By Woodrow Polston
An incident involving lost utility bills for the city of Vandalia last month caused confusion as residents did not receive their monthly bill. City Administrator Darren Berry explained to the board of aldermen that he had been working with Vandalia Postmaster Ryan Eskew, to determine the cause of the problem.
“I mentioned how I had been working with Postmaster Ryan Eskew and how he was working on finding out what had happened,” said Berry. “The problem was not with our local post office but with the St. Louis branch,” he explained.
Berry had invited Eskew to the meeting and requested that he explain to the board of aldermen what he had discovered in his investigation concerning the missing mail.
“First of all, thank you for having me here tonight,” said Eskew. “I want to be the first to apologize for this incident. We dropped the ball on this one. It was the post office’s fault as a result of human error. Typically, when something like this happens it is a machine related error, as we run millions of letters through them on a daily basis. This issue resulted from error at the St. Louis facility,” he added.
After it was discovered that customers would not be receiving their bills, that information was posted immediately to the Vandalia city website and social media outlets. Eskew said that Vandalia was not the only city that was affected by the mistake.
“There were others who did not receive their mail around the same time. These items were misplaced and eventually located after a search of the facility. We have been asked by customers why it is that we do not keep the utility bills here in Vandalia. The reason is because of the volume of mail pieces and budget that we have to work with,” said Eskew.
To help give a better understanding of the process, Eskew described in detail the steps that are involved with delivering the local mail items.
“The city has an account with us, and they bring in all city bills to us. We receive approximately 1,340 bills that go in and out of town. We expedite this process. They all go into the system and are labeled as utility bills. They have to go out of town for several reasons. One reason is for all the mail pieces to be counted. We also have some of our customers who utilize informed delivery, which alerts them every morning by email to inform them of what they are going to be receiving in the mail that day. Concerning this issue, I have been assured that it will not happen again. Unfortunately, there is no postage credit for the city. The only thing that we guarantee is express mail. If there are any concerns, I have told Darren that my door is open and will be more than happy to talk with our customers,” said Eskew.
Discussion was also had about Eskew’s concerns with address numbers being visible on houses or mailboxes, and a four-way street that needs stop signs added. Eskew added that not only would these things be beneficial to postal workers but would serve as a safety measure for residents in the event of an emergency call for help.