Proof of Identity

This is in response to the recent thread on the front page lamenting the ghost delivered parcels for Amazon Prime packages.

So, to try to put this all in perspective, I've listed as much as I have learned working as an Assistant Rural Carrier at USPS

At the end, I'll point out some flaws and hangups of the process:

  1. About 2(?) years ago, Amazon and USPS formed a contract where USPS would deliver Amazon Prime packages, including on Sundays and federal holidays.

  2. USPS hired new temporary employees and asked current employees to work the extra days to fulfill the contract. Neither the employees, the supervisors, nor the USPS system in general knew how to run things. They are still figuring out how to organize training and workflow, etc.

  3. Organization structure: There are City Carrier Assistants (CCA) Rural Carrier Assistants (RCA), and the new temporary hire position which is called Assistant Rural Carrier (ARC).

  • CCAs wear the USPS uniform and all walking postmen are CCAs, but some do vehicle delivery as well.
  • ‎RCAs do not wear an official uniform, and only deliver from the vehicle.
  • ‎ARCs are the new position solely for delivering Amazon Prime packages on Sundays and Federal Holidays.
  1. Workflow:
  • From what I understand, Amazon creates routes for packages based loosely on a combination of regular USPS mail routes. When the packages arrive at USPS, they are sorted by the mail clerks, who have to scan each label and (1) sort them by route, and (2) number each package manually the stop number, so the drivers can load them in their trucks in the correct order.

  • The drivers take their sorted routes, and scan them onto their trucks, loading them in order on their trucks.

-‎ Since we aren't delivering house to house like regular mail, Amazon also automatically creates turn-by-turn directions for each route.

  • The drivers follow the turn-by-turns and deliver all the Amazon Prime packages and return to the Post Office with an empty truck =]

Sounds problem free, right? WRONG! Here are some issues and miscommunication errors that can and very often do occur:

  1. Amazon.
  • There have been multiple times when Amazon has not prerouted the parcels, so we'll have 900 packages with no organization whatsoever, and we have to try and sort them.based on which geographic areas each driver is the most familiar with, since no organization ALSO means no turn by turn directions.
  • ‎Sometimes, Amazon is late delivering the packages and the lists, so when the drivers arrive for work, we still have to wait for the mail clerks to scan in and sort all the packages, thus giving us less time to complete our deliveries.
  1. Inconsistency.
  • This pertains to the enforcement of policies. Some postmasters will tell you to bring back Amazon packages that you don't feel are secure or you couldn't get access to the buulding.

  • ‎Other postmasters will instruct you to deliver all packages, no matter what. Jjst get it onto the property any way you can (throw it out the window if there is a loose dog, throw it over a gate if it is closed, etc). Out job is to just make sure every Amazon package gets delivered on time.

NOW, here is where the issues come in.

  • Because USPS has a contract with Amazon, and that contract is in some respects performance-based, USPS can't afford to have too many Prime packages not delivered on time. How do they solve this? Scanning packages as delivered, and holding them at the warehouse for the next day to deliver. This way Amazon sees a higher percentage of packages delivered and is happy with USPS's performance.

So, overall, what are my thoughts?

It seems that Amazon and USPS could do a much much better job coordinating and managing workflow and organization of packages, and having consistent policies and a mutual nderstanding across different post offices of what to do with packages that cannot be delivered, instead of it differing at each Postmaster's discretion.

It may just take time as well. I do know that the Postal Service has been constantly adjusting how they manage these Amazon packages and the workflow, and maybe in a couple years they'll have it sorted out.

But in the mean time, don't hope too much, and understand most drivers are doing as they are told and following whichever instructions their Postmaster gives them.

Any questions, ask below!

Edit: CCA and RCA description, thanks to u/ThorinWodenson

Comments: 50 • Responses: 18  • Date: 

GuyoFromOhio12 karma

I started having issues with just about every package I ordered. Amazon customer service promised me, multiple times, that USPS would be removed as my carrier and UPS would deliver everything from now on. UPS hasn't been to my house in probably a year and USPS continues to deliver my Amazon packages. Are they the only ones contracted to make deliveries now?

belovicha2111 karma

No, from what I understand it is loosely based on geography. I believe large areas during weekdays such as NYC have Amazon Flex. USPS is used for rural, and is the sole shipper on Sundays and Holidays. It could be whoever told you that did not understand that Amazon can't just switch carriers, they each serve their own purpose for different demands and geographic areas.

ThorinWodenson7 karma

CCAs are the walking postmen and women.

Correction: CCAs drive mounted routes, though all walking routes will be done by a CCA (or a City Carrier), never a Rural. Rurals do not wear uniforms, Cities do, though CCA's might not be in full uniform.

Sounds problem free, right? WRONG! Here are some issues and miscommunication errors that can and very often do occur:

The Amazon Co-Pilot is the worst navigation software I have ever had the displeasure of using. The map itself is riddled with inaccuracies, and the routing is, on occasion, unforgivably bad.

jetogill3 karma

Thats what ive heard from people in my office, we had someone transfer in from about 150 miles away and she didn't know the area at all, and was reduced to using her phone for navigation because the 'turn by turn' provided was so poor.

belovicha213 karma

Yes, and this also happens when the packages aren't organized by Amazon and every stop needs to be GPS(ed?), and no matter how well you know the area, you'll always need GPS without the turn by turns. I've had times when roads newer than 2 years aren't in Amazon's system for some reason, so it'll tell you to go through a half mile field to a street thats "0.0 miles away". When in reality you have to drive around in a square to reach the street.

Also, it'll have you do all the houses on the right in a street, then go backwards and get one house on the left, then turn around again and continue the way you were originally going.

belovicha211 karma

Thank you for that correction, I'll edit my post!

____o_0____6 karma

Do you feel as though you're treated well?

belovicha218 karma

Yes, the postmasters are understanding and will send help and try to help drivers out.

Im2bz2p3455 karma

Because USPS has a contract with Amazon, and that contract is in some respects performance-based, USPS can't afford to have too many Prime packages not delivered on time. How do they solve this? Scanning packages as delivered, and holding them at the warehouse for the next day to deliver. This way Amazon sees a higher percentage of packages delivered and is happy with USPS's performance.

Every time that I get a package shown as "delivered," when it really is not, I go to Amazon to complain and end up getting a small gift card for the inconvenience.

I wonder how long Amazon puts up with this or catches on that this is actually costing them additional money (although I'm not sure the majority of people don't go through the trouble of complaining).

A good IAmA btw! The honest responses are refreshing to see here.

~ Im2bz2p345 :)

belovicha211 karma

Thank you kind friend!

And I'm guessing it doesn't hurt Amazon's bottom line, and within 10 years I'd bet USPS won't be delivering any Amazon parcels except Sundays and Holidays just because Amazon is aggressively expanding their own shipping capabilities (what ever happened to the delivery drones?).

The one metric Amazon might care about is how many times a shipping issue occurs for the same customer.

MomOf2cats4 karma

I live in NYC. I have had these ghost package issues for about a year or so and it’s not always Amazon. In fact most of the time it isn’t Amazon. Here in NY Amazon has their own shitty delivery service. There are still some Amazon packages delivered through USPS every now and then.

I understand that USPS is falsifying the delivery times because of the contract they have with Amazon, but why are they doing it with all other deliveries from all other sellers?

belovicha214 karma

I'm not sure, it could be the postmaster trying to meet internal USPS demands. There is no continuity between post offices.

ChillinWitAFatty3 karma

Got 3 questions for ya:

  1. A couple weeks ago, a Prime package didn't arrive at my house the day it should've. I looked up the tracking and saw a message saying that the driver attempted to deliver it, but was "unable to access the door." Now, that didn't make any sense because I live in a normal house in a normal neighborhood and there is nothing preventing anyone from reaching my front door. You think this was an instance where the USPS lied and said it attempted to deliver my package to meet the amazon quota?

  2. How much you get paid (if you u don't mind answering)?

  3. Do you like the job?

Thanks

belovicha215 karma

1) yes, the driver most likely lied. The only other possibility is sometimes there are very long gravel driveways in the country that are impassable, also very aggressive dogs can prevent us from reaching the porch. However, some postmasters tell us to drop the package at the property line regardless, while others tell us to scan it and take it back to the post office.

If the driver did lie, they probably did so under instruction from their postmaster.

2) As only an ARC delivering Amazon packages on Sundays and Holidays, my starting pay was $17.40 with no extra benefits.

3) Apart from the disorganization, the actual delivering of packages is quite easy, especially once you start to learn the area and find certain shortcuts instead of backtracking like the turn by turns sometimes have you do. I find the pay and commitment is very good for a side job.

JefferyGoldberg2 karma

Are the old school full-time USPS employees upset about working Sundays? Do you think if USPS didn't work Sundays that it would create problems during the start of the work week, like an unmanageable backlog?

belovicha212 karma

I think some of them are upset only because it is so unorganized and chaotic, and it definitely would create an unmanageable backlog, and don't forget that with Prime people expect packages on Sunday, so not delivering isn't an option.

oValhalla2 karma

Is USPS still hiring temp workers? How can I increase my chance of being hired when submitting an application?

belovicha211 karma

I applied for a full time position, and they instead offered me the ARC temporary position. I don't know if there is actually an application for that position, I think they just funnel full time applicants towards it.

I'm not sure there's much you can do about helping get hired, I don't think they are that picky.

ctilvolover232 karma

How many packages do you generally get daily? And how does that number change during the week and holidays?

belovicha214 karma

About 120 average per driver, and I'm not sure about weekdays since I only work Sundays and holidays!

Edit: for holidays, it can get really crazy, but they spread us out across more post offices. During non-holiday times, they have us start at a hub office, meaning five different Post Offices report to a main office and deliver everything from.there. So there can be 40 drivers each Sunday.

Then during holidays, they split us back up to our home offices and it's fewer people per office and we usually do a route then come back and pick up another route.

Zomg_A_Chicken1 karma

Do you put pineapple on your pizza?

belovicha212 karma

NO.

madathedestroyer1 karma

You get mad when people refuse heavy packages?

belovicha211 karma

I've never had a heavy package I've had issues with, and I've never had anyone refuse a package, mostly because people aren't home or out as much on Sundays.

babboa0 karma

Scanning things as delivered is a HUGE problem, since most merchants/payment companies view this on some level as proof of delivery. As someone who has had two packages in the last month turn into ghosts (seriously, whoever got my new aeropress coffeemaker, please enjoy it) outside of reporting it to Amazon and complaining to our local postmaster, is there anything we can do to escalate problems when these packages are erroneously (or fraudulently depending on your way of looking at things) marked as delivered when they weren't?

pwnz3rfaust5 karma

Not OP, but I deliver for USPS. All delivery scans include geo tracking. If a package was scanned delivered but you didn't receive it, ask about this. If it was "delivered" at your door then it was stolen, see OP's note about the postal inspectors. If it was "delivered" but not scanned at your address then that's proof of misdelivery.

belovicha212 karma

Sometimes the carriers will select Option 2: Front Door, instead of maybe "at Garage or Other" or "In Mailbox". We have about 7 options for successful deliveries, and then there are the initial options of Delivered, Attempted (which you can then have more options for), Held at Post Office, Vacation Hold, (I only use Delivered or Held at Post Office).

But yes, the post office should be able to look up where it was delivered, assuming the Scanners were working that day (some don't always have GPS ability, and consequently, no turn by turns).

jetogill2 karma

Exactly. Your carriers supervisor can see where on the map it was scanned, in most cases that will be either at the box or at the door (or wherever your parcels are generally left). I generally leave a note if the parcel is left somewhere that isn't immediately obvious, the scanner doesnt have a lot of choices

belovicha211 karma

It does have "Garage or other at residence" which I use for side doors, or garages. Also, some customers actually will leave a container for deliveries at the end of their driveway if it is long, and that's nice of them.

jetogill1 karma

Yeah, I've got some people with gated driveways who do this, and It works out great. I would prefer that garage be separate from 'other at residence ' though, I've had it cause some confusion

belovicha211 karma

True, I wish there was an option we can type in like "side door" and such.

babboa1 karma

My apt complex is very safe (plus my slightly eccentric neighbor has a security camera in his window) so I can say with some degree of certainty they didn't even attempt to deliver any of these.

belovicha211 karma

I can't say for certain why they wouldn't be delivered (at least Amazon Prime packages), but I suggest calling your post office and speaking with the postmaster, not a clerk, and if that doesn't work, continuing to file a claim with the Inspection Service.

belovicha213 karma

The United States Postal Inspection Service. They take accusations very seriously and are like the FBI of the Postal Service.

You can File a Complaint if you believe you've been a victim of fraud, which can include misdelivered packages or theft of packages.

If enough people filed fraud complaints regarding packages marked as delivered when they were in fact not, then maybe USPS will stop gaming their own system.

adu770 karma

USPS delivers on Sunday now. How does that work?

belovicha211 karma

They only deliver Amazon Prime packages. It's pretty chaotic in terms of organization.