Recently mailed a package with Priority Mail, and it didn’t arrive at its destination on time. All the USPS website would tell me is that the shipping info was received. When I called them 7 days later — remember, Priority Mail is supposed to be a 2-3 day delivery — I told them I had a shipping/label number and asked what happened to my package. They couldn’t tell me anything. Their official answer was: “We can’t track Priority Mail packages.”
What’s the point of offering a tracking service if you can’t track it?
So I asked them, is there a way to start an investigation, and find out what happened to that package? What if it’s lost, what if someone stole it? What happens now? Their answer? “We can’t investigate Priority Mail packages. We can only investigate Express Mail packages.”
So I asked them what weight is carried with all of their “official” notices that say that tampering with or stealing postal mail is a theft, and is punishable under the law, etc. If there’s no way to tell where a Priority Mail package is, and they’re not willing or not able to start an investigation, does that mean people can go ahead and steal Priority Mail packages? No answer there.
There you have it. Not only is Priority Mail more costly than First Class Mail, not only does not take 2-3 days for mail to get there (it usually takes a week and the USPS only offers excuses when that happens), but the tracking service is non-existent, and you can’t find out what happened to your package if it never arrives at its destination.
What lesson are we to draw from this? My take on it is that Priority Mail is inferior to other shipping services out there. It may be cheaper than UPS or FedEx, but the packages can get stolen, they can get trampled on, they can be late or never arrive at their destination, and the USPS won’t care.
Updated 11/14/2007: I held a book drawing here, and one of my readers won it. After mailing the book via Priority Mail to him, the envelope got there damaged, opened and empty. We know we sealed it properly right at the post office and paid $8 to ship it. To add insult to injury, the message stamped on the envelope from the post office in his town that said the envelope was received opened and damaged. So not only did they damage my package and lose the book, but they lied about how the book got to be “lost” in the first place.
Updated 12/13/2007: The USPS has managed to top its previous performance. It has now taken them 13 days to deliver a local package to a distance of 25 miles.