BETHESDA, Md. (WJLA) - There are more reports of local residents not receiving their mail because postal carriers are being told to end their day at 6 p.m. sharp.
The issue is impacting hundreds of households across Northwest D.C. and Montgomery County. Some residents are missing medication, packages with valuables, tax documents, and even college acceptance letters.
"Inconsistency is the consistent thing about this neighborhood," Laurie Gross pronounced.
Gross, who lives along the 6000 block of Kirby Road in Bethesda's Whittier Woods neighborhood, hasn't seen a single piece of mail since Wednesday Feb. 12.
"I have prescriptions that are supposed to come by mail. I've called the post office daily and ultimately came to realize there's nothing I could do about it," Gross added.
Around the corner, an expanding package of frustration sits on Lisa Rizzolo's front stoop. Like Gross, Rizzolo has been cut-off from snail mail for seven days now.
"I'm incredibly annoyed," Rizzolo, who manages a video production company, remarked. "People keep saying, 'the check's in the mail,' and I don't know if I'm ever going to get it."
In fact, dozens of residents in Bethesda's 20817 zip code have taken their frustration to community list serves, including "Hillmead Bethesda."
"The supervisor says all the mail is out for delivery, at the same time the carrier says it's back at Westlake? So where the heck is it," one resident wrote. "This is ridiculous. I can't believe even USPS is this incompetent," another homeowner quipped.
The National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Capitol Branch 142, which represents USPS employees across Washington D.C., Montgomery County and Prince George's County, says such widespread non-existent service is utterly unacceptable.
"Nobody in this area should go seven days without mail," Capitol Branch 142 President Robert Williams said. "Your [ABC7] reporting yesterday has caused a shake-up. You know what I'm saying? They [USPS management] got to respond to this."
On Wednesday, local mail carriers told ABC7, USPS management recently began ordering them to clock-out by 6 p.m. The mandate has forced many postmen to leave work with piles of mail undelivered. Consequently, homes from Foggy Bottom to Potomac, most near the end of mail routes, have gone without letters and packages for up to seven days.
"Is there any written documentation of this edict," ABC7's Kevin Lewis asked Williams. "No and there won't be," Williams replied. "Why's that," Lewis prodded. "Because nobody's going to put that in writing," Williams added. "How come," Lewis asked further. "Because you may as well have a rope tied around it. Nobody in management is going to put that on a piece of paper," Williams answered.
There may be no paper trail, but mail carriers say their managers have harassed them in daily text messages.
One text provided to ABC7 reads:
"All carriers are to be back 17:30 - finished or not..."
When questioned about such a decree, a USPS spokeswoman repeatedly denied the federal agency is slashing employee hours at the cost of dependable service. Instead, she blamed the recent widespread issues on mother nature.
"As a result of last week's snowstorm, we did experience some isolated areas where delivery could not be made. We apologize to those customers whose mail delivery was impacted as a result of the storm," USPS spokeswoman Laura Dvorak said.
"Are you kidding me," a veteran mail carrier speaking anonymously said in reply. "Sure the weather was a problem last Thursday, but not on Friday, Saturday, Tuesday, Wednesday and now today [Thursday]."
With little assistance from the post office, residents have flooded members of congress, including Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), with calls and emails (in lieu of letters). A source close to Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) confirmed Capitol Hill staffers had been in communication with the "highest levels of the USPS." By close of business Thursday, Van Hollen's office was preparing a delegation letter to the Postmaster General on the issue.
"The Congressman [Van Hollen] finds this situation to be unacceptable and has demanded that the USPS rectify the lack of mail delivery service immediately," a Rep. Van Hollen staffer wrote in an email to a concerned Bethesda resident.
"I'm not necessarily annoyed with the mail carriers, I'm annoyed at the process. Something is wrong with what they're being told to do and I'm forced to deal with it," Rizzolo, who still had no mail Thursday evening, concluded.