Ina Steiner EcommerceBytes Blog
News and insight focusing on ecommerce.
by Ina Steiner, Editor of
Mon Dec 23 2013 20:36:20

Online Sellers Contend with Slow Mail and Snatched Packages

By: Ina Steiner

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SEE UPDATE BELOW. Some report the U.S. Postal Service has been slower in delivering mail this holiday season, and some sellers - as well as the American Postal Workers Union - are blaming it on postal cost-cutting measures.

The APWU's Debby Szeredy said, "Much of the delayed mail is in areas where plants and post offices have been consolidated or closed or where hours at post offices have been reduced," according to

The Union is urging customers who have complaints about delayed mail to let the Postal Regulatory Commission (PRC) know. See this EcommerceBytes interview with PRC Chairman Ruth Goldway in which she explain how her agency has the authority to mediate complaints about service and serve as an advocate for mailers.

As for sellers, when an eBay seller started a thread recently on the discussion boards called "Really Disappointed in the USPS this year," some other sellers joined in echoing that sentiment. "It seems like the Post Office has really dropped the ball this year. I've had more trouble in the last 4 weeks than I've had the last 10 years," the original poster wrote.

Another agreed, writing, "This is the first holiday season with all cut backs, closures, consolidations, staffing reductions, and service standard lowering in place. And yes it shows. Items that used to take 2-3 days are taking 4-6-or longer. Across the board."

Not everyone agreed, however. "Given all of the closures and cutbacks, I'd say USPS has done well this year. There are no more delays than usual, considering the season and recent bad weather."

Another problem sellers are contending with is the problem of theft. Some criminals are following UPS delivery trucks and are stealing packages from recipients' doorsteps. It's difficult to know how often this happens, but there are certainly a lot more media reports about the problem this year.

In fact, one police department came up with a Twitter hashtag for the practice: #FrontPorchShopping

Above: The Anne Arundel County Police Department say this man is a suspect in #FrontPorchShopping

Unfortunately when the thieves are caught, it seems law enforcement is challenged in figuring out who the items belong to, since the crooks destroy the packaging.

Have you experienced any shipping delays or reports of stolen packages? Let us know in the comments.

UPDATE 12/24/13: UPS is also having problems delivering mail on time. The noticed an announcement on the UPS website updated on Christmas Eve:

Service Update - Updated Tuesday, December 24, 2013
UPS understands the importance of your holiday shipments. All of our drivers are out making deliveries throughout the day and into the evening. The volume of air packages in our system exceeded the capacity of our network as demand was much greater than the forecast, resulting in some shipments being delayed. We expect a vast majority of these packages will be delivered the day after Christmas. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience. For the most-up-to date information, click here to track your specific shipment's progress on

That means some customers will not be receiving their packages until the day after Christmas - bad news for online merchants who use UPS!!

It's important for sellers who use UPS and receive complaints from customers to point them to this message.

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Perminate Link for Online Sellers Contend with Slow Mail and Snatched Packages   Online Sellers Contend with Slow Mail and Snatched Packages

This user has validated their user name. by: ebayisajoke
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Sat Dec 28 09:42:58 2013

I blame eBay Inc for all my missing packages.

Perminate Link for Online Sellers Contend with Slow Mail and Snatched Packages   Online Sellers Contend with Slow Mail and Snatched Packages

by: FREDDY This user has validated their user name.

Sat Dec 28 10:52:40 2013

Just wonder if ebay is going to copy Amazon and refund shipping on late packages?? NOT ebay money but the sellers?????  Seems they have to try and copy everything Amazon does.

Just love it when UPS just drops the box on the porch. No knock or bell ringing. I have gotten into the habit if checking the porch before I retire for the night.

Biggest dumb move I witnessed was UPS driver using a cart to move a rather large and obviously heavy box and leave it on the front porch. Small porch - blocked the door. I called another neighbor and we went over and helped the 87 yr old lady take it off the porch and had to move it in her house. Door could not be opened with it on the porch. We also opened the box and got rid of the packaging etc.. It was a piece of furniture her daughter sent her from the coast. On the bright side we got a cup of coffee and cake for our help. There are a lot of elderly people out there that would have a hard time if not impossible to bring in some of the large boxes that go through UPS. Drivers have no sense. (some drivers). The large and heavy boxes  deserve some extra attention. After all UPS gets paid by weight and size.

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