The Last Word: Postal Delivery Issues

Feb 1, 2024

For three straight weeks, our local papers weren t delivered anywhere close to on time from the United States Postal Service Toledo Distribution Center, and we didn t know why. We didn t know what suddenly changed and where the problem was.


Any newspaper subscriber who travels to a warmer climate for the winter, like Florida or Arizona, knows that it takes longer for their newspaper to be delivered ... and sometimes two or three newspapers arrive at the same time in the mail.

However, area subscribers have always counted on their newspapers being delivered in the mail within a day or two of publication date. Some of these readers look forward to their Buckeyes in their mailbox on Thursdays and plan their Thursdays around catching up on the local news.

All of a sudden, starting with the Oct. 11 edition — we started getting calls from subscribers ... lots and lots of calls, and emails ... complaining that their Buckeyes weren't arriving Thursday, or Friday, or Saturday. For three straight weeks, our local papers weren't delivered anywhere close to on time from the United States Postal Service Toledo Distribution Center, and we didn't know why. We didn't know what suddenly changed and where the problem was. (Luckily, the 43502 papers don't have to go to Toledo, so they weren't affected.)

Like most newspapers, we use circulation software that stays up to date with the latest postal changes. When the newspaper labels are printed — the labels that are on the top of the front page with subscriber information — they are sorted by zip codes into postal routes. As long as at least six Buckeyes are being delivered to a ZIP Code, they’re bundled together and put into a postal tub with a pink tag that includes the five-digit ZIP Code where they’re going. This pre-sort is supposed to help the papers get back faster from the distribution center.

Starting with the Oct. 11 edition, we started calling area post offices every Thursday to see if their Buckeyes arrived. To complicate matters, sometimes one bundle from a tub was delivered, but the other from the same tub wasn’t. By this point, we had been emailing our USPS customer service person in Cleveland every day, but she was unable to get answers. So we decided to go “up the chain.” We contacted the office of Robert Latta, U.S. Representative, who used to be our district representative to Washington, D.C. (and still is for Henry and Defiance counties, where some of our subscribers and advertisers are). We contacted the office of Marcy Kaptur, current 9th Congresssional District representative who represents Fulton County. Both offices talked with USPS representatives to find out how to solve the problem.

We contacted the National Newspaper Association, of which the Buckeye is a member. We received a tremendous amount of guidance and help from Tonda Rush, NNA legal counsel, chief public policy and postal person for three decades, who worked with higher-ups at USPS to help us.

Tonda helped us set up "exceptional dispatch" at the Pettisville, Ridgeville, Wauseon, Fayette and Stryker post offices. That means starting with the Nov. 1 edition, we started taking the tubs with papers for those ZIP Codes directly to those post offices when we dropped off Buckeyes at the newsstands in those communities on Wednesdays. At least we knew those papers would be delivered on Thursdays because they bypassed Toledo.

But that still left the tubs with papers for Napoleon, Defiance, Bryan and West Unity — we don't sell any newsstands in those communities. They still had to go to the Toledo Distrubition Center. And those papers still weren't getting delivered to those post offices on time.

Every day, we emailed Latta's office, Kaptur’s office, Rush and the Cleveland USPS representative with updates on whether the post offices got their latest Buckeyes. We provided USPS personnel with pages of data from a weekly postal report that they asked for.

Finally, at the end of November — 1 1/2 months after the delayed deliveries started — we learned that new procedures were being put into place at the Toledo Distribution Center and area post offices. A person at one of the post offices said we had “rattled some cages.”

These new procedures would help make sure the newspapers would come back so they were in people’s mailboxes on Thursdays again. And those new procedures were orders, not suggestions.

And since the Dec. 6 edition, delivery of the Buckeye to all local post offices has been on time, on Thursdays. Fingers crossed that it continues.

That’s the story of what’s been happening for the past 2 1/2 months for those of you who had delivery issues. It took a lot of hours, emails and phone calls to get the situation straightened out. But none of us gave up.

We appreciate the help of Ms. Kaptur’s office, Mr. Latta’s office (even though we aren’t in his district anymore) and Tonda Rush of the NNA. They were invaluable in getting the delivery problem solved.

We also appreciate the personnel at our area post offices, especially the Archbold Post Office, who always answered our questions and were willing to help us however they could. These post offices also took many calls from our subscribers asking where their Buckeyes were. Please understand: it was never their fault that the papers weren’t getting delivered on time.

Of course, postal delivery issues aren’t limited to second–class (Periodicals) mail, which is what newspapers use. If you are experiencing issues with the mail, including first class, and live in the 9th Congressional District, Marcy Kaptur wants you to call her office at 419-259-7500.