A recent article in the NY Daily News confirmed something I’ve experienced firsthand - some of the Postal Service claims regarding Priority Mail (2 to 3 day delivery) are not always accurate. In fact, based on what was in the article as well as my own personal experience, the delivery time of Priority Mail was at times no different than first class mail, their cheapest service, which in the case of a letter is forty two cents. The cost of a Priority Mail envelope is $4.95.
The postal service willingly acknowledges that the speed of Priority Mail may not be any quicker than regular postage, and will cover themselves by refusing to guarantee that the letter or parcel will in fact get there in two days, thus leaving it to us, the customer, to make the appropriate choice.
In the article, the Daily News found that 8 of the 10 items arrived at their location on the same day. Now granted, it was not a very scientific experiment, and some of the deliveries were between boroughs, so it was going to take a day, at most. Even still, it makes you wonder, what exactly are they trying to sell us?
Now I’m not here to knock the Postal Service. For the most part, I’m more than satisfied with the job they do, especially in lieu of the horrendous amounts of mail the have to handle. But I have had issues in the past with Priority Mail, even though every time I’ve used it, they always hedge their claims by saying, “Give or take a day or two.” Even then, I’m still willing to pay for it. Sometimes it’s come through for me, and sometimes it’s let me down.
After giving it a bit of thought, I’ve concluded that there are five categories that I might fall into:
1. The sender who chooses Priority Mail and could have used regular mail. This usually happens with in-state or cross-town mailings. It’s very frustrating because I spend more than I had to. Besides the monetary inefficiency, there is the loss of face in feeling duped and suckered.
2. The sender who chooses Priority Mail and it didn’t get there in 2 to 3 days. Even more aggravating because I didn’t get what I paid for, but even worse, there is nobody to whine to. In fact, all the complaining in the world will more than likely have little effect on changing the status quo, making me feel powerless and impotent.
3. The sender who does not choose Priority Mail and wished they had. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever fallen into this category because even if there’s a chance that it might get there late (with dire consequences), I'm going to choose Priority Mail.
4. The receiver who was waiting for something sent by Priority Mail and did not receive it in 2 to 3 days. More disappointing than frustrating, though we’ve experienced it with our children’s holiday presents and consequently really felt cheated. Again, there is nobody to voice your feelings to.
5. The receiver who was waiting for something sent by Priority Mail, received it on time, but wished the sender had saved their money and sent it instead by First Class. Again, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced this one, either, mainly because we’re usually so excited about receiving the package that we’re more than willing to forgive the extravagance of the sender.
Maybe you’ve found yourself in one of these situations. If so, please share it with us.
Perhaps the biggest frustration that arises is when the package doesn’t arrive on time is lack of accountability. Sure, we can air out our grievances to the person behind the counter, but there is a good chance that they are not hearing a word we’re saying and even if they did, would be powerless to do anything about it.
Now I’ve never attempted this, but I’m guessing the post office isn’t going to give you your money back, but I could be wrong. Besides, what’s done is done, and all your moaning and groaning is not going to change that.
Furthermore, the Post Office is not technically hiding anything. In the absence of any concrete guarantees, the impetus lies with us to be informed and make the proper choice, and when you really get down to it, the choice of Priority Mail is not without a few perks. The spiffy cardboard envelope and delivery confirmation (which for entertainment value alone is worth something) come to mind.
Best of all, I get the peace of mind of knowing that I did my part and tried my best. If anyone questions my claim of diligence, I fear not.
After all, the Post Office will give me a receipt.