How The United States Postal Service Completely Messed the Bed!

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USPS Completely Fails Me During the Holiday Season

USPS Completely Fails Me During the Holiday Season

There are a ton of packages shipped and delivered during the holiday season.  Most of them reach their destination in a timely manner.  I personally shipped 20 or so packages and almost all of them were delivered in a timely manner.  That is except for one that was shipped parcel post, the only one I shipped parcel post.  Moral of this story NEVER ship parcel post during the month of December!

Background on the Package

My wife is into essential oils big time!  Which means she also sells some on the side and has oil parties etc.  She received a pretty large oil order from a family friend that wanted to give the order to her daughter and daughter in law for Christmas.

It had some weird shaped items so flat rate shipping was not an option.  I ended up paying close to $18 to ship it parcel post since that was the cheapest option.  This was going from southern Michigan to southern Ohio…4 hours by car.  I didn’t think it would be much of an issue….I was wrong on that one!

USPS Completely Fails Me During the Holiday Season

Tracking Info

This is where it gets interesting.  I always make sure I get the package scanned when dropping it off at the post office, it seems to go smoother when I get that first scan for some reason.  It was scanned at my local post office on December 14th.  The package was then scanned leaving my local post office later that evening.

And then nothing!  A whole lot of nothing!  The package didn’t get scanned again until December 24th….10 days later.  And guess where it was scanned….you’ll never guess.  It was scanned at the Detroit sorting facility…it took 10 days to get 30 minutes down the road.

Then it went from there to Pittsburgh, which is way out of the way. The package arrived in Pittsburgh on the 26th…not too bad.  It then took till the 29th to get to Cincinnati, where it should have gone in the first place instead of Pittsburgh.  The package was finally delivered on the 29th.   It took 12 business days not including Sundays and Christmas, even though packages are still being moved on those days, to deliver a package 4 hours away.

USPS Completely Fails Me During the Holiday Season


The thing that drives me crazy about this situation isn’t that it was late it is that there is nothing the USPS can or will do about delayed packages.  I went to 2 different post offices in the first 10 days asking if there was anything they could do or a form I could fill out etc.  How does a package not get scanned once for 10 days?  They basically told me it will get there when it gets there.

The shipping label and USPS employees said it should take 7 days to get there but when it is seriously delayed there is nothing they can do about it.  There is no compensation, there is no customer service department to call.  They are indifferent.

I was also told by one employee on my visit that parcel post packages are only picked up on certain days and that can be once per week.  So if you miss that day you could be waiting on it for a while.  She said she had just heard about this…mind you that she has worked there for over 20 years.  Huh, so how do you expect to make your 7 day estimate if you might not even pick it up for 4-5 days?


I will still use the USPS going forward since they get it right most of the time.  They also are usually the least expensive. I will never use parcel post again for a time sensitive package, even if I give it a 2 week window for a short trip.

The package I sent out first class along with this package made it there in a few days.  It was sent much further away but it got there within 2 days.  I guess I will need to use FedEx or UPS in the future for larger/odd sized packages.

The lack of customer service or any type of penalty for poor performance is what probably upsets me the most.  If they give you a timeline and it misses that timeline by a wide margin you should be compensated.  And it shouldn’t take multiple forms to get there…but it is what it is at this point.

Mark Ostermann
Mark Ostermann is a father, husband and miles/points fanatic. He left the corporate world after starting a family in order to be a stay at home dad. Mark is constantly looking at ways to save money and stay within budget while also taking awesome vacations with his family. When he isn't caring for his family or taking a weekend trip, Mark is working towards his goal of visiting every Major League Baseball ballpark.

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  1. I had a package that showed on tracking as having arrived at my local post office. “Yay” I thought, “I should get this tomorrow”. When tomorrow came but the package did not, I checked the online tracking info. For some unknown reason [Postal workers never know “why”], it was sent to a postal distribution center 300 miles from my home town.
    it continues to sit there, 3 days running thus far.

    • I think they are just sending some stuff around wherever to free up space at this point. It is crazy right now

  2. I’m still waiting on a Christmas gift i ordered on Black Friday to be delivered. It went 12 days with no USPS update then finally it showed that it went to the wrong post office. Nothing since then and that was on December 11th

  3. If you buy your fedex smart post label through ebay you are screwed. Fedex does the long stretches of the shipping and then hands the package to usps for the last residential leg for delivery. If there is a problem, you are screwed. They pass the ball between them on who is at fault and you have no recourse. Fedex says the won’t take care of a claim because the label was bought under the ebay account and ebay lets you file a claim but thry have a diaclaimer that is the trackung is not marked as lost /damaged the claim will be denied. Well, you never get that mark in the tracking because they can both blame each other and neither wants to pay the bill. The other bad thing is that fedex gives you up to $100 insurance but, because usps does the last leg, your package is not insured at all with usps so, guess what? You are screwed… stay away from smart post, it works when ghe planets align but when they don’t, you are out of luck… they damaged one of my packages really bad so I had to refund my customer but fedex will not take responsibility so I lost more than $50 on that ebay sale.

  4. I do a lot of shipping for my eBay business. Often times, Priority Mail is actually cheaper than Parcel Post. If not, try Fedex Smart Post, it will definitely be cheaper for heavy items, but it’s not fast. I have had lots of items either not receive a scan at the post office, or get scanned and then go missing for weeks. Mostly, things eventually get delivered, but sometimes weeks later. By that time, I’ve already had to reship the item or refund the buyer.

  5. I work at the post office and tell all my customers to never use parcel post.
    Most of them already know. And like an earlier response, there is only express mail that is guaranteed or money back . I guess now you know. Experience is a great teacher.

  6. Mark, for comparison purposes, can you give us a rundown of your experiences when calling fedex and ups about delays for services with non-guaranteed timelines. I can tell you from personal experience that I have encountered indifference from fedex and ups.

    • To be honest I don’t use them as often and have never run into an issue either so I can’t really comment to that.

  7. I had a Christmas card mailed to me from the small NW Ohio town I live in. It was mailed on the 16th of December. Yet I did not get it until the 27th of December. Our mail has went down hill since they closed the Toledo sorting facility. Taking everything up to Detroit adds 3 to 4 days to the delivery time.

    Mail sent to me from Dayton, Ohio takes a week. Pony Express could get it here quicker.

  8. My big pet peeve is that there is no recourse. Priority mail 2-day is not guaranteed. And if it’s late, tough luck. No partial refund, no full refund.

    • Totally agree Andy – no accountability in any way. They get it right most of the time but when they don’t nothing anyone can/will do about it.

  9. Sorry you encountered problems. On balance, I think USPS does a really good job. Do remember that the only service they guarantee is Express Mail.

    • I agree for the most part they do – it is there inability to react in any meaningful way when things go wrong that drives me crazy. It happens to me 1-2 times per year and it is always the same response.

  10. Never use parcel post ; first class or priority mail only. My company ships a few hundred packages a day during holiday peak and priority mail is often times as fast if not faster than ups or Fedex. Plenty of packages were shipped in the last week prior to Christmas via priority mail and all got there prior to Christmas.

    • I was trying to save a few bucks since the margins were already razor thin 🙁 – learned my lesson though

    • Ouch – I love the routing!

      I had a Kohl’s rebate bounce back and forth twice between me and El Paso before they finally returned it to me. They didn’t properly mark the package as return to sender so it kept going back and forth. Then the reason for return was that it wasn’t a package…it was first class mail where the options are package/envelope. LOL that was a fun one too 🙂


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