It’s the week before Thanksgiving, when attention turns to travel, favorite family recipes, overeating, and, of course, package delivery.

That’s right. Cyber Monday is right around the corner and predictions put this year’s spend at roughly $3.8 billion in sales. And with an expected jump in online sales of 18-21 percent over the entire holiday season, the U.S. Postal Service is preparing for a 10 percent increase in the number of packages it will deliver (to 850 million) between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

And lots of packages means lots of scans. The Postal Service scanned 4.3 billion packages in fiscal year (FY) 2016, up from 3.5 billion pieces in FY 2015. USPS recognizes that scanning accuracy is critical to the success of real-time visibility. Customers want to see their packages in transit from departure to delivery. And online retailers want to track USPS performance.

In a recent audit report on the Postal Service’s package delivery scanning process in city delivery operations we found carriers were sometimes improperly scanning “stop-the-clock” events at a location other than the designated delivery location (house, business, apartment building). When carriers scan a package at the delivery location after either delivering or attempting to deliver, the scan “stops the clock,” indicating USPS has met its delivery commitment. Anyone tracking their package would see that delivery was made or attempted.

But if, for whatever reason, a “stop the clock” scan occurs at a post office or other delivery unit — before delivery is even attempted — a customer would see package delivery made or attempted when none has actually occurred.

Of the 2 billion scans between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2016, we identified 25.5 million scans that occurred between 7 p.m. and when the carrier clocked out for delivery the following morning. We excluded known instances where scans in a delivery unit were valid and used GPS to further analyze these scans. We identified about 7 percent, or 1.9 million scans, as improper “stop-the-clock scans” that occurred at delivery units and not at the delivery location.

We found improper scans occurred for a variety of reasons, including failure to follow proper scanning procedures, technical limitations with the scanners, and management’s oversight tool, the Scan Data Integrity report, which doesn’t identify all improper scan events.

We welcome your comments on scans, the mobile devices, and your overall delivery experience as they can help inform our future work. As a Postal Service customer:

  • What are your expectations for package delivery this holiday season?
  • Are there delivery services or features you would like to see the Postal Service offer?
  • How could package delivery be improved?

Please note that specific customer complaints about lost or delayed packages or any other customer service issues should be directed to the Postal Service. Please contact your local post office, USPS Customer Service (800-275-8777), or follow this link

Comments (12)

We welcome your comments related to the topic on this page. Complaints about the Postal Service, including lost, stolen or mishandled mail, that are unrelated to the content on this page, will not be posted. Please visit the Contact Us page for information on where to file formal complaints with our agency or the Postal Service.

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  • anon

    Why isn't the mail delivered to our street some days?

    Dec 26, 2017
  • anon

    Doe's the postal carrier have to pick up the mail from where the post office said we have to put our mailboxes? I have a post box on my house and when I put mail out to go, he will NOT pick up my mail and take it, unless he has mail to deliver, I have asked the post office and they tell me it is at the postman's discretion...is this true? The mailbox is maybe 15 to 20 feet from the regular route and he uses a truck from house to house....Thank you

    Dec 21, 2017
  • anon

    Too many packages are getting caught up in holding in Opa Locka, Fl for 3 weeks at a time. It needs to be handled properly. I have had over 50 packages delayed for 4 weeks and its not acceptable for my business.

    Dec 07, 2017
  • anon

    PRIORITY MAIL IS A RIP-OFF!! 90%, yes, 90% of the time you pay extra for 2-3 day delivery only for the package to be "delayed" or is 2-5 days past the promised delivery date without bad weather, volcanoes, or earth quakes..

    Dec 01, 2017
  • anon

    My postmaster has repeatedly admitted that her staff scan packages being delivered to my business before they even leave the post office. Her staff also will mark packages as having being attempted to be delivered just because they were too lazy to deliver that day.

    Nov 30, 2017
  • anon

    I ordered a product which stated on the website as it was shipped with tracking number and confirmation through USPS stating it was delivered however I never received the package I called my local post office and postmaster I spoke with Nick in Aurora Illinois post office he brought me a piece of paper showing that it was GPS to delivered to my home outside my house at my front door I still said I have not received the package And then Nick gave me a phone number to contact the inspector general about mail theft. The next day at 5:30 in the evening mailman showed up and I walked outside to collect my mail and he said oh you have a package and handed me the item that was supposedly already delivered and scanned and GPS however he had the package still what’s up with this

    Nov 30, 2017
  • anon

    CERTIFIED MAIL IS A BIG BULL SHIT RIP OFF OF $3.25 TO THE CONSUMERS. YOU GET BETTER SERVICE USING A 45 CENT STAMP. MY CERTIFIED LETTER WAS NEVER DELIVERED NOR WAS I NOTIFIED THAT A ATTEMPT WAS MADE AND FOR ME TO PICK UP AT POST OFFICE. THIS OCCURRED TWICE FOR THE SAME LETTER AND NOW THE LETTER IS LOST. THAT IS THE SERVICE I RECEIVED FOR PAYING THE EXTRA AMOUNT OF MONEY TO HAVE MY MAIL DELIVERED.

    Nov 29, 2017
  • anon

    What's up Chicago (60660)? It's not even Cyber Monday and we are not receiving our mail?! When we do it is well after 6PM and some mail is missing for days or wrongly delivered... Tired of this unprofessionalism!

    Nov 21, 2017
  • anon

    Lack of planning...an opportunity to make money and secure jobs for USPS employees. FALSE ADVERTISING sign in post office says mail will be up by 10AM near ANY holiday mail is not put up on time.

    Nov 16, 2017
  • anon

    Scanned or not there is only a slim possibility your package will arrive. My wife's cellphone has been "delayed" for over a week while the post offices on both ends of the shipment have been unable to get it moving.

    Nov 16, 2017
  • anon

    Mollom does not work!!!

    Nov 14, 2017
  • anon

    The scanners hold a finite amount of energy. Much of it is wasted on trivial tasks such as scanning MSP points or mail sampling. The scanning of MSP should be eliminated since now the scanner's GPS can pinpoint time and location. Every amp of power that can be conserved can be put to better use scanning mail.

    Nov 14, 2017

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