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Mail issues plague Lombard Road businesses

LOMBARD – Several businesses in Lombard say they've experienced chronic poor mail delivery service for at least the past year and in many cases, longer.

The charges come about a year after the Lombard post office was inundated with complaints about spotty service. Unlike last year, however, the fresh complaints cannot be chocked up to the weather.

Jozie Kiyabu, an employee at B. Haney and Sons at 1200 N. Lombard Road, said her issues with the mail service have nothing to do with the company's regular carrier, but "more to do with the management of the post office."

Whenever the regular carrier is off, the mail comes late and sometimes it simply doesn't come, Kiyabu said. Employees at three other businesses in the area also reported late mail, days without delivery and missing mail.

"We've had customers come here and drop off contracts because they don't trust the mail," Kiyabu said.

She said her company has experienced these problems for at least two years.

"We started noticing we were having some issues, and part of it was our mail carrier has been with the post office a long time, and any day he is on vacation or anything like that, our mail would always be late that day," said Terri Tihlarik, accounting administration manager for Yorke Print Shoppe, 930 N. Lombard Road.

Like Kiyabu, Tihlarik said there also have been times when her business did not receive any mail at all – and they aren't the only ones to make that complaint.

"Sometimes it's a couple of days that we don't get our mail," said Joyce Nemecek, a sales associate at the Chicago Roll Company, 970 N. Lombard Road.

Nemecek said poor mail service has affected her company for at least the last year.

"I would say that the trouble in the mail delivery times has been one that we've been plagued by for almost two years now, maybe a little less," said Ed Walendy, finance manager for Green Horizon, 960 N. Lombard Road.

The problem became so bad that Walendy now drives his mail to the U.S. Postal Service distribution center in Carol Stream. It's an inconvenient solution, but one that has alleviated the problem, he said.

The impact poor mail service has on day-to-day operations of Tihlarik's business is "devastating," she said, adding her company has considered having its mail sent to an address in Addison to bypass the service in Lombard.

All employees say they or others at their respective companies have contacted the post office repeatedly to complain about the issue.

Lombard Village Manager Scott Niehaus said his department has received two complaints about poor mail service since December 2014. But that doesn't mean more residents or businesses haven't experienced problems, he said.

Part of the issue, Niehaus said, is that it's not clear whom exactly residents or businesses should complain to at the post office.

"If I went to the park district, the school district or any other town, someone at the counter would say, 'Here's who you need to talk to,' and they'd give me the name, email and phone number of the person in charge," he said. "Trying to get that information from the post office is a mystery."

If businesses can't find a resolution by working with the post office directly, Niehaus suggested they contact their U.S. representative to make a formal complaint – something Kiyabu has already done.

Beverly Howard, USPS customer relations coordinator for the Chicago suburbs, said anyone with complaints about mail delivery should call 1-800-275-8777.

"That way they can get it reported and documented, and it will be in our database for anyone to view it," she said.

Howard said the reason a slew of businesses between 900 and 1200 North Lombard Road have cause to complain is due to the occasional absence of both a regular and permanent substitute carrier.

Unlike city carriers, mail carriers in more rural communities, like Lombard, are required to sort through the mail on their route before they go out for delivery, Howard said. A carrier unfamiliar with the area will take longer to sort the mail properly, she said.

Howard said the post office apologizes for the poor service that has plagued businesses in the area and she said officials there plan to pay extra attention to the route.

But an apology does little to alleviate the strain that delivery lags and lapses have placed on the area's businesses.

"To be a business owner in this area, it's literally: Do we put our building up for sale and go elsewhere?" Tihlarik said. "It's to that point."

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