Riverton Post Office Hours Cut Back, SeaTac Councilwoman Fights Back

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by Ralph Nichols

Thursday morning (Feb. 17), while dropping a letter into the outside mailbox at the U.S. Postal Service Riverton Heights station at 15250 32nd Ave. S. in SeaTac, I noticed something different.

The last daily mail collection time was listed as 6 p.m., not 8 p.m. as it has been since the midnight collection was eliminated a few years ago.

I was on my way to a meeting and it slipped from my mind – until SeaTac City Councilwoman Pam Fernald called about an hour later with the news.

“As of February 28, 2011,” Fernald told me – and is informing SeaTac residents in a letter, “the Riverton Heights Branch post office is planning to change their hours of operation during the week to close at 6 p.m. rather than close at midnight as it currently does.”

The USPS website link for postal stations in SeaTac (http://usps.whitepages.com/post_office/WA/SEATAC) says it all:

Business Hours

Last Daily Collection

There is no announcement or explanation of this change on the website – and no indication that the change won’t go into effect for another 10 days.

Fernald said she has learned that postal workers at the Riverton station “have been told they cannot discuss this change of hours with customers.”

But, she added, “I’m just as serious about keeping this post office open as they are about closing it early and making sure no one gets in their way.”

A USPS representative could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

The only indication a change was in the works is buried in a Feb. 9 USPS news release that announced a $329 million first quarter loss (Oct.-Dec. 2010) for the current fiscal year:

“The Postal Service is aggressively pursuing a plan to reduce total expenses….The Postal Service projects $2 billion in cost savings in fiscal year 2011, including a reduction of some 40 million work hours across the organization.”

Fernald said she expects a letter from the city of SeaTac, which “strongly urges the Riverton Heights Branch hours to remain at the current level provided,” to be delivered in person to the Seattle postmaster next week.

When the USPS Sea-Tac Airport facility, about half a mile north of the terminal on Air Cargo Road, at one time open 24 hours a day, was closed to the public, that service was transferred to the Riverton station.

Since then, Riverton’s weeknight hours have been reduced from 1 a.m. to midnight, and the last collection has been moved up from midnight to 8 p.m.

This action will leave post office closest to the state’s largest airport – and the greater Seattle area – with no late-evening customer-assisted postal services.

Keeping the current hours at the Riverton station “will enable citizens, the business community and anyone who needs same-day postmarks late at night or international mailing services, from all over our region, to continue this important service,” Fernald said.

“In the meantime, if the greater community wants to speak out, I would like them to e-mail the officials whose contact information is contained” in the following letter she sent out:

Dear Neighbors:

As of February 28, 2011, the Riverton Heights Branch post office is planning to change their hours of operation during the week to close at 6 p.m. during the week rather than close at midnight as it currently does.

If you feel that 6 p.m. is too early to close, please contact the people below with your reasons. Share this email with others.

The most common reason I have heard is that because of work, people cannot get to a post office before it closes. This is the only post office, which is open after 6 p.m. and people come from all around to use it to mail packages, etc.

No matter the time of day, this post office most always has a line. If they shorten the hours, it will be worse.

This is the only post office in the region (state) where an official midnight time stamp for IRS or mail in ballots is available.

I understand that the machines they intend to install in the lobby will not handle international mailings.

If you have a computer and a printer, you can print labels on line, but not everyone has the equipment. We would like to see this branch remain open until at least 10 p.m. That still saves the post office money and gives the customers time to get to the post office. However, the actual goal is to have the post office remain open until midnight.

As one citizen emailed me, “The Post Office is breaking its promise/commitment that it made to not only those in SeaTac, but all customers in the South County. I don’t know if you are aware, but Riverton was officially designated as the “replacement” for the USPS SeaTac Airport Post Office, when public access to that facility was closed.”

The Tukwila Branch at Southcenter closes at 5:30. The Burien Branch at 150th closes at 6 p.m.

Please contact each of the following:

Senator Patty Murray: Email. Phone: Toll Free: (866) 481-9186 Washington, D.C. Phone: (206) 553-5545 Seattle. Toll Free: (866) 481-9186.

Zack Hudgins: Website.

Bob Hasegawa: Website.

Tina Orwall: Website.

Dave Upthegrove: Website.

Margarita Prentice: Email.

Western regional Postmaster: Sylvester Black, 1745 Stout St. #1000, Denver, Co. 80299-5000 • 303.313.5100 phone • 303.313.5102 fax • email: [email protected]

Patrick R. Donahoe, Postmaster General
475 L’Enfant Plaza SW
Washington DC 20260-0010

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16 Responses to “Riverton Post Office Hours Cut Back, SeaTac Councilwoman Fights Back”
  1. jan says:

    I found it interesting that the Postmaster General was the only one who could be contacted only by snail mail! hmmm. I bet he has an email as well, but how would that look?

    • Randy F says:

      The PMG certainly has an email address. Postal Workers use email, internally. It fosters the immediate dissemination of information that many of us need to keep up with the ever changing scope of our jobs.

      If the PMG were to have his email address publicized, every whack-a-loon with a computer would be dashing off a message about any little slight they are feeling with their Post Office.

  2. Earl Gipson says:

    The USPS complains that emails and the like are diminishing its viability, yet here is a service it makes money on and also serves the public. Are they trying to put themselves out of business? How about the USPS spending a little less on marketing (we know who you are) and more on service?

    As far a government entity breaking promises, nothing new there.

    Thank you Council Member Fernald for bringing this to our attention. My emails to my legislators are on the way.

    • Randy F says:

      So, do you also “know” who UPS or FedEx is? Wonder why they spend millions in advertising, sponsorships and stadium naming rights?

      I dare say that you may not be as familiar with all that USPS has to offer these days. There is so much more beyond sticking a stamp on a letter.

  3. Lisa O says:

    I read about this on KOMO’s site last week – every time I’ve visted the Riverton PO it’s as busy as the picture above! I’ve been there at 10:30 pm and there was a line out the door! I used to frequent the Airport PO and loved it – all the people were friendly and it was clean – It was great to work a different shift and still able to get to the post office. I understand that many items can be performed online or utilizing their vending machines but there are many people who still need customer service – and need their packages after 6pm!!! I’m so upset – I will be writing everyone listed above. When they closed the Airport PO they vowed that Riverton would remain open late – granted times have changed but the amount of service is still needed at this location

  4. Eric says:

    If I had a nickel for every time I rushed to the post office after 11 pm to get that day’s postmark on something due, well I could retire and quit rushing around. I loved the airport post office and always found the Riverton Post Office crowded at the 11 to 12 mid-night slot.

    Some will say, “Just get it done earlier.” All I can say to that is you have never tried to live my life.

    • Randy F says:

      I am not saying that your statement of being busy between 11PM and Midnight is an exaggeration, but I would ask how that time slot would compare to the hours between 6PM and 11PM.

      Having a rush of business in the hour, or so, prior to closing time is far from unusual and is a poor indication of the overall walk in business that any business has during the day.

      My unit is open from 9:30-1:30 and again from 2:30-4;30. Take a guess when my busiest times are? 9:30-10 and 3:30-4:30. Although there is other business coming in all through the day, fully 40% of the daily work is concentrated in that hour and a half.

      Sorry that the curtailment of hours is going to require an adjustment to your daily schedule but, perhaps some of the many online applications offered at usps.com will help you out with time management.

  5. Gene Fisher says:

    Way to go Pam!

    It was bad enough when they closed our well “kept secret” at the airport 🙂

    Gene Fisher
    Deputy Mayor, SeaTac

  6. Randy F says:

    This is so typical. The public wants the USPS to cut, cut, cut expenses to try to stem the flood of red ink but, think that it should happen somewhere else. The outcry is always the same. “How can they close MY post office, It’s ALWAYS busy”. Guess what, it probably isn’t for an entire day.

    “Oooh, I needed to get a postmark the same day”. So, the USPS should staff and remain open for late hours because you can not manage your time?

    “Oh, but going to get my mail is the only time I have to meet up with others and see other people.” News Flash, the USPS is not required to maintain a meeting place so that the village can socialize.

    Sure, write your legislators, that is the thing that has plagued the USPS for-ever. If it were not for Congressional meddling the USPS would still have lost money last fiscal year, but would have had a surplus in previous years.

    Look up the PAEA of 2006 which Congress decided to put the Pre-Funding of FUTURE retiree health benefits as part of the law. There is NO other agency or business, Public or private that is required to do this. Congress decided that the fund needed to be $55 BILLION. Congress also decided that the USPS would PAY the entire amount in 10 years. There is NO company, not Wal-Mart, not UPS or FedEx that could sustain payments of $5.5 BILLION dollars every year regardless of the state of the economy.

    Many companies suspended payments into employee 401-k plans and cut their benefits and laid off employees when their bottom line began to shrink. Of course, I am glad that some of those things were not done at USPS, but it would not have come as a surprise if it were proposed.

    It is starting to look like Phil Gramm nailed it when he stated that the US had become a “Nation of Whiners”.

    • Coverofnight says:

      Good comments, Randy F. I wish these people would put this energy into getting rid of those red light cameras rather than whining about post office hours. Think it’s bad now; it’s only a matter of time until Saturday mail delivery is stopped, too! But I can live with that…one less day that I would have to come home to see higher bills and election flyers from groups looking to put their hands into my wallet again!

  7. Ted B says:

    Don’t forget the Des Moines Branch!

  8. Elizabeth says:

    What is it again that is wrong with Red Light cameras? They prevent people from gunning it to get through a light? If you don’t run red lights then why object? If you do run red lights you deserve the ticket.

    • Elizabeth2 says:

      I think we all need to realize that our country and our economy are facing troubled times ahead. We need to be willing to accept that changes are needed and we need to be willing to give up things which may have made our life easier or friendlier in the past.

      For years, we have gone and spent money on all sorts of things that had never been “needed” or even known before. We just have go reset our clocks and go back to a time when we looked to the government to provide the basics and we figure out the rest for ourselves.

      So, I know that rather than bemoaning the things which will have to go away, I will count my many blessings for what I do have, will have and get on with it. Toughen up, live life and ask your friends, family, and neighbors for help to get a package to the Post Office or drop a letter off. Work together as a community to make this work.

  9. Shari says:

    Way back when I was in college (ie, about 438 years ago) I worked part-time as a postal clerk to help pay for school. I won’t go into a digression here about the fact that I probably learned far more practically useful stuff in those two years in that job than I did in my entire college career, but I could (I will just say that I felt like a combination between a bartender hearing everyone’s woes and a punching bag that was somehow to blame for them). Anyhow, the thing about that job was that it was not in an actual US Post Office– it was in something they referred to as a postal substation located in the back of a busy store. The mail came and went there just as it did in the regular PO because the carriers picked it up a few times a day. The owner wasn’t required to pay as high a salary as the actual PO paid its employees (hence he had to settle for me as his clerk) and he said he loved having it back there because it brought in a ton of customers to his store (and everything Eric says is true– they all come, laden with 546 separate pieces of registered mail, 5 minutes before you close up), especially during the HOlidays…so he felt he got lots more business in his store than he would if he didn’t operate the postal substation. One of its big draws was that it was open the full day on Saturday and later into the evening on the weekdays, so it gave people a great option for those things that had to get postmarked on a certain day, etc (even tho’ late evening drop offs didn’t go out til the next morning, they still bore the desired day’s postmark). Not sure at all whether this is still something the PO does, but maybe it would be a way for some local business owner to bring in some more foot traffic and sales while also providing a convenient after-hours/alternative hours staffed postal facility here in Burien…

    • Shari says:

      oops. I meant Randy.

      • Randy F says:

        Those are called Contract Postal Units. They offer almost all the same services that you can purchase at a Post Office. There are some limitations though, like International types of mail and some can not accept Express Mail items.

        Use the Locate a Post Office link at usps.com and it will list Post Offices as well as CPUs within a certain radius of your ZIP Code.

        In reality, there are nearly twice as many CPUs as there are actual USPS Post Offices.

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