sparr: (cellular automata)
It's Monday morning and I'm writing this as I proceed.

First up, trying to call some POs in Oakland and San Francisco and other nearby cities to find out how widespread this situation is. Also to try out USPS Customer Service's suggestion that I call POs in advance to let them know I'll have GD mail coming. 20 rings each and no answer at 94612 (Emeryville), 94188 (SF), 94706 (Albany), 94801 (Richmond) (with an automated message every 5 rings). Finally giving up on main post offices and trying a detached delivery unit (a term I learned on Saturday). Fremont DDU answers quickly, a human transfers me to "Aung". Aung says I don't have to do anything at the post office beforehand to receive GD in Fremont, and that they do have the same 30 day limit as Berkeley.

So now I'm calling USPS Customer Service once more. On Saturday they gave me a lot of info that matched the DMM, and they walked me through finding DMM section 508.6 on the USPS Postal Explorer website. That section contains most of the relevant info, but not the "No application required" that they quoted to me from their internal system. I've reached customer service again and am speaking to Rana. She tells me that this info comes from their internal documentation system, called "Franklin", and it is in document number 7461. Verbatim: "No application is required for general delivery. Persons interested in general delivery should speak with the post master".

Now I'm calling the Berkeley DDU intending to speak to Leo (supervisor) and then Ray (Postmaster) as instructed on Saturday. I've reached Richard who tells me that Leo and Ray are both unavailable at this time. He offers to try to help. I explain the whole situation, including all of the new information I've gathered since Saturday. He says that he is documenting this all, including the Franklin document and new PS1527 language, and that he will begin the process of getting the correct information out to the supervisors and clerks. When I ask for a timeline he says that he aims to have this resolved by the end of the week.

I also tell him that I aim to file a formal complaint against the clerk on Saturday who refused to talk to customer service after telling me to call them. He says that can be handled as all of the corrected information is handled. I tell him I will follow up at the end of the week, both with him and with local homeless task force and action center groups in order to spread the word that general delivery is finally available in its intended form in Berkeley.

Next up I'm calling Fremont again, to correct their misconception about the 30 day limit. I reach Edward and he offers to give me the person I spoke to earlier. Instead, I ask for the manager or postmaster. I speak to Manny, explain what's going on with the 30 day limit and the errata verbiage on the new PS1527, tell him that I spoke to Richard in the Berkeley DDU, and he says he will look into this.

I'm leaving a voicemail for Augustine Ruiz, the California media contact for USPS, to inquire about this situation.

I'm leaving voicemails for Mary at the Alameda County Homeless Action Center and Yani at the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, to ask about others who've encountered this problem and how to spread the word when it's resolved.

I doubt this is the end of the story, but I'm done until someone calls me back or Friday, whichever comes first.
sparr: (cellular automata)
TL;DR: Personal project ruined by local USPS misbehavior. Follow-up and escalation might improve mail service for local homeless people.

Good news. I got accepted to present a project at FIGMENT Oakland 2015.
Bad news. The acceptance was at the last minute, so I need to build my project from scratch.
Good news. All of the components were able to get here with just enough time to spare.
Bad news. Berkeley CA sent one of my packages back to Virginia because they have some outdated and/or unsubstantiated policies about general delivery[1].

Read more... )

Auctions

Feb. 11th, 2009 05:17 pm
sparr: (Default)
I am considering getting back into the business of buying and selling things at auction. In general that means buying large lots of things at particular types of auctions (liquidation, government, surplus, estate), then selling individual things at other types of auctions (ebay, etc). When I lived in Nashville a great source of things to resell was the Nashville Metro government's auction site, eBid, and Essex Technology's online auctions. I still peruse them, and have bid on things (but not won) since leaving, with the plan to have a friend pick them up and ship them to me. Before I can devote the time to really get back into it as a moneymaking operation here in Atlanta I need to find some local sources of bulk consumer products.

In that light, I attended my first USPS Mail Recovery Center auction this morning. About once a month they auction off abandoned, undeliverable, and insurance-claimed packages. The lots range from books (a shitload of books) to household items to high end electronics.

The first lot was a trailer load of books, including novels, cookbooks, and textbooks. The bidding started at $40k and finished at $109k(?), which was stated as a new record for the facility. After that came a number of small lots of high dollar items, including computers, mp3 players, cameras, perfumes, shoes, and game consoles. Most went for 50-75% of retail price and appeared undamaged (having arrived late and missed the lot inspection period, these "Special" lots were the only ones that I got to actually see). After that came the bulk of the auction, comprised of about 80% books (in large lots of 100lbs+*), 15% misc or household items, and 5% larger lots of high dollar items like computers and cameras. Starting prices for these lots ranged from $10 to $2500, with final prices from double to ten times the starting prices. I left before that portion could complete, not being willing to bid without having seen the items.

I will definitely be going back next month (3 weeks from today), better prepared both in terms of scheduling and financially.

* - Most of the lots are grouped by how many items fit in a given size postal sorting container. Thus "Physician's Desk Reference - 40LB hamper" indicates a hamper designed to hold 40 pounds of loose mail filled with significantly more than 40 pounds of books.

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