Postal Service improvement leads to mailbox mix-up

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A southwest Bakersfield woman complained Friday that she couldn't get her mail after the Postal Service put in a new community mailbox. The local postmaster said it was a simple mistake, and it's been fixed.

The problem happened in the 4000 block of Woodton Avenue. On Thursday, the Postal Service took out two old "cluster box units," and consolidated those into one newer unit. Those are the community mailboxes where a number of families pick up mail from one location.

The viewer who contacted Eyewitness News said she was never notified about the change and never got a key for the new box.

However, another family on the block said they got a letter and several sets of keys in their old mailbox, and the transition went just fine.

"We got it, I think, about a week ago," Dianna Ramon said. "They informed us that they were going to make a new mailbox, because our last one was vandalized."

The letter from the Postal Service announced the plan to "replace your current mail receptacle with a new tamper-resistant cluster box unit," and the post office apologized for any inconvenience.

Ramon said when she went for the mail Thursday afternoon, sure enough, their old mailbox was gone. A new and bigger one was across the street. The letter had given them a new box number in that unit, and the keys. They worked, and she picked up the mail.

It didn't turn out that way for the customer who called Eyewitness News. Bakersfield Postmaster David Morrison said that problem was an oversight by the postal worker who set up the new cluster box.

"When they set it up, they skipped the cell when they were arranging the addresses," Morrison said. The worker missed that one address in the old box and didn't assign the customer a slot in the new one. That's apparently why the customer didn't get the notification or new keys.

"I was made aware of it this morning," Morrison said. "It's been fixed."

Checking on that block, one other neighbor told Eyewitness News he was surprised at all the work the post office did. He had questions and had a hard time getting them answered. But, his key works and he got his mail just fine.

Another family said they got the notice letter and new keys delivered by hand under their door. The postmaster said he was unaware of a situation like that.

The postmaster said the change was made to consolidate the two older locations and provide a better mailbox for customers.

Ramon is pleased with the results, they had problems with the old cluster box.

"My mom even had some of her mail stolen," Ramon said. "If it helps our mail from being stolen, then I think it's a pretty good thing."