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Dear editor: USPS consolidation would 'murder' Hickory

May 25, 2011

Dear editor:
I oppose all attempts by the U.S. Postal Service to consolidate the Hickory Processing and Distribution Facility into the Greensboro plant over 80-plus miles away.
From December 1994 until November 2010, I worked as a clerk for the USPS in the Hickory P&DF. I am now retired and live in Hickory. Retirement hasn't altered my dependence on the USPS; prompt and secure deliver is still important to me, especially for First Class, Priority, Certified and Express. Until last year, I believed Hickory was a wonderful growing community due, in large part, to our Hickory Plant which processed both incoming and outgoing mail, and which always prided itself on its prompt and efficient delivery of service.
Last year, at the Hickory Town Meeting, Postal officials informed all who attended that, according to legal requirements, the Postal Service must announce its Area Mail Processing study, and that it might move Hickory's Outgoing Mail operatiosn to Greensboro, 80-plus miles away. However, officials hastened to assure us that there would be "NO negative impact on mail services in the 286 areas.."
Soon after that, we discovered that "might" was Postalspeak for "this is already a done deal." To the surprise of few and the sorrow of many, our plant lost Outgoing operations, and the delivery of my mail tanked. Overnight mail (from 286 to 286) has regularly gone from seven to 12 days. That's right, contrary to Postal assurances of no negative impact, a First Class letter I send from Hickory to Hickory (or Hickory to Lenoir, or Hickory to Hudson), which used to be delivered next day, now takes seven to 12 days, and sometimes, it never reaches its destination at all.
During this year's Town Meeting, USPS officials promised the same "no negative impact on delivery of mail service in the 286 area if the (current) AMP study results in shutting down the Hickory Processing Plant."
To boot, they acted incredulous when people told them of degraded mail service in the 286 areas since the 2020 consolidation of Outgoing Mail operations from Hickory to Greensboro. The Greensboro officials stood there and told us that this was the first they heard of bad service, since their outside IBM surveys keep showing that Hickory is always high in EXFC scores relating to timely delivery service. They said that no one was calling 800 numbers for Customer Service (and sort of ignored those at the meeting who said they had contact Customer Service and had received no help).
The Greensboro officials mentioned that, in order to keep scores high, they had to downgraded delivery time from overnight to two days, or three days to nine days. But they absolutely guaranteed "no negative impact."
Then answering a question raised by Mr. Michael Willard, representing The Observer News Enterprise, about continued timely newspaper delivery because there would be no more Hickory P&DF plant. In my opinion, that admission does not correspond with "no negative impact on delivery service to the 286 area."
All night we heard the words "good business" and "bad business" practices, and not one utterance of "service." When I was growing up, Americans were called "patrons" of the USPS; now we are labeled "customers." I prefer the former.
However, if Congress and the USPS officials choose to think fo the Postal Service as a business, then change the name to USPB, U.S. .Postal Business. Let all Americans understand our government's intentions — to downgrade (or eliminate completely) mail service to Rural America and concentrate only on Corporate America, where the money is.
But, if members of Congress continue to support Postal management's decisions to destroy the sanctity of rural mail delivery, in this case, to close the Hickory P&DF, in order to save a few million doillars (which, by their own admissison at last week's Town Meeting in Hickory, was only so much chump change with regard to the big national picture), then I believe this move brings us closer to the death of rural America. Certainly it will surely guarantee that no sane business would consider moving to a town with no viable timely mail delivery service. One might go so far as to say that closing the Hickory Plant would equal the murder of the town of Hickory and its inhabitants by the Postal Service's overriding desire to save some money.
Please, please do not consider supporting consolidation of Hickory Plant into Greensboro. Let the plant remain, with its excellent service record, and allow the 80-plus towns in the 286 area the chance to recuperate in this horrific economy.
Elizabeth M. Eckert
Hickory

Editor’s note: The USPS will accept public comment on Area Mail Processing for the 286 area and plans to consodliate mail processing into Greensboro until June 1.
To voice your opinion on mail processing anf the consolidation plan, send comments to:
Consumer Affairs Manager
USPS Greensboro District
PO Box27499
Greensboro, N.C. 27498-9631

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