Postal Employees Ordered To Stop Offering First-Class Mail

Postal employees have been ordered to upsell pricey express or priority mail services to anyone sending anything more than a letter, according to an anonymous tipster. The directive comes straight from Washington to help combat the Post Office’s $1.1 billion operating deficit. To avoid the upsell, specifically ask if there is a cheaper way to ship your package. The anonymous tipster’s letter, inside…

Hi, I work the counter for the United States Postal Service and right now we are in a really big financial mess, they claim to have lost about one Billion dollars this past fiscal year. I was told yesterday by my supervisor (and I saw the written memo from the District) that stated we are not to offer first class, parcel post, or media mail.

If a customer comes to the counter with anything other than a letter, we are not to offer anything other than Express Mail or Priority mail.

So if a customer comes to the counter with a 5 ounce small package I am supposed to say “Good Afternoon, would you like to ship this Express Mail overnight guaranteed, it includes $100 of insurance and free tracking for only $16.50?”—Customer looks at you like you are crazy, especially if the package is just going across town—”Ok, then we can send it Priority Mail and it should get to its destination in 2-3 business days for $4.80 and we can add insurance for loss or damage, and for an extra 65 cents you can add delivery confirmation.” At this point I am supposed to shut up and let them either be duped into paying at least $4.80 or wait until they say – how about first class, or is there anything cheaper?—at that point I can offer the first class postage. For the package I described, a 5 ounce parcel, the cost would be $1.85 or almost $3 cheaper than Priority Mail. My advice is to always ask if there is a cheaper way to ship. Once asked we can tell you, but we won’t volunteer the information.

Some tips if you are going to the Post Office, Express Mail will get it there overnight. Priority mail AND first class will usually get it overnight if it is going within your city or usually within your state. If the package is going farther than a neighboring state the Priority Mail will get there in 2 or 3 days, with first class usually a day or two later than Priority. We are not supposed to offer parcel post mail—I do agree with that, parcel post is usually within a dollar or two pricewise of Priority Mail and will take anywhere from 7-14 days or even longer to get where it is going. If you are only sending books, media mail is the ultimate cheap way to go, usually 1/3 the price of parcel post. A warning though—media mail can be opened, and we do open it if we suspect it is not media mail. In that case the person recieving the package will pay the difference in price.

(Photo: justmyowntwocents)

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  1. One thing I will say about the post office is that they are quick. While I sometimes watch a FedEx package sitting in a warehouse for three days before moving, the USPS packages never stay in the same spot for very long. I can understand why they are pushing an upsell. If the same package gets there within 24-48 hours of it’s higher priced counterpart, I can see where they stand to gain. Of course, in todays society, that 24-48 hours is sometimes worth the extra $2-3 dollars.

    • SabreDC says:

      @Git Em SteveDave loves this guy–>: I disagree. I sent a package from Washington, DC to Colorado last July. I paid over $50 for express shipping, which was supposed to guarantee 2-3 days. I sent it on August 14. It arrived on August 29.

      They are quick when it comes to letters. But they are hardly reliable for any other service. I recently moved from an apartment to a house. I signed up for mail forwarding, and I have yet to receive a piece of mail forwarded to my house. I called my old apartment and asked them if they could check my old mailbox and lo and behold, there were several weeks worth of mail there.

      It’s time to phase them out and allow private competition that can deliver to a resident’s mailbox, which is currently illegal.

      • @SabreDC: I will say I disagree with you. I have had the occasional slow package show up, but 97% of the time, they show up damn quick. Hell, since my area is considered “rural”, I can buy postage from my mailman(really great when you don’t have a stamp and just put the exact change on the envelope in your mailbox), money orders, etc… Try doing that with UPS or FedEx.

        @afrix: For years, I asked EVERYWHERE if they offered student discounts while I had a valid student ID. you would be surprised the places that do.

      • psm321 says:

        @SabreDC: On the other hand, I got a USPS package from CA to MI in 2 days. This was priority mail, not express mail or anything like that. Try getting UPS or FedEx to do that at a reasonable price.

    • TechnoDestructo says:

      @Git Em SteveDave loves this guy–>:

      It really depends on the post office, and what precise route an item takes. I’ve had a first-class letter get from Fairbanks, AK, to Atlanta, GA in less than a day before. OTOH, I’ve had things (coming from one specific post office) take two weeks to get across town.

      I’ve had a giant fucking package (of axles) get out of my post office in a day, and languish in the receipient’s post office for a month before they bothered to find it for him.

  2. deadspork says:

    The internet killed the post office star :(

    • The_IT_Crone says:

      @deadspork: I hear that a lot, but I don’t think I can believe it. I spend FAR more at USPS now than before I became a heavy user of the internet. From eBay to newegg.com, they get a lot more dough than a few lousy letters to some friend across town.

      I can relate to this story, the last few times I’ve tried to send Media Mail I thought I was going to have to submit to a cavity search.

    • theysaidwhat says:

      @deadspork: who said”The internet killed the post office star :(“

      I know you were joking, but you are actually very close to the source of the issue!

      About 8 years ago, USPS was one of my clients, and I therefore had to learn their business model. Until about 1999, the USPS could very accurately predict the volume of first class mail based on census figures of US adults. The USPS never anticipated how quickly people would adopt online bill paying (bill presentment and payment made a HUGE percentage of US mail) and also failed to anticipate how quickly people would adopt online tax returns (another HUGE annual boost in business). Their models were out the window, at a time when they had spent an obscene amount of money to expedite an automate first class mail. Yo9u know those little bar codes that are on your mail? That means it can be automated–a machine reads the zip code.

      The USPS delivers 97% of first class mail within 24 hours. Shocking, isn’t it?

      The other thing that people don’t seem to realize is that the USPS is supposed to be a ‘break-even’ operation. When rate hikes go into effect, they are generally expected to cover three years. The first year, the USPS makes money, the second, they are even, the third, they lose. Over the course of the three years, they break even.

      They have an impossible business model–they must reach every address in the US, daily, no matter how unprofitable those addresses prove to be.

      They wised up and began leasing their ‘last mile’ capability to other shippers in the early 90’s. It may be unprofitable for, say,UPS to get a package to East Middle Of Nowhere three times a year, but hey, the USPS is obligated to maintain that profitless network, so the USPS takes those packages the ‘last mile’ because they have the network in place.

      The internet, internet bill pay, internet seasonal greetings and invitations, internet shopping and internet transfer of overnight documents really did catch the USPS unaware. They all converged to turn their business model on its head. The ease with which their employees could retire, with full benefits, in their mid forties with now two or more wives to pay did not help. Their training was way behind there, because these employees, back when people stayed married, stayed at the post office, rather than collecting their full salary as pension in their forties and seeking higher paying jobs in the private sector.

  3. Kirk Douglas says:

    Canada Post is more criminal. Expect a letter to arrive at your home a week from when someone sent it, possibly more.

  4. Yurei says:

    If they tried to tell me this the other day when I shipped a package to my bofriend in Canada, I would have told them to shove it up their ass if they wouldn’t give me first class. A 1 3/4 lb package to canada for first class cost me $7.61. The website estimate for priority mail was $29! If they had dared tried to pull that stunt I would have said fine, either give me first clss or i’ll find a different courier.

    • Eoghann says:

      @Yurei:

      If they had dared tried to pull that stunt I would have said fine, either give me first clss or i’ll find a different courier.

      To which the clerk says, “Can I help the next person in line?”

      This is the government we’re talking about here.

  5. MFfan310 says:

    So that’s why I wasn’t asked why I wanted Priority Mail or Parcel Post like normal when I went to the Post Office yesterday!

    I knew that the USPS had to do something to offset their deficit…

  6. catskyfire says:

    Interesting to know. I still like the USPS. It is still the cheapest way to mail things all over the place. I can mail a letter for 42 cents regardless of whether it’s going next door, to rural Montana, or to Hawaii. Packages are based on actual distance, not how awkward it is to get there. (See Rural Montana.) Not a bad deal, overall.

  7. afrix says:

    They’d get rid of their deficit more quickly if they just started selling fancy coffee right there at the counter. Free with express mail, half price with priority, otherwise how about a nice cup of fancy coffee before you go?

    Seriously, the idea of “ask if there’s a cheaper way to do it” is always good advice in general. No one on the other side of a business transaction is obligated to or interested in looking after your best interests. Only you can look after your best interests. Mail, cars, doughnuts, anything at Target or Wal-Mart or wherever–always ask, always bargain.

    We’re not historically a bargaining society, but we are fast becoming one.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      @afrix:

      Seriously, the idea of “ask if there’s a cheaper way to do it” is always good advice in general.

      I agree with you. Last week my brother and I went to BevMo, and purchased 4 bottles of Château gros bleu qui tâche at $1.97 ea and a 30-pack of Milwaukee’s Best Light for $13.98. When we got to the checkout, I asked, “Do you have anything cheaper?” and we all had a chuckle.

      A bud of mine who is a postmaster told me about this upsell program in July. Postmasters are going to get performance pay based on average per-customer sales and same-office sales increases.

    • SpearXXI says:

      @afrix:
      Definitely! I concur, because at my work, we do not tell people about any specials, unless they ask. The reason is the profit from the cost of goods sold goes down, and if it goes down too far, then we wouldn’t be able to afford our employees. lol The two most important people to a business is customers and employees. With out both, the company will fail.

  8. madanthony says:

    They best way to avoid this is to pay for your postage online before you go. Unfortunately, the USPS site only has it for priority (last time I checked, anyway) but if you have a paypal account you can use it’s shipping feature to ship any class, including media mail – even if it’s not an ebay transaction or you don’t have any money in your paypal account. There is a fatwallet thread on how to do it.

    Also, I’ve never used it, but many post offices have those automatic 24-hour lobby postage machines – I would imagine they would let you select your class of mail and compare rates as well.

    • thelushie says:

      @madanthony: Those machines only sell you stamps from what I have seen.

      I am in an area that sending a package across town doesn’t have to be an option. I can typically drop it off when I am in the area.

      I try to avoid the USPS for anything except letters.

    • SinisterMatt says:

      @madanthony:

      Those machines only do Priority Mail and Express. I wish that they did offer media mail and others there. It would make my life (since I ship large amounts of books that get sold on eBay and Amazon from time to time) a little easier.

      @vladthepaler:

      When did that happen? I’ve never had any problem sending Bound Printed Matter, if printed out at home (if you use their shipping assistant software to do so, which is free). You just pay at the post office and away it goes.

      Cheers!

  9. hills says:

    I have a package to send media mail – I’ll take in Monday and see if they automatically try to sell me Priority. Doesn’t really matter though, since all consumers have to do is know what they want – no problem to say “media” please. I like my post office!

    • thelushie says:

      @hillsrovey: Remember, media mail can take anywhere from 2 to 8 weeks. I sent out 4 packages on Friday and am sending 2 tomorrow. They are going cross country and I had the option to send them media mail. They are also rather heavy so they probably would not be exactly a priority for the free space on the truck. (Required heavy lifting and all) Yeah right! They are going Fed Ex. 4 days total.

    • Pop Socket says:

      @hillsrovey: I sent a bunch of used books media mail. They tried to sell me Priority Mail with receipt confirmation for quadruple the price. I mailed it on a Saturday and got an e-mail on Monday saying it had arrived. $7.00 for about ten pounds.

  10. JulesNoctambule says:

    I’ve been getting that spiel every time I’ve gone to the post office for a while now. Even if I say outright ‘Hi, I’d like to ship this package first class, no insurance but I would like delivery confirmation, please’ they’ll do the whole thing from start to finish. I just repeat myself until I get offered the service I’m requesting. One of our local post office branches has a machine in the lobby that lets you weigh your package and print out postage, but it’s rare not to find an ‘out of order’ sign on it.

    No matter where it happens, I hate upselling and will do my best to minimize my business with any place that encourages it.

    • thelushie says:

      @JulesNoctambule: Don’t shop much, huh? Every business that sells something encourages upselling. It is part of making money, which is what a business is supposed to do.

      Now whether an employee does it or not is another question. Of course, these are they same employees that everyone whines about not being all that smart, etc.

      • johnva says:

        @thelushie: I hate upselling, too, and I really don’t shop at most places that do it. I do most of my shopping on the Internet, partly for this reason. It seems that the upselling junk is most rampant in industries where you can easily get the stuff online (like consumer electronics). It just drives people like me to never set foot in a Best Buy or Circuit City.

        • johnnya2 says:

          @johnva: If you have shopped online then you have upselling as well. All site try to sell you “associated products” or other buyers who bought this also bought something else. In many situations it is best to be upsold. Say you buy an electronic toy. Yu wrap it asa gift and somebody opens it up and you find out BATTERIES ARE NOT INCLUDED. A good store has their employees trained to say, “do you need batteries with that today?” I see that as a good thing. I can also relate many times going to restaurants where the server will say, “would you like the deluxe which includes the fries and salad, instead of getting just the salad for the same price”

      • JulesNoctambule says:

        @thelushie: When I let an employee know at the start of a transaction exactly what kind of services/goods I want and they proceed to ignore me and offer the automatic upsell, the transaction becomes an annoyance for me and yes, my business goes elsewhere. It may be hard for you to believe, but plenty of places manage to make money without making the business transaction irritating for their customers.

        • Haltingpoint says:

          @JulesNoctambule: I’m not disagreeing that it is an annoyance, but please don’t get frustrated with the person ringing you up. Working at the post office is a very high-stress, low-pay job, and if they don’t follow their strict orders to give this spiel to every single customer, they will likely get in trouble. The fact that they do not make very much gives them no incentive to go beyond the call of duty and make things less annoying for the customer even though they may logically want to say “sure, here’s what it will cost for priority mail.”

  11. Wockyjabber says:

    It concerns me to see USPS behaving more and more like the privatized hybrid they are rather than than the public service they really should be.

    They’re still an iconic brand, they’re still the only possible means of delivering mail to every single address in the country (try that with the others), and they’re still the best value for most services. During our last hurricane here in south Florida, every other public agency closed but we got our mail on time. That’s impressive customer service. My mail carrier genuinely cares for me as a customer and a citizen, and provides me with day after day of excellent service.

    Of late, however, they’ve been abusing employees, promoting unecessary fees, and behaving very much like their lesser competitors. It saddens me that they bounce their Web traffic from usps.gov (which they should be proud of) to usps.com, which makes them seem like so much less.

    The U.S. Mail is a symbol of America, and I hope the postal service’s privatization creep ends soon.

    • James Duggan says:

      @Wockyjabber:
      The USPS IS a privatized hybrid, and like any business, depends on selling a product for a profit. They do not have some big government budget, and must fend for themselves.

  12. ironchef says:

    funny how when government starts running like a profit driven business, people freak out.

  13. DePaulBlueDemon says:

    Depending on how much you ship a month, it might be an option to purchase a scale. In fact, I have a really inexpensive non-digital scale that has never failed me. I use that plus a regular tape measure to ship my eBay goods. I can then choose the best, least expensive way to ship. If you use PayPal to ship, you can get free delivery confirmation as well. The USPS carrier-pick up is als great! I don’t have to waste gas driving to the post office.

    However, I do understand that people ship just a few packages a year. But if your nickle and dimed each time it may be a good idea to explore other options.

    Also, the USPS isn’t a business. It’s part of the executive branch and established in the U.S. Constitution. They’re goal isn’t profit.

  14. DePaulBlueDemon says:

    Eeek, too many grammar mistakes in my post! Sorry, had a long night…

  15. I’ve noticed this upsell the last two times I’ve had to go to the post office in the last month. I heard almost the same exactly thing from two different people. Each time I said, “I want this shipped in the cheapest way possible,” and got it with no argument. I can see how a lot of people get sucked into this because no other options are presented and not everyone knows what the shipping terminology is for “cheapest way possible.” I think it’s “standard ground shipping” but I’m not even sure.

    I try to avoid the post office at all costs (pay all bills online so there is no need for stamps.) This gives me another reason to do so because I know there will come a time when I’m hungover, trying to mail a birthday present, and I will agree to a 1 lb box for $20 with insurance.

  16. Overheal says:

    Do we even still need a federal Post Service?

  17. csdiego says:

    The post offices in my area (Washington, DC and Maryland suburbs) have already been doing this for years. They only offer Express Mail or Priority Mail. I have to look at the screen myself and check the First Class/Parcel Post rate.

    I trade books online, so I send a lot of packages by Media Mail, and that’s not even listed on the screen as an option. You just have to know about it and ask for it, then go through the “your package may be opened and we’ll throw you in jail if there’s anything but books in there” speech.

    Mailing hassles aside, I love the USPS for receiving packages. They’re the only company that consistently gets into my apartment building every time, unlike UPS (the worst offender) and FedEx, which half the time posts some notice on the outside door whining about not being able to get in, even though they have keys, just because they don’t feel like taking the time to go inside and make the delivery, which forces me either to go to their facility or else get the package sent back and reshipped. Whenever I order something I ask to have it shipped by USPS if at all possible.

  18. nerdgirl84 says:

    I work at a contract post office, and was informed that this is supposed to start Jan. 1, 2009. Usually, my customers just say they want it the cheapest, and then I give them their options. Otherwise, I reccomend printing postage off the USPS website. If you have a small scale, you can figure it out yourself, and you don’t have to waste your time in lines, and listening to ridiculous pricing…

    Hopefully, I won’t be working there by Christmas.

    Send gift cards people. It’s $.42, and easier!

  19. SJActress says:

    I love the post office, regardless of this new policy. It is nice to get the info on it, though.

    I throw my Netflix in my mailbox, flag up, before 3:00, and I get another movie the next day. Granted, this is partly because there’s a distribution center in my town, but I still think that’s pretty danged quick.

    • What The Geek says:

      @SJActress: That has everything to do w/ netflix, and nothing to do w/ the post office. Netflix has shipping facilities all over the place. When you drop a Netflix movie in the mailbox, you can rest assured knowing it doesn’t have very far to go before it’s back with them.

      The post office does a damn fine job with letters….. and nothing else. Gather around kids, it’s story time!!

      I once had a package that had shipped out to me via usps priority mail wind up missing for two weeks. The sender emailed me to confirm that it had gone out on time, and to let me know that the tracking number indicated that it was at my local post office. I received no notification whatsoever that this was the case. I contacted the post office, and sure enough, it was there. I explained the situation and asked that they send it out the next day. When I saw the mailman coming down the street, I stepped outside to greet him and take the package directly. I lived in an apartment at the time with locked mailboxes. The package would have fit easily into my mailbox, but let’s ignore that fact for now. The mailman handed it to me, and said something along the lines of “Well, I tried to deliver it about a week ago” to which I replied “It should have fit in the mailbox – but even so, why didn’t you leave a note in the mailbox to let me know it was at the post office?” He replied “I did” to which I said ” I never got it” to which he responded confidently “It must have gotten lost in the mail” I was absolutely speechless – he IS “the mail”. From that point on I decided to pay extra to get ups shipping whenever it is available – I get a tracking number that provides me with a heads up about every step along the way. Well worth the extra two – three dollars.

  20. nerdgirl84 says:

    I work at a contract postal station. They said it;s supposed to start on Jan. 1, 2009. Your best bet is just to go online to USPS.com and print off your own postage. Don’t even bother with the post office… Or just ask the clerk for ALL your options right away… then take the cheapest. Flat rate Priority is always good if you are sending boxes… $9.80 for up to 70lbs, if you can fit it in the box.

    And send gift cards for christmas. It’s going to save you $20-30 in shipping.

    Hopefully, I won’t be working there by christmas.

  21. silver-bolt says:

    This is on the same level as only having the Flat Rate priority boxes available in the offices, making you waste time and their gas to order the non-flat rate boxes online.

    • se7a7n7 says:

      @silver-bolt: NOT TRUE

      You can have flat rate boxes sent to you for FREE. Just go to USPS.com

      Most of the hate directed at USPS is completely false.

      I too send lots of packages out every week and USPS has great service. If the package is over 5 pounds then it’s usually cheaper to go UPS or FEDEX, unless it’s something that’s very heavy and can fit into a flat rate box or flat rate envelope.

      Check this out.. If you’re sending something to Australia that weighs 2 lbs 15 oz, it would cost $23.50 to send it 1st Class International or $31.50 for Priority Mail. Now if you can fit that item in a Priority Mail flat rate envelope the cost is only $11.35 if you print your own postage!!!

      Try to beat that deal!!

  22. drnmr says:

    Never ever use the USPS. Its a waste of time and money. And that tracking thingy they have is a complete joke. Expect to lose 1 out of 3 packages you send via US Post. The rest will be delayed.

    Our Company will never send anything via the post office. Its either Fed Ex or UPS or DHL every time.

    • ajlei says:

      @drnmr: I apologize, but your 1 out of 3 statement seems pretty unfounded. Do you maybe live in a more rural area? I’m curious as to what part of the country you’re in that your mail service is THAT bad.

      My only issue with USPS is their long lines in their centers. Other than that, the only bad experience I had was some damn woman asking the employee’s opinion for “stamps that convey affection, but not too girly, and commitment too” at fifteen minutes until closing time with a long line behind her. I could’ve strangled her.

    • t325 says:

      @drnmr: I’ve sent and received several packages via USPS and never had anything lost.

    • papahoth says:

      @drnmr: You have any evidence of this statistic or are you just blathering nonsense?

      @chwebb1: Do you have any evidence to back up these claims?

  23. vermontwriter says:

    I’m not surprised. I went to mail a package a few weeks ago recycling a beer box from Magic Hat that had the words Magic Hat on it. I was told that they could not accept the package because packaging that held wine or beer bottles tempts their workers into stealing, regardless of the current contents. I was then told I would have to buy one of their boxes from the mailing supplies counter if I wanted the package shipped.

    The fact that they openly admitted that their employees steal isn’t great advertising in my book!

    • silver-bolt says:

      @vermontwriter: You should have just asked for a sharpie.

      But who ships stuff in a beer box? Those things are barely better then paper thin. Priority boxes are free with priority shipping, and you can get shipping grade cardboard everywhere for like free.

  24. SarcasticDwarf says:

    I wondered about this. I dropped off a two page letter in a large envelope at the post office yesterday. When I did so they only offered express and priority. I gave the clerk a rather odd look and asked if it could be shipped first class, and that is how it went.

  25. darwin-t says:

    vermontwriter,

    Regardless of what they said, they couldn’t accept the package because the labeling on the box indicated it held liquids. The postal employess are not allowed to mark out the labeling, only the sender can do that and the markings must be completely obliterated. Same thing with any hazardous material.

  26. Heidikins says:

    Same when you ship something abroad …USPS dropped international surface mail “to offer more integrated service” or something. When I wanted to ship something heavy but was in no hurry, I’d always used it.
    Recently I was trying to send some used baby clothes and toys to my sister in Japan — she’s due in January, so taking 2 month by surface mail was totally fine — but then I was told there was no other way than to ship it with priority. After telling me it would cost me $120, the USPS lady asked: “Do you STILL want to send it!? Used baby dress!?”. I did anyways, because going to DHL or FedEx store with big package and my toddler son was also a pain in my rear end. Other countries I’ve recently visited (France, Italy, Switzerland and Japan) are still offering postal surface mails, even some of them also have financially troubled postal system. They just don’t believe “integrating service” like that will improve their finance…

  27. sonneillon says:

    The USPS is too important infrastructure wise. I have never had a problem getting or sending packages and letters through them. Since the service is too important, we subsidize it.

    Better than UPS running the show.

  28. theodicey says:

    If you run Windows, Shipping Assistant is by far the easiest way to do mailings. Unlike their online Click N Ship service, it happily offers you First Class and Media Mail.

    You still have to keep stamps around, or pay at the post office, but it really speeds up mailing (and you get almost-free tracking).

    I pretty much use the US Postal Service exclusively and have stopped using UPS. Maybe if they made their website suck less and lowered their rates I would consider using them again. It’s pathetic how badly they are being beaten by the government postal monopoly.

  29. D0rk says:

    I’m not really surprised at this type of behavior, it happens all the time.

    At the local grocery store chain, baggers are told to ask “is plastic okay?” instead of the typical “paper or plastic?” because it’s cheaper to the store to use more plastic bags. Paper is still an option no matter what, you’re just hoping to convince a handful of people to just go with plastic and save the store a few pennies.

  30. EarlNowak says:

    I love the post office. 42¢ to send a letter anywhere in the country? And it generally takes four days to get there? Remarkable! Sure fedex is faster and the tracking is better, but for three-day service it’s a minimum of $12!

    Bulky boxes are cheaper to ship by UPS, so I generally do, but anything less than a pound or in an envelope is super-cheap by USPS.

  31. mlradio says:

    >>I apologize, but your 1 out of 3 statement seems pretty unfounded. Do you maybe live in a more rural area? I’m curious as to what part of the country you’re in that your mail service is THAT bad.<<

    Nah, drnmr’s just pulling numbers out of his ass. I’ve been selling on ebay and Amazon for about eight years now, and have shipped somewhere in excess of 20,000 packages through the USPS. Approximately 1 in 500 has been totally lost in the system (or, my guess most often, delivered to a different address and that person kept it). I also shipped thousands upon thousands of (larger) packages through UPS, and the loss rate was about the same. The only real difference is that UPS will actually try to find out what happened when a package goes missing or damaged, while USPS usually will not.

    Generally speaking, the USPS is very reliable. Not perfect, of course — as long as there are humans involved there is always the chance of human error. But by and large, pretty good.

    FYI, someone complained about media mail shipping times. I generally ship out 30-40 media mail packages a week, and the average delivery time is 6.2 days (Endicia is good at producing detailed stats on that sort of thing). For in-state packages the average is 2-4 days, for east or west coast the average is 6-8 days. Occasionally (about 5% of the time) a package can get stuck in the system for some unknown reason and take 20-plus days for delivery, but that’s the exception rather than the rule.

    For anyone who is doing a fair amount of USPS business on a regular basis, I strongly recommend looking into some of the online postage systems like Endicia or Stamps. I use Endicia, it costs $15 a month but I can print out postage on my printer. No special equipment (other than a $20 kitchen scale) or special labels. Addresses are automatically checked against the USPS database for accuracy, an email is automatically sent to the recipient with delivery confirmation number and information, delivery confirmation only costs 18 cents instead of 75 cents at the counter, and I get 5% discount on priority and international postage. No need to even go to the counter at the post office (unless I have an APO/FPO over a pound, or international package over four pounds, which is very rare), just drop it in the slot and go. No fuss, no muss, no worries. It’s worth it just to avoid those lines at the counter alone.

  32. bcsus83 says:

    I sell a lot on ebay and trade things with collectors a lot. I am at the post office at least 4 times a week. I have noticed this the last month or so. I have had to ask for first class or parcel post. Or comment about how it’s on their screen but they didn’t offer it to me.

    A month ago, the clerk’s spiel was more along the lines of ‘first class is $3.22 and will get it there in about 5 days. priority is only $1 more and will get it there in about 2-3 days.’ Now it’s exactly what the letter stated. very very pushy.

    I avoid it all together whenever I’m sending domestic packages and just use the automated postal center in the lobby. ;)

  33. timmus says:

    Don’t be hatin’ on USPS y’all. I run a small business that ships books and software by Priority Mail, and we’ve been nothing but happy with them. We get free pickup at our home based office and it’s damn cheaper than any rate UPS will give us, by a long shot (and twice as fast as UPS Ground).

    The only area I have a beef with as far as USPS is rude counter service… fortunately I’ve only seen that being common in the Austin, Texas substations.

  34. Trai_Dep says:

    Perhaps if they accepted charge cards with Check for I.D. written on the back of them instead of rejecting them, they wouldn’t be in this $1B hole. :P
    Like Democracy, the Post Office is the worst, until the alternatives are considered. However, considering they ARE a public institution, I’d expect more ethical behavior than seeing them pull a Wal-Martesque bait-n-switch. Shame on you, Mr. Speedy!

  35. Ouze says:

    “Do we even still need a federal Post Service?”

    They’re not really a federal agency, first. They are a private organization that has some powers granted them by law, such as the legal monopolies your cable provider enjoys.

    But to answer the question, yes, we need them. It has been discussed many times that UPS or Fedex could deliver first class mail, and there are several reasons why this is not possible. The first is that the USPS has a statutory monopoly on delivering first class mail – in addition to the various federal laws such as the USPS being the only entity legally allowed to leave mail in mailboxes, there is also a constitutional clause (Article I, Section 8, Clause 7) which would have to be overcome – not likely.

    An additional consideration is that all the services are highly intertwined and codependent – one services airfleet will carry packages and mail for the others, and vice versa, all 3 ways around.

    The real problem is that UPS and Fedex will only want to ship to the most profitable areas, whereas the USPS will deliver at the same low price to anyone in the country, no matter how rural, no matter how unprofitable it is do so, no matter where in the world the APO or FPO is. They have to – see again that clause. So yes, we still need the USPS.

    That being said, although they are losing money this year, and despite the general public image – the USPS generally turns a profit. In 2004, and again in 2005, they turned over a billion dollars in profit. I think with the current gas prices, the company that owns the largest civilian vehicle fleet in the world not doing well financially is sort of understandable. UPS’s profits have falled 21% this year, and that’s with passing on fuel surcharges and costs to customers – something the USPS has not done.

    • What The Geek says:

      @Ouze: “… and that’s with passing on fuel surcharges and costs to customers – something the USPS has not done.”

      I’ve gotta disagree with you. Postage has gone up considerably in the past two to three years – I’d say they’re doing a fine job of passing the cost on to the consumer.

  36. BillyShears says:

    I suppose this explains why the post office near my office got rid of both stamp machines, leaving me with two options for postage:

    1) Use the automated stamp machine that only takes credit cards but also won’t let you charge any purchase under $1.00, or wait on the long-ass line just for one stamp where they do, yes, try to push you towards Express / Priority.

    • EarlNowak says:

      @BillyShears:

      Huh, maybe you should buy a book of stamps at face value at your bank, drugstore or grocery store? With forever stamps available, there’s no reason not to keep a book around, because if the rate goes up forevers are still valid.

  37. chwebb1 says:

    It’s no wonder they’re in this situation. The local post office here is a pain in the butt, so I never send packages with them. I’d ratehr pay $5 to send a 1 LB package with DHL or FedEx than to deal with the USPS lack of customer service, and delayed packages, and then only save $.25. Their “Tracking” is pathetic and their phone customer service is clueless.

    I would be quite happy to see competition for the USPS, such as the Deutsche Post World Net offering postal service in the US (Germany’s post office and parent company to DHL), or TNT Post (Netherlands as well as several other countries’ post office), or see FedEx offer postal service. I dislike UPS even more than the USPS, so I would hope that they would stay out of that sector.

    I’ve never seen a carrier as bad as the USPS, except maybe UPS. They destroy so much mail and so many packages it’s not even funny. You can’t get a price as inexpensive with letters with DHL, FedEx, or TNT Express, so they’re a monopoly in the Letter sector, unless you want it there overnight, but for packages, you have more, and better choices.

  38. simplekismet says:

    Perhaps it’s because I live in a college town but no one at the two post offices here has ever questioned the contents of my media mail packages or told me that they could be opened. Maybe they are used to all the college kids shipping text books?

    This does explain why I paid an arm and a leg to send a letter with delivery confirmation. I had read the back where it said that I could use first-class mail with it, but it cost me almost $8 to mail the thing and I thought that was a little steep. The postal worker never mentioned the terms “express mail” or “priority mail,” just said “That’ll be $8.”

    So thank you Consumerist… I will ASK for first-class next time!

  39. Yurei says:

    I shipped something in a liquor box before, because that was literally *all* I had that would fit my odd shaped item. They just gave me a monster sharpie at the psot office to cover up anything mentioning liquor. I don’t think it has to do with theft though, there’s some policy in place for some other reason, I think. Or alternatively, had I known I needed to cover the liquor mentions up I would have wrapped the box in some plain paper (i didn’t know it mattered at the time).

    I did have a good laugh with the folks behind the counter though about bringing them a few drinks since they looked like they needed them. (it was maybe 5 days before christmas)

    Also, they have every right to turn down a card saying “ceck for or see ID” on the back if you won’t provide them with ID, since it’s not signed and not considered valid. It’s right there in the visa/MC merchant agreement, “vendors must accept a card regardless of the amount with no limit so long as the card is signed blah blah…”. If it’s blank or says see ID and no ID is presented, they can turn it down. You don’t like it, either sign your card or show an ID. We do the same with my mom’s business, it’s a liability issue. If you run a stolen card as a merchant and don’t check for ID, bad things can happen, she knows another merchant who was in said situation.

    • Powerlurker says:

      @Yurei:

      Actually, they have every right to turn down a card that says “check ID” regardless of whether or not you show them an ID. If you want them to accept such a card they need to check your ID AND watch you sign it.

      Regarding the liquor box issue, I think the reason they won’t accept it unless you remove all signs that is contained liquor is not fear of employee theft, but rather the fact that shipment of liquor through USPS is prohibited and thus you can’t use shipping materials that would indicate that the box contains a prohibited shipment. It’s the same reason they won’t ship boxes that say “Flammable” or “ORM-D” (the latter is for shipping ammunition) unless you remove all traces of the labeling.

      • floraposte says:

        @Powerlurker: Yes, agreed on the liquor box. You can’t reuse a box that advertises a substance that needs different handling from what you’re asking for.

        I think one’s USPS experience is strongly dependent on your local station and delivery folks. I lived in Chicago during the worst of the mail-burning and dumping years, and my building was fortunate to be serviced by a wonderful carrier. When he retired, we were doomed. My small town mail folks are predominantly cheerful and helpful. They screw up sometimes too, but not on getting the mail to me.

    • mugsywwiii says:

      @Yurei:
      It’s not just because it was a liquor box, I’ve had to cover up all extraneous markings on a box before. I put a bunch of Priority Mail stickers on it.

  40. pax says:

    Should you ever have to deal with Royal Mail in the UK, you will be begging on your knees to come back to the USPS.

  41. Hongfiately says:

    This is sadly a true story that hasn’t gotten much press; the USPS is bleeding dollars. They’re trying to get people to early retire as well as trying to show injured and light-duty workers the door in an effort to close the gap. Since it is the season for throwing taxpayer dollars at miserable failures, I fully expect the Service to be bailed out as well. It’s too “important” of an institution, see?

  42. Ouze says:

    What the Geek – “I’ve gotta disagree with you. Postage has gone up considerably in the past two to three years – I’d say they’re doing a fine job of passing the cost on to the consumer.”

    In 2002, the price of a stamp was 37 cents and each additional ounce was 23 cents. As of today, a stamp is 42 cents and each additional ounce is 17 cents. That’s about a 13.5% price increase over 6 years (and a 26% price decrease for additional ounces). This year, UPS has raised their rates 5%, last year 5%, and the year before, 4%, etc etc. Since 2001 (the same time frame)UPS has increased their rates 29.4% (and added a fuel surcharge).

    • What The Geek says:

      @Ouze: I’m not just talking about the price of a stamp here. Packages have gone up significantly as well – a package that, in 2005, cost me around $4.60 to mail now costs almost a dollar more. They’ve made tweaks here and there, and the overall effect has been significant price increases. I’m not saying UPS hasn’t raised prices more than the USPS, I’m just saying that they’re passing the additional costs along to the consumer as well.

  43. SadhanaDawgette says:

    SabreDC
    If your express package did not get to its destination by the promised time, you should have claimed a failure of delivery and got your postage refunded. It does happen, and when it does , there is a guarantee that pays.
    Also, if you had not gotten any mail after moving, there could have been many reasons why. One, being your own fault, and not filling out the form correctly , and causing the forward to fail. Any normal person would call and inquire after a reasonable period of time of not receiving their mail. Since all forwarding is done by computer, it needs to be followed up on if there is a delay. Calling your old apartment may show there is a problem, but does nothing to correct the problem. Take some responsibility for your self and follow thru. Don’t always blame someone else before you know the system and have checked things out

  44. Wow. What unmitigated bullshit. And an anonymous source, eh? Consumerist needs to lay off the crack.

    No, USPS is not going to stop offering first-class mail. USPS has a FEDERAL MANDATE TO DELIVER MAIL. It’s illegall for USPS to not do it’s job. There’s an entire law enforcement division (Federal, with guns and handcuffs) that goes after anyone who interfers with the US Mail.

    Point of fact: USPS employees are told that when it comes to delivering any sort of election ballot mail, insufficient postage is ignored. Yes, ballots without postage are delivered because the law says it has to be done.

    Now, like everyone else on the planet, USPS is getting reamed by high gas prices and of course they will try and upsell services. No shit! So does UPS, FedEex and every cell phone company on the planet.

    Rumor mongering that USPS will stop offering a class of mail it is legally obligated to carry is not acceptable.

    • @Jeff the Riffer: Did you even read the story? They said “offering” as in advertising. This is just like McDonalds not offering to supersize your order. It doesn’t mean they won’t supersize it, it just means they won’t mention it to you.

      And you’re right, there is an entire law enforcement division(yes federal) that deals with mail crime. It is the United States Postal Inspection Service, which is the law enforcement law of the United States Postal Service. So yeah, I can’t wait to see the USPS get arrested by the USPIS!

    • silver-bolt says:

      @Jeff the Riffer: RTFA. No, they are not being told to STOP OFFERING first-class mail, or as you think it means, stop the sale of First-Class mail. What they are being told is to, unless it is a regular letter, to only offer Priority or Express mail unless asked for the lower rate, or in other words, not VOLUNTEER the information.

      @se7a7n7: I know. I just said that instead of me being able to just pick one up at the post office when I need it, I have to order it, wait for it to be shipped, have a postman carry to my house, and me end up with 4 to 24 more boxes then needed. Most of the time, I end up throwing out the extras :/ Its a waste, instead of them just having two or three of the same sized ones as the flat rate at the post office.

  45. Ouze says:

    @What The Geek – fair enough.

  46. rtwigg says:

    The automated system in the lobby does much more than sell stamps. There are other machines there for that. This one has a scale, prints an entire shipping label for packages, verifies ZIP codes. It is easay to use and save time from standing in line. It is an excellent tool and accepts debit or credit cards. Also, it does not play “upsell games” and sadly does not make coffee. My friend Mary, a postal worker who readily admits she is over paid and loves it, hates those “damn machines”. They’re putting her out of a job!

  47. gman863 says:

    Now now people, calm down. The nice lady behind the USPS counter is only doing the same thing that UPS, FedEx and DHL have been doing for years.

    In addition to the tips already given, here are a few others:

    * Shorter lines are often found at “contract” post offices found inside some hardware, grocery and convenience stores. Unlike The UPS Store and UPS/DHL contract locations (Staples, OfficeMax, etc.), contract USPS locations do NOT mark up the shipping costs — pricing is identical to that found in a government Post Office.

    * Using Priority Mail on smaller packages is often cheaper than Parcel Post if you take advantage of freebies. Order free Priority Mail shipping boxes and labels (which double as tape) at http://www.usps.com and they’ll be shipped FREE, or pick them up at the post office. Compare First Class, Priority and Parcel Post rates at http://www.usps.com — the free shipping supplies on Priority usually make it cheaper than First Class or Parcel plus the $1-$2 for a purchased box or padded envelope. That, plus Priority Mail gives the illusion you actually care about when the recipient receives the item.

    • SinisterMatt says:

      A note about contract Post offices. They apparently are not allowed to take packages with pre-paid postage on it. That means that if you pay postage on the USPS website or PayPal or whatever you have to take it to the post office or give it to your mail carrier.

      At least that is what they said when I tried to do it.

      Cheers!

  48. danheskett says:

    Lots of bad information in some of these posts:

    theysaidwhat hits so many all at once, a few pieces of actual fact:

    The USPS never anticipated how quickly people would adopt online bill paying (bill presentment and payment made a HUGE percentage of US mail) and also failed to anticipate how quickly people would adopt online tax returns (another HUGE annual boost in business)
    First class mail is more or less flat, or stagnant. Online billing for most billers is still langushing in overall single digits, or low teens in very good cases, across industries. There are of course some cases where it is online only, but these are relatively rare.

    Standard class and parcel services are all up quite a bit, or alot. Typical year over year increases are 3-5%.

    The USPS delivers 97% of first class mail within 24 hours. Shocking, isn’t it?
    It would be, but it’s not true. Sorry :-(

    First class mail or parcels going through the same SCF – that’s a regional postal office – are typically delivered next business day.

    Inter-SCF mail or parcels will almost always take more than 1 day to reach a destination post office. The USPS is setup in a system of hubs and spokes, and the routes between them are called HUSP routes. These routes determine how inter-scf mail is transported. For example, if you are mailing from east coast to west coast, that mail is not going by truck. Its going to be flown on a FedEx plane. Your local SCF level facility will sort local mail or workshare mail, and figure out how much of it can be packaged for direct to the destination post office (this is your 5-digit post office), and how much should go to another SCF. The destination or DDU post offices do not really sort any quantity of mail anymore, it all gets shipped up the SCF level.

    This is a long way of saying that intra-SCF mail probably does better than 97% 1-day; all of the DDU’s feed mail to their respective SCF, and then receive sorted mail ready for the carrier to put in their sack or truck.

    Inter-SCF mail averages 2-3 days according to the USPS; but can take much longer.

    What’s really important to understand is that since the USPS cannot legally own planes, they have to be treated as freight on commerical travel, or use competitors planes all on an “as available” basis.

    The fact that they can get anything done this way, is really, really, really very amazing.

  49. BeeBoo says:

    First Class is cheaper than Media Mail for a light paperback or a few CDs (the number of CDs depends on the weight of the case). That is why Amazon sellers frequently offer First Class free on CDs instead of the standard Media Mail.

    Even if the paperback is a little heavier, First Class can be only a couple of dimes more and delivery seems somewhat faster for First Class over Media Mail.

  50. AdvocatesDevil says:

    For those who say you can get free boxes, etc, from the USPS website, GOOD LUCK getting them any time soon. I run a small business that ships 50 to 100 packages overseas each week. My local post office is only allowed to give us 10 Customs Form Envelope A WEEK… “but you can order as many as you need online!”

    Well, that would be great, but it takes the Post Office 3 to 4 weeks to ship and deliver them from the regional Post Office 25 miles away! Talk about a great advertisement for their own service!!

    So we started ordering 25 a day, every day, for two months. Now we finally have enough for a while. Idiots. But we’re coming up on the holidays, so I’ve had to start ordering 25 a day again, and will continue through December to make sure we don’t run out. There’s no other way!

    There’s a reason why we use UPS and Fed-Ex for everything domestic over 4 pounds. With our negotiated rates (yep, try THAT with the post office), it only costs us about $4.11 to send a 4 lb package across the country via UPS Ground… better than media mail and it gets there MUCH faster!

    And we can OVERNIGHT a letter via Fed-Ex Priority to California for $6.11. It’ll actually get there at 10:30 the next day GUARANTEED. The last time we made the mistake of sending a letter via Priority Mail, it took nearly a week and cost us $5. Great bargain.

  51. mike says:

    As an added resource, you can get most delivery maps from USPS, FedEx, and UPS from their website. They offer estimated days to delivery from your zip code. Useful for places like Amazon. I am within the two-day delivery period to the nearest Amazon warehouse. So I don’t upgrade or do Prime.

  52. razremytuxbuddy says:

    I use USPS almost exclusively. I think it’s by far the least expensive service with the most flexibility. When I order something that has to be shipped with Fedex or UPS, too often something regularly goes wrong with the shipment–either unexplained delays because the item ended up taking a trip around the US, or worse, it was mistakenly put in ground transportation rather than the overnight delivery I paid for.

    Aside from my preference for USPS, I do think any business that offers a premium service without telling the customer about a more cost-efficient option, is engaging in a scummy practice. But it is so widely practiced, that I hate to see the USPS singled out for it.

  53. MightyJoe36 says:

    Whenever I’m sending something other than a letter (which I just put a stamp on and throw in a mailbox) I always state that I want to send it “the cheapest way possible.” If it’s something that needs to get there fast, or needs to be tracked, I use UPS or FedEx.

    Now, as a former postal employee (one of the worst jobs I ever had), I have to come to their defense. If you think about the sheer volume of mail they deal with day in and day out, it’s utterly amazing that you can put a stamp on a letter or a card, put it in a mailbox, and almost guarantee that it’s going to get anywhere in the country in a matter of days. When you think about it, it’s pretty awesome and something we too often take for granted.

  54. verdantpine says:

    Paxetaurora and Kirk Douglas, agreed. Not to mention Canada Post’s strike issues (and the only other option is Purlolator? ouch!) Americans have no idea how lucky we are, when you consider what other countries pay and what they get in terms of service.

    If you are a moderate shipper, you generally have a different perception than someone who only goes to the post office once in a blue moon – and boy, do those folks get steamed around Christmas! Even with the occasional sullen clerk or clueless manager, I’ve been generally pleased using USPS.

    If you are a very heavy shipper, yes, if the fuel surcharges don’t hit you, then you can probably negotiate a nice deal with UPS or FedEx Ground. For the rest of us, USPS is still the best thing going, even if many average people know less about the system than they used to (for all the excellent reasons explained by theysaidwhat).

    For instance, thelushie states that media mail takes 2-8 weeks. Not strictly true. That’s accurate for packages which are hand-written or otherwise use a non-PC Postage label. If you use either the PayPal shipping, or better yet Endicia (or even the inferior Stamps.com), it takes about a week – my Endicia average for this summer was 6 days for Media Mail.

    Sorry to hear about AdvocatesDevil’s difficulty getting the free boxes. I think it’s really a regional thing. When we lived in coastal Oregon, we suspected that the local offices (always starving for the free boxes) took them, as we ended up having to reorder one shipment completely, never receiving it. (We saw other questionable things go on at that office.)

    Never been a problem here in SE Texas, they arrived on time in about a week. Try complaining to your local PCC (postal customers council) and see if that does the trick.

  55. blackmage439 says:

    Thanks for the info, Consumerist. A $1.1 Billion deficit…

    I am shocked, SHOCKED, that my postman just shoved my mail into someone else’s mailbox on Friday.

  56. Priority Mail is not guaranteed to get there in 2-3 days, it’s just first class for heavier things. Everything gets lumped together anyway…

  57. enine says:

    bfore I moved we had nothing but trouble from the usps. From the carriers putting out mail in other boxes or just tossing it in their yeards to throwing trash in our yard. I’ve gone paperless with everything of importance and the rest is the junk you can’t unsubscribe from, they junk the usps delivers to resident. I’m tempted to pull the mailbox out of the ground and see what they do.

  58. HogwartsAlum says:

    I use FedEx at work. USPS is okay but I can’t really track anything. I’ve used Shipping Assistant, but even though it gives you a tracking number, when you enter it, you get NO useful information.

    For my own personal stuff, I just use the regular mail unless I’m concerned about the contents. I can call FedEx and get after them if something funky is happening with my package. It’s really difficult to reach anyone at the post office.

  59. eddytompkins says:

    I was aghast at this upsale effort. I walked up to the window and said, “I want to send this the cheapest way possible, no insurance or anything” and the clerk did exactly what the original poster described. I really really hate upsells and go out of my way to preempt them and was quite surprised to see the USPS lay it on so heavy.

  60. Um, what the hell happened to USPS? Two years ago USPS was the only branch of the government that was debt free. How did it get itself into this pickle, and do not even try to say it is because of gas prices…

    • mugsywwiii says:

      @EE:
      Why can it not be because of gas prices? Gas is no doubt a huge expense for the USPS. By law, postage rates cannot increase faster than the rate of inflation. Gas prices have increased many, many times faster than the rate of inflation. Do the math.

  61. sparrowlab says:

    Interesting. When I went to the post office this weekend, the self-serve kiosk wouldn’t let me ship first class or parcel — it gave me a message saying “these options are not available at this time”. The only choices I could make were Priority and Express.

    I ended up having to wait in line for 20 minutes to ask for first class. Blargh.

  62. danheskett says:

    why’s that?
    Congress for some specific reasons is afraid of it.

    By law, postage rates cannot increase faster than the rate of inflation.
    I don’t think this is the case, anymore (if it ever was). The Postal Reorganization Act of 2006 pretty much leaves rate setting up to Board of Governors, with little or not outside oversight.

  63. vladthepaler says:

    They also decided to require an expensive permit to send bound printed matter, so that rate is effectively wiped out for small shippers.

  64. strife1012 says:

    USPS should pull a United and “Double Charge” all “Current Resident” Junk Mail. This would drastically cut the amount of mail being distributed, this cutting costs.

    • stinerman says:

      @strife1012:

      IIRC, the post office actually makes money off of junk mail. Delivering those “have you seen me” cards with missing children on the front and ads on the back are actually profitable to deliver.

      I could be wrong, but that’s what I’ve always heard.

  65. edrebber says:

    Too bad USPS doesn’t institute the same policy to all the financial institutions sending junk mail. Instead they get a discounted rate and the offers are usually a ripoff. Yet USPS tries to sqeeze every last nickel out of the average consumer sending a single item. I believe the term, “douchebags”, applys to USPS.

  66. EricLecarde says:

    This isn’t really a big inconvenience to me. I still send USPS with Priority and Mail Reciept. I’ve never had a problem with my packages getting lost through USPS.

  67. mlradio says:

    SinisterMatt -

    Um, actually I’ve been dropping off packages at a contract station here in town about three times a week for the past six months. No problems, no questions, takes about ten seconds at the counter.

    If you can drop it in a Blue Box, you can drop it off at a contract station.

    - Another Matt (although not quite as sinister)

  68. mlradio says:

    >>I’ve used Shipping Assistant, but even though it gives you a tracking number, when you enter it, you get NO useful information.<<

    That’s because it’s not a tracking number, it’s a DELIVERY CONFIRMATION number. All it does is show the date and time the package was delivered to its final destination zip code, and that’s it. Any intermediate scans between point A and point B are just a bonus – often just automated scans done in the giant processing centers.

    At only eighteen cents for a delivery confirmation number (and free on priority mail packages), it’s not designed for much more than a single scan. If you want full tracking, you need to pay for it (i.e. UPS and DHL)

  69. MoreFunThanToast says:

    Few days ago I went to the post office to ship a small book, and for what used to be able to ship through first class, the person at the counter was trying to ask me to ship using priority or parcel post. Both well over $4.

    I ended up shipping the slow media mail…

  70. Making it even pricier to mail my porn! BAH!

  71. choochoobear says:

    Thank goodness I just use those machines that weigh my packages and select first class. Talking to people is overrated anyhow.

  72. benwha says:

    I was shipping out some video games the other day and the lady at the counter asked if I wanted to ship my packages out with Priority Mail in order “to be a big spender and pay 25 cents extra to show I care”.

    I’m sorry, but my feelings rarely carry a price tag under 5 dollars.

  73. scaram0uche says:

    I would have gotten suckered today if I hadn’t read this. The guy in front of me sure did.