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Problems with USPS...FYI and a little frustration.

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Jeff Lassahn

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Is this a regional thing? On the West coast I've basically never had problems with the mail. Maybe there's a Hellmouth of Package Destruction and Incompetence somewhere in the Midwest?
 

Tobor

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Is this a regional thing? On the West coast I've basically never had problems with the mail. Maybe there's a Hellmouth of Package Destruction and Incompetence somewhere in the Midwest?
No, it is mostly a national thing. The level of disruption to transit time is in fact regional.

Now, as to why? Well, there are a multitude of factors that contribute to the delays.

IMHO, speaking from personal knowledge (I have a relative that worked their entire adult life at USPS. Now retired), one of the primary reasons for poor delivery service is a complete and utter apathetic attitude. It stems from the "Iron Rice Bowl" mentality. The relative I mentioned earlier, actually got a thrill when they could tell their boss "No, I cannot do that, until the union rules have been satisfied". All employee duties/actions within the USPS workplace are governed by union rules.
 

Senior Space Cadet

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My orders from Apogee usually arrive pretty fast, though not always, but they are in state.
When I order from Balsa Machining, which is only a couple states away, it is always late. After waiting forever, I'll click on the tracking link and it will stay it's delayed and delivery will take longer than expected.
I've looked at the progress my packages have taken and it's pretty amazing sometimes. A package will start out east of me, go west of me, then back east again. Doesn't seem right.
 

Banzai88

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No, it is mostly a national thing. The level of disruption to transit time is in fact regional.

Now, as to why? Well, there are a multitude of factors that contribute to the delays.

IMHO, speaking from personal knowledge (I have a relative that worked their entire adult life at USPS. Now retired), one of the primary reasons for poor delivery service is a complete and utter apathetic attitude. It stems from the "Iron Rice Bowl" mentality. The relative I mentioned earlier, actually got a thrill when they could tell their boss "No, I cannot do that, until the union rules have been satisfied". All employee duties/actions within the USPS workplace are governed by union rules.
*** ETA: Anyone that wants to refute this 'view' of things, it's NOT MY PERSONAL VIEW. I have ZERO personal or professional insight into it other than what he's told me and I've tried to convey here. I'm only relaying what my neighbor, who is a letter carrier, told me. THIS MAY OR MAY NOT REFLECT ON YOU PERSONALLY AS A POSTAL WORKER, but it's a 'truth' as he sees in in the Tidewater, VA area. ***

My neighbor three houses down is a postman, and he's pretty cool. According to him, you're right on track, but missing a few key 'behind the scenes' items. This is how he explained it to me:

Traditionally, especially in a pre-covid workforce, the USPS has had 'unlimited, no questions asked overtime' and a 'get it all out of the station every single day' mentality. This led to several unchecked bad behaviors at the worker and supervisor level.

Unlimited, no questions asked overtime + Get it all processed every day = Over processing beyond standard staff and equipment level expectations and models + happy customers + expectation of 3-5 days delivery + postal workers making big bank on overtime.
Carriers with a route, have a set time to complete said route. Let's say it's 6 hours. The ONLY time that the route gets done in 6 hours is when the route OR the carrier is being evaluated. Other than that, depends on the person, could be faster, usually done slower. EVERYTHING from rain and impenetrable fog to mis-tied shoelaces becomes a valid excuse.

He says most can do the routes much, much faster, but that 'some' will drag their feet because 'unlimited, no questions asked overtime' has folks doing 6 hours worth of work in 8, and 'get it all out of the station every single day' ALLOWS for 'unlimited, no questions asked overtime' for the 'standard' load out + the 'over processed at the station' load out becomes a backlog adding 'opportunity to work unlimited overtime'....thus creating a self-reinforcing cycle paid for by BIG BANK OVERTIME in the paycheck. THAT explains why you'll sometimes get mail a 9PM!

Americans are now addicted to instant gratification by mail.

Fast forward to COVID. EVERYONE is stuck at home buying stuff instead of going places and doing things.

Covid affects the mail work force, too, as a natural slow down is going to occur when their workers are hit, too.....but it's from an UNREALISTICLY high bench mark that was artificially propped up by full staffing and dramatic over processing at every level paid for by unlimited no questions asked overtime.

At a point in time when we have a country locked down and folks want stuff through the mail. At a point in time on the calendar where it's RETAIL BUYING SEASON and demand for mail delivery services normally spikes to double or more.........

Trump has the postmaster general get control of overtime expenses. Postal union employees rebel and get 6 hours work done in 10 WITHOUT OVERTIME.......so things slow down due to direct action. Things pile up. The 'get it all out of the station every single day' mentality gets replaced by 'get today's stuff done today. anything left over we'll get to it whenever, if ever'. That leads to unhappy customers because things that used to track 3-5 days now take 2 weeks PLUS.......

Now throw in the usual apathy created by a workforce that has zero repercussions for failure and a management structure that has created this 'entitled' environment, and add to that folks hiding behind 'union rules' for the first time in forever.....and you get what we got, with some areas doing fine as most folks comply with their expected throughput and other simply putting on the DILLIGAF hat with impunity(such as seems to be happening en masse in St Louis).
 
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Adrian A

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Hey all-

I know there is a lot going on. I would not even bring this up if it were not for it happening on a regular basis before the election stuff (like years) and before the pandemic.

It is very frustrating and I thought I would pass this info on. From now on, I try to request FedEx or UPs when I can, but not all vendors have that option. Below is the latest tracking summary from a recent order from a popular vendor. If anyone doubts this, I can send a screenshot of the actual tracking from USPS. Please also note that this happens when I order from other vendors as well! I have no explanation for this. But I find it a bit nutty. I went into the post office to try and get some help and they literally told me there was nothing they could do (when my shipment was "looping" between Detroit and Pa) and to just wait......nice. Again, this is not a one-off incident. It happens a lot when I have items shipped via USPS. You would think after hundreds of years doing this, they would have their $#@! together. I live in Ohio. You should see some of the (older) trackings when I order from LOC. My stuff crosses through my state (Ohio) a couple of times before it goes to Michigan...then to Ohio! See below: This is my latest order from a nice vendor in Tx.

  • Left TX
  • Passed Ohio went to Pa
  • Left Pa
  • went BACK to TX
  • Left TX
  • Passed Ohio went to Pa (again)
  • Left Pa…passed Ohio (again) then went to Detroit MI
  • Departed Detroit
  • Arrived BACK in Detroit
  • Departed Detroit
  • Arrived BACK in Detroit
  • Finally made it to Toledo
  • Then to my town
  • Out for delivery today….I will believe it when I see it.
This kind of thing happened to one of my last FedEx shipments earlier this year, and another one was just late. So my experience with FedEx is a few screw-ups out of a few dozen shipments. But over the last few years I have made literally thousands of USPS priority mail shipments, and until a few months ago, problems like this were rare, maybe one out of a thousand. Now it seems like 10%-20% of my USPS shipments have problems. I just noticed this morning that Digikey stopped offering USPS as a shipping option, so I'm sure they're seeing it too. Destroying sorting machines and cutting capacity and overtime has been caused real problems.
 

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I have another package that was out for delivery last Saturday but is now showing in transit and won't be delivered until this Friday. No motors, just a rocket from eBay. Shipped from OH on the 24th.
 

SeanW78

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I am not surprised so many have had troubles. As I mentioned before, this has been going on for years. It has nothing to do with politics or the pandemic. I belive the other comment above about "no accountability" was spot on.

IMO, the postal service has literally had hundreds of years to perfect their trade. In today's age, there is no real excuse for this. Everything I send (for my job) and have received (personally and for my job) that went FedEx or UPS get there on time. If one is willing to wait months for a can of beans that is cool :). I just hope you don't ever have to wait for medicine, a paycheck, or an important document while trusting the USPS. Then have some snotty counter person tell you to "just wait it out....there is nothing I can do".

The USPS needs a "business reckoning". I simply don't trust them with anything important. Too bad.
Maybe it's just us that live in the Toledo area. Either dancing back and forth or sitting with no update a state away has been the norm for anything traveling with USPS. This includes a shipment of bees we got in May. Live item deliver with 1 day paid and insured arrived 4 days later with about 25% of the bees lying dead and the package damaged to boot.
 

djmartins

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USPS is in failure mode this year.
They can't get me a letter from 25 miles away to me in less than 7 days.
They have lost a lot of packages this year.
One has been sitting in a large city 200 miles away for a month now and when I called I was told it is
not lost because they scanned it weeks ago.
Many gov't office are also failing.
California's electrical supply is at third world status with rolling blackouts all year.
[offensive comment deleted - mods]
 
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KC3KNM

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USPS is in failure mode this year.
They can't get me a letter from 25 miles away to me in less than 7 days.
They have lost a lot of packages this year.
One has been sitting in a large city 200 miles away for a month now and when I called I was told it is
not lost because they scanned it weeks ago.
Many gov't office are also failing.
California's electrical supply is at third world status with rolling blackouts all year.
[offensive comment deleted-mods]
I’m going to go with @Banzai88 ’s explanation, I think.
 
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BSNW

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*** ETA: Anyone that wants to refute this 'view' of things, it's NOT MY PERSONAL VIEW. I have ZERO personal or professional insight into it other than what he's told me and I've tried to convey here. I'm only relaying what my neighbor, who is a letter carrier, told me. THIS MAY OR MAY NOT REFLECT ON YOU PERSONALLY AS A POSTAL WORKER, but it's a 'truth' as he sees in in the Tidewater, VA area. ***

My neighbor three houses down is a postman, and he's pretty cool. According to him, you're right on track, but missing a few key 'behind the scenes' items. This is how he explained it to me:

Traditionally, especially in a pre-covid workforce, the USPS has had 'unlimited, no questions asked overtime' and a 'get it all out of the station every single day' mentality. This led to several unchecked bad behaviors at the worker and supervisor level.

Unlimited, no questions asked overtime + Get it all processed every day = Over processing beyond standard staff and equipment level expectations and models + happy customers + expectation of 3-5 days delivery + postal workers making big bank on overtime.
Carriers with a route, have a set time to complete said route. Let's say it's 6 hours. The ONLY time that the route gets done in 6 hours is when the route OR the carrier is being evaluated. Other than that, depends on the person, could be faster, usually done slower. EVERYTHING from rain and impenetrable fog to mis-tied shoelaces becomes a valid excuse.

He says most can do the routes much, much faster, but that 'some' will drag their feet because 'unlimited, no questions asked overtime' has folks doing 6 hours worth of work in 8, and 'get it all out of the station every single day' ALLOWS for 'unlimited, no questions asked overtime' for the 'standard' load out + the 'over processed at the station' load out becomes a backlog adding 'opportunity to work unlimited overtime'....thus creating a self-reinforcing cycle paid for by BIG BANK OVERTIME in the paycheck. THAT explains why you'll sometimes get mail a 9PM!

Americans are now addicted to instant gratification by mail.

Fast forward to COVID. EVERYONE is stuck at home buying stuff instead of going places and doing things.

Covid affects the mail work force, too, as a natural slow down is going to occur when their workers are hit, too.....but it's from an UNREALISTICLY high bench mark that was artificially propped up by full staffing and dramatic over processing at every level paid for by unlimited no questions asked overtime.

At a point in time when we have a country locked down and folks want stuff through the mail. At a point in time on the calendar where it's RETAIL BUYING SEASON and demand for mail delivery services normally spikes to double or more.........

Trump has the postmaster general get control of overtime expenses. Postal union employees rebel and get 6 hours work done in 10 WITHOUT OVERTIME.......so things slow down due to direct action. Things pile up. The 'get it all out of the station every single day' mentality gets replaced by 'get today's stuff done today. anything left over we'll get to it whenever, if ever'. That leads to unhappy customers because things that used to track 3-5 days now take 2 weeks PLUS.......

Now throw in the usual apathy created by a workforce that has zero repercussions for failure and a management structure that has created this 'entitled' environment, and add to that folks hiding behind 'union rules' for the first time in forever.....and you get what we got, with some areas doing fine as most folks comply with their expected throughput and other simply putting on the DILLIGAF hat with impunity(such as seems to be happening en masse in St Louis).
That is a very informative explanation. I am thankful that you took the time to post it. Very insightful. Thank you!

However, I do not think people are wanting instant gratification from the USPS/mail as stated. I think there is a failure of providing mail service with a reasonable expectation that a package does not travel across state lines numerous times, wasting time and resources and arrive days, months or weeks late, and often damaged.

The STUFF that people order is business and job security for the USPS and should be not looked at as a burden. Again, they have been doing this for hundreds of years....I think they should have their $#@! together by now. Many companies have had labor issues and they solved them. If the USPS workers had a real sense they had to do their job well or lose it...I think things would change real fast.

Again, this has been going on WAY before the pandemic and politics. These things have only exacerbated the already present issue.

Unless we keep the dialog going and voice our frustrations, in addition to holding them accountable like we do to our beloved celebrities and whoever makes one false move on Facebook. Nothing will change. Maybe the USPS should get a taste of our current "cancel culture".

Andrew
 

Banzai88

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That is a very informative explanation. I am thankful that you took the time to post it. Very insightful. Thank you!

However, I do not think people are wanting instant gratification from the USPS/mail as stated. I think there is a failure of providing mail service with a reasonable expectation that a package does not travel across state lines numerous times, wasting time and resources and arrive days, months or weeks late, and often damaged.
From my understanding, it's all part of the rebellion. Intentionally shifting stuff down delivery routes where it doesn't belong, and then it takes forever to track back and forth. Some areas are getting it hit hard, others not so much, so it's NOT a system failure, as it's historically shown that it's more than capable.

The STUFF that people order is business and job security for the USPS and should be not looked at as a burden. Again, they have been doing this for hundreds of years....I think they should have their $#@! together by now. Many companies have had labor issues and they solved them. If the USPS workers had a real sense they had to do their job well or lose it...I think things would change real fast.
Welcome to a workforce that has no direct impact for failure. Talk to Congress, they're the ones that control the rules that control federal employees. Most are OK, but it's the system that's broken. Like the old adage goes, "Tell me how I'm graded, I'll show you how I perform".
 
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cerving

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Maybe if a new Postmaster General gets appointed who actually has some credentials working in logistics instead of being a political hack then USPS will get better. Service degraded rapidly once the current guy was appointed... do a little Googling and you'll see why.
 

Zman1961

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I feel that I have to contribute my $0.02. First of all, my experiences and frustrations are not any different than what has been mentioned already. I stopped buying OOP kits on Ebay and elsewhere becuase 2/3 of them were being damaged - both by USPS and UPS. A "fragile" label almost seems like an invitation to squash the box. I have had shipments in the last year from ASP and Vanderburn that required replacement airframes, and these were well packaged. Things from AC Supply and Belleville that used to take 4 days now take 2 to 3 weeks. The routing info tells me that things are always delayed in St. Louis. Packages not going though St. Louis seem to be better. Sometimes my neighbors receive these packages, even blocks away, for no apparent reasons. Now the part that gives me a bit of pause to even write about given some of the negative input above; my father worked for USPS for 35 years sorting letters by hand in the primary post office in a major city. He retired in 1988. There were 3 shifts 24/7/365. The amount of mail they worked in a shift was dependent only on what came in. They did all first class stuff first, and in an 8 hour shift if the first class sorters ran out they would pick up material from others working lower classes of mail, like magazines (and rocket catalogs!) , which used to be way more common items than today. No self-imposed slow downs! The only major amounts of OT were worked between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sometimes it was voluntary, sometimes it was mandatory. And yes, their errors were tracked by so many stacked inches per month or year, etc. People who exceeded set limits were moved from sorting to other jobs like loading trucks or were let go. My father studied zip codes, streets and addresses countless hours on his own time EVERY YEAR in order to pass proficiency tests, sweating through a lot of Peptobismol until the test was done. I have no idea what they do today. Perhaps management and general organizational operations were better then.
 

afadeev

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I have no issue with how the USPS is funded or what it does. What they do is an important and necessary service.
My whole and only problem from the original post is HOW they do it. The quality of what they do has gone down over the years.
Just got this in my news feed today: "UPS drivers told not to pick up shipments from major retailers amid pandemic-fueled holiday surge":
https://thehill.com/business-a-lobb...-shipments-amid-pandemic-fueled-holiday-surge

What next, FedEx hogging my newly scored Polecat Pershing II ?
Check.
Delivery has just gotten rescheduled second day in a row. The box is being shipped from about ~350 miles from home, or about six (6) hours of driving straight. I've done that trip many times in the past, even during the rush hour. It just doesn't take 4 days, and counting.
So far, the package has "arrived" and "left" FedEx facilities, one day at a time, at each of the following states: VA->VA->MD->PA->
Lets see how many more scenic stops it will enjoy before FedEx finds a place to cross PA->NJ border.

I think it took less time for George Washington to cross Delaware in December of 1776, then it is taking FedEx in 2020.
 

kuririn

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UPS has misdelivered my parcels a couple of times.
Once to a neighbor. Our house address # is on the mailbox but apparently the drivers nowadays rely on GPS instead of their eyes and brains.
And once to a house with the same # but different street one block below ours.
Had to call UPS to track it down and redeliver.
FedEx drivers here just drop off the parcels at your front door.
No ring, no knock. So if you're at home it could be hours before you find it on your doorstep.
Our USPS carrier is a gem. He walks the parcel up to the front door with the rest of the mail and rings the doorbell or knocks and waits for a response.
If nobody's home he leaves it in the carport out of sight from the street.
I always remember him with a small gift around the holidays.
As for the political hack running the PO now, either he's remarkably inept at instituting practices to improve service, because he is achieving exactly the opposite effect.
Or he is remarkably good at.................
Connect the dots.
And yes, their errors were tracked by so many stacked inches per month or year, etc. People who exceeded set limits were moved from sorting to other jobs like loading trucks or were let go. My father studied zip codes, streets and addresses countless hours on his own time EVERY YEAR in order to pass proficiency tests, sweating through a lot of Peptobismol until the test was done. I have no idea what they do today. Perhaps management and general organizational operations were better then.
I took the Postal Service exam once. Didn't get in but my friend did. He was a vet and he told me that if you didn't get at least 100 on the test forget about it. Vets and especially disabled vets got extra points added on to their test results. So even if you scored 100 others would score as high as 125.
He lost the job because he failed the proficiency test that was administered periodically.
When I applied it was decades ago and the job description for sorters mentioned scanning letters passing in front of you and punching in the last two numbers of the zip code into a machine. Understandably there were rest breaks every half hour. I'm actually glad I didn't get that job, pay notwithstanding.
I think they use expensive optical scanners and sorting machines now instead of humans.
The ones that the Postmaster General has been dismantling.
 

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"Fragile" is typically ignored. UPS used to have a small statement that they "use automated equipment, and cannot guarantee items with 'Fragile' or 'this end up' will be respected". And that is it "up to the shipper to ensure the item is packaged in such a way to minimize any damage that can occur during transit & handling".. Of course, the guy picking up the packages is supposed to ask & ensure you have done your due diligence to ensure proper & adequate packaging..

I've done studies in packaging (there is a UL directive for it even!) And I've seen people who "think" they know how to package something (rockets in bubble pack-bags)
 

djs

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Maybe it's just us that live in the Toledo area. Either dancing back and forth or sitting with no update a state away has been the norm for anything traveling with USPS. This includes a shipment of bees we got in May. Live item deliver with 1 day paid and insured arrived 4 days later with about 25% of the bees lying dead and the package damaged to boot.
I don't want to laugh at your misfortune, but you'd think "Box full of bees" would be the first package you'd want to get out of the door, and definitely not damage.
 

SeanW78

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I don't want to laugh at your misfortune, but you'd think "Box full of bees" would be the first package you'd want to get out of the door, and definitely not damage.
They were docile despite the shipping delay. We were able to support them and successfully get a small amount of honey in our first year.
 

rklapp

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"Fragile" is typically ignored. UPS used to have a small statement that they "use automated equipment, and cannot guarantee items with 'Fragile' or 'this end up' will be respected". And that is it "up to the shipper to ensure the item is packaged in such a way to minimize any damage that can occur during transit & handling".. Of course, the guy picking up the packages is supposed to ask & ensure you have done your due diligence to ensure proper & adequate packaging..

I've done studies in packaging (there is a UL directive for it even!) And I've seen people who "think" they know how to package something (rockets in bubble pack-bags)
You have to pronounce it correctly.

 

Bill S

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They were docile despite the shipping delay. We were able to support them and successfully get a small amount of honey in our first year.
Well, while I am sad to see any of your bees die in transit due to abuse, maybe it helped the longevity of the hive by weeding out the weakest bees? Still, that kind of package abuse is totally unacceptable, and I'd be sending pics/talking to the postmaster general about that (not that it would do a lick of good, mind you).
 
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