IAmA USPS Assistant Rural Carrier! My job is ONLY to deliver Amazon Prime packages, AMA!
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:
About 2(?) years ago, Amazon and USPS formed a contract where USPS would deliver Amazon Prime packages, including on Sundays and federal holidays.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
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