Bulk mail heading to Santa Ana

Jennifer Kho

COSTA MESA -- An announcement that the bulk mail department at the

Adams Avenue post office is closing next month has spurred city

businesses to send in a bulk of complaints.

Customers of the department, which is more than 30 years old, will be

transferred to another post office on Sunflower Avenue in Santa Ana

beginning April 15 as part of a U.S. Postal Service attempt to streamline

its facilities.

"I think this is ridiculous," said Larry Weichman, a broker at the

Real Estaters in Costa Mesa. "I'm based in Costa Mesa and, in a year, I'm

going to have to change my bulk mail imprints to say Santa Ana. I don't

want people to think I'm based in Santa Ana. I've been based in Costa

Mesa since the '50s . . . and either it's going to cost me more money or

more time. We're definitely not in favor of them moving."

Weichman is one of a number of business members who have already sent

complaint forms to Scott Jones, the Santa Ana branch postmaster.

The Real Estaters sends out approximately 5,000 pieces of bulk mail

each month and gets a special rate of 11.4 cents, which will be raised to

11.9 cents if it sends its mail from Santa Ana, Weichman said.

The half-cent increase will cost the business $300 if it sends the

same amount of mail from the Sunflower Avenue post office, which is

nearly two miles from the Adams Avenue post office.

Terry Bouffiou, spokeswoman for the U.S. Postal Service, said the

business will get to keep the same rates if it gets the mail verified

from the Sunflower Avenue post office and then drops the mail off at the

Adams Avenue post office.

But she said most of the Adams Avenue customers will not face

Weichman's plight of having to choose between time and money.

The low rate of 11.4 cents only applies to saturation mailings, bulk

mail that reaches 90% of the addresses on a mail route in the same city

from which they are mailed, Bouffiou said.

"This affects very, very few people in unusual circumstances," she

said. "The number of times when that happens in Costa Mesa has to be

small. Most mailers' rates will not change, but some mailers mailing from

Santa Ana can get better discounts than they can get from their local

office."

Employees at the Adams Avenue bulk mail -- also called "business mail"

-- department will be reassigned to other jobs within the same post

office, Bouffiou said.

The Sunflower Avenue office will easily be able to accommodate the

Adams Avenue customers, she said.

The Adams post office had $1.08 million in revenue last year, while

the Sunflower Avenue office had $221.83 million, Bouffiou said.

"I think, because the post offices are so close together, customers

are going to like it just fine once they get used to it," she said. "More

equipment is available for customers at the Santa Ana center, there is

more parking and customers will have the availability of more discounts

in their mailings with no more work. Post office employees won't be

forced to move. I think this will really be a win-win for everybody."

Roosevelt Smith, who has been a business entry technician at the Adams

post office for the last 20 years, said the office has more than a

thousand bulk mail customers.

More than 100 of them have already taken out forms to complain about

the move, he said.

"A lot of people are upset," Smith said. "It seems to me that they are

trying to drive small mailers out of business. The [U.S. Postal Service]

is saying this is a cost-saving move for them and there's only seven and

a half hours of work here. But if I'm working only 7 1/2 hours and

clearing over a million pieces of mail a year, I must be doing something

right for the post office."

Although many of the complaints so far have been from businesses, Ed

Fawcett, president and chief executive of the city's Chamber of Commerce,

said that nonprofit groups, homeowners' associations, the school district

and even the city itself could also be affected by the change.

"In the last number of years, the postal service has been criticized

for poor service," Fawcett said. "How can they compete with other mail

delivery companies when they are becoming less customer friendly?"

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