As you might expect, the coronavirus is impacting the United States Postal Service (USPS). With the exception of First Class Mail (which has no guaranteed delivery date) and Priority Express Overnight, the USPS website says you should expect an additional day delay for all others services. It sounds reasonable when you factor in social distancing within facilities. However, mail pieces in some areas are experiencing significantly longer delays. Is a backlog of mail—your mail—piling up?
Mail Delivery Becomes Political
The technological, political, and tariff war with China is trickling down into shipping agreements where USPS is the last-mile carrier for ePacket and similar services. (For discounts, FedEx customers can also choose USPS as the last-mile carrier.) Such services are commonly used for dropshipping.
Now they appear to be the lowest priority. Delivery that traditionally takes 30–40 days is taking 3–4 months. Residents of Baltimore are complaining of delays in First Class mail, including unemployment checks.
Though the USPS is a government agency, it is financed like a commercial company, through the sale of stamps, shipping supplies and services. As such, it has been struggling to break even since the Internet brought forth email. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency lost $2.2 billion in the second quarter of 2020. At this rate, the $10 billion coronavirus government loan will run out by March 2021.
Such massive financial losses prompted the President of The United States to replace the Postmaster General with businessman Louis DeJoy. USPS is now reassigning or displacing 23 postal executives including the two top officials who oversee day-to-day operations. This also comes with sweeping changes in mail processing.
📰 August 18, 2020 – Embattled Postmaster General Louis DeJoy reversed course Tuesday, saying that all changes being made to the Postal Service would be suspended until after the November 3 election, just as 20 Democratic states announced plans to file federal lawsuits. This does not mean services will be restored. —CNN
To return to profitability, there is a drastic reduction of overtime for postal workers. Carriers are not allowed to return to the same address on the same day to assure on-time delivery. The Postal Service is implementing a hiring freeze, according to the reorganization announcement, and will ask for voluntary early retirements.
USPS is currently decommissioning 10 percent of its costly and bulky mail-sorting machines, capable of sorting 21.4 million pieces of paper mail per hour. Thousands of collection mailboxes have been removed across the country. Expect many more changes before the overhaul is complete.
This is all routine maintenance,” Steve Doherty, USPS spokesperson said. “There’s no effort underway to reduce collection boxes.”
Lawmakers question such dramatic changes during a public health crisis ahead of an election that is dependent upon mail-in ballots. DeJoy will face a congressional hearing on September 17 to answer questions about the impact of extreme modifications prior to November 4, 2020. There are concerns that mail delays will affect election results. Your packages can get caught up in the political wrangling.
Track Your Packages
What can you do during all this kerfuffle? Choose trackable shipping options. Whether because of conveyor belt friction, sliding around while handling, or poor adhesion, airbill or label detachment is one of the most common reasons for delivery interruption. Affix tracking number on package in two places, in case the label comes off or suffers damage.
ClinicalPosters ships USPS packages via First Class mail, Priority Mail, and Express Mail. For a few dollars, you can even get a tracking number with First Class mail. FedEx Ground, FedEx Express, UPS, and DHL shipping options are available during checkout. Prominent third-party carriers respond more quickly to loss and damage claims than USPS.
Using a USPS PO Box simplifies delivery logistics in most areas. To receive packages there from third-party carriers, you need to fill out a Street Addressing form that authorizes the Post Office to accept items in your behalf. Thereafter, you may use the street address of that branch with the PO Box number as a point of delivery.
For mail from China to the United States, Newgistics is, so far, maintaining reasonably good delivery times of around 30–40 days (with third-party tracking). To receive goods within a week, DHL and FedEx are significantly more expensive international delivery options. FedEx Ground is available across the North America Canadian border.
- USPS® Coronavirus Updates: Expected Delivery Changes. faq.usps.com/s/article/USPS-Coronavirus-Updates-Expected-Delivery-Changes
- USPS just made sweeping changes to its leadership as lawmakers call for an investigation into delayed mail ahead of the 2020 election. businessinsider.com/usps-just-made-sweeping-changes-to-the-nations-mail-service-2020-8
- Postal Service reviewing staffing following complaints of mail delays in Baltimore area. baltimoresun.com/maryland/baltimore-county/bs-md-mail-delivery-delays-lawmakers-20200810-yzi2jfxrvnf27mnmqx2xfrp55e-story.html
- With slower mail and election concerns, Trump's postmaster general is in the hot seat. cnn.com/2020/08/16/politics/dejoy-post-office-hot-seat-election-2020/index.html
- The USPS explains why mailboxes were rounded up in Brighton. boston.com/news/local-news/2020/08/15/usps-mailboxes-brighton-photo
- Postal Service overhauls leadership as Democrats press for investigation of mail delays. washingtonpost.com/business/2020/08/07/postal-service-investigation-dejoy/
- House Committee Requests Hearing With New Postmaster General To Address Mail Delays. Retrieved Aug 3, 2020. forbes.com/sites/tommybeer/2020/08/03/house-committee-requests-hearing-with-new-postmaster-general-to-address-mail-delays/?sh=613f7aa31b99
- Postal Service warns 46 states their voters could be disenfranchised by delayed mail-in ballots. washingtonpost.com/local/md-politics/usps-states-delayed-mail-in-ballots/2020/08/14/64bf3c3c-dcc7-11ea-8051-d5f887d73381_story.html
- USPS removes mail collection boxes and reduces post office hours as critics accuse Trump administration of voter suppression. cnn.com/2020/08/14/politics/usps-removes-letter-collection-boxes-reduces-post-office-operating-hours/index.html
- Problems at the post office could devastate these small businesses. cnn.com/2020/08/20/business/postal-service-small-business/index.html
- Video shows USPS mail being dumped in a California parking lot. A postal union says USPS employees weren't involved. cnn.com/2020/09/08/us/usps-mail-dump-parking-lot-trnd/index.html
- Main photo by Roman Koval from Pexels.