I’ve commented on a couple of occasions that the US Postal Service doesn’t deliver packages to our house. The reason they give is that there is not sufficient room on our street for them to turn around. It seems to be left to the discretion of the carrier, because when we have someone other than our typical carrier they do deliver packages.

This became a really big deal during my wife’s pregnancy, because we were waiting on some medication sent from Arapaho and if it both (a) didn’t fit into the mailbox and (b) arrived on a Saturday, that would mean that we wouldn’t get it until Monday. We were already worried about the pregnancy at that point, and that didn’t help our state of mind. I was checking the mailbox every day at two o’clock ready to drive to the post office at 3:30 if need be. It turned out to be a non-issue because it arrived on Friday, did fit in the mailbox, and the pregnancy was not a successful one for unrelated reasons.

Even so, after years and years of hearing about how great the USPS is while UPS and FedEx only deliver packages to about three metropolitan areas or somesuch, it’s funny that the first time we have run into this problem is with the USPS and not UPS and FedEx, both of which delivered to everywhere we have lived up to and including the town with less than 5,000 people in it. But the USPS won’t come up our street. Which, to be fair, seems like an unusual circumstance.

Except we’re not alone:

In the past, the United Parcel Service would leave the parcels at your doorstep. Instead, USPS wants to cram it into your mailbox. But if you miss your mail for a day or the package doesn’t fit into your mailbox, you’re out of luck… the parcels end up back in the dead letter room at your local post office.

So instead of delivery, the Amazon customer has to go to pick up the package at the Post Office. That’s a line even more dreaded than Wal-Mart’s. Americans hate standing in the USPS line. And this is what’s happening to thousands of Amazon customers around the nation.

Instead of enjoying the delivery of Amazon Prime, you’re now faced with the hell of waiting in the line at the Post Office.

What sounded like a good idea on paper is a disaster for the Amazon customer. I wonder if Jeff Bezos and the other leaders of Amazon know what they’re doing to their own customers.

The person from whom I got the link has also had problems with the USPS both at home and at work. I don’t know if there has been an official policy change, if the carriers are expected to cover more ground and therefore don’t have time to get out of their car, or what. Either way, it’s making them look kind of bad.

The article is about Amazon. It’s possible that Amazon is aware of what’s going on because sometime earlier this year, they stopped using the USPS. Now almost everything is arriving by way of FedEx. Which is great for whenever I order from Amazon because now it arrives at our doorstep. I still have to worry about trips to the Post Office when I get something off eBay, though.

The funny thing is that at a previous time in my life, I might have even preferred picking up packages at the Post Office. I remember at various times worrying about a package being left at my doorstep and taken. It only happened once, in Cascadia, but it was a doozy*. UPS and FedEx wouldn’t let you say “Just leave it at the depot and I’ll pick it up” which always annoyed me. Now they seem to have ways to do that, which is great. It took them too long, though, and it doesn’t help us any.

The whole thing is made a bit more complicated by the fact that the recipient isn’t the customer. So the sender has less reason to care whether it’s unsafe to leave a package at my doorstep, or the USPS won’t deliver to our house. Sometimes they give you the option, but usually only if you’re willing to shell out. But it’s definitely preferable if they were to simply be able to look at your address and have a note that says “residents prefer to pick up package” or “residents would prefer the package be left in this particular spot if no one is home.”

* – It was a computer monitor, and other things. It was shipped in the original packaging which probably made it a more enticing item. On the other hand, I had considered our shipping situation there relatively safe because they would leave it on the back porch. So it wouldn’t be sitting streetview for hours on end. Someone may have seen them take it to the back, though.

Category: Market

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11 Responses to When The Postal Service Doesn’t Deliver

  1. fillyjonk says:

    My mail carrier still leaves packages at my door….he knows that if I’m not home, I have the front door locked but the storm door unlocked, and if it’s a small or flat package, he puts it between the two – not visible from the street (no risk of theft) and protected from any rain.

    I hope he isn’t told by his higher ups to quit doing that. Our post office is in an extremely inconvenient spot; you have to make a left turn against heavy traffic to try to get in.

    Amazon usually seems to use UPS for me. The UPS guy on my route is pretty good so I am fine with that. He also usually comes late in the day so I’m often home when he arrives.

    The nearest UPS depot is an hour (each way) from me. Years back there was an issue with a package not being left and I was not happy when the rep I talked with suggested I “just” drive out to the depot to pick it up.

  2. Michael Cain says:

    I wonder how much of this is under local control. Here, there’s the regular mail carrier who puts appropriate stuff in the mailbox. Bigger boxes are delivered separately and get left on the porch — either inside the storm door or behind the big pillar so they’re hard to see from the street or sidewalk. The only exceptions are things that I have to sign for.

  3. Vikram Bath says:

    When things turn cold, our dog likes to sit outside. He prefers the front yard to the back. He is as sweet as can be and has a good relationship with our regular mailman, but every once in a while someone else comes who has a phobia. I’m not sure what exactly to do about this. Sometimes they leave the mail at the garage door, which is fine. Other times they might leave it with a neighbor, which is fine. If we were to put in a mailbox, that would fix the issue, but I like that we get our mail through the door slot meaning that some days I never actually get around to putting on pants.

    What our dog really considers unacceptable is the idea of is baking in our 65 degree house when it’s a perfectly nice 20 degrees outside.

  4. kirk says:

    Could box-size mailboxes be the next big thing for McMansions?

    • trumwill says:

      Theoretically, you’re supposed to be able to provide your own unless you use community mailboxes. It does have to be USPS-certified, though, and I looked and couldn’t find one that was big enough.

    • Brandon Berg says:

      What is box-sized? Boxes come in all shapes and sizes.

      Stop box-shaming!

      • trumwill says:

        Well, not a box big enough for a mattress or anything. But a relatively standard sized Amazon box. (I don’t know if it’s called “standard” but about half of what I get is in the same sized box.)

  5. rc says:

    When we lived in Texas, the mailbox was down the street at the corner. When you had a package, the mail carrier would leave a key in your box for one of the package boxes. When you unlocked the package box, the key stayed in the lock. It sure was easy and secure way to get most packages. It was also efficient for the mail carrier to deliver mail, because they stopped in one location to deliver a whole local area of mail.

    I’ve heard talk that the USPS might want to do something similar where we live now, but they are so risk averse I doubt anything will ever come of it.

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