MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - “In transit.” Two words that frustrate Mid-South postal service customers still waiting for holiday packages to arrive.
“Neither rain, nor snow, nor heat nor gloom of night” can stop the post office from delivering, says the old saying. But that expression was adopted in 1914, long before COVID-19 and shopping on the web, which proved to be a one-two punch that KO’d the US Postal Service in 2020.
At the Mail Center in Midtown Memphis, owner Mark Weber said they’re tracking the delays.
“We can see through the packages that we ship,” said Weber, “that some of those packages are behind as much as two to three weeks.”
He said with an unprecedented number of packages being shipped this year, the United States Postal Service faced an impossible challenge.
“FedEx and UPS can limit their volume, he said, “but the post office cannot. So if somebody calls and says we have 1000 packages that we couldn’t give to FedEx or UPS, they give them to the post office and they have to take them.”
Between the COVID-19 pandemic and record online shopping this holiday season, shipping software developer Ship Matrix said more than 2 million packages a day got delayed. Dozens of WMC Action News 5 viewers expressed their shipping struggles on social media:
Jamie said: “I’m still waiting on a package I ordered at the end of November.”
Rex said he’s “had a delivery stuck in Raleigh since December 22nd.”
And Dave said: “I’ve had two packages in Memphis since December 13th and I’ve gotten two emails about COVID from the USPS.”
In a statement sent to WMC Action News 5, Susan W. Wright, the spokesperson for USPS in Memphis said “we delivered a record amount of packages this holiday season in the midst of the pandemic, which significantly impacted our workforce availability. We will continue to work around the clock to deliver all packages and mail entered into our system.”
USPS hired more seasonal workers and expanded Sunday delivery and Christmas delivery to try and meet the demand. But there weren’t enough aircraft, trucks or employees to handle the volume of mail. A national union rep told CNN more than 18-thousand postal employees are out every day in quarantine. The people needed to sort and deliver packages simply aren’t there.
In a tweet to WMC, Heather said she understands: “I mailed one package on December 1st. No update since December 26th. And I don’t blame the postal workers!”
“They’re all doing the best they can to get your package where it’s supposed to go,” said Weber. “Nobody wants your package not to get there.”
Weber said their peak day was Dec. 14 and it’s usually the 19. So people got their gifts in the mail earlier this year. But with a record 3 billion packages shipped this holiday season, the volume was simply overwhelming.