Feb. 14, 2002 – If you have run into that seemingly unsolvable problem on the Internet when a company won't ship items to a Virgin Islands post office, hang on. Help is at hand — from the U.S. Postal Service.
V.I. Postmaster Louis A. Jackson told a Rotary II luncheon on St. Thomas Wednesday that the Postal Service has "embraced" the Internet. Rather than competing with the flow of communication, the postal people, at least in the Virgin Islands, have put the Internet to work for them.
Jackson said the territory has not been affected negatively by the advent of e-commerce and e-mail, although the Postal Service nationwide has suffered a loss of business with the growing use of cybercommunications. He could not provide statistics.
When lawyer Arturo Watlington Jr. told Jackson of his frustration in trying to get equipment for his Little League team from the sporting giant MacGregor, which refused to ship to the territory, Jackson had a ready and welcome answer:
Simply go the U.S. Postal Service website, and click on "consumer services," Jackson said, and send an e-mail explaining your problem. "A customer service representative will contact the company in question and explain that we are a domestic location," he said.
Actually, the key words are "contact us" and "consumer feedback." From the U.S. Postal Service home page, the Source was able to navigate through to the right spot: a submit-a-question option on the USPS customer help section where people can submit queries and receive responses by e-mail.
Jackson said many companies on the mainland don't want to ship to the Virgin Islands because they consider it an international destination, or because they are locked in to a contract for delivery services with UPS, Fedex or another private carrier, even though they could ship using the Postal Service.
Roy I. Benjamin, Postal Service local accounts manager, gave some tips to the luncheon crowd on direct mail marketing, another service the USPS provides. "You can find out what market is out there for a business you have in mind," he said. The USPS website has a Small Business Tools section that answers questions such as "How can I get orders to my customers fast?" or "How can I ship to virtually any country in the world?"
Jackson said mail service between the territory and the mainland has returned to normal now since things the delays that followed the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and then the anthrax scare. "No cases of anthrax have been found in the Caribbean," he said, but all of the post offices remain on alert in efforts to protect their employees and customers.
The delivery of mail slowed considerably because much of it had to be moved by truck on the mainland, Jackson said. The territory has three major gateways for incoming and outgoing mail — New York City, Miami and Puerto Rico — he said. During the anthrax scare, he said, the Postal Service chartered aircraft to compensate for the reduction in commercial flights, which usually carry the mail
Editor's note: Readers who contact the Postal Service via the link provided above about shipment of goods to the territory are encouraged to let the Source know the outcome of their queries. E-mail the information to [email protected].