The USPS is not capable of customer service. I get it. But, they are doomed to fail. Email, DHL, Fed Ex and others are going to get rid of this dinosaur because the other methods of moving media are more efficient.
That being said, the USPS isn’t helping themselves.
Last year, I backed a Kickstarter campaign for the 20th anniversary edition of Deadlands. I was stoked. Most of my Deadlands stuff is printed out from PDF’s that I bought. I printed the books out at Office Despot, and had them put clear plastic sheets on the front and back, and spiral bind the materials. I have been able to purchase some of the physical books, mostly from used game / used book stores.
But the possibility of getting a printed book in color! What a great thing!
So I pledged. After the short Kickstarter campaign was over, two of my friends who also are huge Deadlands fans found out about it, and were unhappy, since they were not able to get in on the short campaign. OK, the campaign was plenty long, I assumed that they knew about the campaign, they didn’t. So it was obviously too short for them, right? Anyhow, I figured out that I could purchase extra books as part of the backer kit.
Pinnacle Entertainment Group also ran a simultaneous campaign for a fourth book in the Savage Worlds campaign. Good Intentions.
So I patiently wait. OK, maybe not patiently. I am pretty stoked about this. I wasn’t playing games when Deadlands came out. I had a 15 year gap or so in when I stopped playing games, then restarted. I stopped playing games when I graduated from college, because I was an adult, and adults don’t do that type of stuff. Well, yes they do. About 10 years ago or so, I started playing games again, and have been playing catch up on all of the great RPG’s that I missed out on. Some people go out and buy a Porsche as their midlife crisis. I am a big guy. I am tall, and not height-weight proportionate. I don’t fit in a Porsche. So I guess I went back to what I loved in my childhood, games.
So I was stoked. A chance to get a limited edition book that includes full color artwork. I also had two friends who wanted the book. So they gave me money, and I ordered extra books on the Backerkit for them.
Then, out of the blue, I get an email on May 5, 2017 from Peginc saying that the package is coming! Woot! Every day, I click on the tracking number, watching the package on its journey across the nation, coming to my door, or at least I hoped it was coming to my door.
Now, I should say that this is the only package I have had this problem with from the USPS. In other cases, the USPS has delivered packages to other houses. In some cases, the USPS signs all of the packages as being delivered the first thing in the morning, followed by the package actually showing up on my doorstep after 6 PM. This seems to happen more often during Christmastime. We had one package delivered with a Christmas present for my daughter which the USPS signed as delivered at noon, but they delivered it to a house that was several miles away. Thankfully for us, the people who got the package were honest, and they brought it to us themselves.
Anyhow, none of this is as bad as what I saw with the delivery of a traffic signal cabinet for work a few years ago from a major trucking service. The shipper forged my signature as accepting the traffic signal cabinet and pallet of materials to go in the cabinet. This was about $40,000 worth of equipment. In the end, we spent four days working with the delivery company, and they found that it was damaged at the dock of their Portland sorting sight, and some people at the company didn’t want to be on the hook for damaging the freight, so they “lost it” behind a dumpster and forged the delivery signature. The two pallets were very large. The pallet with the traffic signal cabinet was the full size of a shipping pallet, but the box itself was over 6-ft tall. The other pallet of all of the ancillary equipment was a full shipping pallet, with equipment boxes that stood about 4-ft high. This was not something that could be “lost” easily.
Anyhow, it took four days for the shipper to find the package on their own site. We never heard what happened. In the end, it all worked out. The shipper had to send it back to the manufacturer. The manufacturer had to rebuild the damaged cabinet and resupply the damaged equipment. I am sure that it all was paid for by the shipper’s insurance company.
Anyhow, back to the saga of the Peginc shipment.
So I wait.
and I wait.
And I wait.
Normally, being a person who has ADHD, having up to the minute data on the shipping isn’t really that good of an idea. I have some level of OCD. Hell, everyone has some level of OCD. But knowing that I can check on the location of the shipment on my phone means that I don’t need a fidget spinner. I can simply open up my email on my phone, then click on the link to get me to the current shipment info. I can do this twenty times or more an hour if I need to. It isn’t exactly instant gratification, but it is close.
So on May 9, 2017, the alerts stopped happening. The shipment information stopped with the following:
On May 9, I was ecstatic. The package was coming! It wasn’t too different than Nathan in the Jerk, when the new phone book arrived and his name was in the book.
So I wait.
and I wait.
and I wait.
Finally, on May 15, I decide to ask the USPS what is going on. After all, they said that the package left Portland Oregon on May 9, 2017 at 2:30 PM, and was en-route.
I get a cryptic email from the supervisor of customer service that the package actually never left Federal Way, it actually never got to Portland, even though the records on the USPS Internet site said it came in, and was scanned out.
Yes, you read that right.
The email included the name of the customer service supervisor, and the phone number to call if I had any questions.
Mind you, no information about how they were going to try to find the parcel. Just that it was lost.
So I Called the number to the post office. The phone rang through to a voicemail / robocall type of situation explaining that this was the number for the customer service and the passport service at the Vancouver Post Office, then it said to leave a message. Then it rang a few times, and hung up. No message taken.
I rang again, listened to the overly long information about what the number was for, then the post office phone went to a busy signal. I tried again, and figured out that if I pressed a “O”, I could bypass the message. I ended up calling the number about 6 times, and got a variety of ringing with hang ups, and busy signals. I was never able to get to the point where I could leave a message.
Over the next few days, I called several times. All with the same experience. I looked on Google for reviews of the Caples Av post office in Vancouver, and find that other people complain about the same experience with the phone system.
Frustrated, I decided to go directly to the post office and talk with this supervisor of customer service. So off I go to the Caples Av post office in Vancouver. I show up, and go to the regular line. After waiting in the regular line, you know the one where you ship packages from, buy stamps etc, I finally get to the front of the front of the line, and explain to the postal clerk that I am looking for information about a lost package. She politely informs me that the line I was in was for transactions that included money, I needed to go to the other room, and go to the blue door. No problem. So far, everything is acceptable. This postal clerk is very pleasant, and helpful.
So I go find the blue door. I end up at the blue door just as another postal clerk is finishing up helping another customer. I am standing five feet back from the door, with the intention of allowing privacy with whatever transaction needed to take place between the customer in front of me and the postal clerk.
They finish their transaction, and the postal clerk turns around and goes back to his desk, not 10 feet from the blue door.
A little explanation is in order. The blue door is a door with a bottom half that can be closed, while the top half is open to allow people to talk through the open portion of the door, while keeping the people on either side of the door. Kind of like the picture below, only it was a blue door, and the person on the other side was a postal employee, not a smiling kid.
The postal clerk (at least I think he was a postal clerk) completely ignored me. He didn’t make eye contact. He didn’t greet me. He didn’t bother saying something like “Someone will be right with you”. He just turned around and went back to his desk.
So I rang the miniature cowbell at the door. He ignored me.
Now I assume that this guy was a postal employee. He didn’t wear any postal employee gear. He was on the correct side of the door to likely be a postal employee. He was wearing knee high white sports socks, sandals, black basketball shorts and a Raiders tee shirt. While I know know that this person was a postal emplolyee, since he didn’t seem to have any clothing on that would indicate such, he was on the correct side of the blue door (the door said employees only beyond this point), and other postal employees (people who were wearing clothing that indicated that they were postal employees) would walk up and interact with Mr. Raider as though they knew him.
None of the other employees acknowledged that there was a customer at the blue door. I observed a digital clock on the roof beam in the middle of the work bay area, and could watch the minutes tick by. After about 5 minutes, Mr. Raider finally looked at me and said “someone will be with you in a while”. Nice. I was finally acknowledged.
About two minutes later, Mr. Raider was sitting at his desk, dutifully ignoring the people at the blue door. I say people, since a woman entered the line after I was acknowledged, and rang the bell about two minutes later.
Mr. Raider didn’t see who rang the bell, but he jumped up and said “You need to Stand Down sir.”
It was said in a military tone, as an order.
I know what Stand Down means. It is an order given to someone who is out of control and needs to back off. This is not a friendly way to interact. This is not a good way for people to get trust, or to show any form of empathy or customer service.
I explained to Mr. Raider that while he was speaking to me, I did not ring the bell. He said “Well, you need to Stand Down.”
Now Mr. Raider went back to his desk. After watching a dozen or so other USPS employees dutifully ignore the now growing line at the blue door, finally, the first person I interacted with came over and asked “Has no one come up to help you yet?” I politely said “no”. Now, she apologized for the wait, and asked me what I needed. She ended up finding the person I needed to interact with.
It was a breath of fresh air to get to someone who actually knew how to be good at customer service. The lady who helped me, and the customer service representative were as helpful as they could be.
The package indeed had been checked into the Federal Way postal facility on May 8, but evidently never left it. The Internet information that the package had gotten to Portland, and was dispatched is incorrect. Evidently, the USPS bases some of the information that is on the Internet on the shipping manifest, not the actual scanned package arriving. The bin that was headed from Federal Way to Portland made it to Portland, and somehow the system automatically registered the package out to delivery even though it never left Federal Way.
At this point, the package is lost. While it is lost for over a week, there is nothing that the USPS can do about it until it has been lost for over a month. I need to wait to see if it is delivered in the next few weeks. If not, then I can start the process of filing a claim to see if the USPS can look harder to find the box, or maybe see if they will replace the lost box.
Needless to say, I have had packages go missing before. This is particularly frustrating as I have been waiting a long time, and am now waiting even longer, and I accepted money from friends to pay for this. I am not the only one out money at this point. Two friends are out also.
The USPS has shown that they are capable of making mistakes. Everyone is capable of making mistakes. I am hoping that the USPS finds this package, and it is in good shape when it arrives.
I have sent a complaint to the USPS regarding Mr. Raider and his inaction at the customer service counter. I truly have never had such poor customer service from any person that I can remember. I remember being in the reception center of Fort Jackson, getting ready to go into army basic training. The civilian workers there were handing out underwear. They asked the inductees in the line if they wanted boxers or briefs. After the inductee told them they wanted A, the civilian handed them B. It was like since the Drill Sergeants were playing mind games, the civilian workers wanted in on the games too. But at least those workers were interacting with the customer.
I did explain to the customer service supervisor the frustration that I had with the phone calls. He explained that the phone mail system only held 20 messages. In the event that more than 20 messages were on the system, every additional caller would be dropped. He told me that they were trying to keep up on the messages, routing them as appropriate, to keep the total number of messages under 20, however the passport calls were all going to the same number. If someone was on break or lunch, then the messages were not being routed, causing people to be dropped. I explained that I had called during the day, not lunch, at times like 10 AM and 2 PM.
Long story short, I have no control over this situation. I feel frustrated because I have spent quite a bit of money on a package that is lost. I have not only spent my money, but I have spent the money of two good friends. There seems to be no recourse, other than to wait an hope that things will work out. The USPS has shown that their own systems appear to not accurately track their shipments. This leaves me with little faith that it will be resolved.