Janesville42.7°

Cutbacks prompt changes in boxes at Janesville post office

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Catherine W. Idzerda
July 18, 2011
— You’ve got mail.

It might just be in a different post office box.


In the past few weeks, local post office box customers received letters telling them that their box numbers would change.


For regular folks, box number changes are inconvenient.


For businesses, box number changes mean changing their letterhead, envelopes, business cards, promotional brochures—and everything else that has an address on it.


Postal officials knew that was the case.


“Every effort has been made to keep the same box numbers,” Janesville Postmaster John Buchholz said.


It all started earlier this year, when Buchholz was given the news: To save money on rent and utilities, his 32,000-square-foot space in the building on Milton Avenue would be cut in half.


The decision was made somewhere up the government ladder. As the guy at the bottom, he could only nod and continue to try to hold the ladder steady.


In this case, steadying the ladder means dealing with irate businesses and customers who were told they would get new post office box numbers.


“I’ve gotten a lot of calls about it,” Buchholz said.


The communication manager for the Janesville postal district could not be reached for comment.


The post office will go from 2,320 boxes to 1,712 boxes, or a loss of 600 boxes.


Now it gets complicated. Post office boxes are not numbered consecutively. This gives the post office flexibility to remove sections of boxes and install smaller or larger ones to meet customer demand.


For example, a section of four or eight boxes could be removed to accommodate a section of 12, smaller boxes.


In the new setup, the post office will be able to do the same thing. Because the boxes are being reconfigured, however, some of the old numbers will no longer exist.


Understanding the system requires thinking way, way, way outside of the box or—in this case—the boxes.


Customers who have new box numbers will have their mail automatically forwarded for a year. After that, the post office staff will make every effort to make sure the mail gets to the right spot, Buchholz said.


There’s another option: Post office box customers can have their mail delivered right to their doors.


On a positive note, the post office will continue to have the same number of service counters in the retail area.


It’s been a challenging couple of weeks for all postal employees, and next week could be worse: That’s when they change the locks on all those boxes.



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