Tools

USPS delays are affecting the businesses that need it most

A mail carrier delivers in Los Angeles in April 2020, just before Postmaster General Louis DeJoy was appointed. | Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images

From boutiques to Etsy sellers, small businesses are bearing the brunt of changes to the United States Postal Service.

Sofi Madison’s Boston gift shop Olives & Grace has been struggling for the past few months. First came the pandemic, then constant shipping issues. “It’s exclusively a small-business business. We only work with emerging makers,” she explained. “We’re able to rely on USPS. That’s how we ship, exclusively.”

For the past several months, Madison’s shipments from vendors, all of which are other small businesses, have started coming in late, affecting the shop’s delicate supply chain. “Part of that is Covid,” she said. “Supplies are delayed.” Luckily, she said, her own shipments to customers haven’t suffered much, a rarity she attributes to her friendship with her local postal worker, Joe. “He’ll come by the shop first thing in the morning and make sure that we get our deliveries,” she said. “And he’ll swing by at the end of his shift to see if we need anything brought to the post office, because I’m seven months pregnant and he doesn’t want me having to go to the Postal Service to drop those off.”

View this post on Instagram

I know you know, but my man Joe.. We’re in a two person support group, where every day he tells me why I’m lucky, and every day I toss one back to him. We’re either spiritually evolving or we’re completely delirious. Either way, we’re 6ft apart together, and thank goodness for that. @usps.official

A post shared by O L I V E S & G R A C E (@olivesandgrace) on Apr 22, 2020 at 4:20pm PDT

But Madison is bracing for delays, especially heading into the holiday season. For months, the US Postal Service has had a backlog of packages and other mail due to a combination of the coronavirus pandemic and recent cost-cutting measures implemented by Postmaster General Louis DeJoy. DeJoy, a Republican donor and ally of President Donald Trump, was appointed in May and has drastically changed the Postal Service in just a few months. He has cut overtime for postal workers, reduced the number of mail trucks, and taken sorting machines out of post offices, as reported by Recode. In August, DeJoy announced he’d put some of these new policies on hold until November after critics said they would likely affect the 2020 presidential election, a type of meddling some worried was intentional.

For thousands of small-business owners across the country who rely on the Postal Service — many of whom had to pivot almost entirely to e-commerce in the wake of the pandemic — the damage has already been done. An internal USPS document obtained by Supply Chain Dive shows the extent of the delays, which postal workers say are ongoing. The document says that workers may “temporarily … see mail left behind or mail on the workroom floor or docks” at the end of a shift, a departure from the standard practice of getting everything out as soon as possible. Some postal workers told the website that Amazon packages are being prioritized, putting small businesses at yet another disadvantage.

“It’s impacting reviews — [small businesses] are getting negative reviews because things are taking a really long time to arrive,” Molly Day, the vice president of public affairs for the National Small Business Association (NSBA), told The Goods. “They shipped it as soon as they got the order, and it’s a week, two week, three weeks later that people are getting it.” Consumers have gotten used to Amazon-style near-immediate shipping, something that’s both expensive and logistically difficult for small businesses to accomplish even in the best of times. Now that people feel less comfortable buying things in person, having orders arrive late is particularly devastating.

Day said the NSBA conducted an “informal poll” of its members and found that 60 percent of respondents said they’ve experienced some kind of postal delay. Nearly two-thirds of the businesses polled, 65 percent, said the USPS was their most commonly used form of business shipment. Seventy-five percent of those polled said they primarily rely on the Postal Service for payments and checks, and 7 percent use it for sending and receiving business goods. In other words, USPS delays affect every aspect of a small business, not just the consumer-facing end. In a September 10 press release, USPS noted an “uptick in service performance, consistent with recent trends.”

In a statement to The Goods, a USPS spokesperson acknowledged that there have been issues but reiterated that service is trending upward.

“There have been misconceptions about our operational actions. The Postmaster General has spearheaded two initiatives during his tenure to drive operational discipline and improve efficiencies that will help improve service and help the Postal Service embark on a path of sustainability,” spokesperson Kimberly Frum said. “These initiatives include plans to ensure trucks run on time and on schedule, and to realign our organizational structure to allow for clearer lines of authority and accountability. As a result of these initiatives, our on-time departures are approaching 98 percent and extra trips are down by over 70 percent.”

Still, business owners say lost packages are another major issue. “We’ve heard stories of people having to replace goods just because they haven’t shown up yet,” Day said.

Chris Doeblin, the president of New York City bookstore Book Culture, said the postal service has lost a handful of orders since March. “The problem with USPS is that the tracking isn’t very effective and there is no resolution to a lost package; we absorb all that risk,” Doeblin told The Goods via email. Before the pandemic, online purchases made up around 3 percent of total sales volume. “At first during the Covid era we were almost 100 percent online sales, and that has trended back to where we are now about 25 percent online sales,” he said.

“The amount of lost packages I have right now compared to the amount sold is crazy”

On Etsy’s forums, sellers who were used to shipping out products to customers across the country before the pandemic commiserate about how the new USPS changes have affected sales and reviews. In one thread, a seller said an order they shipped on July 27 still hadn’t arrived by August 8, a delay of more than a week. “I’m not a huge seller but the amount of lost packages I have right now compared to the amount sold is crazy,” another seller said. Another said they believed the shipping issues were due to USPS cutting overtime for workers. “My carrier works 6 days a week,” one wrote. “He has only been working there about 5 years and 3 years ago they changed his contract to salary. He says that he works 30-40 hours a month unpaid because of this. Imagine the people not on salary.”

Cutting overtime is a major factor in all of this. In July, DeJoy began requiring postal workers to return to their base by a set time even if they hadn’t finished delivering all their mail for the day, which both reduced overtime hours for workers and contributed to the backlog. Instead of taking as much time as was needed to deliver all packages on a route, mail carriers were now being asked to leave unfinished work for the next day, causing a snowball effect. “[I]t’s an indisputable fact mail postal customers have witnessed a degrading and slowing of mail service since Postmaster General Louis DeJoy instituted changes in mid-July,” Mark Dimondstein, the president of the American Postal Workers Union, told CNN in August.

Put simply, DeJoy began limiting mail carriers’ ability to do the kinds of courtesies Sofi Madison, the owner of the Boston gift shop, gets from her local postal worker. Instead of dropping by at the end of a shift to see if she has anything that needs to be delivered, Madison’s mail carrier, under the new rules, would have had to just wait until the next day.

“That kind of love is just, like, a signature of the Postal Service, from my experience and everything that I’ve known,” Madison said of her postal worker’s attentiveness. “Without that kind of human intervention and touch, we would be in a much different position as a small business, financially.”

Help keep Vox free for all

Millions turn to Vox each month to understand what’s happening in the news, from the coronavirus crisis to a racial reckoning to what is, quite possibly, the most consequential presidential election of our lifetimes. Our mission has never been more vital than it is in this moment: to empower you through understanding. But our distinctive brand of explanatory journalism takes resources — particularly during a pandemic and an economic downturn. Even when the economy and the news advertising market recovers, your support will be a critical part of sustaining our resource-intensive work, and helping everyone make sense of an increasingly chaotic world. Contribute today from as little as $3.


Load more
Read full article on: vox.com
French President Macron Says Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko ‘Must Go’
Thousands of Belarusian citizens have taken part in huge rallies since the Aug. 9 election
time.com
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker on federal aid: "We need laws, not bills"
As lawmakers remain at an impasse over extending aid to airlines, CEO Doug Parker says the industry "just need[s] the bills to be laws."
cbsnews.com
GOP sells 'Notorious A.C.B.' T-shirts moments after nomination, one day after RBG honored in Capitol
Moments after the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett, the NRSC began selling "Notorious A.C.B." T-shirts, playing on Justice Ginsburg's nickname.        
usatoday.com
Trump's fight for Georgia: White House struggling to keep state red
CBS News' Mark Strassmann reports from Atlanta on the latest from the campaign trail and the president's efforts to keep Georgia Republican-leaning.
cbsnews.com
National Coronavirus Antibody Study Suggests Herd Immunity 'Remains Out of Reach' in the U.S.
The study, conducted by medical experts at Stanford University, indicated less than 10 percent of the U.S. population had COVID-19 antibodies in July.
newsweek.com
In postponing Guston exhibition, the National Gallery and three other museums have made a terrible mistake
The indefinite cancellation of “Philip Gunston Now” is patronizing and outrageous.
washingtonpost.com
Chiefs vs. Ravens: MVP battle could be AFC championship preview
This game is so good it warrants three marquee billings: AFC Championship Preview. NFL MVP Showdown. “Monday Night Football” Game of the Year. What did we do to deserve this treat: The 2-0 Chiefs playing the 2-0 Ravens on Monday night in Baltimore? They’re two of the best teams in the NFL with two of...
nypost.com
Dem Sen. Stabenow insists Barrett's 'writings' show she would oppose Obamacare
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., claimed that if Judge Amy Coney Barrett becomes the next Supreme Court justice, she would cast a deciding vote to eliminate ObamaCare -- but when asked for evidence to support her assertion, she provided nothing specific.
foxnews.com
These earbuds offer great sound quality for less than $50—and they're on sale
As some of the best earbuds under $50 we've tested, these Final Audio E2000 earbuds offer stunning audio for the value—and they're on sale.       
usatoday.com
Supreme Court Will Make 'Being a Woman' a Pre-Existing Condition, Nancy Pelosi Says
The House Speaker said the president has only one goal for rushing Amy Coney Barrett onto the Supreme Court: to abolish the Affordable Care Act, starting with November 10 oral arguments over the health law.
newsweek.com
Why Joe Biden's lead is different than Hillary Clinton's
Biden may end up losing like Hillary Clinton (more on that in a minute), but Trump's job is significantly harder this time around. While Trump trailed Clinton at this point, the race was simply much closer in 2016.
edition.cnn.com
Houston Texans at Pittsburgh Steelers: Live stream, how to watch, odds, time
Between the Watt trio's family reunion and Ben Roethlisberger setting a franchise record, Texans vs. Steelers will be a game to watch Sunday.        
usatoday.com
COVID-19 won't stop the longest competitive off-road rally in the US
Teams will spend 8 grueling days in the California and Nevada desert.
abcnews.go.com
Army lineman head butts coach with helmet still on
While most of college football is trying to determine how to maneuver around the coronavirus outbreak, it doesn’t mean the players’ intensity has dropped.
foxnews.com
Jeh Johnson urges Americans to "look past the noise" ahead of election
The former homeland security secretary says it's "disconcerting to see the president and his chief on staff cast doubt on the integrity of our democracy."
cbsnews.com
Katherine Waterston Is All For An ‘Alien 3’ Film But Ridley Scott Wants To Evolve
Waterston says she would do the film "in a heartbeat" during a recent interview.
nypost.com
Dwayne Johnson Endorses Joe Biden and Kamala Harris: 'You're a Certified Bad*ss'
Hollywood actor and former WWE super star Dwayne Johnson announced on Sunday in a five-minute video that he's backing Joe Biden and Kamala Harris (D-CA) in the November election.
breitbart.com
Trump calls for Biden take a drug test before upcoming presidential debate
President Trump said Sunday that he demanded his Democratic opponent Joe Biden take a drug test either directly before or after the upcoming presidential debate this week.
foxnews.com
Sen. Blackburn: Dems' 'petty' attempts to 'demonize' Amy Coney Barrett show what they think about conservative women
Democrats are willing to "demonize" Judge Amy Coney Barrett in an effort to derail President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee out of spite, Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said Sunday.
foxnews.com
Coons says he'll press Barrett on Obamacare at confirmation hearing
Democratic Senator Chris Coons, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says he'll question Amy Coney Barrett about previous comments questioning rulings upholding the Affordable Care Act.
cbsnews.com
Padres vs. Giants prediction: Why Under is the play
Going into the season, the San Diego Padres were thought to be a breakout team and have been just that. Few figured the San Francisco Giants would enter the weekend in a playoff chase, but they will look to one of their hidden gems to close out the regular season with a victory. Drew Smyly...
nypost.com
Professionals turning to freelance, contract work to fill employment gaps
When digital marketer Allyssa Kaiser, 29, looked to part ways with her employer a few months ago, jobs were few and far between. Blame the timing — the pandemic had caused business at her employer Bowlero Corporation, the largest owner and operator of bowling centers in the world, to come to a near halt. “Many...
nypost.com
Meadows expects "pretty aggressive" timeline for Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation
White House chief of staff Mark Meadows says the actual timing for a vote on naming Amy Coney Barrett to the high court will be "up to Leader McConnell."
cbsnews.com
Andrew McCarthy: Steele dossier source – would you believe a suspected Russian spy?
In an effort to depict Donald Trump as if he were in an espionage conspiracy with the Kremlin, the Obama administration used bogus information from a man the FBI suspected was an actual Russian spy.
foxnews.com
Is now a good time to be looking for another job?
My son has been working at a startup for three years since graduating college and is ready to move. He has been exploring career coaches and found an online source that charges 9 percent of your first year’s salary if you get a job. Sounds high to me. Is there a way to find a...
nypost.com
In Pakistan, the Rising Tide of Climate Disasters
The country debates women’s honor inexhaustibly but pays little attention to the ferocious and imminent dangers of climate change.
nytimes.com
Juan Espino says he wants Sakai, Overeem, Lewis level of jump in competition
Juan Espino says he wants Sakai, Overeem, Lewis level of jump in competition        Related StoriesUFC 253 bonuses: Israel Adesanya, Jan Blachowicz nab 'Performance of the Night' honorsTwitter reacts to Israel Adesanya's masterful title defense against Paulo Costa at UFC 253Twitter reacts to Jan Blachowicz's TKO of Dominick Reyes at UFC 253 – and Jon Jones went hard 
usatoday.com
States Donating the Most to Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden
With so much at stake this election, donors are digging deep—but the candidate for whom they're doing that digging often has a lot to do with where they live.
newsweek.com
Maryland man sentenced to year in jail after hosting multiple parties in defiance of coronavirus rules
A Maryland man who defied the state’s coronavirus emergency order and hosted dozens of guests at house parties in March has been sentenced to a year in jail, authorities said.
foxnews.com
Renée Fleming and Vanessa Williams sang at the Kennedy Center. And it turned the electricity back on.
The first indoor performance at the arts center since March 13 was a night to remember.
washingtonpost.com
LeBron James: 10th NBA Finals ‘don’t mean s—t’ unless I win
LeBron James scored 16 of his game-high 38 points in the fourth quarter of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 117-107 Game 5 victory over the Denver Nuggets Saturday to secure the 10th NBA Finals appearance of his career. But just getting to the finals again isn’t something James is hanging his hat on. “Right now, it...
nypost.com
What Supreme Court pick means for election race
edition.cnn.com
Las Vegas Raiders at New England Patriots: Live stream, how to watch, odds, time
The Raiders are 2-0 since they moved to Las Vegas, but the Patriots have won the last five meetings between the two teams.        
usatoday.com
Scalia: Dems will use Obamacare as 'red herring' in attacking SCOTUS pick Barrett
Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia warned that Democrats will use ObamaCare as an issue on which to attack President Trump's nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett, but warned that there is no substance to the coming accusations.
1 h
foxnews.com
Protests in Portland, Seattle lead to more than a dozen arrests
More than a dozen people were arrested by cops in Portland, Oregon, and Seattle during another night of unrest that included flags burned and objects thrown at officers, authorities said. Hundreds of people were gathered in downtown Portland when authorities declared the demonstration an unlawful assembly just before midnight, according to the Multnomah County Sheriff’s...
1 h
nypost.com
‘American History X’ Director Tony Kaye Sets ‘African History Y’ Film Starring Djimon Hounsou
“’African History Y’ could not have come at a better time as I explore bringing more extraordinary African stories to the world," says Hounsou.
1 h
nypost.com
What NBA lottery teams are hoping to accomplish during their voluntary two-week minicamps
The eight NBA teams that did not get invited to the bubble have reconvened for voluntary group practices. Here's what they are trying to accomplish.       
1 h
usatoday.com
Irish tourist accused of carving initials into Rome’s Colosseum
An Irish tourist has been accused of defacing Rome’s Colosseum after security staff caught him carving his initials into the ancient structure. The 32-year-old man, who was not identified, was spotted Monday by private security at the tourist spot and reported to Carabinieri police, according to CNN. He allegedly used a metal point to etch...
1 h
nypost.com
Open: This is "Face the Nation," September 27
Today on "Face the Nation," the countdown to election day continues and a political fight over President Trump's Supreme Court nominee begins.
1 h
cbsnews.com
Durbin on Killing the Filibuster to Pack SCOTUS: Conversation 'On the Table'
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) said on Sunday's broadcast of ABC's "This Week" that Democrats were willing to end the filibuster if they take the Senate majority in November's election.
1 h
breitbart.com
March For Our Lives protests McConnell's Supreme Court stance with giant mural outside his home
"Hey Mitch. We Call BS. Let The People Decide," the mural reads.
1 h
foxnews.com
Trump: I Think We're Going to Have Barrett Confirmation 'Done Easily Before the Election'
During Sunday's broadcast of Fox News Channel's "Fox & Friends Weekend," President Donald Trump predicted Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Amy Coney Barrett, Trump's pick to fill the vacancy left by Ruth Bader Ginsburg, confirmed "easily" before Election Day.
1 h
breitbart.com
Dear Care and Feeding: I Don’t Have Kids, but I Really Think I Can Solve My Friend’s Parenting Problems
Parenting advice on temper tantrums, in-laws, and positive parenting.
1 h
slate.com
Hundreds Gathered in Portland for Largely Peaceful Right-Wing Proud Boys Rally and Counter-Protests
Several hundred people, dozens wearing militarized body armor, rallied to support President Trump's reelection campaign
1 h
time.com
Brain-eating amoeba in water supply spurs Texas city to declare disaster after boy, 6, dies
A city in Texas issued a disaster declaration Saturday after a brain-eating amoeba was found in water supplies, weeks after a 6-year-old boy died after contracting the microbe.
1 h
foxnews.com
Julia Louis-Dreyfus Announces Virtual ‘Veep’ Reunion To Benefit Democratic Party
“Trump can’t win reelection if he doesn’t win Wisconsin," said the actress who played VP Selina Meyer in the celebrated HBO series.
1 h
nypost.com
Prince Harry, Meghan Markle reportedly ‘violated’ Megxit deal with voting plea
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's comments urging Americans to vote were a "violation" of their deal to leave the royal family, prompting talks about whether to strip the couple of their titles.
1 h
nypost.com
Barrett pick draws attention to small religious group
President Donald Trump's nomination of federal Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court has drawn new attention to her association with a Christian group called People of Praise.
1 h
edition.cnn.com