Association monitors mail delays, disruptions
NEW YORK STATE--With millions of packages coming from online retailers for the holiday season, many consumers are seeing messages of "In Transit, Arriving Late," on their trackable items. Other non-trackable mail pieces are also showing up later than expected or in some cases not at all. As private carriers such as FedEx and UPS have been utilized to transport COVID-19 vaccines, there has never been more pressure on shipping services.
The United States Postal Service had expected to deliver roughly 20 million packages a day during the holiday season, but that number has exceeded 40 million some days, according to USPS. Mail processing plants and some post offices are challenged to keep up with the volume.
"The private couriers, like United Parcel Service (UPS), can decline to accept packages," National Newspaper Association Chair Brett Wesner, president of Wesner Publications in Cordell, Oklahoma, said. "We are receiving reports in the mailing industry that the private networks are overloaded so packages are being deferred to the postal service, which cannot refuse to accept them. This is particularly an issue for rural areas, where less dense deliveries are unprofitable for the private services but a required service for USPS."
Newspapers across the county that use the postal service as their main delivery method have also taken notice. National Newspaper Association members are reporting delays or missed issues to the postal service and working to address them.
"We want publishers to understand that these delays are not just in their markets, nor the result of failures by printers or mail preparers," Wesner said. "This is happening partly because of COVID-19-related personnel absences, but mostly because of record numbers of packages in the mail."
NNA said it expected service to improve after the holiday package season ends, but NNA cautioned that as vaccine deliveries are ramping up for the private couriers, USPS might still be the deliverer of last resort for packages displaced by the priority vaccine packages.
"Most of all, make sure members of Congress know you are having problems," Wesner said. "This disruption is not only about packages. It is also about a neglected USPS that is being pressured to cut overtime and save money because Congress has not done its part to help create a sustainable service."
(Publisher's Note: Our local post offices have been exceptional in helping us try and resolve subscriber mail issues when we encounter them. However, regional and national service delays have meant some in- and out-of-state subscribers have not had timely delivery of their newspaper or other mail pieces.)