September 16, 2020 (RISC-WP-20-008)

  • Package delivery in rural and urban environments comes with challenges not experienced in suburban environments, such as numerous apartment buildings in urban areas or long distances between delivery points in rural areas. 
  • The Postal Service could make package delivery more efficient by installing more parcel lockers, encouraging larger curbside mailboxes, and by better tracking parcel-related operational data. 

OIG research found that package delivery in rural and urban areas comes with operational challenges not seen in suburban areas. For example, in rural areas, delivery points may be far apart, or a customer’s mailbox may be located far from their home. In urban areas, there are numerous apartment buildings that may require delivering packages to individual apartments. The Postal Service also faces stiff competition in urban areas from established carriers and start-up services alike. These factors pose significant challenges to package delivery efficiency. 

There are multiple ways that the Postal Service could increase the efficiency of package delivery in rural and urban areas. First, the Postal Service could consider installing more parcel lockers in both rural and urban areas to reduce the number of times a carrier must make a delivery to a customer’s front door. The Postal Service could also encourage customers to install larger mailboxes, which are large enough to accommodate about 70 percent of all packages. Third, the Postal Service could consider applying extra fees to certain high-cost deliveries. Finally, the Postal Service could analyze package-related data with an eye toward improving the efficiency of package delivery in certain geographic areas. 

The OIG recommends that the Vice President of Delivery Operations develop a national plan, based on key data factors, to help reduce the aggregate costs of door deliveries along rural routes and in urban apartment buildings. 

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Comments (29)

  • anon

    Bigger mailbox requirements would be very helpful. 90% of my cargo space is taken up by oversized Amazon or UPS “last mile” packages. (I have seen a bar of soap in a microwave size box from them before) I pass FedEx and UPS trucks regularly on my route delivering to homes without roadside boxes. I feel if the package doesn’t fit in the mailbox and they drive the route anyway I shouldn’t have to deliver it or make a second trip because it doesn’t fit in my rural mail delivery vehicle. I distribute mail from one PO to another in the morning and usually have a bunch of big UPS packages. UPS drives right by that PO, why can’t they drop those packages? They are taking advantage. If I ever have to start delivering the giant Chewy boxes, I’m done.

    Aug 13, 2021
  • anon

    We live on a gravel road and our mailbox is next to about a dozen others where the paved road ends and gravel road begins. A larger mailbox or drop box of some kind would make sense so we could receive larger packages there rather than having to take time off work to go in to pick up packages from the post office.

    Jun 02, 2021
  • anon

    Doing 2 to 4 times everyday on parcel deliveries for what we are paid!! We know and have the standards which our pay scales are set at. It’s criminal!!!!!

    Mar 31, 2021
  • anon

    I was surprised to find my package thrown on the side of the road the other day, beside my mail box which is down the street from my home. It could have been stolen by anyone driving down my road. This is pure laziness on the part of the carrier....terrible.

    Mar 10, 2021
  • anon

    Honestly, whoever it was I don't blame them lol. I'm glad your package was safe. It can be scary having to walk up to someone's home to deliver, mostly if your house is very far and secluded from your mailbox. Too many whack jobs in this world. Carriers don't get paid enough to risk disappearing lol

    Jun 25, 2021
  • anon

    why do I have to go to the Post office every time I get an over size package I don't want the interaction with the people that is why I stay home There is plenty of room for them to turn around, after 2pm they have the whole yard I am home 24/7 during the winter months and in the afternoon during the summer They told me it that that they can't turn around in the yard if that is right that is bull That make me have to be in contact with people that might have the virus there is people going in and out all day I live on SSA don't have the money to buy a larger box

    Jan 06, 2021
  • anon

    Ok here goes, this summer my mail carrier delivered a package containing a $60 purse and put it in the big package box, and now my daughter and son in laws Christmas was delivered and once again put in the big box, here's the kicker yes she sure did deliver them BUT SHE PUT THE KEY IN THE WRONG MAIL BOX!!! And I called my local post office here in Sedalia Missouri and they're telling me they're not responsible for them because the sender didn't insure it, Well guess what United States Postal Service? You are responsible for my packages insured or not,, Let me refresh your memory by law th. Minute you accept a package or mail you become responsible for the delivery of said mail, and when your carriers take possession of said packages/ mail, you are still responsible for your employees delivery of the said packages, in conclusion if your carriers deliver a package but puts the key in someone else's box you are responsible for the package, and you you are responsible for the cost of the contents of said packages/ mail!! Any Questions? Or have i refreshed your memory of the law? I'm sick and tire of the service providers that we the people have no choice but to use, treat me and other like we're dimwitted, stupid,and ignorant door mats for you all to wipe your feet on and walk all over. I definitely know the law including Government law up to the supreme court!! I've been studying the law for over 30 years,I go every time the statute,writs ect. are updated ! This treatment of your customers by their local postal service need to change, you need to do something about this that's what our tax dollars pay you for!!! Or have you guys forgotten who really pay your salary? I'm very out spoken I say it like it is, and I don't sugarcoat it, I dang sure don't lie why should I when the truth is so much fun!! ALICE STOLTMAN, SEDALIA MO.

    Dec 29, 2020
  • anon

    For someone who has studied the law for 30 years and "knows the law" all the way to the Supreme Court I guess not knowing how USPS generates its money (via sale of services provided) really diminishes any argument you have. Additionally, the ineptness of UPS, Fedex, DHL, OneTrac, etc. dumping their parcels for USPS to deliver in addition to USPS and you can see why USPS carriers are overwhelmed. For all the whiners many carriers worked six and seven days a week during the month of December with only Christmas day off. Instead of whining about your parcels try understanding how an overburdened system short of personnel continued to move as much and more than what the system was designed to handle. by the way.....Your Welcome.

    Jan 20, 2021
  • anon

    Your tax dollars do not pay the usps. You dont pay their salaries per say. They get their funds from the sale of stamps, postage, amazon and last mile ups and fedex parcels. The post office is loaded to the max with customer packages and mail. Covid and christmas 2020 was hell for them. Most of them do their best but it is very stressful for them.

    Jan 13, 2021
  • anon

    Why is the Montgomery, Alabama distribution center always losing/not sending mail to the local post office. I have 4 (four) packages that were supposed to be delivered by last Saturday (12-12-2020) and none have arrived. All tracking numbers show arrived/processed at Montgomery distribution center, and since then nothin. It is like they just vanished. This happens all the time. If I call the number for that center, I just get a message stating the mail box is full. I file a complaint on line, it gets sent to my local post office, which I have no issues with. Is this what I am paying for with increased postage costs and worse service? If I could I would never use the USPS ever again, but since it is a monopoly, I have no choice. Should be turned over to private industry, if you don't work there, they can fire you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Dec 16, 2020
  • anon

    Here in Manhattan, NYC, you'd think we wouldn't have the same exact problems as a rural gang-box outside petersburg va (very close to another poster'sblocation of richmond, wonder if same sortind depot?) but a 2500-resident skyscraper in midtown? I swear everyones in on it, I've tried to complain multiple times, to no avail, thats why I'm here looking farther up the chain of command. The USPS of the '90s is a distant memory, these people have no work ethic, fire them all! The definitely do not deserve the job security and benefits for this kind of attitude!

    Dec 15, 2020
  • anon

    The USPS could make package delivery more efficient by just plain not losing the packages.

    Nov 20, 2020
  • anon

    I live in a rural area and it would be nice to actually get our mail in our box and not in the ditch or even on time. This is why I send emails.

    Nov 07, 2020
  • anon

    I'm in a rural area and have to use a cluster box more than a 1/2 mile away from my home. I wouldn't mind but the cluster box is on a different street name and this seems to confuse the carrier. I don't get my packages on a regular basis because they're put into someone else's box and I never see it. I've filed numerous "where's my package" forms online but to no avail. I would really like to put in a post box at the end of my driveway. How can I get this to happen? I'll certainly pay for the box and whatever is needed to make this happen. Thanks in advance for your help. Amy

    Oct 16, 2020
  • anon

    They wont approve it if cluster boxes are already there. Dont bother. If you cant get your mail or packages consider a Po box

    Jan 13, 2021
  • anon

    The problem with rural delivery is not the local post offices. It's the distribution centers. None of my packages have been delivered on time even prior to Covid. If they ever arrive at all. When you open a case it goes to the local post master. It never goes to the actual problem area. Richmond VA distribution center mis-directs so many packages, and nobody is ever held accountable. Fix the distribution centers. They are the problem.

    Oct 09, 2020
  • anon

    Yes, Tom! Exactly that problem..it appears to be all over the country. Here in Indiana I'm dealing with my (I think) 4th expensive package to get lost this year & they route those inquires back to the local offices like some poor person who's never laid eyes on the pkg is going to have answers about why/how the distribution center an hour away lost my stuff. It's ridiculous.

    Nov 20, 2020
  • anon

    I think you should exit the package delivery service until you are actually capable of doing it. Late and little plain yellow slips with many post office boxes scratched out is stupid.

    Sep 30, 2020
  • anon

    I live in a small rural town Hamilton City California and we do not have mail carrier service so we get free no fee post office boxes.The question i have is due to virus we never received our annual renewal forms and now we are locked out of our box and postal worker is wanting us to pay $50 for a renewal on a free box is this accurate?

    Sep 30, 2020
  • anon

    Hello, Delmer. Thank you for your comment. Regarding your concern, please contact Postal Service Consumer Affairs Office at https://postalpro.usps.com/ppro-tools/consumer-affairs

    Oct 01, 2020
  • anon

    OIG, you seriously directed someone to call a department that goes straight to voicemail which they apparently never answer & everyone wonders why the nation is irritated with a service we essentially pay double for-mail delivery.

    Nov 20, 2020
  • anon

    I only got to page 20 and could not go further because I was laughing too hard... The average parcels data for rural carriers must have been taken from the weeks of mail count where all mail disappears so usps can pay rural carriers less.. Fell out of my chair when you thought the new pay system would be in in a year or two...It was supposed to be operational a few years before I retired 2 years ago... What a cluster joke. You have no clue that rural carriers have been screwed by usps which never adjusted their pay times based on the 70% increase in packages...usps would be losing millions more if they would pay rurals fairly... end of rant....did you actually talk with carriers and asked for their input?.......Yeah, again, ya never thought of that....duh...

    Sep 29, 2020
  • anon

    Why don’t you try eliminating UPS drops at rural post offices? Why don’t you try staffing rural post offices with people other than felons? Hey, how about you make up your minds about whether those of us without mail delivery at our physical address are supposed to ask shippers to put our PO Box number BEFORE or AFTER our physical address! Until you overhaul the rampant corruption in post office facilities, I doubt there’s much you can expect to improve on your other lackluster performance deficits...

    Sep 26, 2020
  • anon

    Many communities in the DFW area are experiencing long delays in the receipt of their packages. Sometime these packages sit at the Ft. Worth Distribution Center for up to four or five days. For those of us who receive medication through the mail, this is totally unacceptable. Something has got to be done. If there are not enough employees due to Covid 19 then they need to hire some temporary employees.

    Sep 25, 2020
  • anon

    I use the USPS several times a week,not a huge amount,but a good bit. Very,very satisfied with the service. I am small at best,but at every stop, my packages are treated well,and arrive well, Your employees are the best!

    Sep 22, 2020
  • anon

    I understand these measures. But what is being done NOW to speed delivery? I have had several packages arrive many days late. Including 1 from the next state over taking 12 days and 1 from 2 states over talkin 10 days as well as PRIORITY mail packages taking up to a week or more . I'm paying extra for PRIORITY MAIL but not receiving services that I'm paying for ! ? ! I believe I'll look into FedEx and UPS to handle my mailings, and only order online if non USPS delivery is available from the seller.

    Sep 21, 2020
  • anon

    You're asking about delayed pkgs, try downright missing. I've had multiple pkgs go missing this year one hour from home. The latest made it from Athens, Greece to Indianapolis, IN in 8days then disappeared there three days later. Any tracking inquiries get routed to the destination post office like that poor sap is supposed to have any clue what happened to a pkg they've never seen.

    Nov 20, 2020
  • anon

    omg, every Rural Carrier with a route like mine has been saying this for years. Except most of our "medium density " routes have double the parcel volume that is explained in this study.

    Sep 19, 2020
  • anon

    yea we don't have large vehicles, a lot of us are delivering out of personal vehicles. Team lift stickers on huge packages. With no help, one person trying to carry it. Management requiring to take them out, over long drives in rural areas or up flights of stairs. Can we say safety hazard? At least ups has a ramp and hand truck. Not to mention they don't even load their own vehicles. The problem is amazon, for some reason we get the huge heavy packages, while fedex/ups who are equipped for it, deliver the stuff that would fit in a mailbox???!!! Because of the size of t he packages, we are making 2nd/3rd trips to fit it all. Back injuries ect, I thought there was a 35 pound 'carry' limit, and after that, just a temporary....'lift', for higher. Someone needs to make this more clear to USPS employee's that are injuring themselves everyday trying to handle these large parcels.

    Sep 25, 2020