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Sun June 6 2021 15:33:19

Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal

By: Ina Steiner

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The speed of mail for Americans may never get back to levels seen before the appointment of a new Postmaster General and the global outbreak of COVID-19. The reality is setting in even as the US Postal Service raises rates at the end of August.

"The U.S. Postal Service is signaling that widespread mail delays prevalent in 2020 and early 2021 are the new normal, setting expectations for the remainder of the year far below historical norms," according to an article in Government Executive.

The publication's June 3rd headline reads, "USPS Projects Continuing Mail Delays, Setting Targets Well Below Historical Standards," and states in the article, "USPS has never recovered from nationwide mail delays resulting from operational changes DeJoy put into place shortly after taking office last year."

Government Executive's headline contrasts with the USPS's June 3rd press release headline, "U.S. Postal Service Delivery of Mail Sees Across-the-Board Improvements as Recovery from Pandemic Continues."

But the USPS isn't even trying to return the speed of mail to pre-2020 levels. As it outlined in its 10-year plan, the USPS will modify service standards for First-Class Mail letters and flats from 1- 3 days to 1-5 day service. 

One person voiced concern about the unintended consequences of the strategy of deliberately slowing service standards: "Trying to slow the mail to save cost is so counter-productive. The faster and more accurate the mail is, the more it is used,..."

The comment appeared under a May 3rd post on the USPS Office of Inspector General (OIG) website about its analysis of delayed mail volume in 2020 - both the post and the comments underneath are worth a read. (People weighed in on whether slower mail was the fault of the new PMG or the pandemic.) 

While many sellers send items First Class Mail and Media Mail, most are sending packages. What will they see during the holiday-shipping season this fall?

The USPS said in its June 3rd press release that network enhancements and investments are currently underway to prepare for the 2021 holiday peak season, referencing a goal of achieving a 95% service performance delivery target.

"These initiatives include: the procurement of 138 package sorters to meet higher package volume, the leasing of 45 annex facilities within 5 miles of existing facilities to accommodate surges in demand ahead of the 2021 peak holiday season, and the completion of operational mail moves previously paused in 2015 at 18 facilities."

It's never too early to think about the holiday shopping period. Will it be a repeat of 2020, or will the USPS and shipping carriers be better prepared for the higher volume of online orders - what do you think?



Comments (16) | Permalink

Readers Comments

Perminate Link for Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal   Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal

by: lessthanthreerecords This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jun 6 16:23:30 2021

First class (and even priority) tubes are consistently taking at least three weeks, and often as long as five or six weeks.  One to five days?  That would be an absolute miracle, not a slowdown!

Perminate Link for Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal   Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal

by: hopeforthebest This user has validated their user name.

Sun Jun 6 20:30:10 2021

I've had to start telling people USPS First Class mail is 10-14 working days, (and sometimes even that isn't long enough) instead of the 1-5 working days Etsy promises, and over the Memorial Day Weekend they promised a buyer clear across the country that a USPS First Class mail envelope containing a product sold on Sunday could be delivered as early as that coming Tuesday, even though Monday was a mail holiday. That would make it same day delivery - mailed on Tuesday and arriving that same day!

Perminate Link for Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal   Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal

by: Eagle This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 7 01:06:24 2021

I'm sure if USPS spent the millions of $$$$$$ to buy and replace the sorting machines DeJoy ordered removed and destroyed prior to the 2020 election that at least letters and flats could speed up. Probably would speed up everything considering employees wouldn't have to sort manually!

Perminate Link for Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal   Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal

by: Chicago48 This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 7 05:40:50 2021

For packages, I use Fedex and UPS as much as possible.  Many times the rate is comparable to priority mail rates.

Perminate Link for Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal   Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal

by: leavingNY This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 7 08:05:56 2021

I just keep filing USPS insurance claims for the items that do not arrive in time. This works for USPS priority mail and express mail only.  

Perminate Link for Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal   Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal

by: cvsharkey This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 7 08:22:19 2021

I have a question: If this follows the announced definition, will Amazon finally STOP saying "Free two-day shipping?"  If now, why? Would it not be false advertising?

Perminate Link for Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal   Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal

by: Disgruntled_Seller This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 7 09:07:12 2021

No matter what they do, until USPS performs with "accountability" and behaves like a real business and gets rid of the "I am entitled" employee attitudes nothing will get better for them.  

Perminate Link for Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal   Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal

by: fusgeyer This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 7 10:02:13 2021

When it comes to First Class Mail, the USPS is the cheapest option for flats. You cannot send a letter sized or legal sized envelope through any other shipping service for the minimal amount USPS charges. Yes, it takes longer, but where else can you send a letter sized flat for $0.55 and if you were like me and bought a massive amount of forever stamps when they were really cheap, it is still a lot less.

I'm not a huge fan of the current situation at the post office, but in other countries it costs a lot more to send standard post flats domestically. For packages there are a lot of other options that are less expensive depending on the services you want - like included insurance from the carrier. Also, USPS has had a terrrible track record with destroying tubes we ship that contain artwork and technical drawings. For some reason carriers across the country are not leaving their vehicles to leave tubes at the door and they are not leaving a notice in the mailbox if it does not fit. Instead, they cram the 36" tubes by mangling them into the mailbox. This results in having to reship damaged artwork and plans. Yes, they pay the claims, but time is $$ and it costs to reprint. For artwork especially, we have chosen to go with other carriers, who deliver to the door.  

Perminate Link for Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal   Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal

by: railady This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 7 10:33:12 2021

I am shaking my head, just not understanding all the problems cited.

I am in fact wondering if some of the weird ''road trips'' packages are taking are new, or whether it's been going on all along, only now that we can read scans we are finding out about them. Example: an eBay item I won went First Class Mail from New Hampshire to Honolulu Hawaii and back, on its way to my home in New York state. That said, this package took a week to reach me - not bad, actually?

I ship packages and am experiencing almost none at all of the delays folks are complaining about here.  Certainly not shipping delays. It's pretty much back to pre-covid for my packages with an occasional not terribly bad exception.

I use USPS exclusively (with a rare exception of a too large/too heavy package) and have found them the best for fragile items.

I avoid UPS and FEDEX, the drop off for FEDEX packages is 30 miles away, so that's out. I did start a UPS account but discontinued it once I read the small type on the back of the waybills about what ''insurance'' would not cover (like most of what I was shipping?). FEDEX is better for incoming packages -- UPS packages arriving at my home are often damaged so badly that unless the shipper has packed with extreme care there is breakage. (It's the sorting facilities, not the drivers). And a damage claim against UPS can be a tooth and nail fight.

About cramming tubes into mailboxes, do you mean sticking a 3-foot package into a box as far as it will go with the rest hanging out ?  It really seems hard to believe that this happens routinely, and if it does, it is a very bad carrier not USPS.  I switched to a PO Box years ago because one or two of our rural carriers became impossible to work with (the worst instance was leaving mail on an unused open front porch in the winter - who knows what blew away).

All that said, I think much of any decision as to which carrier to use depends on personal experience. I am incredibly fortunate to have wonderful people in the Post Office I use now (quite the opposite in the local post office I no longer get mail through), and a truly great UPS driver (driver, not sorting facility).

Perminate Link for Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal   Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal

This user has validated their user name. by: RKTOYS

Mon Jun 7 12:17:30 2021

DeJoy is a saboteur, pure and simple.  Why can't people see that?

Perminate Link for Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal   Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal

This user has validated their user name. by: epuise

Mon Jun 7 14:31:26 2021

DeJoy needs to GO... He wants to destroy USPS so his UPS & Fed Ex stocks do well... Another clue-less multi-millionaire put in charge by 44 that is destroying small business.

Perminate Link for Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal   Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal

This user has validated their user name. by: The End

Mon Jun 7 14:57:06 2021

Picture it :
Going too fast doesn't work.....
Old school gets it done.

Perminate Link for Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal   Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal

by: tniel This user has validated their user name.

Mon Jun 7 23:00:12 2021

THIS COMMENT IS ABSOLUTELY TRUE AND ACCURATE.
THE USPS IS A DISGRACE.

First class (and even priority) tubes are consistently taking at least three weeks, and often as long as five or six weeks.  One to five days?  That would be an absolute miracle, not a slowdown!

Perminate Link for Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal   Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal

by: I Must be Crazy This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 8 00:44:36 2021

Service through USPS used to be reliable. Over this past year, everything lacks consistency. Packages are not scanned timely every day. I have some carriers who will scan them on pickup. Others might scan them later in the day. Others don't scan at all until it leaves the local post office 2 days later. My shipping metrics are the worst they have ever been. Yet I still ship everything same or one day after purchase. I just do what I do, and things just happen as they will. I have no control over the post office.

As for the shipping metrics, maybe the platforms, especially eBay, will acknowledge they have no control over these shipping times and will stop providing unreasonable promises to buyers.

Perminate Link for Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal   Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal

by: Disgruntled_Seller This user has validated their user name.

Tue Jun 8 10:46:27 2021

Here is a fine example of USPS performance. This request was opened at 7:22AM (today) for a very much delayed (weeks actually) parcel that is probably setting at a final distribution center,

This message is to let you know that we have received your inquiry at the United States Postal ServiceĀ®.

After we review and investigate the information you have provided, we will contact you and work with you until the issue is resolved.

We appreciate your patience while we investigate this matter.

Signed .....

At 9:23 AM (today) USPS closes the request as resolved,

Thank you for taking the time to notify us of your experience. Your USPSĀ® Service Request xxxxxxxx has been marked as resolved.

Your package is still in transit from another facility. It will be delivered once your carrier receives it.

Please accept our sincerest apology for any trouble this may have caused you. We appreciate your business and look forward to serving you again in the future.

Signed .....

Well no duh. Since we have insight into "internal" tracking, which is different from the customer facing tracking view, we know this person had no clue where this parcel is and this is a "get it off my plate" response. Not much help, nor will it get the parcel moving which so many think will happen. But USPS was able to resolve the request and that really shows they are up to speed, right? Wrong. It won't get moving until the basket or bag in which it is setting is dumped and worked. Since we have back door access into our facility, I can quite factually tell you that a lot of this stuff sits for weeks or more in a huge mess while later mailed parcels are handled in and out.

Perminate Link for Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal   Mail Delivery Speed: Slower Is the New Normal

by: ShortSeller This user has validated their user name.

Fri Jun 11 16:23:23 2021

Pretty clear they don't want you using anything other than package/parcel services at this point. DeJoy is an incompetent tool yet the Dems don't seem to care about him now that they have power? Typical.



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