Mailroom waits anger students
Since arriving back on campus, students have encountered long lines for the mailroom, often waiting for over an hour to pick up their packages. These unusually long waits come in tandem with a transition in mailroom provider from Canon to Xerox Corporation.
In a phone interview with the Justice on Friday, Xerox Client Operations Director for New England Chris Walton said that the mailroom was not prepared for the number of packages that have been delivered because Brandeis receives many more packages than other schools of similar size.
He said that the mailroom had received more than 5,000 packages as of Friday and that it has been working to process all of them as quickly as possible and to organize them alphabetically.
In an apology from Xerox to the student body, which was quoted in an email from Campus Operations on Thursday, Walton wrote that Xerox also did not have access to historic package data from Canon when it originally staffed the mailroom, though Xerox has since received that information and is planning accordingly.
“Please understand we take this very seriously and accept full responsibility for this service breakdown,” wrote Walton in the email.
In order to decrease the wait time and get students their packages as soon as possible, Walton said that Xerox has brought in extra employees. Though Xerox budgeted for nine mailroom employees on a regular basis, it currently has 28 people working to sort through and distribute packages and has also put together a night crew of eight people to sort packages as a temporary measure until it gets all of the packages sorted and under control, Walton said.
Walton explained that Xerox is currently spending 10 times its planned budget out of their own pocket to get the mailroom under control.
In addition to these operational measures, there have also been water bottles and snacks available during long waiting periods. The Justice observed one employee calling out to the line, “Everyone eat candy; I’m so sorry about the wait.”
Xerox also added mailroom hours this past weekend on Saturday and Sunday. Walton said that after all of these measures were taken, the wait time was down to between five and 10 minutes.
However, on Sunday, there was still a long line for packages with waiting times at around one hour. In an interview with the Justice, Sarah Raykhtsaum ’15 said that she had been waiting for about a half hour and was only about halfway through the line.
“I’m sure the details will get ironed out, but I am still disappointed with what they did to the old employees and even worse with these hiccups at the beginning of the semester—it’s just frustrating,” she said.
Tamar Ossip ’18 felt similarly after waiting for about an hour and being only about three-quarters of the way to the front of the line. “I’m a freshman so I did not know what it was like before, but it’s clearly not working out too well for them or for us,” said Ossip in an interview with the Justice.
In response to a student complaint on the Facebook group “Overheard at Brandeis,” Senior Vice President for Students and Enrollment Andrew Flagel posted a comment to indicate that the administration is aware of the problem.
He wrote that he received a message from Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Steven Manos addressing the problems with the new mailroom system.
“The transition was enacted with the best of intentions—saving student resources while planning to provide improved services. It is apparent to everyone concerned that our vendor has failed to live up to their commitments, and they will be held accountable for their actions,” Flagel’s comment read.
In an email to the Justice, Flagel wrote that there are a number of safeguards in all of the recent contracts so that student and campus satisfaction is a major component of accountability.
“[Vice President for Operations] Jim Gray, who arrived at Brandeis after the personnel and contract decisions were made, has been tireless in addressing our concerns with Xerox and making very clear that they this performance is unacceptable and must be immediately addressed,” he wrote.
Flagel added that none of the additional measures taken by Xerox excuse them for “the level of inconvenience and distress they have caused our community.”
However, he wrote, Gray “has shared that he believes they understand the depth of their mistakes, and will in good faith partner to do everything possible to make this up to our community.”