Who doesn’t like finding a package they ordered online on their doorstep at an unexpected time, like, say, late in the evening just before you turn out the porch light for the night? 

Consumers have come to expect quick delivery of parcels, often at odd hours of the day. This new paradigm comes at a cost, however. For the U.S. Postal Service, it means their city carriers and non-career city carrier assistants (CCAs) are delivering packages after the targeted return time of 6:00 p.m. Returning late from their routes raises safety concerns — especially when it gets dark earlier —  and overtime costs. 

Few are complaining about the ecommerce explosion, mind you. It’s driving a growth in parcels — even as lettermail volumes decline. This package boom, along with a downsizing of the Postal Service workforce and evolving customer needs, have led to changes in the network and delivery. Furthermore, a wide range of variables, such as weather, employee absences, or new carriers to a route, can affect delivery on a daily basis. 

All of this poses challenges for the Postal Service in meeting its goal of 95 percent of letter carriers being off the street by 5 p.m. and 100 percent by 6 p.m. Our recent audit of the Bay Valley (CA) District — in the heart of the nation’s ecommerce hub — found that carriers and CCAs fell short of the 100 percent goal by 6 p.m. In calendar year 2016, only 75 percent of carriers returned to the office by 6 p.m., our report said.

Bay Valley certainly is seeing the effects of ecommerce activity, as well as Sunday package delivery, and grocery delivery service: The district had a 16 percent growth in package volume in calendar year 2016 over the previous year, topping 101 million packages. In some areas, package deliveries now regularly occur early in the morning and as late as 10 p.m.

We found a mix of underlying reasons for missing the targeted return time: Insufficient staffing, late or improper mail arrival, inaccurate route adjustments, and insufficient supervision. The Postal Service agreed with our recommendations to improve the underlying conditions.

We welcome your suggestions as well. What more could be done to get carriers off the streets on time? Given all the variables that can affect the ability to complete deliveries by the targeted time, what additional precautions could be taken to enhance carrier safety? 

Comments (209)

  • anon

    In the office I work, there is sufficient mail to substantiate earlier start times. This would translate to earlier return times from the route. Also, local management has no authority to curtail non-preferrential, non-dated mail. Recently, I tied out 18 trays of mail one day and left to deliver the route after 1 p.m., and the next day I had only 4 trays of mail. If I would have been allowed to curtail some of the non-preferrential, non-dated (I don't call it "junk") mail the first day, perhaps case it when I got back, and delivered it the next day, it would have gotten me on the street earlier to deliver the route which would have gotten me back to the office sooner in the afternoon. We used to do this to affect a more even flow of mail, but now local management is under the mandate of, "everything has to go every day." This is also a disservice to our mailers. When we deliver a dozen advertisements on one day, the customers on the route may pay attention to a few of them. If they received just a few each day, they would pay attention to more of them. It's just common sense. And of course this is exacerbated by the increased parcel volume. Authority to manage mail needs to be extended to managers at the individual delivery units, not over a phone from someone sitting at a desk hundreds of miles away wanting a nice,neat report showing no curtailed mail while the reality is that pushes carriers into delivering in the dark. Thank you for your time.

    Sep 17, 2018
  • anon

    When mail is delivered after dark it only increases security risks the mail will be compromised or stolen. Not having sufficient staff to assure delivery by 6:00pm is not a valid reason to expose consumers to financial risks, nor carriers to safety risks. It's unconscionable and greedy to stretch a work force so thin.

    Sep 10, 2018
  • anon

    I was expecting a small ebay package delivered "by 8:pm" 8/28/18 the emailed alert told me. Stayed close to home on purpose to keep my eye peeled for the mail to come all day. Nothing. No mail. No mail person ever showed up in my entire area, which is a major city in a pretty densely populated neighborhood. Nobody received mail. We're talking at least 500 people (likely many more) in my small territory radius. So what I'm wondering is, do local USPS people just arbitrarily decide not to deliver on a day if say there's just not enough mail worth going out to bring to addresses? Seems to me there would be people counting on/needing materials delivered to them on a Monday. So why a no show?

    Aug 28, 2018
  • anon

    My eye glasses are suppose to be delivered today by 8 pm and I already got my mail around noon.. no package. I doubt I'm getting them today. I'm disappointed and sad!!

    Aug 17, 2018
  • anon

    In most of these comments, I have noted that people are upset with USPS as an overall company and do not take in the underlying factors that will cause your package to arrive late (as said in the original article), it varies from city to city and you can’t just get irritated and write your problems on here because it’s for national purposes, so instead of complaining, my best advice would be that you go to your city’s post office and try to sort it out yourself.

    Aug 15, 2018
  • anon

    I have been tracking my package and receiving alerts by text message. The last alert I received was at 6:47pm and it said that it was in it's final transit to the destination, but it never arrived because it's dark now. Will it arrive at normal hours tomorrow? It said 8:00pm was it's expected delivery time.

    Aug 08, 2018
  • anon

    I dont want my mail sent so late please because i have school and my grandma is tired after work and it says I have a package tommorow and its coming at 8:00 pm i was so surprised i asked my dad if mailmen really send by that time and he said no so when i asked my aunt she said yes and told me its very unprofessional but its ok at least im getting the package

    Aug 08, 2018
  • anon

    My package say delivery day would be Saturday August 4 2018 by 8pm stay home all day to make I receive my package today is Sunday August 5,2018 & still says the same thing the items that expected to be deliver it was for me to travel now i have to go spend money I don’t have if only you guys were honest & stop having people waiting for package that they not going to receive I’m very upset ......,,

    Aug 05, 2018
  • anon

    I ordered my stuff on amazon and I got half of my delivery this afternoon and it’s currently 5:30 and my other half isn’t here... it’s says will be delivered by 8:00 but my pxkage was already in my city at 5:00 am ??? Is it lost ??

    Aug 08, 2018
  • anon

    Hello, Shaina. Thanks for your message. We are an independent agency of the Postal Service and unfortunately can't help with delayed mail or packages. Please file a complaint directly with the Postal Service at emailus.usps.com/emailUs/iq/usps/request.do?forward=emailUs. Just choose the tab marked "Where is My Package" or "Where is My Mail."

    Aug 09, 2018
  • anon

    I noticed that I had not received any mail yesterday 7/30/2018...but blew it off. Imagine my surprise when I heard my gate open and saw a postal carrier, mind you (NOT PARCEL TRUCK MAKING A DELIVERY), deliver 3 envelopes to my door at 9:35 pm last night (7/30/2018). At my open window, I verbalized my surprise to her as she walked away but she ignored me. What is going on? My main concern was that it seemed an unsafe time and area to have anyone delivering mail. But about 5 minutes later I saw another mail carrier walk by, this time it was a man. Please tell what this is about?

    Jul 31, 2018
  • anon

    I know the carriers are overworked and are pushed to the limit-however after sitting all day on a Saturday waiting for packages that were out for delivery at 9:25 a.m.-and now it is 8:38 p.m.-Sent another request for tracking and I get the LIE - "July 21, 2018 at 7:54 pm-Delivery attempted-no access-"Totally untrue and blatant LIE-It is extremely INSULTING to usps customers to get this treatment-This is why customers have contempt for USPS-Be honest and admit you just didn't make your deliveries!! We all have lives and having us wait all day and then LIE is terrible-Update customers if deliveries will not be made so they can get on with their lives-I have heard from usps workers that it is complete chaos and the hire new drivers without training them--Now i will have to wait until Monday for packages and one was medication-so THANKS USPS for saying you would deliver by 8pm --NOT!

    Jul 21, 2018
  • anon

    Thanks for your message. We are an independent agency of the Postal Service and unfortunately can't help with delayed mail or packages. Please file a complaint directly with the Postal Service at emailus.usps.com/emailUs/iq/usps/request.do?forward=emailUs. Just choose the tab marked "Where is My Package" or "Where is My Mail."

    Jul 25, 2018
  • anon

    Last night my mail was delivered after 8:00pm and a notice that they attempted to deliver a package at 8:12 pm which they declined to leave saying there was no access. They always leave the packages in the milbox if they can fit or throw it on the front porch and ever ring the bell anyway. Sometimes they deliver early afternoon,sometimes 3:30pm .All winter it was after dark. If the mailbox was on the house it would not be so bad but with these late deliveries it is dangerous for me to walk in the street in the dark. This is not unusual it happens VERY often. In the winter it is particularly hazardous walking into the street in the dark as our mailboxes are required to be on the street. I am 75 years old and live on a busy very rural road with no streetlights and no sidewalks. I have fallen many times getting the mail as my mailbox is on an incline. In asking if I could get delivery at my house I was declined and told I have to have a doctors note. I waited several weeks and had a call that they are working on it but as yet have not received the forms to fill out. The woman at the post office said maybe they could get it done by WINTER when I told her I fell a lot . Would you accept this as problem solving with a company that gave you such poor service?

    Jul 17, 2018
  • anon

    Offer incentives .and discounts .and or a free program for PO boxes.

    Jul 14, 2018
  • anon

    This is getting ridiculous. My mail has been arriving progressively later and later almost by the day. When I used to get packages around 11:30 in the morning, I’m lucky if I get them at close to 8:00 at night now. I have a business to run that is reliant on packages getting to me when they are supposed to do I can get my merchandise shipped out on time. And if I do manage to get them and ship them out, sometimes my packages will not get scanned in until three days later and I’m left to worry where it went. And don’t even try to call customer service because there’s AN HOUR WAIT just for someone to answer the phone. Wishing there was an alternative to this mess.

    Jul 12, 2018
  • anon

    I had my packages delivered to my place of business to avoid issues. Why is USPS delivering to a business before and after business hours? I've received 2 texts saying it couldn't be delivered. 1st was at 8pm (business closed), reattempt was next day at 7:30am (business closed). I know this message will be ignored as it looks all the other ones from other people. No wonder USPS has a poor reputation.

    Jul 06, 2018
  • anon

    This is also my exact concern. I have parcels delivered to my office to avoid issues of package theft etc. Packages that arrive after hours must be redelivered the next day. Its a waste of time for both the mail carrier and I.

    Jul 18, 2018
  • anon

    I have a tracking number that says my package will be here tonight by 8 PM and its 8:07 PM and nothing . Then I got a message that says it was in another town an 1 hour and half away , but still up for being delivered today. So I'm guessing at this point it will come while I'm at work and then I have to hope someone wont steal it because I wont be at home , or pray my drugged out naighbors dont end up with it since they always deliver to the wrong house . These are are magic bands to Disney world so I'm going to be very upset if these dont make to our home .

    Jul 05, 2018
  • anon

    So I’ve been waiting and waiting on my package that was suppose to be here today (7-3-18) it was garanteed to be here. And well it never showed up and the post office is closed for the 4th. So guess I won’t get it till the 5th. But the odd thing is, it arrived in Nashville (which is about 2 hours from where I live) at 8:07am on the 3rd. And apparently departed at 11pm at night?!?!? So my 2 questions is, why did it take 12 hours to depart, and how does USPS depart at 11pm????

    Jul 04, 2018
  • anon

    I was told my package was being delivered to my residence at 6:50 and it would be here at 8. I've been outside since then. It is now 10:30. This is priority mail. The map said it would take 1 day to get here. I was emailed it would be here in 3. Day three will be over in 1.5 hours.

    Jun 29, 2018
  • anon

    Privatize the USPS.

    Jun 22, 2018
  • anon

    Why do my package say it’s comign at 8pm please explain do y’all even deliver at 8 ?

    Jun 20, 2018
  • anon

    My husband is a carrier and is often stuck delivering after dark in a city with few street lights. He broke his ankle while delivering 3 days before Christmas and couldn't get any of the higher ups in his office to do the CA-1 form until the 26th and they have continued to be as unhelpful as possible about his injury. From what I can see it's a lack of knowledgeable supervision, most have not run a route in years or have never run a route and that lack of experience makes for poor decision making when it comes to instructing carriers. His office provided him with a head lamp afterwards but it is not bright enough to be effective in an area without street lights. We have since bought a personal one with higher lumens. I think that having the carriers have more input on how the routes should be handled and what equipment would be effective would make for more successful deliveries. The same thing for the clerks and processing sites it takes someone who has done the job to supervise how to do the job.

    Jun 14, 2018
  • anon

    You all are trash, i waited all day now. You need to stop false advertising

    Jun 05, 2018
  • anon

    100% by 6 PM? Please. I live in Dallas, TX and I would be more accurate saying my goal is that it snows 9 inches on the first day of August. Shameful.

    Jun 04, 2018
  • anon

    How about when it shows out for delivery for more than 5 days? This item was a firearm / Pistol being shipped to an FFL. The local Post office returned it to the sender and it was lost when it went back to Michigan. How can I get the OIG involved to track a potentially stolen pistol in the state of Michigan by USPS?

    Jun 01, 2018
  • anon

    It would be helpful if they begin earlier in the morning.

    May 22, 2018
  • anon

    whats up USPS??? wth this is the second time im ordering and its being delivered by USPS. Why does your notification say "tried but no access"?? ive been waiting out side all evening. smh this delivery method is making companies i order from lose customers, ive asked for a refund twice fro companies because USPS did not deliver properly.

    May 21, 2018
  • anon

    I need my mail do be delivered this is the second time I send my mail it did not reaches or am going to sue this company

    May 06, 2018
  • anon

    Very disappointing priority mail says by Saturday at 8 pm called and post office says it's not even in my state . The tracking is terrible all my updates say in transit . So basically no tracking .

    May 05, 2018
  • anon

    I have a package that says expected by 8pm, tonight. It's 8:43pm and no one in my neighborhood has gotten a single piece of mail. I'm just supposed to not get my package and bills, that I need to pay and will probably take a late fee on? This is why everyone is going to FedEx and UPS. USPS sucks.

    May 04, 2018
  • anon

    To be honest my mail never comes early and it does not make any sense why the mailman comes at 8pm. It’s getting rediculous!!

    May 04, 2018
  • anon

    My package says deliver April 26th by 8PM and judging by the comments now I'm guessing I won't get it until tomorrow. This is so annoying because it was cosmetics and I have somewhere to be. It was supposed to be here by Wednesday, it was delayed and now I don't even have it the day after......... this is so frustrating.

    Apr 26, 2018
  • anon

    USPS sucks seriously 8pm it’s 6:35 right now and never in my life have I seen a usps car around the latest 2 USPS SUCKS

    Apr 21, 2018
  • anon

    So when was it delivered eventually?

    Apr 26, 2018
  • anon

    I love how the little caption I clicked for more information on the delivery time was "-when the carrier will attempt to delivery your package." Yup, nothing wrong with the grammar there. Also estimated delivery time 8 pm? Is that a joke?

    Apr 19, 2018
  • anon

    Tracking states my package will be delivered by 8:00pm today?

    Apr 19, 2018
  • anon

    The whole "by 8pm" for packages thing is absolutely ridiculous. I live in San Diego, and there has never been a usps driver out past 5-6pm. I think the people who run things at the United States postal service might actually be delusional.

    Apr 18, 2018
  • anon

    My advice is, don't give people an expected delivery date and time of "by 8p.m." if carriers don't deliver after 6p.m. I believe hiring more postal workers instead of downsizing would make much more sense as well. But then again, I'm just a person that's tried to contact USPS all day long and each time I was told the wait time was one hour. Nevermind that both packages are super important and both are now delayed. One was supposed to arrive last week.

    Apr 16, 2018
  • anon

    The USPS is quite out of hand! It's getting ridiculous. When your package is Out for Delivery by 8pm and it doesn't show, is it REALLY hard to changed the status to the next day?! I've had packages be out for delivery by 8pm, not show up, then I lock up. Not 10 minutes later (after I lock up of course) my tracking updates, "Could not be delivered. No access." or something like that. You stink USPS.

    Apr 16, 2018
  • anon

    I hate when I'm expecting a package through USPS, because if it not their by the time my local carrier leaves by 8:30-9:00 in the morning then I won't get it that day..in fact, I would get it the next day because my local carrier would already gone with today's mail and that's why I hate when they have packages will be delivered by 8 p.m. today..maybe UPS or FedEx but never seen USPS deliver any packages after my regular mail runs around 2-3 pm.

    Apr 10, 2018
  • anon

    My package was supposed to be here at 8pm and it’s now 9:09.....come on it’s just two little light bulbs

    Apr 05, 2018
  • anon

    My package was supposed to arrive at 3pm or money back it's 8pm , and nothing here. Also not to mention it's my brand new phone. I want it now lol

    May 04, 2018
  • anon

    About the delivery after dark. It is basically IMPOSSIBLE for a NEW carrier finish his route before 6pm especially when is getting a new route EVERY SINGLE DAY, having CERO proper training, and NO truck till late in the afternoon. What do you expect from the new CCA's ...MAGIC? They are humans too and need a chance to get properly training and just 1 or 2 routes at least the first month so them get use to it before to move to another one and probably get lost! What is the purpose? Make them quite? Or just to have an excuse to fired them? Very bad!

    Mar 20, 2018
  • anon

    USPS decided to just not deliver mail to my neighborhood today. This affects families and businesses. Livid. Why should I pay priority mail?

    Mar 12, 2018
  • anon

    We didnt just decide to not give you your mail. We are told to be back at A specific time. When i was new, there were more then a couple times people didnt get their mail. I should have been starting work at 7 am. But they changed our time to 830. And return by 5. I have a 12 hour route to do in 9 hours. It is a lot of work and we are trying. Please think of all possibilities before you just assume we didnt want you to get your mail today.

    May 24, 2018
  • anon

    Nice try. They skipped my neighborhood today. NOBODY got mail. It has nothing to do with time of day. I received an alert at 1:30 telling me they couldn't deliver my package because they couldn't deliver it.

    Jul 27, 2018
  • anon

    I missed a day of work trying to wait for a package usps priority mail specified was gonna be delivered around 8 pm. I have yet to be delivered. It's very important I get my package. Why do I get charged extra for something to be delivered at a regular time?

    Mar 10, 2018
  • anon

    just have them do the job especially when you stay less than 10 mins away and package been out for delivery since 10am

    Mar 05, 2018

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