mail delays are not the Postmaster General's fault
by Rockwell Sands @

Mail and Package Delays Are Not the Postmaster General’s Fault

USPS extended its service commitments for First Class Package and Priority Mail services before Postmaster General DeJoy took office in May of 2020

With all eyes on USPS as the presidential election inches closer, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is under fire. As the new face of the organization, DeJoy has taken a lot of flack for the Postal Service’s current problems. The media has scrutinized him for the financial state of the organization, his lack of knowledge about postal operations, and the uncertainty around vote-by-mail, to name a few. However, one issue is certainly not DeJoy’s fault: mail and package delays over the past few months.

COVID-19 and Surging Package Demand Required USPS to Allot an Extra Day for Delivery, Leading to Mail Delays

When the Coronavirus pandemic first forced America (and the world) into lockdown, USPS saw an enormous surge in package volumes. When consumers began relying on online ordering for both essential and non-essential goods, eCommerce demand skyrocketed beyond record levels.

This uptick in package demand, coupled with a lack of transportation resources, inevitably led to mail and package delays across the board for the Postal Service. As a result, USPS made changes to its longstanding delivery commitments in order to better service its customer base. For all First Class Package and Priority Mail parcels, USPS allotted an extra day for delivery, increasing their usual timeframes from 1-3 business days to 2-4 business days.

The Numbers Aren’t That Bad

According to detailed data and analytics ran by Shippo, average delivery times since May have fallen in line right with these expectations. Shippo took a look at 50,000 packages during July and August sent by their users. The numbers showed that only 24% of Priority Mail and 17% of First Class packages got delivered later than the originally scheduled date. Also, the same data shows that average transit times have only increased incrementally. From May/June to the July/August period, Priority Mail shipments took an average of 9.03% longer to arrive. First Class Package shipments, on the other hand, took an average of 8.8% longer to reach their destinations.

From the tables below, one can see how many days that delivery times for Priority Mail and First Class Package shipments have increased by:

Source: Shippo
Source: Shippo

For each USPS zone, the data above show that delivery times for both services have increased by not even a full day, on average. In regards to these delays, Shippo provided the following statement on their blog:

“Overall, the USPS remains a reliable choice for most eCommerce shipments. Since the beginning of July, we’ve seen small increases in transit times and delayed deliveries for longer shipments starting at Zone 5 and up. Shorter-distance shipments, on average, remain mostly unimpacted.”

USPS Announced Changes to Service Commitments Before Louis DeJoy Became Postmaster General

When looking at these mail and parcel delays, many are quick to blame current Postmaster Louis DeJoy. Here’s the kicker though: in reality, DeJoy had nothing to do with this change to service commitments. In fact, these changes took place before he even got his current job. USPS first announced changes to its service commitments on April 17, 2020, under Postmaster General Megan Brennan.

Louis DeJoy assumed his role as Postmaster General during the first week of May, 2020. His ascension to his current role occurred almost two full weeks after USPS announced the changes to its service commitments. USPS made the change to its service commitments as a response to COVID-19, not as a result of new leadership.

The Plan to Shut Down Mail Sorting Machines Has Been in Place for Years

Many people out there are also wondering about the mail sorting machines that USPS has proceeded to dismantle shortly before the election. This is another operational decision that has been in motion for years prior to DeJoy taking the job.

The Postal Service has two distinct facets of its operations: mail and packages. As we relied more on the Internet, people needed to mail things like letters and postcards less and less. On the other hand, package growth has risen year over year, and is now the fastest-growing revenue driver for USPS. Thus, to properly service the marketplace, USPS needs more package processing equipment, and less mail sorting machines.

According to postal insiders we’ve spoken with, these sorting machines USPS shut down were only operating under 40% capacity, anyway. By shutting these sorting machines down, USPS is making way to invest in more cutting-edge package processing equipment to better address growing parcel demand. Again, this has less to do with DeJoy, and is more so a follow-through on existing plans.

What Can I Do if Mail and Packages Keep Getting Delayed?

If you’re a consumer, the only thing you can do is simply wait and be patient. Rest assured that USPS is doing everything they can to service every single American citizen, and these are challenging times.

If you run an eCommerce business, the best practice is to set fair and reasonable expectations with your customers. A simple disclaimer posted on your website, or a message you send to your customers when they check out telling them to expect a slightly longer delivery timeframe for their items would go a long way. In our experience, most consumers are fairly understanding right now, considering the current state of the Postal Service and the world as a whole.

Lastly, if you’re worried about your items taking too long to be delivered or getting lost along the way, you can always protect your packages with extra shipping insurance.

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12 Comments

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  1. Yana

    Rocky you are so wrong if you believe that Dejoy is not at fault. You started out staying ” USPS extended its service commitments for First Class Package and Priority Mail services before Postmaster General DeJoy took office in May of 2020″. Fist, I love how people like you change the real issue to what you want the issue for others to believe. This issue isn’t packages it Letter Mail. Here is a man who comes into a new position with no knowledge of the business doesn’t bother to learn before removing letter sorting machines and collection boxes (which he didn’t even know the name of). Not only did he remove the machines he removed the newer ones and had them destroyed by the end of July. These are the machines that will process mail in ballots. He also removed collection boxes. How does that save money. In both cases usually you have to provide documentation for they actions not only to the Rate & Exchange Commission, but also to all unions involved. None of this happened. How can you make a good of faith decision without going over the books and understanding the process. Secondly, These machine are capital investments. If you want to ensure that they machines does not get back in the system you destroy them instead of selling them off and/or give them to other facilities who have less performing machines. Nor would you get rid of the better machines over the older ones. Thirdly you would not send out mail trucks without mail being on them. The USPS is not in be business to transport air. Every time a trailer is on the road it cost the company money. If nothing else weather can be a reason for mail delay. But to dispatch a trailer without the mail for less than 15 minutes is reason to believe that your intentions are to delay mail. In addition, to scare lower level craft employee that they will responsible for any extra trip and will be deducted from your pay check. That is what you call inducing fear to control your decision not to deliver mail timely. I have yet to see management get charge for EEO complaints that they created. But he is going to charge a craft employee for doing their job to put the mail on the truck and get the mail out. Rocky you need to really look at this matter more closely or just don’t lie to your readers and come right out and say you agree with whatever Trump does. Why would you hire a person with no experience in this area. Oh I forgot. To do your dirty work. Look at all the other people he hired with no experience throughout the White House. We need to do better. The said part is that if he has to leave he will still get a good departing pay package for his service in destroying the Postal Service. May you all rest in peace

    Reply  
    • Rockwell Sands

      Hi Yana, I really appreciated your comments and the things you pointed out in this article regarding Postmaster General DeJoy and mail delays. It sounds like you’ve got the inside scoop with what’s going on with the Postal Service, and from your comments, I can only assume that you’re writing from within the USPS organization.

      That said, would you be open to an interview for the site? We’re always looking for insider knowledge & evidence, and we treat all sources anonymously. Our readership is growing fast, and I think it would really benefit our visitors if we shared your perspective and the truth of what you’re seeing.

      An expert opinion like yours would go a long way, and would be a great thing to put out there. Feel free to email me at [email protected] if you’re open to it. Thanks!

      Reply  
  2. Shara

    I agree with some of the comments. Your bias is blatantly showing your partisan beliefs. Your “facts” are not right. DeJoy is a bad player whether innocent, or intentional, and it is obvious his decisions have slowed mail. As a business owner, I was appalled that in one month 6 of my mailings never reached their destination and I had to refund and/or re-issue orders. In tracing the problems with regard to the missing mail, it all pointed to DeJoy, and in 20 years of doing business, I had never, EVER had a package go missing. As for you, I am switching over to Sendle. Immediately.

    Reply  
  3. Travis

    Count me as another calling out Rockwell’s intentional obfuscation and willful distortion of the facts on this matter. There are two potential scenarios here: 1) Rockwell really isn’t an “expert” on shipping at all, and shouldn’t be penning opinions like this since he’s clearly ignorant of many of the facts, or 2) he knows exactly what information he’s leaving out in order to confuse uninformed readers, and shouldn’t be penning opinions like this for what should be a non-political task of informing readers. Rockwell, if you live in SoCal as you claim, as I do, then you know full well that “an extra day” hasn’t been the norm in delivery slowdowns for the past 2 months, they’ve been 1-2 weeks. Surely you also know that these delays have nothing to do with service commitments. They have everything to do with 1) DeJoy’s removal of overtime in a pandemic, during which package numbers are already at levels normally not seen outside of the holiday season, 2) workers needing to stay home due to illness and self-quarantine, with no one to fill in for them due to the aforementioned slashing of overtime and a poorly timed hiring freeze, and 3) the insistence that the trucks “run on time” (poor choice of words) regardless of whether or not they’re actually getting the job done, resulting in literal pile-ups on processing plant floors. It’s not coincidental that the true delays, which here in SoCal and many parts of the country have been a week or more on top of normal delivery times, happened when DeJoy instituted his ill thought-out changes without doing any investigative work as to the effects these changes would have on all levels of the organization (to which he has admitted). So, again, Rockwell either really has no idea about the subject on which he counts himself an “expert,” or, point blank, he’s lying by omission to the people who come here for factual information. Either option means he’s not cut out for the role he finds himself in. But who knows, maybe he’s like DeJoy and will just continue to fail upwards in life.

    Reply  
  4. Bill

    I think your defense of the postal slow down and planned removal of sorting equipment, is self serving. You make you living on USPS.

    The proof of voter suppression is the selective removal of equipment in low income/minority communities in key states. Case in point Pontiac Michigan and the disablement of equipment and destruction of the sorting machine bar code readers.

    You can not hide your political agenda. I will be disabling your service. We all have other options.

    Reply  
  5. Rockwell Sands

    Thank you all for the comments – I appreciate you bringing up the issue of shutting down mail sorting machines. This is another operational decision that has been in motion for years prior to DeJoy taking the job.

    The Postal Service has two distinct facets of its operations: mail and packages. As we relied more on the Internet, people needed to mail things like letters and postcards less and less. On the other hand, package growth has risen year over year, and is now the fastest-growing revenue driver for USPS. Thus, to properly service the marketplace, USPS needs more package processing equipment, and less mail sorting machines.

    According to postal insiders we’ve spoken with, these sorting machines USPS shut down were only operating under 40% capacity, anyway. By shutting these sorting machines down, USPS is making way to invest in more cutting-edge package processing equipment to better address growing parcel demand. Again, this has less to do with DeJoy, and is more so a follow-through on existing plans.

    Reply  
    • Megan A

      It doesn’t make sense to shut down and remove any equipment before new equipment can be installed when the mail is so backed up because of the pandemic. Either DeJoy is doing that to purposely slow the mail even more, or he’s too stupid to see the very obvious flaws with that plan. Both outcomes mean he is unfit to be the Post Master. Also, this:

      https://youtu.be/F5JF-qH7Tqk

      Reply  
  6. Corey Boots

    Really? Dismantling sorting machines in the parking lot of the Grand Rapids, MI sorting facility is not his fault either, I’m guessing? Not approving overtime for employees is not his fault either? Him having a vested interest in the failure of the post office isn’t concerning either? Pretty clear where you stand on the political aisle. Anyone reading this door fall for this shill. I worked for USPS for years and still know people that do. The postmaster is 100% unequivocally making it more difficult for mail to be sorted and delivered in time.

    Yeah it’s true it’s Congress’ fault for the pre-funding of retirement benefits. So why won’t the senate take up the bill to modify the post office’s expenses? You’re the neutral expert. I’d love to hear why none of these things have anything to do with the new postmaster.

    Reply  
  7. Martin V

    While your article shows some truth in it, it is hi responsibility to fix the problems that exists. By removing fast sorting machines he is contributing to the problem. Plus, lets ot kid ourselves. He is in complicity with the president to sabotage the election.

    Reply  
    • Megan A

      I agree with Martin V. You completely left out the fact that DeJoy has been removing sorting machines and gave Trump’s campaign a ton of money. He only just stopped removing machines because 20 states band together to sue him. These are HUGE points that you completely missed somehow….

      Reply  
      • Joanne

        I’m with everyone else. Your bias is showing and I’m appalled. If he’s only removing the sorting machines to replace them with better ones, why shut them down before the better option is ready to be installed? Why are people waiting weeks and weeks (not one extra day) for their medications and other critical things they have mailed by USPS to reach them? Why is the postal service telling people their mail is being held at the post office “per recipient’s request” when that’s not true? You are FAR from an neutral observer.

        Reply  

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