KINGSPORT - Postal customers along a rural route in Kingsport have received a letter of apology from the U.S. Postal Service for their mail being "excessively" late - in some cases, two years late.
A source told the Times-News Wednesday that the mail customers in the Cooks Valley, Cooks Crossing and portions of the Sunnyside community began to receive packets of undelivered mail that have been a part of a federal investigation.
The letter of apology that customers along Rural Route 22 received Tuesday originated from the USPS office location on North Eastman Road and acknowledged that mail had been recovered for their particular service area but did not specify when or where it was found.
"As a result, you may receive mail that has been excessively delayed," the letter continued, adding that the Postal Service shared the concern of mail being delivered in a timely manner.
Beth Barnett, a public relations official for the USPS Nashville office, announced last week that the thousands of pieces of mail and packages found in two rental storage facilities in Kingsport earlier this month were in temporary custody of federal postal inspectors.
Barnett said the mail would not be released to customers until the investigation was completed.
Barnett could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.
One source told the Times-News that when she went to her mailbox at her Cooks Valley home on Tuesday, the mail volume was unusually large.
"I'd say I had a stack of mail about two inches thick, along with the letter explaining why it was late. Some of those letters had postmarks of 2005 on them," the woman said.
Another mail customer from Cooks Valley who contacted the Times-News on Wednesday said she also received a collection of mail dating back to 2005 consisting of mainly utility bills.
"This caused me to receive late notices, and I had to pay late fees because of it," said the resident, who asked that her name be withheld.
"When it started, I contacted the post office (on Eastman Road) three different times, and they did nothing to help me. They just told me that ‘it was delayed' or ‘we're working on getting it corrected' and nothing happened. They brushed me off.
"I've lost a tremendous amount of faith, a lot of faith in the post office. The mail is fine now, but (the USPS) needs to go ahead and tell people who did this and how this happened."
The resident also stated that when she must mail any type of payment, it is done directly at the post office, and she will no longer leave letters in her mailbox in front of her house.
"I don't think you can trust it anymore," she said.
Those with questions regarding the delayed mail were asked to call the Eastman Road post office at 230-6306.