Friday, 30 August 2013

By on August 30th, 2013 in business

12:37 – It’s funny. Shippers used to have two primary complaints against the USPS. First, that they didn’t offer day-specific delivery for Priority Mail. USPS merely said that typical delivery times were one to three business days. The second complaint, probably more important to most shippers, was that USPS tracking was pathetic. You basically got two data points: when it left your local post office and when it arrived at the destination. Nothing in the middle.

As far as the first point, I’ve been keeping track informally of the last 500 packages we’ve shipped. All but one of them arrive on the estimated day and in many cases the day before. For example, when I ship a package to a major west coast city on Saturday, the estimate is always two business days. But about 90% of the time, the package actually arrives Monday. Oh, yeah. The one exception was a package a shipped to a remote village in Alaska. USPS estimated three business days, but it took four. I suspect UPS or FedEx wouldn’t even have accepted this package for delivery, because the delivery address was something like 400 miles from the nearest small town. I guarantee you that package went on a bush plane for delivery. So, the day-specific thing is pretty much a non-issue, and has been for years.

As far as the second point, USPS has been updating their technology. Delivery staff have carried scanners for quite a while, but until recently they operated in off-line batch mode. Now the delivery staff have a bluetooth/cell link between their scanners and the USPS servers. When our mailman picks up and scans a package, I can check a minute or two later and it’s already showing up as accepted. USPS deployed this nationwide in late July, and now they proudly boast that every package gets scanned up to 11 times. And that’s the truth. I can now follow a package every step of the way from my front door to the recipients’. The only bad thing about that is that I now get up to 11 separate e-mails for each package I ship. Some mornings I have three or four full screens of email from USPS.

20 Comments and discussion on "Friday, 30 August 2013"

  1. dkreck says:

    I have a barcode sticker inside my mailbox that the carrier has to scan everyday. It’s printed as “Managed Sevice Point”, Lets them keep track of the carriers I’m told. I’ve noticed my delivery times are much more consistent.

  2. Lynn McGuire says:

    Some mornings I have three or four full screens of email from USPS.


    So that is the national post office email network being talked about all these years. Good to know that USPS finally figured out how to torture electrons. I wonder when the NSA will require us to send all emails through it and pay a nickel apiece.

    I do not have a mailman at my office since we are essentially an RFD. I have two rotating contract guys in their own vehicles visiting us from noon to 6 pm daily. They both work like dogs and do not run their air conditioning.

  3. MrAtoz says:

    I had my first USPS Priority Mail “non-pickup”. I set up 14 boxes (30lbs each) to the US Virgin Islands for pickup the next day (put in the request well in advance). Set the boxes out by 6am. At 3pm I called to see about pickup since the local carrier had already been through. I was told to call my servicing PO for status. Chris answered and the first thing he said when I gave him my conf # was they couldn’t track a scheduled P/U. WTF, over? Why even have a conf # I asked. He said when they get a pickup, they write the details on a piece of paper and give it to a driver. They don’t track anything for pickups, not even a log of who got what. Just give a piece of paper to some carrier, maybe not even the one on your route.

    I hauled the boxes to the PO the next day and piled all 14 on the counter while people gave me looks. They all already had postage from the day before. The PO supervisor came out and listened to my story, apologized for the screwup, and confirmed they don’t track pickups (at leas at my PO, yours may be more squared away). Our order are usually 1-2 books so I get them out the same day. I just didn’t want to haul 14 30 pound boxes to the PO.

  4. MrAtoz says:

    Oh yeah, only 3 days to get from Vegas to VI via Priority Mail. Not bad.

  5. Robert Bruce Thompson says:

    That’s bizarre. When I first started using Click-and-Ship I put in a couple of pickup requests, just to see how they worked. Our mailman, Danny, told me that they get a print out at start-of-shift each morning of all the scheduled pickups and that they are quite rigorous about making sure that they’re all completed. Danny said they get in real trouble if they miss one, and that if that does somehow happen they send out a truck special to make that pickup.

    I haven’t used a pickup request in a year or two. I printed out a card in large font that says “USPS Priority Mail box awaiting pickup. Please ring bell” and stick it on my mailbox when I have stuff to be picked up, which is just about every day. Danny and all of his subs know that I ship a lot. In fact, one day when I didn’t have anything to ship the sub rang the doorbell anyway just to check that I really didn’t have anything waiting to go out.

    You’re lucky that they accepted your postage labels with the previous day’s date on them. The policy has always been the same, but a year or so ago they started to enforce it strictly. They are not allowed to accept a postage label with a prior day’s date on it under any circumstances, period. They’re supposed to tell you to apply for a refund on the outdated label(s) and print new ones with the current date on them.

  6. jim` says:

    That’s good to know about the labels. I’ll start post-dating them from now on.

  7. SVJeff says:

    I’ve also experienced unbelievably poor tracking scans, usually on almost every shipment to or from me, as recently as today. Someone I bought something from on eBay forwarded me her pickup acknowledgement from USPS on Wednesday. It was finally scanned at 10:45 this morning as accepted. That said, I’ve always had excellent results from pickups scheduled online.

    I’ve seen the commercials, so I’m hoping that they gets the kinks worked out ASAP and approach the trackability results of the other carriers.

    I was telling my dad the other day that the 3 major shippers need to get their heads together and make the USPS the ‘last mile’ carrier for any shipment. I think RBT has made a similar suggestion.

    My favorite USPS story… when I lived in Texas, I took a package to the local PO late one afternoon and ran into the father of one of my students. He was an attorney and told me he routinely left work early to bring his outgoing mail north to be sent out, knowing that, while it would be postmarked that day, it would always take an extra day to arrive. Realize that this was a 250,000+ person suburb 25 miles from Dallas.

    Shortly after that, in a discussion of some mail related items, my boss mentioned that he was friends with the local postmaster and that the local crew regularly got internal awards for efficiency, etc.

  8. Tom Lucas says:

    I just received 25 pounds of lead ingots in a small flat rate box (five bucks and change to ship). They really do mean “If it fits it ships.”

  9. brad says:

    Just read about the governments investment in decryption on Ars Technica: “The federal government is pouring almost $11 billion per year into a 35,000-employee program dedicated to “groundbreaking” methods to decode encrypted messages”

    That sounds like the epitomy of a government program. I mean, if you want to invent new methods of decryption, what do you need? A few mathematical geniuses, a couple dozen really good scientific programmers to work out efficient implementations of nutty ideas, and a small IT support staff. This being the NSA, they probably have that. So…what are the other 34,970 people doing?

  10. Lynn McGuire says:

    So…what are the other 34,970 people doing?

    Simple. This is a government program, right? They are paper shuffling. Thousands of big ink stamps, “SECRET!”.

  11. Dave B. says:

    So…what are the other 34,970 people doing?

    Simple. This is a government program, right? They are paper shuffling. Thousands of big ink stamps, “SECRET!”.

    The other 34,970 people are the mathematicians and programmers who are almost as bright as the other 30. They’re being given make work jobs so they will have something to do besides improve the encryption methods the other 30 are trying to break.

  12. MrAtoz says:

    Apparently Germany poo poo’s home schooling. I wonder if Obummer is watching to get ideas. Battering ram in effect!!

  13. OFD says:

    I saw that earlier and wondered if der staatspolizei were wearing those nifty black uniforms with the lightning bolts and human skulls. Coming soon to a home-school household near you!

    And the hilarious new cop thing is they now arrest you for resisting arrest. If you even look at them funny it’s a beat-down, tasing and stomping and off to the cellblock.

  14. Lynn McGuire says:

    “Pentagon Can’t Afford Syria Operation; Must Seek Additional Funds”

    “The U.S. military, struggling after defense cuts of tens of billions of dollars, will be unable to pay for attacks on Syria from current operating funds and must seek additional money from Congress, according to congressional aides.”

    “President Barack Obama, meanwhile, said on Friday he has not made a final decision on a military strike against Syria. He sought to play down both the scope and duration of the anticipated punitive missile and bombing campaign.”

    So how much war can we afford?

    Do it for the children!

  15. OFD says:

    Just saw a brief nooz item earlier that a Syrian dad says his rebel son witnessed rebel forces screwing up a chemical weapons firing and having an accident and it was in fact on them all along, just as the initial reports stated a couple of weeks ago, now forgotten, of course, in the United States of Amnesia. Meanwhile a major network is caught faking news scenes for the camera in support of the strike on Syria.

    And various entities advise Dear Leader not to hit chemical factories.

    What a country!

  16. MrAtoz says:

    Go for the baby milk factory like Bush did, lol!

  17. ech says:

    The federal government is pouring almost $11 billion per year into a 35,000-employee program dedicated to “groundbreaking” methods to decode encrypted messages”

    That program includes a lot more than just R&D for codebreaking. The breakdown is 4% to R&D, 52% is for collecting, processing, and analysis of the data, the rest is for infrastructure and support. So the 30 talented people get about 4% of the budget. The rest use the tools that they build for intel purposes.

    I worked at a job that required a security clearance similar to the one needed to read that budget document. We spent a lot of money, but it was on bleeding edge tech and really smart programmers and engineers. I remember holding a box with the world’s first production run of 256k DRAM chips. Several thousand chips that cost over $100 each in the early 80s. Needless to say, it was stored in a locked cabinet in a room with a special cypher lock, behind two other security checkpoints until they were stuffed into our prototypes.

  18. OFD says:

    But we’ll roll the Tomahawks anyway just so Dear Leader can look tougher than the fat slob who just had his ex-gf and a dozen other people machine-gunned in his personal fiefdom of North Korea, while have a general executed by mortar round, so that not a trace, not a hair remains, he stipulated.

  19. Jack Smith says:

    I was telling my dad the other day that the 3 major shippers need to get their heads together and make the USPS the ‘last mile’ carrier for any shipment. I think RBT has made a similar suggestion.

    I believe this is already underway. I see this when purchasing parts from Mouser Electronics in Ft. Worth TX – they offer “economy shipping” that uses UPS to take the package from TX to a location near the destination and the Post Office completes the delivery. It’s usually a buck or two less than UPS but it takes an extra day in delivery time.

    My experience with Priority Mail is excellent – I ship an average of one package a day by Priority Mail and have 100% success in delivery.

  20. brad says:

    Of course the Pentagon can’t afford any actual, um, military operations. I mean, the military organizations are amongst the best bureaucratic empire builders there are. It takes $trillions to maintain an empire like that; if you want them to actually do something, it costs extra.

    Geez…on the serious side, this deserves a whack upside the head. What, you thought your carriers and missiles were just to look at? Not that the US has any business attacking Syria, but, really…

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