason. My mom sent me a letter and it came about 3 weeks later than it should have,” Erick Barnard said.

Johnson said the residential mail center receives any letter, magazine or package and  processes it the same day with packages. The average shelf time in which HRE notifies the recipient and when the recipient picks up the package is six to eight days. Currently, there are 1,287 packages in custody that haven’t been picked up.

“Once the package is processed via the USF post office, it is then delivered to the appropriate Residential Mail Center,” Johnson said. “HRE typically receives 300 to 400 pieces of USPS items that we classify as packages.  Every piece of letter mail, catalogue and package that HRE receives is sorted, logged and shelved before we close each day.”

Johnson said he understands the value of the mail students are ordering, however USF serves as a “small portion of the larger delivery system.”

“We know that it is birthday cards, medication, textbooks, flowers, furniture, a new cell phone or something else as equally as important and we place the same high value on the package as our residents and families do,” Johnson said.