Package Services draws fire; to get upgrade amid criticism of long lines, lost items

Junior Marie Kobayashi’s iPod was able to travel about 7,500 miles from Shenzhen, China, to GW unscathed, but it was the very last leg of the trip where things got complicated.

Just 50 steps. That’s how far her package would have traveled from Mail and Package Services’ loading dock to the front counter, had it not disappeared somewhere in between. Kobayashi said a GW mail employee told her that her $275 gift was “misshelved” in early December, and after two months it still hasn’t turned up.

“It traveled across the ocean, across the country … It made it from China here, but somehow they lost it,” said Kobayashi, who had documentation from Federal Express that a GW representative signed for her package. “I’m sure they’re doing their best, but it’s not really good enough.”

Kobayashi is not the only student who has sent complaints to the package center this year.

Students have criticized GW Mail and Package Services for losing their belongings and for taking too long to distribute them. University officials, citing six lost packages in the past four years, said MPS continues to operate reliably and efficiently.

“That’s a pretty good track record,” said Nancy Haaga, director of GW Auxiliary and Institutional Services, which oversees MPS. “The feedback that we get from many students … is extremely positive, as well as from parents.”

Kobayashi said many of the two dozen e-mails she sent to MPS staff went unanswered and that her initial phone calls with staff were discouraging.

Mail Room Manager Sean Wynn said Kobayashi’s is one of only two students having their packages lost this year by MPS, which is operated by the private company Pitney Bowes. He said check reimbursements take about two to three weeks for lost packages, and that Kobayashi got hers earlier this week, about two months after her gift was lost.

Packages aren’t the only items to have disappeared from the 2025 F St. building.

Two GW mail employees were suspected of stealing greeting cards with cash and gift cards inside – one in October 2004 and the other in March 2005, Wynn said. The combination of student complaints in comment cards and personal suspicions led Wynn to contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, which investigated and arrested the two individuals.

Maurcell Littleton and Sheritia Queen were found guilty of mail theft, Postal Inspector Denise Backus said. Both went on probation and had to reimburse the students.

Some students have criticized the perceived lag time between the shipping company’s delivery notification and MPS’ e-mail notification indicating a package has been processed and is available for pickup. Haaga said there isn’t any lag time because the e-mails are automated and immediately sent out once the mail room scans the packages.

She blamed the U.S. Postal Service’s “factually inaccurate” online delivery status information, which she said falsely portrays packages sitting in D.C. post offices en route to GW as already delivered on campus. The University is working with local postal officials to resolve the problem.

The University does have a proactive plan to improve MPS, Haaga said. A complete overhaul of the customer service area in MPS is scheduled to begin in June and end in late July. The changes include installing an additional computer terminal, adding another entry door, adding a dry erase board with wait times listed and possibly placing more staff up front.

Haaga said in a September 2005 Hatchet interview that there was a 33 percent increase in the number of packages during the first month of school in comparison with the same period in 2004. MPS received about 19,000 packages in September 2005, Wynn said, though the yearly average is about 10,000 packages per month.

A noticeable consequence of the increased volume is the wait time for picking up packages.

Long, slow-moving lines are common before and after vacations and at various times each day because students tend to “all come at the same time,” Wynn said.

Junior Drew Wisniewski said he’s picked up boxes at MPS twice a week since returning from winter break because he bought his textbooks online.

“Sometimes I’ve waited 45 minutes,” Wisniewski said. “It’s really aggravating when you spend so much time standing in a line.”

Logan Kaynes, a freshman, was so fed up with the lines that she gets her packages delivered off campus.

“I had my packages sent to a friend’s apartment, that’s how annoyed I got,” Kaynes said. “So I would just go there, no line, nothing, and I could just pick it up … A good amount of my friends do that because no one wants to wait.”

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