SalmonClosing post offices at lunchtime is “stupid,” says Red Banker Tom Salmon.

It’s a loaded question, but it begs to be asked: is the U.S. Postal Service deliberately courting outrage among its customers?

How else to explain the newest changes to the hours of operation of three local substation/satellites of the Broad Street, Red Bank facility? According to postal service spokeswoman for our area Darleen A. Reid-De Meo:

• Starting Saturday, October 18, the Westboro office on Shrewsbury Avenue will be open from 8a to 4p, except for an hour for ‘lunch’ from 1 to 2p, when it will be closed.

• The Fair Haven substation will be open from 9a to 4p but also closed from 1 to 2p for ‘lunch.’ Just over four months ago, the office started closing at 4, an hour earlier than before, angering some merchants and residents.

• At Fort Monmouth, they’ll be closing for ‘lunch’ from 11 to 12, but that office will open at 9 and close for the night at 3p.

The changes come on the heels of schedule modifications and other moves to curtail counter and lobby service at area post offices.

In August, the Broad Street facility, which postponed its opening so that the counter now opens at 10a. Yet the facility also removed all the stamp vending machines that were in the lobby until shortly before that change took effect; the machines had been accessible at times when the counter was closed.

The changes also come amid some griping that the Westboro office doesn’t adhere to its posted hours. A borough official who asked not to be identified tells us that on more than one occasion, she has arrived at the Shrewsbury Avenue office to find it closed when it is supposed to be open.

What gives? redbankgreen asked Reid-De Meo. Her reply, via email:

By analysis of our Window Operations Survey (WOS) data only one clerk is
needed at these locations. The customer traffic and transactions can not
support two clerks. Therefore in order to control costs we have made
adjustments to staffing and hours of retail operations. Clerks were
moved from these two stations to support the busier retail traffic at
the Main Post Office and in the Shrewsbury Office.

There are two reasons why the Postal Service is removing or redeploying
vending equipment.
The equipment is obsolete, making it difficult or impossible to repair.
Not enough people are buying stamps from the machine, which means it is
not bringing in enough money to pay for the cost of keeping it stocked
and maintained.

Yet postal employees who are not authorized to be quoted tell us there’s no change in staffing planned at the two-person Westboro outlet, and that having just one person work there would raise security issues.

At noontime yesterday, we asked some customers of the Westboro station what they think of the changes. None of them were aware of the pending change — perhaps due in part to th fact that the notices are posted behind smoked glass. Here’s what they had to say:

“It’s stupid. The post office is the center of a town. If you’re going to lose that you might as well shut down the town. Also, Red Bank is very Broad Street-centric. I use both post offices, but this one needs to be enhanced.” Tom Salmon, chiropractor

“It’s wrong. It should be open.” Angry man who declined to give his name

“I’ll deal with it, but it’s difficult.” Brian Kirk, business owner and musician

“I usually come after 2:30, but it might be inconvenient for other people.” Judy Ramos, Red Bank

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