Special Investigation: A Mail Mess

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) -- Two weeks ago, WAVY's Deanna LeBlanc reported on a Virginia Beach neighborhood that was fed up with mail mix-ups.

"In the last couple weeks, there have been days where we haven't gotten it at all," one resident, Shannon Dodd told 10 On Your Side on Jan. 19.

That's when we started digging, first focusing specifically on the Sherwood Lakes neighborhood.

"It's kind of become the neighborhood joke. Like, did you get mail today?" Dodd said.

Neighbor after neighbor echoed Dodd's concerns. Others raised issues with a service they pay for: Two-day shipping with Amazon Prime. They say their packages track as though they've been delivered, but that's not the case.

"It tells us it's been delivered, and that's it. So we go out and look, and there's nothing," Shay Weaver said.

After 10 On Your Side aired the report on Sherwood Lakes' concerns, we got complaints from all across Hampton Roads.

More than 200 Facebook comments on our story came in, plus emails to ReportIt@wavy.com and calls. WAVY News found that a majority of the complaints seemed to be concentrated in Virginia Beach.

Neighbors in Chimney Hill, Pungo, Princess Anne, West Neck and Foxfire -- all in the 23456 zip code -- told 10 On Your Side they experience similar issues. They are all serviced by the Princess Anne post office, located in the Virginia Beach Municipal Center.

With important tax documents being mailed out this month, many have raised concerns about identity protection.

"It leads you to wonder, what else is out there being lost? Or are we getting all of our bills in a timely manner? Any number of things could be happening and it's very concerning," said Sheri Husser.

Husser waited 20 days for a two-day delivery of her passport.

Many, like Husser, tell 10 On Your Side they tried to get help from local management.

"The supervisor from the Princess Anne post office wrote me the comment and said they would work on this, they are aware of the problem and it would be taken care of, but we're still having issues," said Barbara McCombs-Conley, who lives in West Neck.

Another West Neck neighbor, Vincent Estes, says his wife also called the post office, but they did not get any answers.

After WAVY's first report, Freda Sauter, a USPS spokeswoman told 10 On Your Side, "local management is investigating these issues" and that the investigation allowed local management to identify and correct processes concerning mail service to Sherwood Lakes and surrounding areas.

Then, 10 On Your Side told her how the complaints had grown. Sauter said in a statement this week:

The Postal Service has deployed a special team to monitor operations. Management continues to train, coach and mentor new employees and are communicating with all employees daily about mail operation policies and procedures. We also continue to review customer inquiries filed online at usps.com or by phone at our Customer Care Center. "

Sauter also said the local post offices are not experiencing staffing issues. When asked about the Amazon Prime complaints, she said, "This is not a common practice. We will follow up to make sure all mail is properly scanned."

Several people living in two neighborhoods in the Princess Anne section of the city have expressed their own issues. They reached out to 10 On your Side after saying they couldn't get answers themselves.

Thursday, Congressman Scott Taylor spoke to 10 On Your Side and said he has reached out to the USPS Office of the Inspector General to look into what's going on.

In 2016, the Inspector General's office received enough citizen complaints about misdirected and late mail in Northern Virginia that they opened an audit and found deficiencies.

If you've experienced issues, you can call the USPS helpline at 804-775-6313 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can also file a complaint with the Office of the Inspector General or call Congressman Scott Taylor's office at 202-225-4215.

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