When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

08 November 2005

Don't use Express Mail. Ever.

Okay, I should have known better. Dammit, I already knew better.

But I was at the Post Office last Friday, mailing off a number of letters (containing certified copies of my father's death certificate) to everyone Dad ever had any sort of financial relationship with--banks, insurance companies, etc. And I was sending them all Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested. (Old habits die hard, and this was the precise Legal Advice I had received about how to send the information.)

And, see, I had this absentee ballot for the November 8th Municipal Election in the City of New York. And it kinda needed to get there by Monday, November 7.

Not that the mayoral race was or is in any doubt, but I damn sure wanted to vote against the bond issue for the MTA.

Hey, I says to myself, you're here already... why not use Express Mail? After all, it's guaranteed next-day arrival, right? And you can track it online, just like FedEx, right?


Here, check it for yourself. I mailed Express Mail envelope EQ 149699767 US to the NYC Board of Elections, 200 Varick St, New York, NY 10014 from Zip Code 27612 in Raleigh, NC on Friday, November 5.

It didn't arrive on Monday, November 7 as "guaranteed."

It wasn't even *processed* out of the Flushing, NY (!) Post Office until sometime today, Tuesday, November 8th.

Think it'll arrive in time for my vote to be counted? (snort)

In case you're wondering, by the way, the USPS does have a formal complaint procedure. But then they also have instructions on their web site about how to address postal letters to Santa Claus or God ("Letters to God can be addressed in the same way replacing "Santa Claus" with "God." That's quite a theological minefield they've stepped into there.)

I think both techniques are likely to achieve the same results.

FedEx, please take me back, baby. I promise to do better this time. I will never entrust *anything* time-critical to the tender mercies of the United States Postal Service's Express Mail ever again.

Update, November 9

The overnight Express Mail letter "arrived" early this morning in Manhattan; no word on whether it's actually been delivered to the Board of Elections. The day after the election.

Check their tracking (in reverse chronological order)
  • Arrival at Unit, November 09, 2005, 5:21 am, NEW YORK, NY 10014
  • Enroute, November 09, 2005, 12:18 am, NEW YORK, NY 10199
  • Enroute, November 08, 2005, 6:54 pm, NEW YORK, NY 10199
  • Enroute, November 08, 2005, 2:15 pm, FLUSHING, NY 11371
  • Acceptance, November 05, 2005, 12:01 pm, RALEIGH, NC 27612
Congratulations, USPS! Your "guaranteed overnight delivery" just took four days to travel from Raleigh to New York City.

Just about like a first-class letter with a 37 cent stamp on it, come to think of it. Only it cost me $13.65.

1 comment:

John said...

Hi Barry,

I completely agree with your comments about Express Mail. If it absolutely *has* to be there overnight, use FedEx. I know it's not much of a consolation compared to getting your vote counted, but if the USPS misses their "guaranteed delivery time", take your receipt that has the delivery guarantee posted on it into your local Post Office. They will refund you in full.

To anybody else who might be reading this, what I'm saying is if you want free "overnight" shipping a good portion of the time ...