VASHON, Wash. -- The U.S. Postal Service is confirming for KOMO 4 News that hundreds of pieces of mail have been lost after going to a Seattle area processing center.
It was mail sent from Vashon Island from March 1 to March 3, dropped at three locations near downtown Vashon.
Customers say it's easy to take the U.S. mail for granted. But when it's lost, it's quite a mess.
At Island Lumber, contractors and others who get billed later were not paying their bills.
"We started receiving phone calls," said Island Lumber administrator Gina Davis, "and customers coming in wanting to know where their statements were."
She adds, "it's been frustrating. Contractors have to send bills to their customers. They've been put behind."
The Vashon Post Office Postmaster is confirming two and a half days of mail - from rent checks to mortgage payments, personal letters to utility payments and more - is lost. The mail made it off the island to a processing center on the mainland, and then vanished.
"It's embarrassing," said Janelle Ansell who oversees care for 85 seniors at the non-profit Vashon Community Care Center. She says they rely on money from the "Labor of Love online auction" each year. Winners were notified - you guessed it - by mail. Twenty gift certificates vanished. And she's concerned it undermines confidence the community has in the community-sponsored facility.
"My concern is that it might cause a lack of confidence or trust from our community members, and we are a big part of this community," she said.
"We will fix it," said Ansell. "Ultimately we will be responsible for it. It's kind of a bit of a loss for us unfortunately."
"If the Post Office can't be reliable," said Davis, "we don't want to use them." She is considering switching to emailed invoices. Davis says she's had to re-mail nearly 400 invoices. That's time and postage down the drain. She's not happy.
"I think the post office should have been forth coming immediately and let everyone know there was a problem, instead of ignoring it," she said.
At the care center, they've scrambled to replace certificates for most of the charity items.
"We've done that on some level," Ansell said. "And we've just produced certificates on some level. But when they are gift cards or tickets involved, it's a bit more what to do - especially when the event may have passed."
Those who've been on the island awhile remember when local mail was sent, stamped and delivered locally. Now, all mail must go off the island to a processing center for cost savings and efficiencies.
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