Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dear Postmaster General John E. Potter

The above is a screen shot from your very convenient track and confirm page. Everything was going along swimmingly with this package, (which is a Christmas gift my Mom ordered for my seven year-old daughter, who is on the brink of discovering the truth about Santa) until somehow, some fuck-up thought the state on the package read OK rather than OH and sent it off deep into the wrong direction.

So, I called 1-800-ASK-USPS for help because you said "We're here to help." In truth, no one was there to help. I went through a wild goose chase of menu options, none of which were "talk to a customer support representative." I gave up and sent an email through your "Contact Us" link only to be told that a postal service worker would contact me in one to two business days. One to two business days will probably translate to Monday...three days AFTER Christmas.

I called my local post office and finally did talk to a person, Marilyn. She was friendly enough and thought I nailed it right on the head with my OK/OH theory. I asked her if there were any way we could expedite the package, even pay extra. She said no since they have no idea where the package is until it checks in again, which, really? I mean, seriously? You all don't know? So, seeing as how it took 5 days to travel the wrong direction, I'm sure it will take at least that to get back. Which translates to Monday...three days AFTER Christmas.

So here's my theory: The package will arrive in time for Orthodox Christmas and We'll get a call from your representatives around Easter. We'll get no apology and the box will be crushed and have stamps from FL, PA, OK, OBX, NS, TGIF's and USSR (having gone back in time before hitting our doorstep).

The worst part about this is that, yeah, it kind of sucks that my daughter won't get her impossible-to-find anomatronic hamster toy and habitrail for Christmas (Occidental), but at no time did I get an apology for the mistake. I got: Your item was misrouted by the shipper. The error has been corrected and every effort is being made to deliver it as soon as possible. How much extra would it have cost to add "We apologize" at the end of that statement? Why didn't Marilyn apologize to me. Why didn't she have the power to find the package, find a plane and get that thing on there? Oh, yeah...I forgot: you're with the government.

Don't get me wrong; I support the government. Hell, I'm a liberal and I'm all for big government. And I understand you may have had to lay people off and you don't have anyone to man the phones. And it's the want some time off too. Fine. Then don't then lead me to expect I'll get service by using a friendly 1-800-Ask-USPS number. Don't give me a shipping window that, while a generous estimate for UPS, would be considered wildly creative wishful thinking by postal workers. And don't mislead me into thinking that the post office cares any more than it did 25 years ago. If you're not going to be a stickler for details, let us know the truth. Change your motto from "Connecting People and Business" to "Using the shotgun effect to deliver mail and trusting that eventually we'll sort it all out."

You'd think that since mail volume fell some by some 28 billion pieces this year, you'd have time to look at an address and put packages on the proper trucks. Or would it just be easier for Ohio to change it's name to Ziox, in order to avoid further confusion. Perhaps you've cut employee's vision care so they can't afford glasses and therefore cannot distinguish between a "k" and an "h." Whatever the reason, I'd call this a fail on the level of urban legend.

Let's just hope Santa bails your ass out on this one.

Flannery Alden

Update: My Mom received a phone call from an apologetic and patronizing woman. She said she was sorry but the package wouldn't arrive until Saturday. She also kept saying that "Parcel Post is 3rd class mail" and we should have shipped it some other way. Now, my Mom is totally bummed. Thanks, John, for ruining Christmas.


  1. I see. They made the error, but "you should have shipped it some other way".

    Nice topspin lob on that volley into your court, eh?

  2. Oh you aren't the only one with a beef with the postal service. Up here in the Great White North I sent a package and when didn't show up when & where it was supposed to be I was told not that they were sorry but that by next year they are hoping to have a 75% on time delivery rate. Yup, that's great, only a government agency would see that as something to brag about.
    Have a wonderful day tomorrow, you know she will be thrilled by whatever is under the tree.

  3. That totally sucks, I've had similar experiences. I'm going to go ahead and wish you a nice Christmas anyway and being Canadian, also apologize for everything!

  4. Have you been able to figure a way to actually contact the postmaster general? I have a beef with the way the post office handles their Internet business. I ordered stamps for mail on December 17, and paid a dollar extra for the service. I still have not received the stamps - it is now the 24th. I tried to e-mail the customer service and the e-mail would not go through, so I called and was told that the stamps were being shipped from Kansas City to Las Vegas. I'm still picking myself off the floor. What a crazy system. Would you not think they would notify the local Post Office and have the stamps delivered by the mailman? Oh, sorry I forgot I was dealing with USPS.

  5. Wait, since when is the USPS going by the STATE ABBREVIATION instead of the ZIP CODE??

    Bastards... All of 'em.

  6. This one time, Oklahoma isn't OK! Sorry Flan.