The USPS acknowledged directives outlined in leaked USPS documents that we wrote about last week
and were also picked up by the Washington Post. The documents described practices that would almost certainly result in mail delivery delays, drawing the ire of some lawmakers.
dug into the story and reported yesterday that the some of the controversial directives are part of a pilot program the USPS is running to try to reduce costs. The pilot, Expedited to Street/Afternoon Sortation, will run for 30-60 days at nearly 200 sites around the country and, for now, affect only city carriers.
Other controversial policies were actually "existing plans that have been designed to provide prompt and reliable service within current service standards," a Postal Service spokesperson told Gov Exec magazine.
That's a reference to other recent memos that "instructed employees to leave for each phase of their deliveries according to a set schedule, meaning some mail will likely be delayed. The memos also announced that late trips and overtime would no longer be authorized. "
The article reported on lawmakers' concerns and published an excerpt of a letter some members of the House and Senate had written to Postmaster General Louis DeJoy asking for an explanation for the changes:
"While we share the goal of ensuring the Postal Service's solvency, the rhetoric used in the document compares the Postal Service to a private company concerned only with the bottom line, rather than the constitutionally mandated public service that it is," the letter stated.
For online sellers, any delay in mail delivery spells disaster thanks to impatient buyers quick to file Item Not Received claims, compounded by marketplaces that fuel buyers' unreasonable expectations and penalize sellers for delays outside their control.
But one seller pointed out another problem that is just as serious: the impact of the directives on mail pickup.
A postal carrier warned one EcommerceBytes reader that the packages she picked up from his home would be delayed thanks to a new directive from the recently installed Postmaster General.
"You might wanna take your mail to the post office for now because it's probably not going to be sent out the day I pick it up," the carrier told the online seller. She said there was "a lot of shady shit" going on that carriers are not supposed to talk about.
The reader told us, "She confirmed the elimination of overtime, delay in mailing packages AND letter mail (she specifically mentioned unemployment checks). She confirmed that this was handed down by the new postmaster general. She even went as far to say as "they are trying to get rid of us.""
It's unclear if the possible delays the carrier referred to come into play only after the mail has been picked up, or if the restrictions on overtime and other practices will also delay the mail pickups themselves.
The people most impacted by mail pickup delays are the smallest sellers who rely on USPS and may be unable to leave their homes and whose numbers during the pandemic have likely grown.