When the package arrived in Holly Smith’s mailbox from the Windsor Post Office, it was falling apart. A rubber band had been wrapped around the box, barely holding it shut. The note taped on its side read “delivered to wrong address.”
Inside, someone had rummaged through the contents, taking a $50 gift card, Smith wrote in a complaint filed with the town of Windsor last year. The incident was just one of many, she said.
“The post office has caused me so many headaches but even more frustratingly, money,” she wrote. “Something has to change, and I believe I can speak for many of my neighbors when I say we WONT stand for this any longer.”
More than 200 residents have filed complaints with the town of Windsor over the last year, calling for solutions to a local post office system struggling to keep up with the community’s population growth in recent years.
The complaints, obtained by KUNC via a public records request, range from damaged packages to missing checks to lost medications. Complaints also frequently cited rude customer service and a lack of interest from post office staff in addressing the problems.
In one instance, a woman spent 30 minutes trying to pull a jammed package out of her mailbox. She was only able to remove it once a neighbor came to help.
“The post office has become a black eye for the Windsor community,” wrote Mary Iliff, a Windsor resident who has organized a grassroots effort to bring attention to the problems. “I just simply want my mail and leadership in our post office that is solution based with a positive attitude.”
The Windsor Post Office serves about 25,000 residents in Windsor and some surrounding towns. Windsor Mayor Kristie Melendez told KUNC the size of the staff hasn’t changed much since the town had a population of around 5,000 people.
“The fact is we need a bigger, better post office and more staff,” Melendez said. “It’s the same experience a lot of businesses and communities (in Northern Colorado) are struggling with right now. They just don’t have enough employees.”
Melendez, a longtime Windsor resident, has fallen victim herself.
Last year, she ordered about $500 worth of gift cards to give away as presents to various people, she said. Once the plain white envelope arrived, she discovered the bottom had been split open and all the gift cards were gone.
“It’s not just misplaced letters and info,” Melendez said. “It’s costing people time and money and things they aren’t able to recuperate.”
In one instance, Melendez said a local student had applied for a new passport and visa to study abroad in Italy. The documents were supposed to arrive by Jan. 2, 2020, but they never came.
The family called the Windsor Post Office, but never got an answer about the status of the documents, Melendez said. Instead, the family drove to Fort Collins to try and process the student’s travel documents.
The student was eventually able to get her documents, but had to rebook the long-planned flight to Italy, costing the family thousands of dollars, Melendez said.
KUNC was not able to reach Windsor Postmaster Suzan Streed or the United States Postal Service for comment by deadline. In a letter sent to Melendez, which KUNC also obtained, Streed said the post office was willing to work with the town to better serve customers.
“We know first-hand the substantial growth that has occurred in the area and the impact on all the area infrastructure, including the post office,” Streed wrote. “Please be assured that the U.S. Postal Service is committed to providing the best customer experience in every community.”
Melendez has held several local town halls over the last year and met with officials at the USPS several times to try and find solutions, she said. But because the post office is managed through the federal government, she doesn’t have much power.
In the past several months, Melendez has also recruited U.S. Rep. Ken Buck and Sen. Cory Gardner’s offices for assistance. She passed along the complaints to them and is encouraging more residents to share their thoughts with her office.
“We’re seeing changes happening now because the folks in our community have spoken out and it’s risen to such a high level,” she said. “It can’t be ignored anymore.”
On Jan. 21, the town will host a meeting with representatives from both Buck and Gardner’s offices to announce possible solutions to the post office problems. Melendez declined to provide further details about what the solutions looked like.
“I think we’ve finally reached the right person (to help),” Melendez said. “I think people are going to be very happy to hear what they’re going to hear.”