What you can do about mail delays

As Congress debates U.S. Postal Service funding and whether it deserves more money, postal customers everywhere are dealing with more and more delivery delays amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Small business owner Laurel Salaman checks her mailbox every morning, but has been coming up empty-handed a lot lately.

“Sometimes we receive mail at 9 in the morning, sometimes its 8 at night, sometimes nothing at all,” she said.

The online fitness and pilates instructor says packages important to her business keep getting delayed.

“You get the tracking number, and it says it is on the truck for delivery, and then nothing ever arrives, and you have to wait till the next day,” she said.

Salaman says at first she thought it was just her street that was having issues.

But the more she spoke with friends and people in her fitness Facebook groups, the more she found other people with late mail and packages that seemed to be stuck on trucks for days.

“There would be packages that didn’t show up that said they were out for delivery, and they wouldn’t show up,” she said.

Veterans worry about medication

It’s not just small businesses getting hurt by recent Postal Service changes.

Military veteran Gary Favors told us the delays are impacting his medicine that is shipped monthly from the VA.

“It’s been a spiral effect of missing packages, especially medication, so I don’t know what to do,” Favors said.

The Postal Service issues are reaching a flashpoint in Washington D.C., ever since Postmaster Louis DeJoy trimmed overtime, reduced evening trips, and made other cuts to cope with a billion-dollar-plus shortfall this year.

The debate has become political and now centers on mail-in voting.

But most Democrats and Republicans agree that without more funding, the department won’t have the manpower to fix things.

Things you can do

So what can you do in the meantime?

Like more and more people, Salaman is looking at other services for essential items for her small business.

“Amazon can get here the next day, so most of what we order now is through a service like that,” she said.

Her advice? If it’s urgent:

  • Ship via FedEx (their Ground option is similar in price to the Postal Service)
  • Ship via UPS, which has a wide range of price points.
  • Order from Amazon, which uses its own delivery trucks.
  • If you are using the U.S. Postal Service, always get a tracking number, and use the quickest service you can afford.

The VA is now notifying veterans that they should order their medicine earlier than usual, because at this time it cannot guarantee on-time delivery. And by law, it cannot ship medication via private services.

Bottom line: give your deliveries more time right now so you don’t waste your money.

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