The United States Postal Service: It Isn’t What It Used To Be

If the United States Postal Service (USPS) eventually gets the axe I’m pretty confident that my local post office will have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. The level of incompetence is incredibly above average, but the real spectacular problem with my post office is the horribly, dreadful customer service. I know I am throwing around some big, fancy adjectives and it sounds like I am exaggerating on a very grand scale, but I don’t think I am. Over the past few years, let’s say three, I have had some strange and also very frustrating encounters with my beloved post office. I say beloved because I spend an enormous amount of money, a very tiny fortune, on stamps and packages each month. In short, I am probably keeping them in business. I like to get and send mail, what can I say? Anyway, here is my list of horrendous service encounters. You be the judge!

1. The postal worker drives up to my mailbox. I am standing in my yard. She waves to me and puts my mail into the box and drives away. The mailbox is literally 15 ft from my front door (store this in your memory because at the end of this paragraph you will be nodding in disgust right along with me). So, I go get my mail. Inside I find a card from the post office saying I have a package. Checked off on the card is something like “Postal worker tried to deliver your package, but nobody was home.” I have to go to the post office to pick up my package. When I get there I ask why my package wasn’t delivered to me since I was standing in my driveway, waving to the postal worker as she drove by. She obviously didn’t “stop by” and find me not at home because I was home and I was waving to her and it’s not like she didn’t see me. The guy behind the counter looks at the card and says, “Well, your driveway was too far from the road. She couldn’t deliver it.” I counter with, “My driveway is right there next to my house, right on the side of the road, and I was standing in it …waving to the postal worker. She even waved back. How could it be too far from the road?” Then the guy says, “Ma’am it’s not our job to deliver your mail.” Seriously? Isn’t that your #1 job? Stop me if I’m wrong, but I thought the entire purpose of the USPS was to deliver mail. Do I live in an alternate universe? It sure feels like it sometimes. Plus, being called “Ma’am” always makes me feel old.

This is me waiting for the mail, if I were blond and made of plastic.

2. I started selling random junk on eBay. It was stuff I couldn’t bare to throw away even though I really should have, so I put it on eBay for a penny and then someone bought it. If you haven’t sold things on eBay before you probably don’t know it, but buyers are a little crazed and obsessed with delivery confirmation. They will email you on a daily basis until their package arrives if you don’t give them some tracking numbers to follow. So, I go down to the post office and they tell me I can only use deliver confirmation on priority mail. They tell me this even though the delivery confirmation sticker thingy says I can use it on any piece of mail I want to. Even after I show them the evidence they shrug and say: no can do. Even though every other post office in the country (including the one in the next town over) will let me put delivery confirmation on any package or letter I want to send, using any mail service the USPS has to offer, they act like I am just being difficult. This post office refuses to sell me my 80 cent delivery confirmation sticker so I have to drive 15 minutes to the post office in the next town and purchase delivery confirmation just so I can avoid eBay buyer harassment.

This mail has been stamped.

3. Finally, I think I have outsmarted my post office and I buy postage online, print it out (including delivery confirmation) and slap it onto my package. I waltz into the post office and drop it off. It’s so easy I almost dance home. I’m on cloud nine! Then I start trying to track my packages through the USPS website and there is nothing. Nothing! It’s as if my packages never left the building. I start to worry that my packages are sitting on a shelf somewhere in a dark, damp back room. After a few days I march back into the post office with my little stubs and receipt in hand and ask, “Where are my packages?” The guy behind the counter shrugs and tells me when people buy their postage online the post office doesn’t have to scan the delivery confirmation until the package is delivered. Even though every other post office I have ever mailed my packages through (with online postage) has scanned my packages the second they come into the office, this guy gives me the blank stare like I am talking to him in jibberish or asking for something so ridiculous he can’t even fathom the idea. Scanning my prepaid package is just so far off his radar he’s considering committing me to the hospital for observation just because I brought it up. So I say to the guy, “You mean you could scan them, but you choose not to?” He looks right at me and says, “Yep, it’s not my job to scan those packages.” It’s just too hard for him to pick up the hand held scanner right next to his hand and zap my package. It would literally take 2 seconds, but that is just too much effort for him to exert. I contemplate picking up the scanner and just scanning my package myself, but worry I’ll be hauled off to jail on some federal offense if I do. I’m so frustrated I fantasize about using Fed Ex and UPS from now on. Do they even take birthday cards and electric bills? I can’t believe I am trying to buy products and services from the post office and they are refusing me at every turn. I start to realize why the USPS doesn’t have any money. I smile and ask the guy, “Heard anything about which offices are being closed and who might lose their jobs?” He says, “I’m close to retiring so it doesn’t matter to me.” Of course a few months later I overheard him complaining that they were trying to force him into an early retirement. I wanted to butt in and say, “Doesn’t matter to me!”  I’m not surprised that they want to get rid of  Mr. That’s Not My Job. I’ve always thought that was a lame thing for anyone to say while at work. It’s a simple sentence constructed just to make people blow their tops. It’s like the polite version of go you know what yourself. Nice way to treat your customers! As a customer I don’t really want to pay his salary anymore. I hope he retires and someone that can read the directions takes his place. Is that too much to ask?

This mail has gone through the mail, but was never stamped. Does the postage even count if it isn’t stamped?

4. This is my last and worst experience. We get together and decide to send a care package to our friend in the military who was stationed in Iraq. We got his favorite hot sauce, his favorite candy, some games, etc. Then, at his request, we pack his expensive digital camera. We mail it and it never arrives. Weeks go by and still we wait. Finally the post office is called and all of the tracking numbers are given. Then we find out the post office has the box. Apparently someone who worked at the post office opened the box, took it’s contents out and then took them home. The box was folded up and squished behind something. A postal worker recently found it while cleaning out some area of the building. Yep, our friend, stationed in Iraq, lost his care package and camera to a thief who probably still works at the post office. We were angry and wanted something to be done. All we got was a shrug, no apology even. The post office just didn’t care that they have a thief roaming around in their back rooms. They didn’t want to be bothered with our complaints.

Loco-Lou-Lou even delivers packages to your second story window.

So, that is my sad story. I have always loved the mail. We even had mail in elementary school where we could mail our friends in other classrooms little notes. I don’t want our postal system to fail, but from my experience it seems determined to. It seems to be on the road to sabotage kind of like when someone with low self-esteem gets into a really good relationship and then tries to ruin it so they can prove to the world just how unlovable they really are. Failure seems to be the only things my post office has any success with. I just keep hoping my post office is one bad seed and maybe eventually someone will come in and clean out the Riff-Raff. It’s a long shot, but I am keeping my fingers crossed!

13 thoughts on “The United States Postal Service: It Isn’t What It Used To Be”

  1. Did you insure the care package? If so, I would make the assumption that you can get money for the lost items.

  2. Wow! That is a nightmarish tale of inept and lazy USPS workers! There has to be SOMETHING that can be done about the thief in the PO!! Isn't that a federal offense, stealing someone's mail??? I'd have gone to the police. Holy cow! I am so sorry for you!!

    1. I live in a small town and sometimes going to the police is a really scarey and bad idea. My guess is everyone knows who the thief at the post office is, but he or she is related to someone important.

  3. Ugh! I actually had a bad experience, too. I received a birthday card from my Grandma for my 10th birthday. When I got it, it had already been opened and then taped back up and sent to me. Someone had stolen the cash out of it and “nicely” sent it on it's way…

  4. Oh man! It's terrible when you are a kid and that happens. One time when I was a kid I sent away for a muppet record. I think it was something you saved up upc codes for or something. Anyway, when I ran to the mailbox and got it it had been folded in half and snapped right down the middle so it would fit in the mailbox. I remember being so upset because it was clearly marked “do not bend” on both sides. Luckily, the muppet people sent me a new one after I wrote them a letter.

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