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View Full Version : USPS delivery confirmation - completely worthless?!?


Easy
05-29-02, 09:58 AM
I ordered $180 in dvds from an etailer and was expecting delivery any day. The package did not arrive the day I expected it but I thought - Oh well, delayed. That evening I get a call from a local guy who says: The mailman delivered a package to my house but it is addressed to you. I know it isn't mine. The address is damaged so I guess that is why they made the mistake. I was going to return it to the post office but it is too late today. It is priority so I thought it might be important. Do you want to come pick it up? So I go pick up the package and sure enough it is the dvds I expected. I thank the guy profusely and all's well that ends well. Or is it? I see the package has priority mail delivery confirmation. I check with the post office website and it claims the package was delivered that morning. Well, it was - but to the wrong address.

Next day I was in the P.O. to mail some stuff and I ask exactly what the mailperson does when they do delivery confirmation. Do they enter the address? The answer was no they just use a scanner on the package. Once it is scanned at delivery the package is considered to have been properly delivered to the right address as far as the post office is concerned. Like hell. I just had an experience proving that assumption is completely false. I relate my experience to the counter worker and she immediately goes into defend the post office "cover my ass" mode. No help there.

I have always been skeptical of people who claim their shipment was "lost in the mail". I never had anything lost before. Not that I know about anyway. Now I wonder. What would have happened if the guy who got my package was dishonest and decided it was a "free gift"? I wonder what sort of problems I would have had when I claimed to the etailer that the package never arrived? Can you hear the response? Sorry Sir, but the USPS confirms they delivered it to you. I can just imagine the mess. Nasty letters, disputed charges... I wonder how it would turn out?

I once considerd delivery confirmation essential. After this experience, I consider it worthless farce and a waste of money. Opinions?

lumberjack
05-29-02, 10:32 AM
I use Delivery Confirmation for items I sell on eBay when the winning bidder might seem a little flighty or shady. After reading your story, now Iíll have to reconsider. I may have to start shipping with UPS since, I believe, they require a signature for confirmation. Had your delivery gone to a dishonest neighbor (?), at least that signature could be used against him as it would be proof of him unlawfully accepting the package.

Thanks for sharing your story, no matter how upsetting it is.

dvd2001
05-29-02, 11:16 AM
This instance makes a good point, but in my opinion, it doesn't completely negate the value of the system. I've used delivery confirmation hundreds of times (either as a sender or a receiver), and only recall one time that there was an error.

I agree that it's flawed, and not perfect, but it usually works pretty well. Not using it at all because of a rare mistake wouldn't make me stop using it. That's like saying I'm not driving to work today because I heard there was an accident on the freeway yesterday.

Now, a little rant. I think that the postal service is pretty good, in general. In hundreds of packages in the last several years, I can only recall one item that I didn't receive from a vendor. I've never had anything lost that I've sent out. Delayed a couple of times yes, but not lost.
I'm convinced that part of the reason for this is that I take care to make the address label very clear, either typewritten or printed very legibly.
I'm actually amazed that I even received some of the mail that gets sent to me with a handwritten address, with script that would only be legible to a cryptologist or code-breaker. My admiration goes out to the post office for getting it to me.
I have an aunt that writes in almost illegible script. She's been told that no one can read her writing, and to please type or print her letters or notes. But, belligerent as she is, she is defensive about her epileptic scratchings, and won't change. So, whenever I get a post card, I'm happy to look at the picture, but don't even bother to try to read the message. My reply is always "thanks for the cards", but I don't include "I have no idea WTF you wrote".

calhoun07
05-29-02, 07:37 PM
I think some of the "services" the post office offers and sells such as signature confirmation and tracking numbers are a total waste of time and are to the post office what PSPs are to Best Buy. They are simply there to make more money for the Post Office, but they still are raising stamp prices, aren't they?

I have a couple stories to help me illustrate my point. At work, I am responsible for sending out things via certified mail. We pay 3.00 to get a green card back verifying the customer has recieved the package. Except, I have about five or so white slips of certified letters I sent out over the past year and I have never gotten back the green cards on them. Curious as to what may have happened to these certified letters, I go down to the post office with my white slips and the tracking numbers (or whatever numbers they are called) that is supposed to identify my letter. I ask them if there is anyway to trace these letters and see if they ever reached their destination. No, I am told, that service costs extra. I forget what the extra service was and how much, but basically they were telling me sending anything certified mail is a JOKE if the letter gets lost along the way because you have zero recourse. Then what is the bloody point of spending the extra money to send it out? Personally, I would never use certified mail. I brought this to the attention of my boss but they still want me to use certified mail, but I still insist they are wasting their own money by spending three dollars per envelope for nothing.

And to show that these extra services really don't help the customer when their package is lost, I got one of those pink cards in my mail box telling me I have a package. I live in an apartment, so I have to go to the apartment office to get my package. I go down there....and no package. The mail man has been known to leave the cards and forget to drop the packages off, but my apartment manager assures me the mail man dropped off my package. I was supposed to have something from amazon.com, but there was nothing.

I called the post office to see if they had the package there. By that time, the carrier was back, but there was no unmailed package there waiting for me. The package was just lost. Myseriously, nobody, not the apartment manager or the post office, knew anything about it. And given my taste in music and movies, I doubt somebody took it and figured it was just a free gift. No, not with what I had ordered! I called amazon.com and explained to them how I knew it was lost and they fought it just a little til they realized I had talked to even the head of my local post office about it. They replaced the exact same order, free of charge and shipping. And my package never showed up. Tho I did request they send it UPS this time around. But even with the tracking numbers and all, that box was just gone and no amount of money spend on the extra services could tell you where it was.

Merin
05-29-02, 08:22 PM
Even signature confirmation isn't everything. My spouse used to get shipments from UPS all the time that would require signature confirmation...so much so that he started signing his name as Luke Skywalker, John Smith, Han Solo, etc & the carriers never batted an eye.

RandyM
05-29-02, 09:07 PM
Originally posted by AutumnNights
The dvd arrived damaged. The package has "insurance" stamped on the outside. Will I be able to be compensated by the post office for $ 12 ? and for the $ 3.50 ?
No. The shipper bought insurance, not you. He will have to go to the PO he shipped it from to make a claim. Whether or not you paid him for the cost of insurance is none of the PO's business, that's between you and him, he is the one that insured it through the PO. You may have to take the damaged DVD to a PO on your end, but he is the one who will be compensated.

Will I need some proof such as a print-out of the ebay-page showing the value of the completed auction ? And/or do I need to bring a print-out from one or more on-line retailers showing the value of the dvd ?

Either one should be enough.

mikehunt
05-29-02, 09:16 PM
"lost in the mail" really happens
a few years ago a mailman on a rural route dumped 3 bags over a bridge because it was the busy christmas season

calhoun07
05-29-02, 10:47 PM
Originally posted by mikehunt
"lost in the mail" really happens
a few years ago a mailman on a rural route dumped 3 bags over a bridge because it was the busy christmas season

That's despicable. I hope he's still looking for a job. I once knew a kid in jr high who threw fire crackers in a mail box (at the post office) and the mail inside caught on fire. There's no telling who's mail got lost there.

Jlbkwrm
05-30-02, 02:12 AM
I recently had a delivery confirmation package get delivered to who-knows-where. I'm rapidly becoming fed up with our local postal worker (who has been known, when packages are too large to fit in a mailbox, to wedge the corner in, pound it so it's stuck, and leave the rest of it hanging out), and am currently hoping that where the package ended up, it'll get returned to the e-tailer in question.

At least signature confirmation requires the deliverer to get out of the vehicle, and present the package to a real, live person (who could, hopefully, point out that they were at the wrong freaking address).

jandaman
05-30-02, 11:23 PM
I've had 2 signature confirmation packages not getting signed for. What's the point of paying extra if there's no signature. Some USPS employees are just too lazy I guess. It helps being in a strong union that protects all it's workers no matter how incompetent it's members are I guess.

If you have mail problems, complain complain complain to the postmaster

D.Pham4GLTE (>60GB)
05-30-02, 11:52 PM
Originally posted by Merin
Even signature confirmation isn't everything. My spouse used to get shipments from UPS all the time that would require signature confirmation...so much so that he started signing his name as Luke Skywalker, John Smith, Han Solo, etc & the carriers never batted an eye.

heh...i've gotten stuff dropped off from UPS that required a signature. Well, i checked on the website and it said i signed for it, even though i didn't :eek:

back to the topic at hand, my post office @ my university (actually it's a contract station) won't even do delivery confirmation. don't know why. also, they like to play football with my packages. i see huge ass dents in some of my stuff, presumably from someone dropping a heavy package on top of my flimsy dvd in a bubble wrapper. luckily, i haven't had too many damaged dvds. personally, i just pay for insurance, and scrap delivery confirmation all together.

El-Kabong
05-31-02, 12:57 AM
Recently I also had a problem with a package. The corner of the shipping label was sticking up, so when my package and someone else's were next to each other, the label came off mine and stuck to theirs.

The long and the short of it - I got their stuff, and somewhere out there is a box with no label on it that should belong to me.

I called them right away, of course - what the hell am I going to do with two books about aromatherapy after all? They had the mailman pick up the other persons package the next day, and said they'll look for mine.

My first instinct was "Hell no you guys are not getting this package - at least not until I get MY box, too." But that wouldn't be fair - so I let them have it.

I shouldn't have had, tho. It's been three weeks now, and no sign of my box.

When I called, asking about the status of my box, the Apu-like manager on the other end kept saying "Keep waiting - it'll show up!"

How the hell is it going to show up? The F'in box *HAS NO LABEL* - anywhere at all on it. It's gone to the dead letter office in the sky. It is an ex-package. Singing with the choir invisible.

Yet these incompetent boobs insist that it'll show up soon. Yeah, whatever stamp monkey. Just give me my junk mail and get out of my face.

(Of course ask me about the time that UPS sat on my Macross boxed set for weeks on end - for no good reason that I could tell.)

beebs
05-31-02, 01:23 AM
There's always problems. Fedex, UPS, Airborne, USPS... they all have problems, trust me.

You really put yourself at risk when anything leaves your person. It happens that this stuff doesn't arrive, is misdirected, gets caught in the sorting machine, gets burnt up in a truck wreck.

Just insure it.

-Beebs

renaldow
05-31-02, 11:30 AM
USPS tracking is a joke too. I've had packages arrive that claim to still be waiting for pickup. I've had other packages show delivered to some far away city that come a few days after that. It's worthless. I'd rather now track packages through USPS.

jandaman
06-01-02, 02:02 AM
Originally posted by renaldow
USPS tracking is a joke too. I've had packages arrive that claim to still be waiting for pickup. I've had other packages show delivered to some far away city that come a few days after that. It's worthless. I'd rather now track packages through USPS.

So..... USPS tracking is a joke too AND you'd rather now track packages through USPS? heh

DingDong
06-01-02, 02:57 PM
I'm not sure how many people are aware of this, but if you pay for Delivery or Signature Confirmation and the service is not rendered, you can actually apply for a refund as provided for in the Domestic Mail Manual (DMM) in PO14 section 2.4f:

http://pe.usps.gov/cpim/ftp/manuals/DMM/P014.pdf

That section also goes into detail as to what you can get a refund on.

The refund form PS3533 can be found here:

http://www.usps.com/forms/_pdf/ps3533.pdf

I've done it dozens of times because they've screwed up so much over the years.

Please be aware that you have provide some proof that you actually *paid* for the service you're trying to get a refund for. Also be aware that the form is rather.. long.

Hope this helps the folks who feel like they're being cheated.

Psi
06-02-02, 10:22 AM
I sent a certified letter with return confirmation to someone. When it didn't arrive after two weeks and I asked my post office, they told me to send a letter :lol: to the post office at the destination address to ask them, because they were the ones who lost the letter. It's one post office blaming another, leaving the customer stranded.

calhoun07
06-02-02, 12:06 PM
Originally posted by kuroiinu
I sent a certified letter with return confirmation to someone. When it didn't arrive after two weeks and I asked my post office, they told me to send a letter :lol: to the post office at the destination address to ask them, because they were the ones who lost the letter. It's one post office blaming another, leaving the customer stranded.

Geez, how lame. You spent the extra money for the confirmation and they want you to do the work on tracking it down? What did you pay them extra money for? It amazes me what the post office tries to get away with.

This is kind of off topic but not really. I do certified mail at my job and I ran out of the white and green tickets, so after work, I stopped by the post office on my way home to pick some more up and I went to the desk to ask for some more and he handed me like three of each. I asked for more and he handed me maybe five more. I explained to him that I needed more, that those might only last me a day or two. I pointed to another window that had several stocked in bulk quantity and I asked him if I could go and grab more from there. He said they cost the post office money and if I wanted more I could go to their website and order them myself. I just took my small handful and quietly left, not wanting to make an issue out of it. I just went back there a few days later and took some from the bulk supply at the other window without asking.

Of course it costs them money! That's why they charge us so much when we mail the letters out! His logic behind not letting me have more was astounding.

agent2099
06-04-02, 05:49 PM
DC isn't a sure thing, but it does work as self insurance. You can use it to prove you've shipped something, which takes away your liability according to many compaies (i.e. Paypal). It also gives the sender peace of mind so they can track the package online and they are not worried about missing its arrival or its loss in the mail. The extra information and the piece of mind from your customers can sometimes be worth an extra $0.50 cents. And in many cases they will choose to pay for the DC, how can you argue with that?

Trekaholic
06-06-02, 12:32 PM
Originally posted by Easy
I have always been skeptical of people who claim their shipment was "lost in the mail". I never had anything lost before.

That amazes me. I receive about 50 packages a month through the USPS. Invariably a package goes missing at least every other month. Sounds like you're a very lucky person.

kunert
06-06-02, 02:39 PM
I've had packages accidently delivered to neighbors, or to people with the same house number on another nearby street, etc. I'd say about 1 out of 100 packages, so I know it happens. 2 days out of a week there are subs on the route and they don't give a fig, nor are they well-trained. I recently had a situation where a large correctly-addressed package with delivery confirmation was sent to me at work and was inexplicably returned to the sender marked "refused" by recipient. Yeah, refused because obviously it was delivered to the wrong address, or the sub tried to deliver it on Saturday when no ones here and was too lazy to carry it around another day.

bga
06-06-02, 06:18 PM
I had a letter with delivery confirmation get delivered without receiving confirmation, and the USPS told me that the only money I would get back was the 40 cents added for the delivery confirmation. I'd still eat the $3 for priority mail (over the price of a first class stamp) I had to pay in order to get delivery confirmation. If I had to wait in line or take more than a couple minutes to get my money back, it wouldn't be worth it.

Excelesor
06-06-02, 10:43 PM
but UPS and Fed-X is hella expensive. I also sell items on Ebay but they prices for them are really expensive compared to the usps. I rather just get insurance on the item.

NavinJohnson
06-10-02, 03:31 PM
I don't think delivery confirmation is completely worthless; but if something goes wrong, the buyer/recipient doesn't have much recourse (I like the vague "some tracking info. may be available"). All it does is give the seller/sender a leg to stand on in a PayPal/Half.com transaction. I've had a package or two delivered to (fortunately) honest neighbors who readily informed me. Guess I'm lucky there.
Originally posted by El-Kabong
How the hell is it going to show up? The F'in box *HAS NO LABEL* - anywhere at all on it. It's gone to the dead letter office in the sky. It is an ex-package. Singing with the choir invisible
I try to avoid this (and damage) by printing the recipient's address x-tra large and wrapping it with wide/clear tape.
Originally posted by mikehunt
"lost in the mail" really happens; a few years ago a mailman on a rural route dumped 3 bags over a bridge because it was the busy christmas season
Mucky water hides those bags pretty good. A fellow diver discovered a few mail bags in a quarry; state police reaction was something like..."So?" (of course they had the same reaction to a handgun found in shallow water...which as it turned out was used in a crime). Sorry to hear about everyone's lost packages; but thanks for relating your experiences. I guess it will happen to everyone sooner or later.

goblin23
06-10-02, 07:29 PM
Without getting into the debate...

Just wanted to mention that if any of you use Delivery Confirmation when sending stuff, you don't have to even pay the extra 40 cents (at least until the end of this month) if you print your own shipping label.

http://www.usps.com/cgi-bin/api/shipping_label.htm

--greg

dvd2001
06-11-02, 11:38 AM
Originally posted by goblin23
Without getting into the debate...

Just wanted to mention that if any of you use Delivery Confirmation when sending stuff, you don't have to even pay the extra 40 cents (at least until the end of this month) if you print your own shipping label.

http://www.usps.com/cgi-bin/api/shipping_label.htm

--greg

Greg, I think that's only available for priority or express mail. A great idea for that type of shipping. Hopefully they'll continue to offer that after the rate changes at the end of the month.

TheBang
06-11-02, 11:01 PM
Greg, thanks for the link. That's really cool! I'm going to try it with my next Priority Package.

They've actually changed the link. Here is the new address which will continue to work with the postage changes after June 30:

http://www.usps.com/shipping/label.htm

Also, I read their FAQ, and they are considering adding more functionalilty to the online shipping label app in the future, so we may be able to print free Delivery Confirmation for Media Mail too. Also, I heard they were adding Delivery Confirmation to First Class Mail also, with the postage change, so that may be an option in the future too.