USPS Says Guaranteed Overnight Isn't Guaranteed. What?

Dorothy found out that the USPS’s guaranteed overnight delivery doesn’t apply if you use their Express Mail boxes, because “Letters get stuck up in the top of the box all the time. Sometimes, it takes days or even a week before we find them.” Hey post office, maybe you should try to check the top of the box every day. Problem solved!

We sent a letter via guaranteed overnight shipping with USPS. On the evening of June 4, we purchased and printed the label, attached it to the envelope and mailed the envelope the following morning (June 5th). I dropped it in the Express Mail box outside our local post office.

When I checked the website, I found the letter wasn’t delivered until June 11th. I called the toll-free number and had an odd exchange with an operator.

First, I must tell you that my father has worked for the USPS for over 30 years. My brother-in-law has worked there for at least 15 years. My sister and I both worked there. We not only know how the system works, but we also know how stupid some customers can be. So while many people complain about the USPS, I understand how things work and the frustration that comes along with it.

When I spoke to the representative, she checked my letter and found the same information I did. She then insisted the delay was probably due to it being a P.O. Box. I told her that we sent another letter guaranteed overnight to the same P.O. Box a few weeks ago and it was delivered the next day.

She then gave the example, “If you mail four packages at the same time from the same place going to the same address, they might all get there on different days.”

At that point, I replied, “Not if they were all sent guaranteed next day.”

She then told me to take my receipt to the post office and request a form 3353 to see “If,” I qualified for a refund.

I did that and was told the guarantee does not extend to items left in the Express Mail box. It only applies if you bring the item to the counter. If that is the case, why would they even offer Express Mail via their website? When you purchase it online, you do so in an effort to avoid the lines at the post office. Also, nowhere on the website, while purchasing the Express Mail option did it state that items needed to be taken to the window/desk in order for the guarantee to apply.

I asked her, “Where on the box does it say that?” She then told me she had handed my form over to her supervisor.

I was given my full refund without any further discussion, but we did have to wait for half an hour while all this occurred. Although the supervisor did not want to give me the refund. She actually explained, “Letters get stuck up in the top of the box all the time. Sometimes, it takes days or even a week before we find them.”

Um…you’re not helping yourself out with that little tid bit.

As soon as it happened, I thought to myself, “I must pass this along to the Comsumerist.” So, there ya go.

Has anyone ever heard of the guarantee only applying to the window? My father has never heard of any such thing nor did I find anything on the box or online.


Edit Your Comment

  1. JennQPublic says:

    It seems like in the last couple of years, this is what most “customer service” boils down to- try and come up with every excuse to NOT help the customer. How many people do you suppose they give this line to, and the (uninformed) customer says “Oh, I didn’t know that,” and just hangs up.

    “Hang on to every last dollar at the customer’s expense” seems to be the modern corporate motto. Am I just cynical?

  2. I’m amazed that the USPS still exists. I’m sure the amount of junk mail I receive pays half of one employee’s salary, and the other half is paid by the pocket-picking automatic machines at the post office.

  3. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    There’s a reason why there’s a phrase, “Good enough for government work.”

    Have you been to the post office lately when there’s a line out the door? The counter people act like there’s nobody in the room but them. It takes them ten minutes (I timed it out of aggravation one day) to find a single certified package. It wouldn’t take me ten whole minutes to find and buy an unfamiliar item at the SuperKroger up the street.

  4. mrsultana can't get a password to work says:

    I’m so mailing in my my tax return overnight from the box… then I’m blaming it on the USPS.

  5. haoshufu says:

    FedEx gaurantees the 2 days and overnight envelopes for their drop boxes as long as the paperwork is correct.

    Why would anything get “stuck” at the “top” of the drop box. I thought physics says when you drop things in a box, they fall down instead of rising to the top of the box.

  6. pigeonpenelope says:

    i think the usps has some of the worst customer service around. i do everything i can to avoid visiting the post office. i’ll pay extra to have something shipped fed ex or ups before i’ll sit back and let it be shipped usps.

  7. Farquar says:

    Just as an aside:

    If you have printed online postage you can take it to the counter without waiting in line. Just skip the line and leave it on the counter at a window were no one is working. They’ll get it and ship it.


    My job involves mailing thousands of things every year. I give the USPS credit in that they lose practically 0 packages. In 5 years they have lost 2 packages I’ve mailed, and delayed one 2 months. In that same period I’ve mailed roughly 20 times more mail through the post office than FedEx, but FedEx has managed to lose or mutilated at least 15 packages in that time.

    In my experience the Post Office is by far more reliable (and typically faster) than FedEx.

  8. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @Farquar: Nice it works for you. When I lived in my last apartment, the post office went 10 for 10 losing or misdelivering packages for me. Never again.

  9. LogicalOne says:

    Is that what you call, “Postal Fraud” ?

  10. Machina says:

    What do you expect? It’s a government facility and service. No one expects any kind of service from the DOT, why USPS?

  11. tkozikow says:

    I needed to get something to my daughter at college about a month ago and thought that USPS Express Mail would be the best way to do it quickly. As a bit of background I live outside of Washington DC and the package was going to southern Virginia.

    I went to the post office at 3pm on Friday expecting the package to be delivered by 12 noon on Saturday. What I learned, however, is that this zip code does not offer next day Express Mail delivery, but could have it there by 12 noon on Sunday, but with an additional $5 fee. I accepted this as the package REALLY needed to be there, but learned a lesson the overnight is not necessarily overnight and was surprised that this would be true for a location less than 300 miles away.

  12. katylostherart says:

    “Hey post office, maybe you should try to check the top of the box every day. Problem solved!”

    um, federal government. nuff said.

  13. katylostherart says:

    @tkozikow: noon on sunday? so that still got delivered monday then, cuz post office isn’t open sunday.

  14. MrsLopsided says:

    Last year we used USPS’s Priority Mail (2-3 day delivery) with delivery confirmation. It was delivered 2 weeks later and the post office’s response was that the 2-3 days is just an estimate and is not guaranteed. I know its not guaranteed, maybe the advertised 2-3 days is based on x percent arriving in that timeframe. I’d like to know what x is.


  15. dragonfire81 says:

    @JennQPublic: You are not cyncial, at my call center we were given training sessions on specific ways to AVOID having to credit a customer account, even if the credit in question was perfectly justified.

  16. stuny says:

    I have no problem with the idea that envelopes can get stuck. Mistakes happen. However if the guarantee says next day and it’s not, you get your money back. Plain and simple. There should be no discussion.

    If you put peanut butter on the envelope, does it stick to the roof of the Express Mail box? Just asking.

  17. richcreamerybutter says:

    In Brooklyn and Queens post offices, you will often see chickens and goats scurrying around the premises. It’s really that bad! Otherwise, I feel like it’s the post office version of the diner from “You Can’t Do That on Television.”

    As much as I love New York, it amazes me how certain institutions are so ass-backwards in their procedures. It’s as if they’ve worn blinders to the last 20 years of progress made in the rest of the country (not unlike cable service).

  18. edrebber says:

    You’re lucky they refunded your money. USPS is not legally bound by any statement made by a USPS employee. For this reason, USPS employees will invent all kinds of nonsensical exuses and polices. Always fund your postage with a credit card. If you don’t get what you paid for, file one written complaint on line at the USPS web site. If you don’t get a prompt refund, then dispute the charge with your credit card company. Let USPS resond to the chargeback with their lame excuses. Don’t let these pompous jerks lead you around by the nose with their lies.

  19. Jesse says:

    Other then the fact that postal employees usually operate in slow motion, I have never had a problem dealing with them.

  20. opsomath says:

    But the USPS is a government agency, not a company! It’s regulated! How could it not be acting in a manner beneficial to the consumer?

  21. @speedwell: Why don’t USPS postal workers care? One word: tenure. Once they are in the system, it’s very hard to get fired. They’ll get written up, transferred, even suspended with pay, but fired? Why should they give quality service when they don’t have to. They’d have to break a law to lose their job.

    Now, working for USPS is no cake walk. It’s high stress and high demand. Climbing the ranks can get very political. So at my post office, I make an effort to smile and address them by name, and as a result I always get A+ service. I never have to stand in line for anything. Kindness goes a long way.

  22. methamp says:


    I used to work for FedEx. If you think that FedEx will deliver your packages faster and more accurately than USPS, you are sorely mistaken. Packages are routinely lost or mutilated. Almost all of the workers there are part-time.

    If you want things delivered on time, your best bet is to stick with USPS.

  23. crichton007 says:

    The USPS used to offer a refund if an overnight item was not delivered by the next day. Do they still do that?

  24. tkozikow says:

    @katylostherart: While the post office is closed for normal services on Sunday, they do offer Express Mail delivery and the $5 surcharge was explained as being needed to offset the cost of having a letter carrier available to deliver the package. Sunday delivery is billed as a benefit of USPS over FedEx and other carriers since I don’t think that that is an option.

    The irony behind this shipment was that I was sending a new set of car keys since my wife lost hers while she was visiting my daughter. This was better than the alternative of driving eight hours round trip and 500 miles, but of course she found her keys that evening after I had sent the package.

  25. sponica says:

    Believe me, I can understand how envelopes get stuck….I’ve tried to drop things in the box near the MetroTech in Brooklyn, there are days when you can’t open the slot because it’s jam packed…or if you can open it, good luck closing it.

    I miss my small town post office, where the service is always good and oddly enough faster than NYC. If I mail something from NH to NYC it will take less time than if I mail something within NYC…

  26. macMD says:

    I was using the USPS overnight service until I realized I could use my companies UPS or Fed Ex service (corporate rates) for my personal stuff. Our receptionist sends an email to me and accounting, I pay the corporate rate and I’m good to go, its also 50% less.

    Nice to know they have no competition and yet they can screw up your life big time if something is not delivered on time as paid for and as guaranteed.

  27. halo969 says:

    I’m starting to wonder why anyone even offers a guarantee of any sort when the only guarantee you get is that if they screw up they’ll do their hardest to blame it on the consumer.

  28. mikelotus says:

    @katylostherart: wrong, they will deliver that on a Sunday. Happened with me.

    @ceejeemcbeegee: How is that different the UPS and being in the Teamsters Union? Besides better pay and benefits at UPS?

  29. wildness says:

    You are just learning this????

  30. Angryrider says:

    She’s complaining about leaving an envelope in a box and not have it delivered until a while later? She was practically outside of the post office and all she had to do was either hand it to a clerk or shove it down a slot. They don’t really check the mailboxes that often and it takes longer for them to be processed anyway.

  31. donkeyjote says:

    @Angryrider: Maybe the post office wasn’t open yet?

  32. @mikelotus: I don’t know much about UPS or the Teamsters, so I can’t answer your question, sorry.

  33. Silversmok3 says:

    Doesn’t the OP understand that nothing in life is guaranteed, especially shipping?

    She got a refund, and quite frankly, that’s better service than any private shipping company would have provided.

    Ive found USPS to be quite reliable. Of 8 priority mail packages I have received, only two got delayed by a month. But they made it.

    If/When UPS/FedEx loses a package, they LOSE IT.

  34. itsgene says:

    I once tried to find out why my FedEx package — guaranteed overnight — was delayed. I was told by their customer service that the FedEx guarantee doesn’t apply if it RAINS anywhere within FedEx’s delivery areas. Since it is ALWAYS raining somewhere in the world where FedEx operates, it is an obvious way to not guarantee anything.
    At least the USPS still delivers in the rain. I’ve never had a problem with the Postal Service here in Silicon Valley, and often find it much faster and cheaper than FedEx or UPS. That said, when I lived in Washington, DC, it was often faster to deliver things by hand than use the Post Office. I guess there are some pretty significant regional differences.

  35. Mailman says:

    So I print my Express postage online. Wait an extra day then drop it in the box outside…BIGNO my Express has failed before it even hits the road. Money back please!!!! Sorry folks but but it would happen ALL THE FREAKIN TIME. If we are going to guarantee it you have to let us confirm it was in fact presented at a certain time.

  36. Mailman says:

    Oops that should be BINGO!!!!!!

  37. Concerned_Citizen says:

    @Mailman: That is only valid if they tell you in advance with some kind of warning or disclaimer. If they don’t point this out or have a disclaimer, then the guarantee stands. If people knew they could not use the drop box to get the guarantee they would go in and hand it to someone. Does the postal service really think people are going to be OK with paying for over night and not getting their money back when it gets there in over a week?

  38. radiochief says:

    @katylostherart: The USPS is not the federal government. It is a quasi-governmental organization. It has not been totally federal since, oh, the middle of the 20th century or so…

    @ceejeemcbeegee: So right!

    Fedex, UPS and USPS guarantees all have fine print erasing any rights you think you have. The USPS handles 50% of the world’s mail volume, lighten up on them.

    If a package is damn important, see it off yourself, You are not sending it Parcel Post, so drop it person.

    My wife used to work for the Nurses’ Health Study at Harvard. She and her colleagues used to call FedEx, FedUp because of all the missed and lost packages…

    Frankly the two most reliable services I have seen and dealt with is: USPS and UPS. FedEx is a distant third, DHL is practically better.

    If you really want a package overnight (that does not need air transport) use a local or national courier, you’ll pay a lot more for it, though.

  39. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    @ceejeemcbeegee: I actually believed you up until the part where you said you never have to wait in line.

  40. euchre13 says:

    Frankly, I’m surprised you got a refund. I highly doubt that anybody you talked to told you that it was stuck in the top of the box. I am sure that they suggested that this MAY have been the reason for the delay.

    Yes, you bought postage online and had the article dated that way. Who’s to say that the envelope didn’t sit in your car for 2 weeks, you then remembered it, and then put it in the box claiming you put it in there 2 weeks prior. There is absolutely NO way to prove either side of this argument.

    I am a letter carrier and recently a lady came up to me trying to send out 2 express mails that she had purchased the same way this lady did. One was dated one month prior, the other 2 months prior. I told her I could not take them because the postage dates weren’t that day. She argued that she paid for the postage so I had to take them. I explained that she could do exactly what this lady possibly did by claiming she had mailed them 1 and 2 months prior. Basically, we can’t win here.

    Lesson here: take the express mail and hand it to a real person. Drop it off on the counter inside, hand it to a carrier, give it to a person. We really want to see to it that your stuff gets where it belongs, not because we care about your stuff, but because we don’t want to hear you complain… :)

  41. Not Alvis says:

    Getting stuck? Aren’t these boxes made by the USPS? If so, they should be responsible for them working properly.

  42. FrankReality says:

    This is one of those items where a complaint to your Congressperson and your Senators may be of help.

    Frankly any private company would be charged with deceptive marketing/fraud for advertising “guaranteed” when the company’s policy is to act otherwise.

    By the way, insuring packages in my experience is pretty useless as well – the USPS mishandled a package, denting the box and damaging the contents – after a long runaround, we got nothing.

  43. Slow2Whine says:

    USPS is can be both amazingly efficient, and sporadically reliable at the same time. It all depends where your are. I once worked at an office in a Chicago neighborhood where at one point the REGULAR mail was delivered as late as 7pm and it that was considered lucky because sometimes we got mail maybe twice a week. After a month of that, the local alderman (along with the chamber of commerce) had a meeting with the local post office to see what was the reason for the delay. On the other hand, My postman for my home (which was a different neighborhood) always delivered my mail on time, and even let me know when he was going on vacation, so I understand if there there was a delay.

    My point is, that as a whole, I can agree that USPS has a lot to work on if they were to be compared with a publicly traded company, but as the same with all local governments, some are better then others, as are post offices. It all depends where you live.

  44. bvita says:

    I try to use the USPS only as a last resort. They’re fine for mailing bills and checks. As for parcels, forget it.

    We ship some of our consumer goods via Priority Mail. You get a tracking number of dubious value. It tells you nothing until the package is actually delivered and, even then, sometimes not for weeks afterward. Most of the time the letter carriers “forget” to scan the package as they deliver it.

    As for Express Mail, its a joke. When first introduced it was great. I don’t recall actually having anything arrive next day via Express Mail for the last five years. At best, its a second day service.

    I seem to recall that USPS was partnering with FEDEX a few years ago to handle the express mail. Kind of like the Reeses Peanut Butter Cup of delivery (two screwed up services that are more screwed up together…)

  45. slevdogg says:

    The drive-thru boxes outside of my downtown post office have their latest pickup at 5:00 PM. I usually come at around 4:45 on my way to my night job and around 65% of the time the moron is already out there emptying out the boxes. The other 35% who knows, maybe he’s already emptied it. I asked him once if I could put the envelopes in the box, and he said that he had emptied it and wasn’t going to be doing it again. I told him there were still 15 more minutes, and he just told me to give him the envelopes. I didn’t want to argue, after all he did have my mail, but that’s just ridiculous. The busiest time of the day at that post office is the half-hour leading up to 5:00. People should be able to feel confident dropping off their mail at 4:50 that it will go out that day. The employees in that post office are utterly incompetent, utterly inefficient, and often times downright rude. On the other hand, around 8 or so miles away on the other side of town there is another post office, which is the regional hub which is open until 8:00 every day of the week, and it is great. I’ve never had a problem there. I guess they just put all of the rejects downtown.

    Service to my house is great, though, 6 days a week, every week (except for their crapload of holidays), I have my mail by noon. No complaints there.

    That’s my USPS rant…

  46. postalpro says:

    The reason its not guaranteed is SIMPLE. You print out an express label get your package ready and then for some reason dont mail it until the next day or late that night after the box is emptied. Well then its late before its even mailed and the post office has no way of knowing when it actually was mailed. Also, remember if airline flights get cancelled or delayed, or their is a major accident on highways and trucks get delayed, or their is a major storm, all these things can affect how long delivery takes. Most people dont have a clue what it takes for a package to get from point A to B. Its the same for all delivery companies. Thats LIFE!!!!

  47. EdwardEmu says:

    The reason as I would understand that overnight is not guaranteed if
    dropped in a collection box would be after you print the popstage online
    and mail it, whos to say it doesn’t sit in your car for a day or two and
    then you mail it. The only way it can be processed with any certainty
    that it was mailed the same day is by handing it to a postal employee.
    That might take a little thinking on the consumers part.

  48. mike says:

    USPS could be more efficiant. But to send a letter from Baltimore to Honolulu for 42 cents…no one can beat that price.

    Express mail should be different. You pay for the service, you should get it. I would agree with most folks here though: I would use USPS last when sending express. Ground is still pretty decent and so is media mail.

  49. coolkiwilivin says:

    Remember this when you vote in November. Obama – Healthcare run by these people. From the people who brought you the DMV, IRS and USPS, now Healthcare! People aren’t clinging to their guns and relgion b/c the government isn’t doing enough, it’s b/c the government is trying to do way too much.

  50. ArgusRun says:

    Unfortunately, FedEx does not deliver to a PO Box, so until they do, USPS overnight is my only option for some things. I can’t say I’v ever had a problem, but I don’t think I’ve ever used the drop box.

  51. Rev-E says:

    I was told by our mail carrier that express is only guaranteed if you hand it to a postal worker. Just dropping it in the box doesn’t mean anything.

  52. expressman says:

    The guarantee is based on when the piece is entered into the system. So if you drop a piece of Express Mail into an Express collection box after the last collection time for that day, your item will not be entered into the system as accepted until the next day.

    It works the same for UPS and FEDEX express boxes too. If you drop something off after their final collection it isn’t entered into their system for the guarantee until the next day when the piece is actually collected.

    Here is an example of how the Express collection boxes work. You can print and pay for an Express label through Lets say you print it up at 6:00pm Saturday and walk over to an Express collection box and place it in the box. The collection box says the last scheduled collection for Saturday is 5:00pm. There is no time listed for Sunday and Holidays on the box. It shows Monday-Friday as a first collection time of 7:00am. So your guarantee would be based on being collected and accepted on Monday at 7:00am.

    What does this mean? Even though you printed the label through it doesn’t mean your guarantee starts then. How does the Post Office know if you ever even mail that piece, or for that matter when? What if you lost the letter at your house after you printed it for a few days? Is the Post Office supposed to give you a refund even though they never had it in their own hands?

    The only fair way is to base the guarantee on when the piece is processed by a window clerk. Hence, when a carrier collects it from a collection box they then hand it to a clerk who then processes it into the system and the guarantee begins.

  53. Imacustomertoo says:

    I am always amazed at the amount of people that do not attempt SOME control over their destiny. Once mail has been collected and postmarked, then the service standard is applied. Meaning, If you drop something in a collection box on Saturday after the Post Office is closed, the “clock” doesn’t start until someone picks up during the next normal collection time (Monday). Same with EXPRESS MAIL, Someone needs to “start the clock” by accepting it into the system. Ask questions. The 1800 number for the usps is just a call center for everyday questions like office hours, zip codes, locations. They’re not employees of the USPS. It is unfortunate that the mail piece was stuck in the drop box. IT IS the employee’s responsibility to check. If I’m paying 16 bucks, I want to make sure I hand it to someone. To keep costs down, Express Mail is flown on the same airplanes you fly. Partnered with FED EX to provide more flights for shipping.
    If a flight makes two or three stops or a layover, so does your Express.

  54. oogyworm says:

    The reason it isn’t guaranteed is because anyone can print a label on the 4th and wait a week to drop it in a mailbox creating a failure automatically. The USPS offers a carrier pick up service at your home if you wish to print your labels online to avoid standing in postal lines. This service is free to anyone who received delivery at their home. You can request this service at or call our 1-800-275-8777.

  55. Aisley says:

    What really gets to me from the window employees at my post office is that there can be a line as long as our hopes for cheap gas;then you’ll see just one or two windows working, while the other employees are chatting about anything.

    FEDEX and UPS are not any better. In 2006 I bought a china set from the Shopping Network. For I don’t understand what reason, FEDEX delivered it at another house. Thanks God those neighbors and me are good friends otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten my package. And by the way, I’m still waiting for FEDEX to tell me what happened. With UPS, I bought some books from Barnes and Noble, when I went to UPS website to track the package, it said that the delivery guy attempted delivery, but the building was closed maybe due to Thanksgiving. I understand if this was the reason at any other type of building. But for heaven sake, I work at a house of worship!!!! We’re open EVERYDAY from 8:30am to 10:30pm. The UPS guy lied!!!

  56. mikelotus says:

    @ceejeemcbeegee: sorry, i thought you were saying tenure is the reason why, so clearly you would know about UPS where tenure also exists through the Teamsters. My mistake, did not realize you were talking out your…

  57. Danj3ris says:

    This is absolutely true. I worked as a USPS letter carrier and when I had to empty collection boxes at least half the time there would be a letter or two stuck against the side of the box or at the very top of the box. To combat this, the USPS has a company send out test letters to see how long it takes for them to reach their destination. They also do random checks after you leave to make sure you grabbed every single letter. People have been fired over this.

  58. SnigdhaNymph says:

    Overnight Guaranteed overnight is guaranteed overnight, for the receiver to
    receive it it is up to the sender. If the receiver has to sign for it and no
    one is at home guess what it is not received the next day but you will see
    that it was attempted that day. If you wanted to be received without a
    signature, you have to sign for it, also if you drop something in the box
    make sure that you know what time the pick up will be, if you drop it in the
    box Friday evening it may be Monday before it is picked up. Before you
    complain, get all the facts first.

  59. Namilia says:

    USPS customer service is contracted out to Convergys. Enough said.

  60. Snullbug says:

    When a package I had paid for guaranteed overnight didn’t show up overnight I went to the local Post Office to find out why. Reason – the guarantee is only good from certain dispatch points. If you live in a small town (this was a town of 6000) the guarantee is from the nearest guaranteed dispatch point. If you live in Buttwad, Arkansas and it take a week to get to the dispatch point in Little Rock – it is guaranteed overnight from there. Nice, huh?

  61. VasinDives says:

    Do you know they have a 8 hour crew that does nothing but sort mail for
    the carriers going out the next day~!
    Now that’s allot of mail.
    Even to my standards as a veteran postal employee of over 20 + years.

    Next time ‘if offered & allowed’ take a tour of the operations. it still
    amazes me after all my years!
    “You’ll be amazed as to how anything get anywhere”!!??
    Why it does because we as employee’s (not all mind you-for all
    corporations have their dud’s) care about our customers!

    But with the mental giants they have promoted to stupidvisors-I’m
    surpised anything moves.
    For you promote a carrier to stupervise a Clerk, and Vice Versa???
    This is like going to the doctor to have a tooth pulled.

    But it happens all the time in the P.O. , all I can do is shake my head.

    58 months and counting…….

  62. ZaltanaMoirae says:

    Common sense would tell you that if you have paid for an Express Mail item,
    you wouldn’t put it in the box with regular mail. Express mail is treated
    differently, and treated first. If I paid extra for that service, I think
    I’d make sure the clerk knew about it and could put it in with the other
    express mail to be treated as such. Not mix it in with regular mail to be
    discovered on accident when it wouldn’t go through a machine someplace. And
    how many customers confuse the FedEx box with an Express Mail box? I’ve
    never even seen an Express Mail box, just FedEX. If you put it in the FedEx
    box, then FedEx picked it up, not USPS. If FedEx picked it up, how long did
    they hold it before they discovered it was USPS and then turned it over to
    USPS for handling? We see UPS and FedEx stuff dropped in our boxes all the
    time. How long does it take to get it to the right company? The answer is
    “however long it takes for that company to come get it.” And there’s a
    place on the form for the clerk to complete that verifies the date and time
    your Express Mail piece was accepted at the window. Without that, I doubt
    I’d give a refund right away. You can’t circumvent our procedures that
    ensure timely delivery and then complain when delivery is delayed. One
    other thing – we don’t like long lines either. We want more jobs. You
    should want that too. It’s horrendous to have to go to the bathroom and
    can’t because your line is too long and there’s no one to help you with the
    customers. The customer doesn’t like having to wait in line only to be met
    by a clerk that’s anxious and aggravated because he needs to pee. The
    customers can control that by insisting publicly that the USPS staff
    properly to ensure better customer service. All your window clerk can do is
    try to be friendly and help you when it’s finally your turn at the window.
    And while the Post Office might be closed on Sunday to the public, the USPS
    is a 24/7 operation. We do indeed have people working on Sunday, round the
    clock just like every other day, to ensure timely delivery. And even on
    Sundays, in most areas, someone is out there delivering Express Mail because
    you needed it there now, paid extra for that service, and then took it to
    the counter to ensure it got placed with other Express Mail pieces to be
    treated first.

  63. drewxjacobs says:

    Nobody wants to stand in line at the Post Office or anywhere else for that matter. However, if I was paying a minimum of 16.50 for the service, I would make sure I handed that item to a clerk. I work for the post office, and customers come in all the time with postage affixed, but will drop off to one of us in order to get the guarantee. That’s just the way it works.

    With regard to the comment that overnight doesn’t always mean next day, this is true. If the destination is some place nowhere near a major airport, it becomes 2 day or 2nd delivery day. But it’s guaranteed and if it doesn’t make it by the time promised, it’s free.

  64. Joe Hass says:

    And now let me answer the actual question, which is what the guarantee entails.

    The overnight guarantee applies only if you do one of three things:

    * Physically hand the envelope to a clerk at a USPS Post Office, branch or station prior to that location’s final pick up time.

    * Physically hand the envelope to a postal carrier on his route.

    * Drop the package into an *Express Mail* mailbox prior to the final pickup time listed on that box. This is *not* the same as a standard mailbox; these boxes are clearly labeled *Express Mail* on the side. If you don’t see the Express Mail labeling, it’s a standard mailbox, and the guarantee does not apply.


    I wholeheartedly agree that this is not clear, and that the copy on the USPS Web site isn’t much of a help, but I’ve said this before: if it’s an absolutely time-sensitive item, always take it directly to the counter (regardless of who you use).

  65. Joe Hass says:

    You can also use this Web site to determine latest drop times: []