Going into the holidays, surging Coronavirus cases and caps that UPS and FedEx have placed on retail shippers have caused the worst backlog in USPS history. The backlog has resulted in a gridlock at Postal Service facilities, which, in turn, has led to widespread package delays.
Shippers all Over the Country are Seeing Extended Delays Due to the USPS Backlog
If you’ve sent a package with the Postal Service recently, you’ve probably experienced these delays firsthand. Some shipments have been marked as “In Transit” on the USPS website ever since the first week of December. On the other hand, some shipments appear that USPS never scanned them in at all. Whatever the case, the Postal Service is bracing for even more volume in the coming days, claiming that the holiday peak hasn’t even hit the organization yet.
In a news release, USPS once again impressed upon customers the importance of mailing holiday packages early. Doing so ensures that shipments will be delivered on or before Christmas Eve. Despite the backlog, however, top USPS execs still seem confident on the Postal Service’s ability to deliver. In the same release, Kristin Seaver, chief retail and delivery officer for the Postal Service, said:
“We thank our customers for their continued support, and we are committed to making sure gifts and cards are delivered on time to celebrate the holidays,” she said. “We continue to flex our network including making sure the right equipment is available to sort, process and deliver a historic volume of mail and packages this holiday season.”
FedEx and UPS Have Placed a Cap on Shipments, Leaving the Rest to USPS
It’s not just a surge in COVID-19 cases that has put strain on the network. It’s also the fact that UPS and FedEx—both facing their own supply chain difficulties—have stopped accepting shipments from retailers above a certain threshold. When this happens, these “overflow” shipments then go to the Postal Service. However, unlike for-profit carriers like UPS and FedEx, USPS legally can’t turn volume down.
When asked about the backlog, a USPS transportation manager (who asked to remain anonymous) provided the following quote:
“We’re really gridlocked all over the place. It’s bad. I’ve never seen it like this before. UPS and FedEx have shut us off. Nobody can keep up right now, but we don’t have the luxury of turning people down. [We’re] sitting on so much mail right now that it’s almost one day at a time in these facilities.”
What Can I Do About a Severely Delayed Shipment?
If you suspect your shipment has gone missing in the USPS network, then the best option is to submit a missing mail search. When you provide the tracking number, USPS will then open a package research case to determine its whereabouts. Alternatively, if you purchased Priority Mail service, you may be eligible to file a claim on the USPS website.
If you purchased additional shipping insurance, then you can file a claim with the insurance company. Or, if you used shipping software to buy your shipping labels, you’ll need to file the claim through that specific shipping software company.
Never heard of shipping software? Learn more about it here.