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Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Friday, July 7, 2000

Parcels took a
slow boat to Samoa

Question: I spent $200 to send four parcels to American Samoa via air. Three weeks later, the packages had yet to arrive. The post office sent them by ship via Oakland because of air carrier problems. Why wasn't the Hawaii post offices alerted that air service was not available rather than charging customers for air and putting their parcels on the slow boat? I was not made aware of this until after the fact.

Answer: It may be little consolation since it took so long for the packages to get there, but you may apply for a partial refund.

Customers with receipts may request a refund for the difference in postage between air and surface shipment. For instance, a 10-pound package shipped Priority Mail would cost $7, while one shipped surface parcel post would cost $4.03, said Postal Service spokeswoman Felice Broglio. That's a $2.97 difference.

Broglio apologized for the inconvenience caused by "unusual circumstances" and the fact that customers were not told of the loss of air service until the third week of May. Managers had hoped the problem would be resolved by then.

Mail service to American Samoa is back to normal, but Priority Mail was severely disrupted in May and June, she said.

The problem started on April 29, when Kitty Hawk International "abruptly ended mail cargo service to American Samoa from Honolulu and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy," she said.

The Postal Service then contracted with Evergreen International Airlines, which started mail cargo service to American Samoa on June 29.

"Our Transportation and Network Office worked as swiftly as possible to activate a new contract, but it is complex and still took two months to finalize," Broglio said. Although Hawaiian Airlines also is contracted to carry mail, how much it carries depends on passenger and baggage loads on their now thrice-weekly flights to American Samoa, she said.

During the interim, Priority Mail had to be shipped by surface container ship to American Samoa, via Oakland, Calif. The arrival dates for three shipments during this period were June 10, June 23 and yesterday.

Q: There are several handicap parking stalls facing the Hilton Lagoon. Do the "Baywatch" TV personnel or any other commercial companies have the right to put "no parking" signs on these stalls? Why don't they just relocate the handicap stalls temporarily?

A: They do. "Baywatch" has requested relocating the stalls "only a couple of times," said Stephen Thompson, Oahu manager for the state Small Boat Harbors Division.

Three stalls are reserved for the disabled in the area you cite. But when the space is taken up by "Baywatch" or a fireworks company, three temporary stalls are designated nearby, Thompson said.

He speculated you did not see those stalls because they were occupied. In addition to the three stalls, there is other "regular handicapped parking throughout the harbor there," he said.

Q: What's the holdup with federal tax refunds? We got our state refunds a long time ago and both state and federal returns were filed a day before the April 15 deadline.

A: Taxpayers who filed before the April 17 IRS deadline (two extra days this year) should have received their refunds by now, said IRS spokeswoman Shawn George. Call 1-800-829-1040 "so we can see what the problem is," she said.

Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
Email to

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