Wednesday, April 25, 2001
Steamboat Springs Mignon Huizenga thought she did everything right when she sent her family's tax information through the U.S. Postal Service to her accountant in Florida March 26.
The Hayden resident decided to send the tax information along with a check by priority mail. To ensure the package, which contained vital income and personal information, got to Florida March 28, Huizenga requested she receive verification.
Four weeks later, Huizenga still does not know what happened to the package she sent.
"This has been an incredible nightmare for us," Huizenga said Wednesday. "We have had to get an extension for our taxes."
Huizenga is not alone when it comes to missing mail from that last Monday in March. Huizenga's package is among about 75,000 pieces of mail the Postal Service lost.
The government carrier lost all the letters sent on that day from all Colorado ZIP codes that start with 816.
The lost mail has affected people living in Hayden, Craig, Aspen and Vail.
Six large gurneys of credit and mortgage payments, cards and other first-class mail disappeared as it was being sent by truck from Glenwood Springs to Commerce City.
Usually, mail from 816 ZIP codes are sorted in Glenwood Springs and then sent to Denver International Airport.
The breakdown of a sorting machine in Glenwood Springs forced postal officials to send the mail to be sorted at a facility in the Denver suburb.
About a week after the mail was sent, post offices in Hayden and Craig started to get complaints from residents.
"We have now been getting complaints on a daily basis," said Jorde Neumiller, who is the supervisor of the Hayden office. "More people are finding out that their house or credit card payments never got there."
The post office in Craig has been receiving similar complaints.
"We have had numerous calls," said Mary Jane Horrocks, an employee. "Some residents have been concerned of this for some time."
To remedy the problem some residents are experiencing late fees for payments the Postal Service has drafted a letter to send to creditors, Neumiller said.
"Residents can come in and get a letter they can send to their creditor," she said. "We are trying to clear this up for them."
However, the Postal Services' response to the problem does not help Huizenga.
Huizenga has been in a panic ever since she heard from her accountant about a week after she sent the package.
"When my accountant called and told me the package was still not there, I knew something was very wrong," she said. "This is all I have thought about. Where is the package that contains my taxes and my personal information?"
Huizenga is holding out hope the package she sent to her accountant makes it to Florida.
"If the package does not get there, I will have to retrace all of our taxes in time for the mid-August filing date," she said. "All of our tax information is in that package. I'm hoping it finds its way there, or I have a big job ahead of me in retracing our taxes."