USPS Delays & What You Should Understand (updated Janurary 2022)

Published on: Jan 18, 2021 at 00:39

** Some links are no longer viewable (red links) due to tracking details being removed from the USPS website. Again, these are here for your reference to see that there is an inconsistency with some tracking updates and mail delivery confirmations. **

Since spring 2020, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has been posting alerts on their website, reminding us that they are constantly working, and are still not operating at 100%. This alert does not seem to have an expiration date and yet some people are still confused as to why mail in the United States has been consistently inconsistent with delivery times and tracking updates. Since I get asked some of the same questions repeatedly, I decided to list a few things that I have noticed & learned over the past months from ordering, shipping, and speaking with USPS employees.

  1.  Tracking Numbers are not provided for First Class Mail: I was told by a USPS employee that the numbers on First-Class Mail shipping labels are NOT tracking numbers. Feel free to confirm or debunk this by contacting the USPS here. This was news to me since I have been tracking First Class packages for a number of years.
  2.  First Class Mail Tracking Updates are not Mandatory: Since tracking numbers are not technically assigned to First-Class Mail, it is not mandatory for USPS to update the location status of the package. (this explains why tracking updates on some packages are delayed or incomplete, see examples below. some links may no longer be working)
  3. There is no Guaranteed Mail Processing Time Frame: Dropping off mail at any post office does not guarantee same-day processing  (this also leaves the tracking status in limbo til it gets its first scan.

For those that are unclear, after your package has been dropped off at the post office, there will be no tracking update until the post office decides to scan the package. This could be before it leaves the drop-off station/city or after it reaches the destination station/city. The following examples show some of the issues that I have encountered.

Held for 30 days in Miami.
Took only 6 days to be delivered once it left the country.

Mailed July 27th.
Took 52 days to leave the country out of New York.

Mailed June 2, 2021 was to be delivered June 6, 2021

Awaiting Delivery Scan

Mailed May 19, 2021. Has been held in Miami since May 23
Reason unknown

Mailed November 2020. Traveled to Australia only to be returned 6 months later.
Still waiting on an answer as to why it was returned when others were delivered.

Mailed May 11. Package was declared lost.

Package seems to have been delivered October 15th.

Tracking updates stopped.
The package was declared lost on April 25

Refunded Customer
Tracking updates resumed & the package was delivered.

The package is delivered after a refund.

Tracking says Insufficient Address. Customer confirmed delivery.

* Mail March 25th. Tracking Updated March 29. Still in route as of April 12th, 2021. Declared Lost

Mailed March 3.
Tracking updates on March 26.
Delivered March 31.

United States to Australia in 6 days
No delivery confirmation.

Shipped March 1st out for delivery March 9th to Australia. 

Delivery confirmed by customer

Shipped February 8th, 2021.
Declared Lost February 17th
Tracking updates stopped on the 17th, no delivery confirmation

40 days no update in route to Philadelphia
Tracking updated only when packaged arrived in destination city.

Shipping label created December 3rd.
Package updated January 4th, 8th, 11th.

Over 20 days no update to New Jersey

Tracking updated only when packaged arrived in destination city.
(buyer could assume package was never shipped, possible claim & refund)

eBay purchase:
Illinois to North Carolina
Time to Deliver: 26 days

No tracking update for 18 days.
This was an item bought through ebay and could have easily been used to get a refund being that the item was 15 days past the delivery date. Being that I was already aware of the postal service issues, I waited because it was at no fault of the seller.

International Tracking Status Unknown, Package delivered.

A person could easily assume package has been lost. Buyer confirmed it had been delivered.

International Shipment Delivered Full tracking Details

A USPS employee told me that the tracking status stops when it leaves the United States and there is no way to track it in another country. This shipment contradicts that statement. What it does confirm is the inconsistency with international tracking, it varies by location.

Accepted by USPS on Jan 6, 2021.
Tracking stopped on Jan 8th, 2021

Tracking status unknown as of January 19, 2021

Shipped December 18th, Still in transit

Tracking status unknown as of January 19, 2021

One Month to Deliver a  Package Two Hours Away
Tracking stopped on December 14th, started  again on January 6

22 days to leave the country

Shipped December 12th, Still in transit.

In one of the examples posted is a shipment that was delivered two hours from its drop off location. There were no tracking details for over 8 days and the total time it took to reach its destination was 30 days. During that time, other packages were delivered across the country within 3 days. Delays are unexpected, but they shouldn’t be because for the past 8 months, the United States Postal Service has made it perfectly clear that they are not operating at 100%. The website currently states “ALERT: USPS IS EXPERIENCING UNPRECEDENTED VOLUME INCREASES AND LIMITED EMPLOYEE AVAILABILITY DUE TO THE IMPACTS OF COVID-19. WE APPRECIATE YOUR PATIENCE.” This means they are doing more work with less people.

Tracking Numbers FYI

This is how your order is delivered to the USPS.

  1. Shipping label & packing sheet is printed.
  2. Ordered items and packing sheet are placed in the appropriate packaging and sealed.
  3. Shipping label is placed on package.
  4. Package is placed in the drop box at the post office.

Until your mail is entered into the USPS system this is all you will see. This may happen before it leaves the origin city or when it arrives at the destination city.

As someone who recently waited 20+ days to receive an item that was due to arrive in 4 days, I know how it feels to see no activity however, jumping to conclusions and assuming the worst doesn’t make the wait any shorter. If there is a delay with your package being delivered by the USPS and you are diligent with knowing where it is beyond the information that is mentioned in this article, you will need to contact the USPS. If you decide that this is not satisfactory and no longer wish to wait, you have the option to request a reshipment by clicking here: Reship Request

Returning A Delivered Order After a Refund

If you receive a refund for a shipment that has been delayed by the USPS, it is your responsibility to return the package after it has been delivered. This is accomplished by NOT opening the package, writing “return to sender” on the front of the package, and placing it in your mailbox with the flag up or dropping it off at your local post office. If for some reason you open the package, seal it immediately and proceed with the previous instructions.

This post was written to explain tracking inconsistencies and why some mail is moving slow through the USPS. This is not to be confused with any other process. Assumptions will not change the truth about current mail issues or what’s going on with your package. Keep in mind, RestoMod 忍者 does not track your shipments and has no influence or control over the USPS mail.

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