LOUDON COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) — The United States Postal Service says it has staffing issues that are impacting mail delivery in Loudon County. From budget cuts to stolen mail and issues with COVID, the postal service has had a rough year, to say the least.

A Loudon County couple said their mail delivery is really sporadic. Michele and Gus Morreale say daily mail delivery has been a hit or miss for the last three to four weeks in their neighborhood.

“It’s terrible,” said Gus.

The rise in delivery delays around the country appears to be rooted in staffing issues. With too few staff to handle all the sorting, due to so many people ordering online instead of shopping in person, first-class mail in some communities is delayed this year in areas like Blount County, now in Loudon County.

“I think we would be lucky if we got mail twice a week,” added Michele.

The couple says they receive mail requiring a prompt response, and they don’t like waiting until the last minute to send checks.

“When I went to the post office, they did not disagree that we did not get mail. I was told our carrier quit and they did not have anyone to take over the route,” said Michelle.

“I picked up last week, 30 pieces of mail. I asked the guy, ‘Was this going to be delivered?’ He said, ‘No, it’s not on the truck and it wasn’t going to go on the truck,'” said Gus.

“I just want mail every day. I understand and appreciate that the post office is in trouble and they don’t have the staff,” said Michelle.

In Maryville, last January Jeff Jenkins told WATE a similar story about long delays in his mail service. Jessica Eubanks told WATE that when she retrieved her mail, the box was empty. Both of them said they often see postal carriers delivering Amazon packages and not first-class mail.

In Loudon County, Michele recently stopped a carrier on the street in her neighborhood and asked about the delay.

“They were only carrying Amazon and other packages. They told me they did not have any actual mail,” said Michelle.

WATE contacted the US Postal Service, and a spokesperson responded by writing, “We apologize for any inconvenience experienced by our customers in Loudon, Tenn. The office is experiencing temporary staffing issues, which are being addressed through hiring fairs in Loudon and the surrounding areas, and across Tennessee.

In addition, the Postal Service, like many businesses, continues to see the effects of the COVID pandemic, including the local available workforce in Loudon.

“I just want the mail to be delivered like it is supposed to be like it used to be delivered. That’s all. I don’t think that’s asking too much,” said Gus.

In an email to WATE, a spokesperson for the postal service said the agency is aggressively hiring but like many other businesses right now, it is “struggling due to low unemployment numbers and job competition.” WATE were told as the postal service hires and trains new employees, it is confident service improvements will continue.

For any issues with mail delivery or shipping concerns, call your local post office or call this toll-free number, 1-800-Ask-USPS.