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OtherIAmA USPS Assistant Rural Carrier! My job is ONLY to deliver Amazon Prime packages, AMA!

Nov 28th 2017 by belovicha21 • 9 Questions • 118 Points

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

Q:

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?

A:

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.


Q:

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.

A:

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.


Q:

Or it will have you do all the houses on the left, then turn around and do the ones on the right.

Or it will have you drive into an apartment complex, deliver parcels to half the buildings in the complex, leave, and then come back later and deliver the other half.

Or it will tell you to turn down a bike path. It even says "Turn on Bike Path".

Or it just assumes that no street stops ever. I don't know where it got its map. A child with a satellite photo and a crayon could do better.

A:

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


Q:

You get mad when people refuse heavy packages?

A:

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.


Q:

Do you put pineapple on your pizza?

A:

NO.


Q:

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.

A:

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.


Q:

Sorry, my comment was more of not that your carrier did in fact try to deliver, but that there was an issue out of their control and they did what the supervisor told them to do as far as scanning goes. For a while theu were told of thry ended up witha parcel for a different t route, or they returned to the office and found theyd missed a parcel they should scan them 'business closed, then when people started griping anout not being businesses they started telling them to scan them no access, and I think the main reason they do that rather than scanning them attempted is the system will tell the customer a notice was left. If basically theyd told you someone goofed up, your parcel was safe at the office and would be delivered rhe next day, you'd still be miffed, but at least you wouldn't feel someone had tried to pull something on you, which is what the current way theyre doing things is making people think. I think the postal service would be much better served to be transparent and say we made an error rather than trying to mislead someone.

A:

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.


Q:

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

A:

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


Q:

The canned ones do for about 95 percent of the ones I deliver, but it would be so handy for the other 5 percent to be able to enter something else

A:

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).