Customers who use the Wasilla Annex post office have become increasingly frustrated over long wait times to pick up packages. A communications person for the U.S. Postal Service said the agency is responding by adding staff and extending hours.

On Monday morning, Mercedes Barr and her 3-year-old went to the annex and came prepared with snacks to hold them over while they waited.

“We were here an hour and a half just last week. Right at 10 o’clock when they opened there was already a line out the door,” she said.

Barr said they’re a military family who get sent a lot of packages; they’re at the post office almost once a week. In the past few months, she’s seen the lines grow.

“It’s obviously terrible, especially with a toddler, you don’t want to stand in a line for that long. It’s very frustrating,” she said. “But it is nice to see that they’re extending hours and trying to get the problem under control.”

The Postal Service wouldn’t let KTVA inside to get video, but photos from customers show how crammed the lobby can get. Some regulars call it the “swirl.”

“The cinnamon roll, or anything, there’s usually five lines in it and then the line out the door,” said Jessica Riegel, who lives in the Hart Lake Estates subdivision off of Wasilla-Fishhook Road.

Riegel and many of her neighbors said they’re upset by more than just the wait times. They said the contract carrier for Hart Lake Estates and nearby East Aspen Ridge Road isn’t doing her job.

“We do get medication that is needed for a family member, that is life-sustaining medication, and it is marked to be dropped on our doorstep and it is not,” said Leighann Pass, who lives in the neighborhood. “We’ve gotten calls through the post office saying it’s going to be returned. Well we work 12-hour shifts week on, week off and cannot get to the post office.”

Jaris Buehler is new to the community and is keeping track of residents’ extensive list of complaints. She scrolled through her cell phone to show dozens of posts from a community Facebook page of people voicing their concerns.

“People are very angry, they’re really upset, they’re really frustrated", Buehler said. “There are some that have dealt with this five [or] six years. Their temper levels are pretty high.”

They said other neighbors have done what they can to help out the contracted postal carrier by paving the area near the mailboxes and keeping it plowed through the winter. But they said problems persist with packages not even attempted to be delivered.

Pass said she expects the issue to grow as the population in the Fishhook area grows too.

“They truly need to add more carriers. The school district alone already recognized thar our community is so large that in the time we have lived here they have split our bus route into two routes because there were too many kids to be serviced,” Pass said. “So if the school district can recognize that we need more carriers I don’t know why the post office can’t recognize that.”

Brian Sperry, a spokesperson with the Postal Service corporate communications field team, said staff at the Wasilla Annex are facing challenges keeping up with a 23% increase in package volume over the past year.

He said the post office is making changes to help combat the long lines and wait times.

Beginning Monday, the post office will be open from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekdays. Saturday’s hours are now from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Sunday's are from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

In an email, Sperry wrote they will “continue to closely monitor the situation and will make adjustments as necessary to ensure our customers receive the timely and reliable service they deserve.”

Other changes include adding more parcel lockers to the annex and main office. The Postal Service will also hire additional holiday staff and provide district staff.

They’re also “realigning carrier routes to move traffic out of the annex and enhance [their] ability to deliver more packages to street addresses.”

Barr said it’s a small start but she’s already seeing a difference.

“I have noticed, since last week when I was waiting for an hour and a half, it’s usually only one person at the counter and since I’ve been back it’s been two people, sometimes three helping out getting it going,” she said.

The Postal Service encourages people to pick up their packages as soon as possible to keep the parcel lockers available. Sperry also asks customers to come during non-peak hours if possible.

People who have concerns or complaints can contact USPS at 1-800-ASK-USPS or on twitter at @uspshelp. The local consumer affairs number is 1-907-564-2828.

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