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‘You Might As Well Do The Pony Express:’ Chicago Woman Mails Three Certified Letters Which Have Not Arrived At Their Destinations Weeks Or Even Months Later



CHICAGO (CBS) — There’s that old cliché – third time’s a charm.

But sometimes, there’s another more discouraging cliché that applies – it’s one, two, three strikes you’re out at the old ball game. That is the idiom that one Chicago woman feels is more applicable right now when it comes to her situation with the mail.

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Tracy Reed-Bowers mailed not one, not two, but three certified letters from the same Chicago Post Office. Now, she is turning to CBS 2’s Lauren Victory for answers, following months of postal frustration.

“No one can explain to me what happened to my letters,” Reed-Bowers said. “I don’t know what to do.

Reed-Bowers is a wife, mother, and essential worker. And for the purposes of our story, she is a Post Office customer.

“Those letters were time-sensitive,” Reed-Bowers said.

Let’s rewind to March.

At that time, Reed-Bowers brought an envelope to a Post Office on South Ashland Avenue. According to postal tracking information, it then went to a distribution center in Bedford Park, and then then to a Chicago distribution center.

The last entry indicated that it was still on the way – going back to March 28, some five months ago.

“What happens to them? You know they just end up floating around somewhere,” Reed-Bowers said. “Where’s my letter?”

Reed-Bowers opened an investigation with the Post Office. There were no answers.

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She then mailed two more certified letters, from the same Ashland Avenue Post Office, in July. She ended up with similar tracking – bouncing around from postal place to postal place – but the net effect was the same. They were not arriving where they belonged.

“The Postal Service is not reliable,” Reed-Bowers said. “I mean, you might as well do the Pony Express they did back in the day.”

All three of those letters are related to consumer issues Reed-Bowers tried to resolve without going to small claims court. One was for $1,400 in damage to her car from a tow truck, while the other was a $500 deposit to an events center for a family reunion canceled by COVID.

“I can’t keep mailing letters and crossing my fingers hoping that it gets there,” Reed-Bowers said.

The good news is that Reed-Bowers’ family had their reunion outdoors recently, safely. But the mail meltdown means any chance of getting her money back has been delayed.

And even if the check were in the mail, Bowers said: “I’m very disappointed, very disappointed. This is an institution that people rely on every single day, and we need this there. It’s vital in our lives.”

So now, Reed-Bowers’ day in court is delayed thanks to three letters – certified to be in Never-Neverland.

A postal spokesperson provided a comment to us, which offers no explanation for what happened, nor how it happened, nor steps being taken to prevent this from happening again.

The statement also said Reed-Bowers can request a refund, even though postal employees told her they do not issue refunds.

Here is the full statement:

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“We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused the customer. There are processing scans of all of three pieces at plants but not any other information. The customer if they haven’t already done so, can go to usps.com and submit the information for ‘missing mail.’ This is under ‘help’ at the top of the page. The customer can also request a refund also found under ‘help’ on usps.com. They can also contact our Consumer Affairs office at 312-983-8403.”

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