Mail delays give business owners heartburn with missed payments, late notices

After not getting mail for weeks, Mason Blanc in Allentown received a large pile of mail all at once. PHOTO/COURTESY MARJORIE MONAHAN


A local planning consultant complained that he got a late notice for bills he had paid two weeks prior. An eye doctor had to warn patients that eyeglass prescriptions they ordered might not come in for more than 10 days because of mail delays. A freelance marketer is concerned that it will take longer for her to get payment checks from her clients – enough so that’s she’s asking to pick the checks up at their offices instead.

A wide variety of businesses are feeling the impact of a reduction in services at the United States Postal Service as new postmaster, Louis DeJoy, makes dramatic cutbacks to trim the budget on the heels of a slowdown that had already started because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While he said he will halt the cutbacks until after the November election because of concerns over mail-in ballots, critics are saying even delayed cutbacks are a big mistake.

There have been stories about people not getting life-saving medication in the mail on time with devastating results, and while no one is reporting major business disasters because of the delays many professionals remain concerned.

Marjorie Monahan, owner of Mason Blanc Catering in Allentown, said she saw troubling delays in mail service during the peak of the COVID-19 shutdown. Her business hadn’t received any mail for nearly five weeks, and then one day all of it came in through her office’s mail slot in one big pile.

“This was obviously piling up somewhere. I know it was because I know colleagues who were getting mail,” Monahan said.

Among the delayed mail was a number of certified letters and offers from vendors she wished she had received on time. It made her so nervous that she hand delivered important mail herself because shed didn’t trust Postal Service.

She has a great deal of concern for how any further delays would impact bill payments. “Especially when people need it right away for what they have to pay for,” she said.

Tina Hamilton, who runs MyHr Partners Inc. in Allentown, which handles corporate human relations contracts nationally, she said many of her clients are being impact by reduced mail service. “The big thing right now is that so many companies are working from home,” she said.

For many, that has made the mail a much more important resource for sending and receiving documents. “There are many businesses that rely on the mail. It’s the only way to get information to their employees,” she said.

While many companies now rely on direct deposit to pay their employees, there are also many that use the USPS to mail checks to employees. Delays won’t go over well with their workforce. “People want their pay,” Hamilton said.

The delays are especially stressful for the unemployed already dealing with problems obtaining unemployment compensation they desperately need, she said.

Some unusual business problems have even cropped up because of USPS delays, such as meal delivery companies that use the USPS to deliver prepared meals to customers. Timeliness is very important for such deliveries and Hamilton has heard of customers getting notices that their orders were cancelled because their food spoiled.

“That’s money those companies are going to have to eat because the post office didn’t deliver those meals fast enough,” she said.

Sam Denisco, vice president of government affairs for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, hasn’t received any complaints about the mail, but said the status of delivery reliability “is important to business.”

“Anytime the speaker has to bring back the legislature – especially at a time like this – we’re paying attention.”

Denisco suspects many of the chamber’s member are using alternatives such as UPS or FedEx to handle their shipping needs, and he notes they have been operating just fine. The Chamber will be meeting with the state’s regional chambers to discuss how they might want to address the USPS situation if the matter persists.