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OIG to USPS: Improve Scanning Practices

USPS Needs to Improve Scanning Practices

The USPS Inspector General (USPS OIG) issued a report on mail scanning issues, a topic near and dear to online sellers’ hearts since they rely on scans to prove they sent a package, sent it on time, and show if and when it was delivered to the customer.

During an audit, the OIG found that postal employees were sometimes improperly scanning packages at the units and not following package scanning policies. “The purpose of this alert is to bring these issues to your attention and make a recommendation for immediate corrective action,” it told Postal Service management.

“During fiscal year (FY) 2019, we reviewed package scanning procedures at 25 Postal Service delivery units to determine if employees were properly scanning packages. During our audits, we found that Postal Service employees were not always following package scanning procedures at 21 of the 25 units.”

The Inspector General went on to make the following recommendation: “We recommend the Vice President, Delivery and Retail Operations, enhance ongoing strategies to improve scanning accuracy and enforce compliance.”

The OIG reported the USPS management’s response to its findings (and published its full response in an appendix in the report):

“Management agreed with the finding and recommendation. Regarding our finding, management stated they had concerns with the OIG’s interpretation of the data and noted that they found instances where scans considered errors by the OIG may have been processed correctly. They also stated that the OIG acknowledged instances where large numbers of scanning differences generated for a single address could have been easily resolved with the use of a firm sheet.

“Regarding recommendation 1, management stated they will continue to focus on improving technology, developing employees, and establishing standard work requirements through a variety of channels accessible to all delivery units. Management explained in a subsequent conversation that they recently released a new scan report that district management can use to monitor scanning integrity and ensure unit instructions given to carriers are consistent with Postal Service policies.

“Management is also developing a new training course for front line supervisors that focuses on scanning policies and procedures. In addition, management is in the process of developing new videos and messaging material that will be provided to carriers regarding the importance of proper scanning. Management’s target implementation date is October 31, 2020.”

There were numerous comments on the USPS OIG’s blog post about the report.

One postal customer said the Postal Service has a problem proving they delivered a package to the right address, and she cited a case of an undelivered package that she believed was delivered to the wrong address, but said she was told it had been stolen.

Other commenters said scanners have GPS so that postal managers have the ability to look up where and when packages were scanned and can even get a Google Map location.

You can find the full report on the USPS OIG website. Let us know your experiences with tracking on your ecommerce packages.

Ina Steiner on EmailIna Steiner on LinkedinIna Steiner on Twitter
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner
Ina Steiner is co-founder and Editor of EcommerceBytes and has been reporting on ecommerce since 1999. She's a widely cited authority on marketplace selling and is author of "Turn eBay Data Into Dollars" (McGraw-Hill 2006). Her blog was featured in the book, "Blogging Heroes" (Wiley 2008). She is a member of the Online News Association (Sep 2005 - present) and Investigative Reporters and Editors (Mar 2006 - present). Follow her on Twitter at @ecommercebytes and send news tips to ina@ecommercebytes.com. See disclosure at EcommerceBytes.com/disclosure/.

2 thoughts on “OIG to USPS: Improve Scanning Practices”

  1. Don’t get me started complaining about the USPS scanning process. Recently I mailed an order on 2/20 and watched it travel through 3 POs. It landed in NJ on Mar 1, and sat and sat and sat and I had to assure the buyer it was coming. I had to call NJ distribution center to find out where the heck was the package? It finally was delivered on March 4. But it sat for 3 days in a distribution center, no movement at all. Something’s wrong with the whole mail system.

  2. I have often wondered why the USPS tracking does not show the person’s name or street address (or for that matter the sender’s info). FedEx shows both on their tracking. USPS only shows the city and state. Do you think it has something to do with privacy issues? I’ve had buyers say where did the PO say they delivered it. All I can say is somewhere in your city.

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