By December 29, 2011

USPS Priority Mail Complaint

I have used the United States Postal Service’s “Click-N-Ship” system since May of 2005. I’ve purchased postage for almost 200 letters and packages.

I used the USPS’s Priority Mail service for the vast majority of the Click-N-Ship transactions. Priority Mail has a 2 – 3 delivery estimate. In the seven and a half years I’ve used the USPS, they’ve never lost a Priority Mail package, and it rarely took more than three days to mail anything to anyone anywhere in the continental United States.

That is, until December 9th of this year, when I attempted to send some packages to friends of mine.

On December 9 I bought postage for two Priority Mail packages. One going back home to Virginia, one to Maryland. I weighed both packages with my postal scale, computed and paid for the postage, and scheduled a carrier pickup. My credit card was charged for the full amount, and the packages were picked up the following day.

Five days later there was a package on my front doorstep. Awesome — someone sent me a Christmas gift!! Huh, it was addressed to my friend Bond back home. That’s weird … oh shit, it’s my package?

There was a sticker on the top of the box that said, “INSUFFICIENT POSTAGE.” I double-checked the weight of the package on my scale, and made sure I paid for the right amount. Everything was right. I made sure that my credit card was charged (again). Everything checked out. I emailed the Click-N-Ship customer support group to ask what the problem was, and I still haven’t heard back.

The other package was stuck in a sort facility for nine days. It took another two days to arrive in the destination state, and then another day to get it to my pal. Total transit time: 12 calendar days.

I contacted USPS again. This time I heard back in short order:

We are not happy about the length of time that it took to deliver your package but it was mailed and delivered during the peak of the Holiday mailing service, and only our Express service has a guaranteed delivery.

On your package that was returned postage due, was it packaged and weighed correctly? If you still have the original package and it’s contents it would be beneficial to us to review the process and see what happened.

Nearly two hundred packages, some of them during the “peak of the Holiday mailing service,” and I get an excuse that it’s okay for “2 – 3 days” to creep to “12 days?” That’s not a slowdown due to increased volume. That’s someone lost my fucking package for nine days in a sort facility.

I have shipped a lot of things with the post office, and having a carrier pick up packages on my doorstep is a lot more convenient than finding a UPS or FedEx drop off location. However, passing off accountability is unacceptable. The easier, more honest, and most customer friendly response would have been, “sorry that happened, we screwed up, here’s a refund on your postage.” Instead I got a bullshit answer. Was everyone’s mail delayed nine days? was there some sort of Minnesota postal wormhole that ate everyone’s mail? Customer service is easy when you just own up to a mistake.

I will follow up with them about the other package, but it’s a moot point. I’m shipping it with UPS, even though it’s more money and typically takes a day longer.

Maybe this type of service — and poor response — might be why USPS is set to lose over $14 billion this year and may lay off from 30,000 – 120,000 employees in 2012.

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4 Comments on "USPS Priority Mail Complaint"

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  1. Brandon says:

    I had an internet order inbound to me that sat at my local post office for 4 days. The post office is about 5 blocks from where the package was to be delivered.

  2. Jenner says:

    This discussion sounds a lot like banks. Everyone has some horror story about one that will have them speaking ill of it for the rest of time. Truth is, all banks fuck up, all banks at time aren’t very good about handling it PR wise. The same is true with other huge and competing industries. Your experience has admittedly been great, maybe they won’t make another mistake until 400 packages. You have a good thing, I use it too, in fact I’m always surprised it does work so well, I mean it is the post office. Don’t be so quick to jump ship. With that many transactions they all will have snafus.

  3. DrFaulken says:

    Jenner, you have a really good point — out of the many many times I used the service I never had much to complain about.

    The point I am trying to make that the reply I got from the USPS was particularly irksome and disingenuous especially given my successful experiences. I felt like the “it’s busy” was a cop-out.

    Know what I mean?

  4. Jenner says:

    Makes me think of Lily Tomlin on SNL doing her Ernestine skit….. Ernestine: A gracious hello. Here at the Phone Company, we handle eighty-four billion calls a year. Serving everyone from presidents and kings to the scum of the earth. So, we realize that, every so often, you can’t get an operator, or for no apparent reason your phone goes out of order, or perhaps you get charged for a call you didn’t make. We don’t care!