In the district of Konstanz on Lake Constance, citizens have been moaning about massive problems with postal delivery for months. The letters sometimes arrive days or weeks late. Magazine subscribers only receive their issue when it is already out of date. Invoices arrive after the payment deadline. And nobody knows whether the voting documents for the upcoming mayoral elections will be delivered on time.

Since complaints to the post office and the Federal Network Agency brought no improvement, some mayors from the region have now written a fire letter to the Federal Ministry of Economics. “After half a year, we mayors naturally expect that people will think about how to get the problem under control, both fundamentally and structurally,” says Holger Mayer, mayor of the Hilzingen municipality and one of the authors of the letter, the SWR.

But whether Robert Habeck – who is already busy with other crises – can help the mayors of Constance quickly seems rather questionable. Because the post-chaos is by no means limited to the Lake Constance region. Very similar complaints can also be heard from other parts of Germany. In Berlin-Britz, residents recently had to wait two and a half weeks for mail. According to the WAZ, many mailboxes in Wolfsburg also remained completely empty for two weeks. There are complaints from north and south, from big cities and from the countryside.

The Federal Network Agency, which you can contact if you have problems with a letter, recorded 11,500 postal complaints nationwide in the third quarter alone. That’s almost as many as all of 2021, when there were 15,100 complaints. And something else is remarkable: In contrast to earlier times, when there was often talk of parcel chaos, the problem currently predominantly affects letter delivery. Of the 25 tests that the network agency initiated in September and October in cases of particularly glaring delivery problems, 24 concerned the delivery of letters and only one of parcels.

Weeks ago, the post office cited a high level of sickness due to corona in the summer months and general personnel problems as the reason for the problems. However, the situation had stabilized again, it was said at the beginning of October. It seems to have been only a brief glimpse of stability.

At the request of the star, a post spokesman said on Thursday: “Unfortunately, we have to admit problems, especially in letter delivery, in some regions of Germany. The reason is primarily significantly higher staff shortages due to corona infections. These higher staff shortages can be due to the very tense situation on the labor market can only be compensated to a limited extent by hiring additional workers.”

According to Post, the personnel problems are so great that a so-called “corona emergency concept” is used at some locations. This stipulates that households will only receive letters every second working day as planned. “Although the concept leads to longer letter delivery times, it prevents delivery failures over longer periods of time,” explains Swiss Post. “Weekday delivery to all households can then be carried out again if there are sufficient staff for this.”

The Post itself cannot say when that should be. This is “essentially dependent on the infection process and the recruitment of personnel on the labor market”. Since the problems have existed for months now, while waves of infection rise and fall, there is reason to suspect that Swiss Post is now fundamentally too weak in its core business of letter delivery. The legislator stipulates that at least 80 percent of the letters sent must be delivered on the next working day and 95 percent by the day after that.

But recruiting new staff is not that easy for Swiss Post, even with good intentions. “Like all other companies in Germany, Deutsche Post DHL is also struggling with the extremely tense situation on the labor market, which makes it challenging to recruit the necessary workers and temporary workers,” explains a Post spokesman.

The recruitment campaign “Become one of us” is intended to help. On the associated job website, you can apply to be a postman or parcel deliverer, among other things. We are looking for everything from mini-jobbers to permanent full-time employees. In order not to collapse completely in the upcoming Christmas season, Swiss Post also wants to hire 10,000 temporary workers, as in previous years, but only for a limited period.

Sources: Deutsche Post / DPA / SWR / RBB / Berliner Zeitung / WAZ / Federal Network Agency / Post job page