Mac mail service pauses with school year in May

By Alex Park

A number of returning students have voiced complaint that certain pieces of mail were not forwarded to them over the summer. They completed the proper paperwork, they say, but little to no mail came.

Phil Higgs ’07 said that he did not receive one item of mail all summer long.
“I don’t know what we’re paying them for, but my guess is it’s not to lose our mail,” Higgs said.

“The one package I did get took two weeks to track down – it was at someone else’s house two blocks from my house,” he continued, suggesting the kind of bureaucratic mishap more often associated with Eastern Europe than Minnesota.
This complaint has become almost commonplace among returning upperclassmen.

At the Macalester Student Post Office (SPO), the standard process for forwarding first-class mail is to place a sticker over the 1600 Grand address with a new forwarding address on it. SPO staff members then black out the barcodes with ink and return them to the mail for pick-up by the United States Postal Service. If no forwarding address was provided before summer the mail is sent to the student’s parents’ address.

In Higgs’ and others’ cases, this system failed them.

Mail that is not first class, including catalogs, mass mailings, or anything else labeled “Presort Standard” is discarded. International mail is brought to the Macalester International Center to be processed separately. Mail that was lost within the SPO itself is forwarded as soon as it is found again.

Two of the four full-time staff at the Macalester SPO, including Trish Wirth, the new manager as of this academic year, said that if any mail was not delivered this summer it was probably lost in transit.

“Unless you [send mail] Registered or Express, it’s never a guarantee that it’ll get there,” Wirth said.

Registered Mail is a service, provided by the US Postal Service, which tracks mail through every step of its transit, similar to the free tracking services provided by UPS and Fed Ex. The service starts at $7.90 for a one-ounce letter, and increases with weight.