A memo to Louis DeJoy, U.S. Postmaster general, from a Postal Service customer

PHOTOGRAPHER:

I thought I’d go right to the top to inquire about a refund for the $60.30 spent this holiday season to send Christmas gifts by two-day priority mail that neither arrived in two days nor, apparently, were a priority.

My family, as responsible citizens, decided to forego face-to-face Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations this year, following the advice of various elected and medical folks who urged us to stay at home as the rate of coronavirus infections rose.

Like many others, our Thanksgiving conversations occurred online, and we planned a virtual gift exchange on Christmas Day.

That meant I had to shop earlier than usual, with Postal Service shipping dates in mind. Daughter No. 2, who lives outside Boston, does much of her buying online, but mailed out a few gifts, too. Daughter No. 1, who lives in Washington, D.C., did a single day of shop-and-mail after quarantining and recuperating from a positive COVID-19 test.

Shipping deadline successfully met, we then all waited – and waited and waited.

Soon, national headlines started referring to “shipageddon,” the convergence of unprecedented e-commerce volume, coronavirus absences among postal employees and cost-cutting measures by you, Mr. DeJoy, that began to back up deliveries. Stories foretold of presents not arriving in time for Christmas.  

After a trio of small packages I mailed out to in-laws early in the month took a week to arrive, rather than two days, I began to obsessively track the D.C.- and Boston-bound boxes of gifts also sent by priority mail.

I found that punching in the Postal Service’s 22-digit tracking code multiple times a day did not move them along faster.

Then, 11 days after mailing, with more than a week in which tracking showed nothing, a Postal Service text arrived: The Boston box was in Springfield, Mass., about halfway to Beantown. The next day, a text said it was “in transit”; at 4 a.m. a day later, Christmas Eve, it was at Daughter No. 2’s suburban post office. A few hours more, and it was on her front porch. “A Christmas Miracle!” she confirmed to me.

No similar luck with the box headed to D.C.

On Sunday this week, 13 days after mailing and after many days of tracking that showed nothing, a Postal Service text assured me the box had arrived in Atlanta – which made little sense to me logistically. Texts on Monday and Tuesday indicated it was “in transit.”

I hope the box becomes “A New Year Miracle!”

My point, Mr. DeJoy, is that I was sold a bum product. Yes, a banner on your website urges patience due to “unprecedented volume increases” and COVID-19 staffing shortages. But you still took money for a service on which you knew you could not deliver. That says “refund” to me. 

Marlene Kennedy is a freelance columnist. Opinions expressed in her column are her own and not necessarily the newspaper’s. Reach her at [email protected]

Categories: Business

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