The U.S. Postal Service: “We Lie To You”

I ordered something from Amazon.com recently. I do this frequently, and Amazon uses whatever shipping method they feel is appropriate to get me the item under their Prime program (two-day free shipping). I understand logistics and cost analysis, so when the item shipped via USPS (snail mail) I wasn’t too surprised. It’s a Blu-Ray Disc, and because of it’s size and weight it makes sense to send it via USPS.

I was surprised when I received an email from Amazon this afternoon telling me the post office had attempted to deliver the item but no one was home to receive/sign for it. I say “surprised” because I was home all day working in my office in the second bedroom. The front door of the house is less than twenty feet from the office and I have two dogs that bark when anyone walks down the sidewalk in front of the house… and they specifically let me know when there is anybody on the front porch. According to the USPS tracking web site, the attempted delivery was at 9:27 am. I was here at that time, no once came to the door, no one knocked. The web site informed me there was a delivery attempt notice left for me, but I could find nothing of the sort in my mailbox, on the front door, even on the ground on the porch. I even attempted to schedule a redelivery attempt through the USPS web site but was informed that it was not possible for this item. No further explanation was given.

I called my local USPS branch to inquire about my package. The person I spoke with didn’t sound interested in helping me from the outset of the call, but I tried anyway. I told her the tracking number and all of the info that said a notice was left here that I could not find, and included the info that was here at the time the delivery was supposedly attempted. She wasn’t too interested, instead letting me know that the route delivery guys wouldn’t be back in the branch location until 6 or 6:30 pm and they would be closed at that point. She also said she couldn’t give me any info about the package until the package was back in the office. An offer for redelivery was made for tomorrow but I declined since I was home today when the system says they tried to deliver, so I couldn’t expect much more for tomorrow. She told me I could have the package held at the office and pick it up myself tomorrow.

My problem here is two-fold: First, this is the typical kind of lying bullshit attitudes all of the employees of the Denver University Park branch office display on a regular basis. They’re put out if you ask them for any information (on the phone or in person). They lie about deliveries and mis-manage simple tasks such as holding mail on vacations. They’re hostile to their customers. I’ve come to understand this is typical of most postal employees these days, and there is almost nothing that can be done about it. In Denver, the branch postmaster/manager is essentially a deity. Have a problem, try to discuss it with somebody? Too bad, “that’s the way it is.” There is no recourse, no escalation above the branch level. Complain or try to push your issue too hard and you will be threatened with arbitrary non-delivery of all of your mail, possible charges under federal law, and worse. It wasn’t made clear what “worse” could be, but it was said in a manner that told me “you don’t want to know.”

The second reason I don’t look forward to picking up my package at the branch office is that the Denver University Park station is in a densely-populated area (including the University of Denver). The branch is small and in typical USPS fashion they will have two of six service windows running at any time. Wait times in the queue are usually around thirty minutes or longer, even when they first open in the morning. Their two automated postal machines are likely the busiest in the state because people would rather DIY instead of waiting in line for rude and slow service.

I now rent a post office box in a different branch office that is technically closer to my house by half a mile, but in Englewood and not Denver. It’s an old, smallish branch in a building on the National Register of Historical Buildings, and as such the USPS can’t close it (they’ve tried several times). The employees there are wonderfully helpful and friendly and the lines average three minutes or less — usually I am the only person in line! I’m going to have to put a little thought into my Amazon ordering process now: if the item is smallish (like a Blu-ray Disc) I will have it sent to my PO box. Larger packages will qualify for UPS shipping since they’re much cheaper that USPS parcels in most cases.

It’s really sad that a government agency that desperately needs our business to stay afloat financially allows such horrible, rude, inefficient liars to staff many of their locations. It’s understandable that people would rather deal with the UPS man who comes at the same time every day, who smiles and says hello, and even knows the names of my dogs — the same dogs that bark at him everyday, but he’s not upset about that at all.

UPDATE: Here’s the beautiful part… at 6:50 PM tonight my mail was delivered, including my package. It wasn’t a special drop-off because I called — it was what time the route carrier made it to my block. 6:50 PM! So they absolutely lied about attempting to deliver it at 9:27 am. I am not surprised.

At least I won’t have to visit the post office branch in the morning.

One Reply to “The U.S. Postal Service: “We Lie To You””

  1. Ugh. I hate the USPS. I don’t want to hate the USPS. But I do. They suck big blue ones. In large cities they are riddled with apathy and incompetence, meanwhile, in small towns they’re riddled with nosy, gossipy busybodies who love their jobs because they can meddle in everyone’s business via their mail. Yes, some mail carriers work ridiculously hard in ridiculously horrific conditions, delivering mail in areas where no sane/sober/law abiding person would ever step foot, and props to them. Yes, there are some nice post offices with nice, helpful, pleasant postal workers, but they’re an anomaly.

    I ordered stamps from the US Postal Service website. (The reasons for this are multiple and valid but are not important.) The stamps were, I kid you not, “lost en route,” then “delayed.” Four weeks later I began a three day fight for a refund. At the peak of the argument they said they never lost them and therefore never informed me that they were lost, even though I had the form postcard sent from the postal service, left by a postal worker in my post box informing me my stamp order was lost. The postal service finally relented and refunded the cost of the stamps, but not the cost of the shipping. Think about that for a minute.

    Yes. The postal service would not refund the shipping fee for an order of postage stamps they lost. That sentence is an enigma wrapped in a riddle bound with a joke.

    Glad you got your disk, though.

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