Mail Services manages backup
Published: Monday, September 23, 2013
Updated: Monday, September 23, 2013 02:09
After a backlog of unprocessed mail, Tufts University Mail Services completed scanning the 14,154 packages they had received in the last month.
The volume of packages throughout the month was up three percent from last year, according to Support and Administrative Services Manager Sheila Chisholm. In order to accommodate the increase, Chisholm hired a second shift of students to help with the backup.
Mail Services operates with three full time employees — besides herself — four temporary employees and anywhere between six to eight students, she said.
“We understand that there have been complaints about students not receiving books on time, but we believe that with the help of the additional students everything will be back to normal soon,” Chisholm said.
She used the additional sorters to scan in the several hundreds of packages received each day.
“Without hiring more people in the last week to help, we began to fall behind, which resulted in people not getting their packages in a timely fashion,” Chisholm said. “The second set of student workers was the solution to helping us catch up with all of our back orders. They were a tremendous help in the off-hours.”
While Mail Services is typically open to students Monday through Saturday, Chisholm decided to open the office on Sundays while they were sorting out the backup.
“For the past two weeks, we have been opened seven days a week from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. because we wanted to manage the process more efficiently,” she said.
Sept. 22 marked the first Sunday of the semester that Mail Services was not open, Chisholm added.
“This indicates that we have successfully done everything within our power,” she said. “It’s an accomplishment.”
Mail Services also experienced additional problems with discrepancies between delivery services.
“The different delivery services vary in terms of their reliability,” Chisholm said. “Both FedEx and UPS have valid tracking information, but the United States Postal Service information is not as reliable.”
These differences in reliability have led to miscommunications, Chisholm said.
“For example, on Sept. 12, we did not receive certain packages from U.S. Postal Services, but when students would track their package online, they would find that it had ... been delivered,” she said.
Sophomore Sydney Griffith, who experienced delays in receiving her package, felt inconvenienced by the mix-up.
“I saw online that my package had arrived at Mail Services, so I was disappointed when I didn’t get an email notifying me,” Griffith said. “I had to wait a few days because they were so backed up.”
According to Chisholm, packages sometimes arrive without a student’s name or correct address.
“We set these packages that we can’t easily scan into our system off to the side, where we enter them using the tracking number,” she said. “This will a cause a delay between the time that we receive the package and when the student actually has what they have ordered.”
Duplicate names have been another source of complication, Chisholm added.
“It’s hard when there are students with similar last names or similar spelling names,” she said. “Sometimes they get confused in our system, and this is only made harder when we are processing more orders during a busy period of time.”
This was the case for sophomore Jimena Sanchez, who said her French books were sent to another student with a similar name.
“The tracking code for the order told me that [my books] had arrived, but I never got an email from Mail Services telling me to come and pick it up,” Sanchez said. “The kid who they gave the books to had to message me on Facebook and explain the situation. If he didn’t reach out to me, I would have had no idea. That’s just a sloppy mistake made by Mail Services, in my opinion.”