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

    Our mail never comes at the same time. It’s ofren 6-7pm but may show up at 2. Have filed numerous complaints but never a response . Did get a survey once so I know they received my complaint. My zip 60099

    Mar 05, 2018
  • anon

    If your business explicitly states their mail carriers are not to deliver packages after 6 p.m. then why do you schedule packages out past 6? Here is a direct quote from your business on a package that is supposed to arrive at my house today: Expected Delivery by MONDAY 5 MARCH 2018 by 8:00pm By 8 p.m. 8. that is 2 hours after 6, and it is built into your own system to give me that estimate. Perhaps this is something to look into.

    Mar 05, 2018
  • anon

    1.Supervisors need to actually understand how to engage CCA's on new routes.I am a CCA but well educated and Six Sigma Green Belt Certified etc, from my experience. Most supervisors in major city are overwhelmed with the stress of regular people sudden call out and they just want to throw any CCA to available route and mounted pressure on CCA to get back at certain time,texting and calling them regularly....this is not professional and can cause accident. Solution:Train CCA very well and provides routes information like Apartments get in code,animals information, and others heads up etc.15 mins brief in office can safe 3hours on the routes. 2.With the method of Loading packages by scaning into 6 different section that is awesome but I think more time can be safe and make delivery easier if the scanner can do more little thing,which i believe it can,This will safe each carrier at least 45mins to 1 hour on the street each day.I am very sure the Scanner app developer never carried mail before . SOLUTION: After using the Scanner to load packages in truck,carrier still get slow down by stopping all the time to ensure no packages are left behind or stopping in each street to collate parcels.Scanner can inform carrier just like animal Alerts or MSP scan station.if this can be achieved it will safe at least each carrier nothing less than 1hour to 45 minutes off the street.

    Mar 03, 2018
  • anon

    Another day, another lie. Package tracking says "Delivered"; carrier hasn't even been here yet. Great job, USPS.

    Mar 02, 2018
  • anon

    I have heard that carriers are mandated to scan no parcels after a certain time of the day. In effect, the parcels remaining are to be scanned before 7 pm, and delivered if arriving late at the office, in order not to raise flags in the system, and the supervisor/postmaster not get their chops busted for late deliveries.

    Mar 04, 2018
  • anon

    Post Office rates keep going up and service keeps going down. I make my living selling online and I use the post office less and less. Their rates can be outrageous. I.e. they want 50$ to send the same package UPS ships for 20. Packages are not getting where there supposed too. I have a package right now that is delayed and hasn't moved in 5 days. You screw up E-commerce and you're finished, they're is no future in junk mail. Amazon is going to start delivering their own packages because they are too good and efficient to deal with your incompetence.

    Mar 02, 2018
  • anon

    AMEN!!!

    Apr 05, 2018
  • anon

    Maybe you guys should consider widening the budget and hire more people. It isn't our fault you guys can't get it together. And why are you downsizing during a package boom? Sounds backwards to me.

    Mar 01, 2018
  • anon

    My local USPS center is always getting everyone’s packages out late. It’s becoming ridiculous! My tracking has changed three times now, when really it was more than possible to deliver on my first tracking date. This happened last month with my last package, it took 10 days to get here when it should have only been 3, I was so pissed off! The fact that I went in there during normal pick up hours and was denied to have one of the workers go find my package is ridiculous, even more so that my tracking keeps changing and IT STILL HASN’T ARRIVED, 9 FREAKING DAYS LATER!! I absolutely hate this post office! Do something about this!

    Feb 26, 2018
  • anon

    If the carriers can get on their routes at first light, they have a much better chance of completing it before dark, but too often the processing center does not get the mail to the station early enough. Even when they do, their are gazillions of parcels that have not been thrown to their respective routes, so carriers are instructed to wait, so they will have all their parcels before they leave. There seems to always be a shortage of clerks to throw parcels. Sometimes the supervisors will tell us to take what parcels we have and then come back later to pick up the rest. This can add 30 to 45 minutes to the carriers day, so the chances of getting done before dark are now reduced even more. New CCA's are often overworked with too little time off. Many just quit. There used to be carrier floater positions to help when carriers were sick or injured or on vacation. But it appears the post office has done away with these positions, so now the pressure falls on the regular carriers to not only complete their own route, but to help carry vacant routes. This was a bad decision by the post office. Generally, there are not enough employees to do the job, all the way around. Yet, the post office continues to limp along (to save money?) with too few workers, causing terrible morale, tempers flaring, and late deliveries. When the post office got the Amazon contract, instead of increasing the number of employees to handle it, it appears that they actually have taken positions away. It also appears that they are real slow about filling string floater positions, when they go vacant. The city is growing by leaps and bounds, but the number of carriers are not equally increasing, as they should to keep up with it.

    Feb 24, 2018
  • anon

    We have the same issue here in Queens, NY. Notification says A but package shows up X days later becuse "they don't have access to the building", "delivery attempt was made" but no note was left, or the location was not secure. Sometimes i notice the whole area has not gotten any mail for a day and when it does show up.. There are tons of packages on people's mailbox or on the front porch due to their backlog. If i an notified that a package is coming on this day, I should have a right to believe then, not any more. I cannot rely on my package to show up on time especially if time is of the essence. I have canceled my Amazon prime subscription due to this. I don't have a problem with the other 3 carriers. Usps is the worst!

    Feb 23, 2018
  • anon

    I get notified that mail will be delivered, but does not show up. Even when I place and order so it would arrive on my day off and I am at home waiting and check every 20min. I get an update saying they could not get access or there was not a secure place to put it. Then I have to wait and additional 1 to 3 day before the packages show up. Why? Usps need to hire more people. For it makes no sense to have Amazon prime that is supposed to deliver in 2 days when I get it in 4 to 5 days. This is pure unadulterated BS! The postal service is not doing their part I have submitted a complaint, and it has occurred 4 more times since. I know for a fact that there days where the whole block does not get any mail. It has come to a point that if a package coming from UPS/FedEx and is transferred to Usps for delivery, I know I will have to wait a few more days regardless what the notification says. If i could choose another Mail carrier, I would have done so in a heartbeat. Usps need to get it together

    Feb 23, 2018
  • anon

    It is now 8:43 pm still no mail... anyone know how late they deliver mail?

    Feb 20, 2018
  • anon

    Late deliveries and wrong address deliveries is out of control. Waiting for a package that left champaing ilinois on monday. Got 3 updates that pachage was leaving then in took 5 days to get to north houston abd no updates in 2 days. Then the useless bot. And the rude 77063 post office sepervisor. Need better leadership. Disappointed. Its not getting any better.

    Feb 17, 2018
  • anon

    I agree. Safety is definitely an issue. My mail doesn't come until 7:00pm at least 3 to 4 times a week. Sometimes I get other people's mail or I don't get any at all. A neighbor a block over brought me a package that was mine that they had delivered to her. So sad

    Feb 16, 2018
  • anon

    Why does our mail get delivered so late when we live 4 miles form the post office? (5:40pm on a Saturday to 29671)??

    Feb 10, 2018
  • anon

    I ordered uggs from Poshmark & had it expedited for 1 to 3 day delivery. Now this was Saturday if last week. Its now 1-9-18. Still no boots. What's going on its been in a lot if areas & states ...

    Feb 09, 2018
  • anon

    Maybe not forgetting certain packages would help.

    Feb 09, 2018
  • anon

    Potential ASD-ness or general disappointment with the postal service, but lately we seem to be getting mail later and later in Peoria, AZ in my area. Used to be around noon. Now today it's a Thursday, 7:35 pm, and no mail. Earlier this week it was closer to eight when we finally got our mail... When it was peak hours for coyotes to roam our neighborhood. Not safe. Why is the mail being delivered so late recently? It's early February, don't try the "too hot" excuse I heard a year ago. :(

    Feb 08, 2018
  • anon

    I ordered something international and paid quite a lot for shipping. So when the tracking said to be delivered Friday the 2nd I was hopefull for the most part. Then my package never came and I got an email saying it would be delivered the next day at 8 pm. It never came. I was disappointed but not surprised. I cant do anything about for a whole day because the post office is closed on Sunday. Hopefully I get my package soon. If I have the chance I would use a different delivery company.

    Feb 03, 2018
  • anon

    I am expecting an Check From the Irs and i was needing it to be tracked down could someone help me please?

    Feb 03, 2018
  • anon

    First thank you to all the mail carriers that go through long work hours to get our packages delivered. Complaining your package came at night is ridiculous, you should be happy it came that day.

    Feb 03, 2018
  • anon

    First thank you to all the mail carriers that go through long work hours to get our packages delivered. Complaining your package came at night is ridiculous, you should be happy it came that day.

    Feb 03, 2018
  • anon

    Package was out for delivery @ 10:41 am it is now 10:10 pm... 12 hours have passed and i do not have my package ? i live down the block from the post office ? also side note : last Saturday the USPS guy did not even come to my apartment or ring my bell to deliver my package, i got a notification stating my package was put for 'pickup" unreal, i run down stairs and i tell the guy why you did not ring my bell i was home ? he told me i only had one package for this location and i was not going up for only one package... UNREAL thanks USPS !!!!

    Feb 02, 2018
  • anon

    I live in a Phoenix suburb and we have not had any mail delivery now for the ENTIRE WEEK. I was supposed to receive a shipment on 1/31. Tracking information shows the package as pending delivery “on it’s way to the destination” for 3 days now. Are you guys serious????? This has been going on now for MONTHS. When are you going to address your obvious issues and get this fixed?! It doesn’t even SNOW here!!!

    Feb 02, 2018
  • anon

    I have a package that says it is arriving at 8pm tonight. The usps lady already was on my street and i haven't seen my package. It still says that it is in transit, yet it is being delivered tonight? I am not happy with the customer sevice. :(

    Feb 01, 2018
  • anon

    My package was supposed to be delivered today, but hasn't come and it's 728

    Jan 31, 2018
  • anon

    Been waiting on a package that was suppose to be delivered 1/27/18 then delivery status was updated to in transit and no status. We still don't have the package and there seems to be a USPS outage and it is very frustrated in have money tied up in orders that are not being delivered. Very frustrating. Will never use USPS again. Only FEDEX and UPS with guaranteed delivery.

    Jan 30, 2018
  • anon

    Thank you for your comments. Carriers After 1800 is one of many Delivery Performance Indicators that we monitor. We use this indicator as well as many others to identify systemic issues in planning our future audits.

    Jan 29, 2018
  • anon

    except now its at the cost of more delayed deliveries. EVERY single package I’ve ordered since November has been delayed by a few days. EACH ONE. I was understanding in Nov/Dec because of the holidays but now we’re going into February and still EACH SINGLE anticipated delivery has been late.

    Jan 26, 2018
  • anon

    Same here. I get two packages a week. One from the east coast and one from the west coast (I'm in the middle). Every single package in the last 3 weeks has been 2 days late. All six packages. Last year, I could count on the 2-day delivery. Recently, I can count on a 4-day delivery, every time.

    Feb 02, 2018
  • anon

    I have had several pieces of mail that have had date stamps 3 weeks or more out from the time of delivery. This sptarted happening in December and is still happening. Just thought you should be aware. Zip Code 89117

    Jan 26, 2018
  • anon

    Why are my packages being delayed?? With no tracking updates or any info ? Last package delayed for two weeks. Paid 75.00 for shipping on package that was supposed to be delivered yesterday. No updates no nothing. Very unprofessional. If you cant do your job close shop and we'll use fedx and ups.

    Jan 26, 2018
  • anon

    My package was supposed to be here on the 23rd....it still isn’t here and everytime I go look at the tracking, they’ll update the delivery to the current day...so going on day 3 now

    Jan 25, 2018
  • anon

    I ordered a package and I never received it I have a tracking number

    Jan 25, 2018
  • anon

    Live in the town of Hudson WI and we are lucky if we get are mail by 8 in the evening. Very upset when we have to walk down are long driveway in the dark to see if are mail has arrived. I get notices in the morning so I know what I am getting that day. Day after a holiday they do not show up, and I am to old to see in the dark. Please tell me how to get my mail earlier. I can’t afford a P.O box and it is to far for me to drive. Thanks!

    Jan 24, 2018
  • anon

    Oh my gosh the same thing happened to me three twice. My packages were supposed to be delivered by 8, they weren’t and I also was told a notice was left but I didn’t even receive one. I also was told one of my packages they could not find. Now here I am again waiting for them to be here by 8... let’s aee what happens.

    Jan 22, 2018
  • anon

    My home mail delivery is almost always late.It is usually close to 6pm when I get delivery.I have been told my address is on the 3rd level of the case.It is probably useless to complain.If I get a chance to use another carrier I will probably use them.

    Jan 22, 2018
  • anon

    MAIL IS LATE EVERYDAY ALWAYS AFTER 4;00 IN THE 49507 AREA CODE THE BOSTON AND KALAMAZOO AREA WHY/???? THE POSTAL WORKER ALWAYS PARK EATING LUNCH.

    Jan 22, 2018
  • anon

    Maybe it would help if tracking times reflected these goals? I'm currently tracking a package I ordered early this week that is scheduled to arrive today at approximately 8pm. That is far later than I would expect any of the carriers to be in the road. It's dangerous. I realize that times are approximations and there is no guarantee on the date given by your tracking service, but it insinuates that the 6pm goal is not the priority you hope it to be. But maybe not. It's just a thought.

    Jan 21, 2018
  • anon

    I am in the same boat as Jib lee. My packages were to be delivered today by 8pm. I waited around this evening for them to show up and apparently there was an "attempted delivery" at 7:35PM, but I never saw or heard them. They apparently "left a notice" but I cannot find it either. It is really aggravating! I needed one of the packages by tomorrow. I would just go to my post office, but 1) we have two in our town with the same postal code and 2) I know they'll just say it is out on the truck for delivery. So, I will lose either way. BUT they were able to deliver a couple of letters today... but not either of my packages that did NOT require signatures. Not cool.

    Jan 18, 2018
  • anon

    I’ve been getting a lot of “out for delivery” notices and then either the packages done show up for another day or two, or one out of three will show up. We had two snow storms in a row, so I got mail Friday, nothing Saturday, Monday was a holiday, and Tuesday was another storm. Now my packages are four days late and while they were out for delivery, they just weren’t delivered. I got letter mail and three small parcels, but now all I see for the other two packages is “delivery status not updated.” Great.

    Jan 18, 2018
  • anon

    I work in an office in SF and it really hurts us when our mail doesn't get delivered on time or at all. We didn't get mail yesterday and it looks like we won't again today. This happens way too often. Hire more people!

    Jan 17, 2018
  • anon

    If my mail cannot be in my curbside mailbox by 5:00 pm then please deliver it the next day. I am a senior and I do not like my mail sitting in the mailbox all night long. It is not safe and I will not go out in the dark to go get it!!!

    Jan 16, 2018
  • anon

    I'm a USPS ARC (Associate Rural Carrier) in Western Washington State. I deliver Amazon.com packages on Sundays and postal holidays. Here are some of the reasons we don't get back before dark: (1) In Winter months, it gets dark here by 4:00 pm, even 3:30-3:45 under the dense forest on rainy days. So the goal getting letter carriers off the street by 5 - 6 p.m. wouldn't come close to beating dark here. (2) Another issue has been technology failures causing delays in getting the Amazon Sunday routes ready for ARCs to load their trucks. Our local staff has always been on time to sort parcels by route, but some days we've had to wait 30-60 minutes for routes to be ready for scanning. In one case we had to run our routes without any GPS. If we can't leave the Post Office until 10:30, it's really hard to get done before dark. (3) We spend way too much time hunting for delivery locations. GPS has its limits and we need better signage to do our jobs efficiently. The Postal Service doesn't seem to have an effective program to encourage or require customers to make it easier for us to do our jobs. In my rural area, so many houses have no visible house number, or have gated driveways, or tiny mailboxes that don't fit even the smallest standard shipping boxes. Mailboxes often lack a visible address number or are only marked on one side, possibly written in pen 10 years ago which is now invisible, etc. The expectation seems to be that all Post Office employees should 'learn' their routes, including where every customer keeps their parcel locker, which houses are hidden behind the other and have no numbers, who is OK with us leaving parcels outside locked gates and who isn't, etc., etc... Why can't there be a communications campaign for rural customers encouraging them to install larger mailboxes, make sure the address number is clearly marked on BOTH sides, and make sure their house number is clearly visible from the end of their driveway and on the residence? (4) I'm expected to drive muddy, unpaved 4WD driveways that are often 1/4 mile or more into the woods, up and down through ravines, b/c that's the contract USPS has with Amazon. I also frequently drive on badly rutted, unpaved private roads that have clusters of mailboxes at the end but no secure place to leave parcels. So then I might drive 2-3 miles each way on a poor road to deliver one small package. (5) I'm sure the routes that are created for Amazon deliveries could be more efficient. Yesterday I delivered two routes, and both of them took me on a 15-minute twisting, turning, up and down loop through the forest around the SAME lake. On the second route, I passed the two addresses that I delivered to on the first one!

    Jan 16, 2018
  • anon

    I am a former RCA in the Great Lakes, who happily 'retired' from carrier duty 4 years ago, due the poor work conditions. So I totally hear you on the bad address factor. Every RCA has a favorite route(s) and every office has one or two routes that no sub wants to work, because of long driveways or woods, as you mentioned, or the poor road conditions. The PM and supervisor issue unmarked mailbox notices into oblivion, but that did little to nothing to motivate that homeowner at the end of the 1/4 mile driveway to please fix their box, so that the sub can deliver their mail. And yet a sub who doesn't know that route that well, was expected to waste time driving up to the door, only to discover they had the wrong house. In which they were forced to take all that mail back to the office to re-case for the next day. A few of those customers had nerve to call the office and 'complain' about not getting their mail or packages, after they'd ignored the unmarked box notices. GPS was not the high tech function it is today, so delivering to a wooded rural area meant you got little to almost no signal, so you were basically screwed. It was no fun backtracking between missed mailboxes, on a long stretch of rural highway, because you couldn't find the address. It all just got too ridiculous after years invested, for justifying the higher wage, and the on-call or part-time jumbo. By the time I left, 3 other subs also quit or resigned because of the poor work conditions.

    Feb 07, 2018
  • anon

    My mail was suppose to be delivered at 8pm.Well it's now 10:31 pm.I just want to know what's the latest you guys run routes? I definitely don't want my package to be sitting outside late at night unattended.

    Jan 13, 2018
  • anon

    Can you just send my mail on time for once???????????

    Jan 13, 2018
  • anon

    8:28 Mail JUST came.... never showed up yesterday at all... not rural.. Glendale CA

    Jan 12, 2018
  • anon

    Lately we've been getting late mail around here as well (Boston area). It is frustrating on days when mail is not delivered, but moreso when you track a package that is expected for delivery that doesn't show up. Also had deliveries show up after 8pm. Waiting for a package until 8, it not showing up, locking up the house then seeing that package tracking says could not deliver because no access 5 minutes after locking up is very annoying. On the flip side, I do feel for the carriers. All the packages, junk mail and later hours is dangerous and unfair to them as well. The problem is with all management (higher and lower). USPS should clean house with management up and hire competent thinkers and more workers, not less.

    Jan 12, 2018

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