bah humbug u.s. postal service!


WARNING: this is a RANT against the United States Postal Service. So if you think they are fabulous, turn away now.

I ordered a small something. It was breakable. The seller thought a super padded, bubble wrapped, and cardboard shield of protection would keep it safe. Unfortunately, they didn’t ask me about it or I would have told them differently.

I have seen it happen dozens of times. You’ll be standing there and the post office and inevitably someone ahead of you will ask whoever’s behind the counter “is this wrapped well enough?”

Of course most of those people behind the counter say yes, especially during the holiday season. They don’t want to be slowed down at all.

And then there is the issue of postage is getting so darn expensive, that people are looking at ways of getting things to recipients less expensively.

One also can’t forget the fact that sometimes the post office just doesn’t deliver things. That happened last October when I mailed my sister her birthday present two and a half weeks ahead of time Priority Mail. You know that overpriced service that is supposed to take two or three days?

She lives in New York City. You would think that a city so fabulous would also a fabulous services like mail delivery. The phrase “Hell no” applies here.

I made the United States Postal Service reimburse me for postage on that package. It took a couple weeks to get them to do it, but I had paid for service I had not received. The idea was to get the birthday present to my sister ahead of time, not after her birthday had passed. It took the post office 2 1/2 weeks to deliver something I paid for Priority Mail delivery on.

My sister’s stories of United States Postal Service in New York City are legendary. My favorite stories are always her recounting how she is treated when she actually has to go stand in line for something in the post office. Apparently Mother Russia has nothing on all of those postal workers in New York City.

For years I had the same post man. He was awesome. When I moved out to Chester County, it was like getting indoctrinated into a new society. Once again, I have an awesome post man, but there are these rules I’m just not used to.

For example, because of liability now they don’t get out of their post office delivery vehicles unless they are delivering a package that doesn’t fit in your mailbox.

So, say that you are having something delivered when the mail arrives, or a work person is at your house and parked on the road. If their work vehicle is blocking your mailbox, you don’t get your mail that day. Or if you are having company, and they foolishly want to park in front of your house, the same thing applies.

How did I discover that? When we had just moved into the house and had some work truck parked outside doing something, the post man left us a note in our mailbox telling us about that? But if we did not have a nice mailman, we never would’ve known.

So yesterday this package was delivered. Usually, when the mailman is delivering something, he rings the bell. This time he didn’t and I just happened to hear the truck pulling away from the house.

I went downstairs to retrieve the mail left on my front porch. I see this small package with red stamps all over saying “DAMAGED IN HANDLING IN THE POSTAL SERVICE”. There was nothing affixed to the package however, telling me what to do about this.

I picked up the package and all I heard were the sounds of broken glass. I am so glad that the person who sold me this tiny Currier and Ives print shipped it Priority Mail aren’t you?

Not only is the glass shattered in dozens of pieces and shards and nearly cut me opening it, but the glass was the vintage kind that was painted on the back to look like matting.

The glass shards sliced the brittle paper of the old print. So the whole thing is useless. And it is a waste, and that pisses me off.

Now granted, the seller should have rethought her packaging. There are plenty of helpful bits of information out there on how to ship artwork. But this was so small a piece, I know she thought she would be fine.

The person who shipped this to me will be reimbursing me for my entire purchase. But the United States Postal Service seems less than interested in this. They have definite culpability here.

I tried contacting them by phone twice yesterday, and couldn’t get through. I tweeted a picture of the package at them on Twitter, they didn’t flinch. I sent an email to “customer service” but never received even an auto reply.

The United States Postal Service likes to tell us “We deliver for you” and “With Priority Mail, we’re here to help.” But they seem to do neither.

When I ship a package I don’t usually use the United States Postal Service any longer. I use UPS or FedEx. They aren’t perfect either, but they do seem to have a slightly higher degree of accountability.

I’m getting ready to put my Christmas cards into the mail, just a few, I’m not doing a full load this year. Yet still I wonder how many will actually reach the intended recipients.

This is the busiest season of the year for the United States Postal Service outside of tax time, and among my friends I am already hearing tales of things that are just delivered in pieces.

It would be nice if the people at the counters of the physical post offices actually took a minute to tell people that certain packages probably weren’t packed securely and should go in a box, or have more padding. But I know that won’t happen.

It would also be nice if the people behind the counters and post offices were little more pleasant during the holidays. But, if the West Chester main post office is any indication, that’s not happening, either.

Sign me irritated.