USPS Destroys Package & Freaks Out Over Subsequent Leak Of “Mysterious” Gluten-Free Flour

The United States Postal Service should be a bit more careful about packages it handles, especially if it’s going to damage one so badly that its contents start to shake loose. Also? While Amazon probably isn’t going to be shipping any kind of dangerous substances, once Consumerist reader Jeremiah and his wife explained that it was gluten-free flour, surely there’s no need to freak out about it twice. And hey, maybe an apology is in order?

Jeremiah writes in to say that he was recently diagnosed with Celiac disease, and as such, can’t tolerate flour made from wheat. But he didn’t want to lose out on his wife’s baking, so she was sweet enough to order some gluten-free baking flour from Amazon to make her husband a delightful rhubarb crisp. It was supposed to arrive on June 7.

The day the it was supposed to arrive, we were woken up at 5:30am by the US Postal service, wanting to know why our package was leaking a “mysterious white powder.” My wife explained it was gluten-free baking flour, and the lady on the phone said she’d make a note of that and continue shipping the product, but it would be late.

Last night — six days later — at 8 p.m., a postal inspector called me with questions about a destroyed package with my wife’s name on it which was leaking a mysterious white powder. We explained to him we’d already been through this with another USPS employee last week, but he saw no record of that 5:30 a.m. conversation.

The postal inspector told us they would bag up the remains, that we were listed as the shipper, and they would be “returning” the damaged package to us. We explained it was coming to us from Amazon, but he couldn’t be sure if it was coming to us, or going to them. If the flour did arrive, and we didn’t like the shape it was in, he said, we’d have to take it up with Amazon.

Yes, it’s good to be alert about substances being sent through the mail. Once it’s been cleared as not dangerous, some communication between postal workers would be ideal as well. But how about taking a little bit of responsibility for damaging a package enough that there’s less of the product you paid for still inside the box?

Jeremiah did take it up with Amazon, as he was “hungry, angry and hoping for a refund.” Amazon picked up USPS’ slack and expedited a replacement order, with the hopes that USPS would manage to not destroy a second package.

Here’s to hoping you get that rhubarb crisp, Jeremiah. Do let us know how it tastes.