USPS responds to inquiries on mail controversy


AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO | A U.S. Postal official has said she’s looking in to the mail controversy on Shelter Island.

Bet you didn’t know you could pick your own ZIP code.

You can on Shelter Island and in many small communities, according to Congetta Chirichello, a corporate communications specialist for the United States Postal Service. If you live in the Center and want your Post Office Box in the Heights, it’s your choice. One free box is provided for each customer or family because there’s no home delivery on the Island, she said.

But whether this arbitrary choice of Zip codes is adding to or is responsible for the serious mail mix-ups here is not clear.

Due to  several Reporter stories on the controversy, Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) has called for a special public meeting on the Island for next month. The mail problems include, among other things, retailers not acknowledging Island Zip codes and important first-class mail such as Department of Motor Vehicles and other government documents plus insurance forms not reaching residents but marked “return to sender.”

The congressman’s office provided an email address for Islanders to use to make their voices heard before the promised March meeting.

The email is

Those who have had problems getting either packages or first-class mail should describe their experiences to Mr. Bishop via the email address. His office is working with Shelter Island Councilman Peter Reich to set up next month’s meeting to bring some clarity to the serious problems and to determine solutions.

A number of people do choose Post Office boxes outside of the area where they live. One resident speculated that someone who lives in the Center might think it more prestigious to have a Shelter Island Heights address. Others suggested that people choose one or the other when they first come to the Island because they’ve heard the service is better. And the jury is split among loyalists to each Post Office as to which renders the best service.

But even though some USPS maps show geographical lines for each ZIP code, there is no actual geographic split, Ms. Chirichello said,  confirming what the Reporter had been told by a local Post Office worker.

Ms. Chirichello said she’s familiar with the problem of ordering goods from companies when there is only a Post Office box number, but not a street address. But she said for the past year, the USPS has approved people listing their street addresses and simply putting their Post Office box number in parentheses.

That may help some who are experiencing difficulty ordering from certain companies, she said.

“I am gathering information from several sources regarding the issues customers are having,” Ms. Chirichello told the Reporter after receiving copies of stories that have been written about the problems in the last month.

Contact information for Congressman Bishop:

Special post office forum:

Southampton Office
137 Hampton Road
Southampton, NY 11968
(631) 259-8450
(631) 259-8451 (fax)

Washington Office
306 Cannon H.O.B.
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-3826
(202) 225-3143 (fax)

Washington Office
306 Cannon H.O.B.
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-3826
(202) 225-3143 (fax)


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