‘Unruly customers’ force postal station closure

‘Unruly customers’ force postal station closure
U.S. Post Office Esplanade Station, closed early on Friday, May 12, as customers waited outside.
Community News Group / Steven Goodstein

One question lingers regarding a Bronx post office – how can customer service be improved?

On multiple occasions in the past month, the U.S. Post Office Esplanade Station, located at 2488 Williamsbridge Road, has provided poor customer service, sometimes no service at all, residents claim.

The poor service involves customers being forced to wait outside indefinitely during employee lunch breaks – and, most recently, the closure of the entire station for the latter part of the day.

An Allerton resident said she waited outside the locked station for nearly an hour as the lone postal employee took a lunch break, finally giving up because she had to return to work.

“Lunch breaks need to be properly designated at this location – and employees need to be up front with the time frame,” the resident said. “Why can’t they (the employees) just put up a sign that indicates what time they’ll be back?”

On Friday, May 12, the office was again closed at lunchtime.

Upwards of ten customers were milling around outside the station waiting for the postal employee to return from lunch that particular day, the woman recalled.

After waiting patiently outside for over an hour, the customers began to grow restless.

Getting fidgety, some customers began tapping on the post office front windows when they noticed an employee moving about inside.

The employee then changed the ‘Out-To-Lunch’ sign to a ‘Closed-For-Safety-Reasons’ sign.

According to the resident, the USPS employee later told her that the sign was put up in response to the “unruly crowd” of waiting customers that were “banging on the glass door”.

“The customers weren’t banging on the door – they were tapping on it because they knew that an employee was inside and they wanted to get the person’s attention, even though the (Out-To-Lunch) sign was in the door window,” the Allerton resident recalled.

“We couldn’t get a response, a time frame – nothing. Collectively, we all felt that we were being treated with no respect.”

According to the USPS, some finance stations, although not all, can be a one- or two-person operation, making it difficult for an employee to manage customer flow when the other employee takes a lunch break.

“We need to make sure we (USPS) stay on top of these scenarios to make sure this happens less frequently – especially at (finance) stations, where (staffing is) limited,” said Xavier Hernandez, NYC’s corporate communications spokesperson for USPS.

According to the USPS, the finance station consists of one full-time person assigned to the office, along with a second employee who rotates among various stations.

The incident on May 12, according to the USPS, occurred when the regular office clerk was on leave and only one other employee was working at the location.

The USPS’s collective bargaining agreement requires a one-hour lunch break for full-time employees.

According to the USPS, the pool clerk puts up signage to notify the public that a lunch break is being taken, and records that the lunch break occurred as scheduled.

The USPS was unable to confirm the ‘unsafe conditions’ on May 12, which apparently caused the employee to close the office for the balance of the day.

They also could not confirm that the office was closed longer than the scheduled lunch break.

Business hours for the Esplanade Station are Mondays through Fridays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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