Things are getting ugly for sellers as the USPS is getting bogged down. A message at the top of the USPS.com website says it's experiencing unprecedented package increases and limited employee availability due to the impacts of COVID-19. "We appreciate your patience and remain committed to delivering the holidays to you."
However, recipients who check the USPS Service Alerts page
to see if there are disruptions won't see that red banner at the top, and if they click on "Residential Customers," there are no general warnings of delivery delays.
Worse still, the USPS issued a press release on Monday
encouraging customers to send their holiday gifts and cards as soon as possible but making no adjustments to its holiday shipping cut-off dates to account for the logjams and delays.
How the USPS is reportedly communicating with buyers who report delays is coming under criticism on the eBay for Business Facebook page. Some sellers have posted letters supposedly sent by USPS Postmasters or representatives acknowledging their packages are delayed-but-on-the-way, with one postmaster reportedly advising buyers to "contact the sender for a refund."
Marketplace sellers are in a particularly tough spot since they have little control on how platforms like eBay handle complaints from buyers who open item-not-received claims.
In what appears to be a ray of hope for some sellers, an eBay moderator is telling sellers who report problems on the eBay for Business Facebook
thread that they can Private Message ("PM") them on Facebook for help.
The following is an example of an eBay for Business moderator responding to a seller who said they got dinged for late delivery even though they didn't have delivery guarantee dates:
"Thank you for letting us know. If you had an acceptance scan in time, you shouldn't have a ding or defect for late shipment even if it shows up late. Feel free to PM us your full name, postal code, and registered email address if you need further help with it. ~Kelly"
In the meantime, it appears retailers and marketplaces continue to promote holiday shopping with little or no warnings to buyers of likely delays.
Postmaster General Louis DeJoy discussed the holiday season in a special year-end video message
to employees on Monday. He said the Postal Service is expecting as much as a third more mail this holiday season than last year. "We are seeing this strong volume in the network in every part of the country," he said.
"Our competitors are likely to get more volume than they can handle - which means we may be getting a lot of overflow," he said.
Among the measures the Postal Service took: adding over 50,000 seasonal workers, adding more transportation, working overtime, and delivering on Sundays in most markets.
DeJoy also mentioned COVID, sending thoughts and prayers to those suffering or who lost loved ones. "Your safety is important to me, so please practice safe distancing, wear your mask, and use hand sanitizer."
"We continue to see high rates of absenteeism in hotspots around the country. This has had an impact on local and national service performance, and it adds stress throughout the workforce," he said.
The Washington Post
said the USPS was "gridlocked" and "overwhelmed" in a piece about holiday packages delays today - it said even first-class mail, including letters and bills, is seeing delays. "The Postal Service told Congress that only 78.9 percent of first-class mail was delivered on time during the week of Nov. 28, well below its internal goal of 96 percent."
It's gut-wrenching to read sellers on industry boards discussing the delays. They indicate the problem started last month. On one thread, sellers said packages sent Media Mail in November took ages to arrive, with some still stuck in limbo.
A significant winter storm is set to make things worse - Weather.com
said it will impact the interior Northeast and near parts of the Interstate 95 corridor from southern New England to New York City and areas near Philadelphia.
Let us know what you're seeing out there and what you're hearing from marketplaces and buyers.