The Brunswick Post Office advertises open positions on Sept 8, 2022. While the residents of 24 Cumberland St. speculate that staffing shortages are behind the confusion, a USPS spokesperson denied that Coffin’s issues were related to staffing. John Terhune / The Times Record

Alison Coffin’s internet bill was dated June 9. Even though it had the correct address, the Postal Service put the bill through forwarding before it reached her Brunswick home. Then it forwarded the letter a second time. Then a third.

Coffin, who finally received her bill on July 18 covered in forwarding stickers all bearing the same address, is just one of several tenants of the building at 24 Cumberland St. who have been confused and frustrated by an address change mandated by the Brunswick assessor’s office.

“I have been bombarded by tenants complaining about the change of address,” said Dawn Frash, who manages the building’s 10 units for Taggart Realty. “FedEx, the Post Office and UPS can’t seem to get it right. I just don’t know what the deal is.”

The L-shaped building, which wraps around the corner of Cumberland and Union streets, used to contain several different street numbers, according to longtime resident Alison Coffin. For example, a single-unit townhouse in the middle of the building facing Cumberland Street was addressed 20 Cumberland St., while an upstairs-only unit off Union Street was addressed 33 Union St. Apt. B.

That setup could have caused problems during an emergency situation, according to Town Assessor Taylor Burns, who said first responders might have struggled to locate the source of a distress call.

In accordance with Brunswick ordinance, Burns issued a notice of address change to Taggart Realty on March 29. Effective May 30, the building’s 10 units were assigned 24 Cumberland St. Units 101-106 and 201-204.


Though it was not responsible for the address change, the Postal Service promised in a letter to residents it would result in “faster emergency services and more reliable delivery of your mail by eliminating confusion caused by similar street names and numbers.”

Yet, according to Frash, the switch has caused problems unlike any she’s seen in her 17 years of managing properties for Taggart Realty.

For months, tenants have complained that they’re not getting their mail, even as they receive envelopes and packages addressed to their neighbors, she said.

Notes posted outside each unit’s door have failed to help mail carriers and other delivery people understand 24 Cumberland St.’s new address system. John Terhune / The Times Record

Unable to count on the Post Office and other carriers to sort and deliver their mail correctly, resident Helen Brunner and her neighbors have had to do it themselves via a tenant group chat, trusting each other to safely pass along medical bills, Social Security checks and other important documents.

There were people that had stimulus checks in other people’s mailboxes,” Brunner said. “It’s been a nightmare, to be honest.”

Coffin, who has spent 30 years on Cumberland Street, hoped to preempt confusion by filing a change of address order with the Post Office so any mail sent to her old address would still reach her.


The move backfired, she said. Since June, the Post Office has rerouted every piece of mail sent to either her old or new address back to Portland, often multiple times.

“I’ll get a bill from CMP correctly addressed, and it will have three forwarding stamps on it, one on top of the other on top of the other, because it keeps cycling back,” Coffin said. “I was getting bills three weeks after they normally would have been delivered.”

Just as frustrating was the difficulty of getting answers from the Post Office. After making an appointment to speak with the Postmaster in July, she arrived to find he had left for the day. Later that week, he told Coffin his staff would fix the problem, but forwarded mail kept arriving.

Others have found it difficult to even reach the Post Office.

“You can’t call there anymore,” Frash said. “It rings and rings and rings. They say, ‘We’re too busy to answer the phone.’”

She speculated that a labor shortage might be responsible for the problem, noting that 24 Cumberland St. did not seem to be the consistent responsibility of any one mail carrier.


Though the Brunswick Post Office has open clerk and mail carrier positions, according to the Postal Service’s website, a spokesperson for the organization said the issue with Coffin’s mail was unrelated to staffing shortages and has recently been resolved. The Postal Service did not comment on 24 Cumberland St.’s other tenants receiving their neighbors’ mail.

Coffin said she won’t know whether the Post Office fixed the problem until her bills arrive later this month.

FedEx and UPS packages are still regularly being left on the wrong porches, but most residents’ mail problems have gotten better in recent weeks, according to Brunner. Still, she said she’s frustrated at the town for inconveniencing the tenants by mandating the switch, which required them to pay for new driver’s licenses.

“It’s like nobody really cared that it was going to affect us the way that it did,” she said. “It kind of felt like we were left out of everything.”

While Brunner understands that the change was made with public safety in mind, she questioned the wisdom behind the move.

“If the Post Office can’t even figure out my mail,” she said, “What makes them think that the fire truck is going to figure out where I am?”

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