Bridgewater College Students Receive TextBooks Late Due to USPS Delays

COVID-19, Mail-In Ballots, and Christmas to Blame

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Photo by Brooke DiCicco

The campus mailroom has a divider up to cater to precautions needed for social distancing. The divider allows two Bridgewater College students to pick up their mail at once.

Brooke DiCicco, Staff Writer

Bridgewater, Va. – Students have been receiving textbooks later than predicted due to unprecedented volumes of shipments since November of 2020. 

Bridgewater College’s Site Manager for Ricoh Services Chip Penney stated that there were many things causing the delayed deliveries.

“A lot of the problems go back to November. Obviously, COVID is going to be part of it, but starting in November, UPS and FedEx started restricting how many packages retailers can send before the Christmas rush,” said Penney.

USPS is federally owned and cannot restrict mail unless, for example, a dangerous chemical would be in the package. Penney said that it is stated specifically in the constitution. 

“If I remember correctly, about 15% of USPS workers were out for COVID plus they had about 30% more packages than they’ve ever had before. Throw in the all summer long increase in packages that were going through the system, plus the bulk mail of election results that were being processed that slowed them back, and everything snowballed into this insane massive pile-up,” said Penney.

Gaylords, pallets of cardboard boxes, would fill up quickly. “There were gaylords sitting on top of gaylords sitting on top of gaylords at the sorting facilities. It got to the point that they could not move through the sorting facilities because they were receiving too many packages,” said Penney. 

Penney stated that usually, similar to fast food restaurants, things should run at a first come first served basis. Right now, it seems that the influx of newer packages are being shipped before older packages, because there were too many to ship.

“If you have a package that bounces, especially if it’s coming here to the college, they’ll go to Richmond and it may go to Sandston. Sandston is not a sorting facility, it’s a storage location. So, they just took the trailer and moved it to another place because they didn’t have any more physical room for it in Richmond, and it might come back to Richmond. Or, it could even go out of state to another sorting facility and move back to Richmond,” said Penney.

“At the end of the day, for us, everything has to go through Richmond. We’ve seen packages that we’ve shipped for students that are off campus that have gone to Delaware, for example, then hit Pennsylvania, then went back to Delaware, then went back to Pennsylvania, and then finally it may get delivered. But, it might take three or four trips between the two. We’re not seeing a lot of lost packages, but we’re definitely seeing a lot of packages that are rerouted,” said Penney.

Penney also said that a little bit of influx of packages is normal during winter months, but he hasn’t seen it to this extent before.

Bridgewater College students have seen the impact of delayed packages as textbooks for spring semester were ordered.

Sophomore Lisa O’Grady had a book she ordered come in a month after she purchased it through the campus bookstore. “My professor worked with all the students who were still waiting to make sure we had access to what we needed,” said O’Grady.

Senior Nate Bademian had a book that came late as well. Bademian had a book review due about three weeks before his book actually came.

If you have any questions about a package, email [email protected] and provide a tracking number and they will try their best to help.