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February 22, 2000

For The Harbinger, Y2K Means Unbelievably Slow Mail Service

by Edmund Tsang

In the most recent incident in which the bulk mailing procedure was changed, resulting in a rate increase for The Harbinger, the U.S. Post Office claimed that the change will lead to improved services for those who send materials by bulk mail. However, for The Harbinger, it's anything but. Prior to January 1, 2000, it took two to three days for a Harbinger paper sent via bulk mailing from the Post Office Station in downtown Mobile to reach one particular address in the 36604 zip code. However, the first issue of The Harbinger in Y2K sent via bulk mailing took ten days (excluding Sunday) to arrive at the same address from the downtown station; the second issue took fifteen days; and the third issue, mailed February 8, has yet to arrive at the same address by press time.

Karen Jackson of the Post Office's Customer Affairs Department informed The Harbinger in mid-January, 2000 that just because the Post Office took two to three days to deliver a Harbinger via bulk mailing prior to January 2000, it does not mean it will take the same amount of time for a piece of bulk mail to traverse the same route. In fact, Ms. Jackson said there is no deadline for materials sent via bulk mailing to arrive at any specific time. She asked for proof that Harbinger papers mailed to people in the 36604 zip code as well as to other zip codes, took equally long. In a later telephone interview in early February, Ms. Jackson acknowledged that it was unusual for a piece of bulk mail to take more than two weeks to go from the 36601 zip code to the 36604 zip code. She promised to speak to the quality improvement officer to determine why bulk mailing service for The Harbinger has deteriorated in Y2K.

In a telephone interview last week, Ms. Jackson said the quality improvement officer was out of the office because of illness when she tried to contact him, and therefore was unable to follow the traffic of a Harbinger mailed in early February to explain why two weeks had passed and the paper still had not made it to an address in 36604. Ms. Jackson promised to call the quality improvement officer again, and asked for the names and addresses of persons living in various zip codes who receive The Harbinger by mail, so the Post Office can follow their trails in the next Harbinger mailing.

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