And that’s why Rick Aleman has a beef with the United States Postal Service.
Aleman, a Hoboken-based computer consultant with his own company, was very excited when his postal carrier told him about a way he could find new clients through direct mail marketing: a USPS service called Every Door Direct Mail, or EDDM.
“I basically pick a USPS delivery route and the post office will deliver my post card to every mailbox in that route,” Aleman said. “I don’t need addresses or postage and it sounded great.”
So Aleman spent $148.17 to design the marketing post cards, and another $531.69 for printing.
He then decided which postal routes he wanted the cards delivered.
His first mailing was on March 3 to 789 addresses, and he said he was told the cards would be delivered in one or two days.
Aleman contacted his lawyer, whose office is on the route that should have received the post cards. The lawyer and his secretary said they never received the card, Aleman said.
Aleman tried a second mailing to a different route March 10. It went to 647 addresses, which included one of Aleman’s friends.
“I told him to look out for it Tuesday or Wednesday,” Aleman said. “I confirmed with him and his wife that they never got it.”
He tried a third time on March 17, sending cards to 1,312 addresses on two new routes. Aleman said he has two existing clients along one of the routes.
He said he called the clients to ask them to look for a post card on Tuesday or Wednesday, but later that week, both clients reported they never received the cards.
Aleman paid $480.91 for postage on top of the costs for production of the cards, and he wasn’t confident that he was getting the service he was paying for.
“After sending out 2,749 post cards with no response, I felt like something fishy was going on,” he said. “I contacted two different clients, my lawyer and one friend who are all on these routes and none of them have received my post card.”
He did some more research and found several online complaints that paralleled his experience.
That’s when he reached out to Bamboozled, with an idea to try it one more time with the 1,400 remaining post cards, which he said he couldn’t use for any other purpose anyway.
THE STING AND THE SALVE
Aleman suggested selecting routes lived on by Bamboozled’s co-workers, who would then be put on alert to watch for the post cards.
We asked around and we got two takers: a Ledger relative and a Ledger friend.
Aleman headed back to the post office for two more mailings on March 31: one to a route he hadn’t tried before where a Star-Ledger relative lives, and a second to the route that his lawyer was on, which is also the home of a Ledger friend.
By the end of the week, the person on the new route said the card hadn’t arrived. On the route with Aleman’s attorney and the Ledger friend, there was half a success. One of the two received the card, they reported.
It was pretty clear the problem wasn’t a one-shot deal, so we explained Aleman’s experiences to USPS and asked for its input.
That same day, Aleman said he received two calls from the Hoboken postmaster.
In the first call, Aleman said the postmaster suggested he do another mailing, and the postmaster could monitor what was happening. Aleman thought that was a good idea.
Then we received an explanation from a USPS spokesman.
“We were disappointed and very concerned about the reported non-delivery of the Computer Doctor’s mailings in Hoboken,” the spokesman said.
He said USPS was reviewing the situation, that the postmaster had contacted Aleman, that USPS had pulled the customer complaints and inquiry data for Hoboken and had also reached out to other customers who use the EDDM service.
He also said they’ve interviewed the local carriers who deliver to the routes indicated.
Hang on. We don’t know what happened to the post cards, and what, if anything, the postal carriers may have done with them. But if the postal carriers were interviewed, we can guess the carriers have a suspicion that future deliveries might be put under a microscope. Trying another mailing, on Aleman’s part, might not show much at all.
After we told him what the spokesman said, Aleman had a second conversation with the postmaster. He said the conversation took some strange turns. For example, he said the postmaster offered to hand deliver the card to one of Aleman’s clients who didn’t receive it. Aleman said he asked why, and the postmaster said it was so that Aleman could be assured the card was received. But Aleman said the person was already a client of his, so it didn’t really matter if he received it.
“Then he offered to take the 20 post cards I had left and hand deliver them to the building of my other client,” he said. “It just seemed like a weird offer, and now that we know that the carriers were interviewed, his offer to keep his eye on the next mailing seems either phony or there is a lot of miscommunication going on between the ranks at the post office.”
Still, Aleman is having more cards printed and he will try another delivery to see what happens. We’ll let you know how that turns out.
We then went back to the postal spokesman to see if there was any talk of a refund for the cards that seemed to not be delivered.
He said Aleman didn’t request a refund, but he’d ask the postmaster to discuss the process of applying for a refund with Aleman.
More to come on this one, dear readers, whether rain or sleet or snow. But geez, we’re hoping for some sun for a change.