Rural mail has been a concern to Senator Lisa Murkowski as of late. KDLG’s Chase Cavanaugh has more.
Responding to Dillingham complaints about delayed packages, Senator Lisa Murkowski recently wrote to FedEx CEO Frederick Smith. In the letter she expressed her concern about how the company handles packages to small rural towns. Spokesman Michael Felling says the problem comes down to PO boxes.
“FedEx has a different system from the United States Postal Service, and when you get a package from Anchorage, from Seattle, out to Dillingham, it’s like a relay race, and in the last leg of the race, FedEx passed the baton to the United States Postal Service. FedEx, when they were getting addresses to send items to, sometimes they would do PO Boxes and sometimes they would do street addresses. They didn’t realize that in some rural Alaska locations, there are no street addresses, and if something comes through in the United States Postal Service, that has a street address on it, the post office rule is to mark it as undeliverable and send it back.”
Despite this mail being technically undeliverable, postmasters have done their best to get parcels to the appropriate PO boxes if they know where the person lives. When they aren’t sure of the recipient, however, that can cause significant delays, even on expedited packages.
In their response to Murkowski, FedEx said they are inserting PO Boxes onto address labels instead of undeliverable street addresses before the handoff to USPS. The company says they contact the consumer for the box number, but admit that if not reached immediately the recipient’s package may be delayed, but not returned. Felling credits the people of Dillingham for establishing this line of dialog.
“It was basically the people of Dillingham coming to Senator Murkowski with this information and they flipped the light switch, and all of a sudden, the light bulb went on over their head, and they said, “Listen, we need to change things a little bit because we need to commit to Alaskans that we get this material to them.” Hats off to the people of Dillingham for raising this issue and making sure that FedEx and the United States Postal Service is a little bit more aware, and taking the matter seriously enough to have a task force so that they have as few slides through the process as possible.”
Murkowski said she looks forward to the task force’s solution, and pledged to continue working with both FedEx and the Postal Service to ensure rural mail gets delivered on time.