Package visibility is important to consumers, as many ecommerce surveys indicate. “Real-time tracking” often tops lists of consumers’ preferred features.

So, it’s critical that U.S. Postal Service scanning information be accurate. Yet we continue to find shortcomings in this area. Our recent audit work found employees were sometimes improperly scanning packages at the post office rather than at the point of delivery and not following scanning policies. We flagged this activity in a recent Management Alert.

Carriers are supposed to scan a package at the delivery location after either delivering or attempting to deliver the package. This scan “stops the clock,” indicating USPS has met its delivery commitment. Anyone tracking a package would see that delivery was made or attempted. Two years ago, our comprehensive audit on USPS’s package delivery scanning process in city delivery operations found carriers were sometimes making improper “stop-the-clock” scans at a location other than the designated delivery location (house, business, apartment building).

If a carrier makes a “stop the clock” scan at a location other than the delivery point – before delivery is even attempted – a customer would see package delivery made or attempted when none has actually occurred.

Last year, we reviewed package scanning procedures at 25 delivery units and found USPS employees were not always following package scanning procedures at 21 of the 25 units. Specifically, 38 percent of the more than 1,100 packages that were selected at these units and that were in the facility before the carriers arrived for the day had been improperly scanned. For example, 191 packages had been scanned as delivered but were still at the unit, and 113 packages that were not delivered had no scan indicating why they weren’t.

The purpose of our Management Alert is to bring these issues to the attention of the Postal Service so immediate corrective action can be taken. We recommended USPS enhance ongoing strategies to improve scanning accuracy and enforce compliance. Prior recommendations focused on reinforcing adherence to package scanning guidelines and policies, as well as updating the Scan Data Integrity report to track improper scans performed at delivery units. We also recommended USPS develop a process that would allow carriers to scan multiple packages to a single delivery address.

Management was receptive to our findings and is implementing corrective action on all the recommendations.

Comments (143)

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  • anon

    I've had this same problem. The thing is, I actually watched them scan the scan form, it's like the USPS tracking system broke. I've never had an issue until now, I'm thinking I'm going to have to go in and have them scan each individual piece and give me a receipt so I can prove I actually sent it. People get mad about this stuff and there's no way to prove you did your part if there's something wrong with their scanning system.

    Jul 14, 2020
  • anon

    We are losing a lot of money due to unsatisfied clients not receiving their packages. Clients have demanded refunds due to packages not showing up in tracking...refund given and then they get the product. We went to our local post office and were told basically nothing we can do. Seems like a cop out and incredibly unfair. Why do the USPS inefficiencies cost small business owners money???

    Jun 23, 2020
  • anon

    Ughhh that's awful, I feel so badly for small businesses who have to deal with this, when this happens and I get a refund from the small business, I always try to give the money back to them if the package shows up. Clearly, the USPS has a lack of leadership actually willing to resolve the issue and I'm so sorry that you are catching the brunt of it.

    Jul 20, 2020
  • anon

    Had a similar issue, my package says attempted delivery and then No access.... No one attempted delivery. I've been home all day and I'm right off the highway. Literally no barriers to my house or mail box. The regular mail never has this issue.

    Jun 23, 2020
  • anon

    This issue just happened to me today, said delivery by 9pm today. At 6:30 it said a delivery attempt had been made, said front door/driveway unaccessible, which is not true, as THREW of us have been home, and our driveway/porch is completely accessible.

    Jun 07, 2020
  • anon

    This morning my package was "out for delivery". Got a notification that it was delivered. Been home all day. Went to look. No package. This scanning before the delivery happened before, but packages showed up hours later. I couldn't find "delivered" package, so I looked at tracking info again and the status said it was "delivered: picked up by individual at post office." but I never went there...

    May 21, 2020
  • anon

    Hello, Michelle. Thank you for your comment. Please file a complaint directly with the Postal Service at 1-800-275-8777 or at https://emailus.usps.com/emailUs/iq/usps/request.do?forward=emailUs. Just choose the tab marked "Where is My Package" or "Where is My Mail."

    May 22, 2020
  • anon

    Yet I’ve sent THREE EMAILS and have been on hold OVER AN HOUR at this very moment. So how does that help anyone?

    Jun 26, 2020
  • anon

    So what is being DONE, by USPS, about the scanning errors and delivery delays/missed mail items?? I see lots of consumer comments and feedback, but as far as a response from USPS?....crickets....

    May 21, 2020
  • anon

    My package coming from the UK had been in and out of LA since May 9. Scanned as received then scanned as departed four different times. Was supposed to be here by the 14th. Obviously that didn’t happen. And no one seems to be able to help.

    May 18, 2020
  • anon

    My package from the UK was scanned at customs in Chicago on May 4. It is now May 12 and there have been no updates. I could’ve driven to Chicago from Texas and picked it up and drove back to Texas, then mailed the sender a thank you letter and it would’ve arrived in Europe by now. Crazy.

    May 12, 2020
  • anon

    USPS Tracking is a joke and has been a joke. I sent a registered letter from Germany to SC on April 23. The next day it was in Frankfurt, but it arrived in New York on the 5th (unless it was rowed across the Atlantic, this is extremely unlikely as planes still leave every day between Frankfurt and NYC). And what happened to it since? Did it fall under the table? What do we consider "priority shipping"? And what happened to the real-time-tracking? I can almost walk it from NYC to Sumter SC in that time. It might even arrive before it leaves NY (according to tracking, because postal workers forget to scan or just don't feel like it). The only thing that USPS does really well is charge for shipping. Perhaps it IS time to privatize the US Mail.

    May 10, 2020
  • anon

    I’ve been trying to track down a package that was to be received mid April. Hours on the phone with post office and the front desk staff where my package was supposedly delivered to. The package was scanned incorrectly as delivered. From what I can gather, it was returned to sender for some unknown reason. The staff at the apartment complex where my package was returned claim they handed the package back to the carrier and did not keep the package. The postal carrier says they left the package with the apartment staff. As the package was never scanned appropriately it is hard to determine what happened. I’ve opened a case with the Postal Inspector but this is ridiculous. No one has been courteous, no one will reply, I’ve constantly had to follow up and every time I’m told something different or given some unnecessary line of questioning that doesn’t resolve anything. This is an obvious known issue for years based on the posts, so what’s the hold up in getting it corrected?

    May 07, 2020
  • anon

    all my packages I dropped off on April 30th, may 4th, may 5th in the collection bin located inside the post office none of my packages were scanned it was several packages. what is going on???

    May 07, 2020
  • anon

    The USPS is starting to get slower as we near the end of this pandemic. This is not the way to do business. If I have a delivery date of 5May2020 then my package should be delivered 5May2020. Get your act together.

    May 06, 2020
  • anon

    I have a question, I had my carrier pick up a package for delivery but on the tracking it was marked as "delivered" instead. What happens now?

    May 06, 2020
  • anon

    I see that 38% of tracking numbered packages/letters were incorrectly STC scanned. Oh, how I WISH only 38% of my 1 to 3 Priority Express letters received per week were improperly STC scanned. 9ver the prior 12 months, my average is 94.2% of all Express have been improperly scanned to STC -- example: "Delivery Attempt at 14:55" only to be "Delivered--In Mailbox at 15:21" I have over 100 pieces of Priority Express Mail (roughly $2300) that have each been improperly scanned by employees at my local branch -- all are done "in-house", including the "Held at Customer's Request" (NOT at all accurate). I have contacted my local Branch to sort this out, and while I get kits if "I'm sorry/ies," I get nowhere in having it corrected. I have also filed three online complaints and two complaints over the phone via the 800#. Not once have I received a follow-up via phone call, e-mail nor posted letter. I received an initial email for each online and 800 phone complaint explaining that my complaint had been received, but I've heard nothing back except e-mails saying my case was closed. Wow. For two deliveries that were late but not scanned with a STC, I was able to receive the postage back due to the Express Guarantee. Please HELP me! All but 3 of the 100 Priority Express mailings contained medical supplies NEEDED for my research work at a large research hospital in the area. I've used EVERY avenue publically available to customers, except posting here. I am at my wit's end. Please advise in a comment on this blog or to the email I provided when posting this. Thank you 8n advance for any help you can provide.

    May 05, 2020
  • anon

    This is still happens way too often, as a online business owner I mail out daily and see it first hand. Right now i have two packages that are not tracking and I'm using my time trying to find them. I not only have to assure the buyer they are the way but I have spend hours waiting for a response from Customer Service sometimes days. Very unprofessional.

    May 01, 2020
  • anon

    The USPS is trying to save money by reducing cost. Everywhere you go the USPS is short staffed and doesn’t not have the tools and equipment to be successful. This leads to rework and a ton of time devoted to customer complaints. The cost of low morale should be discussed. The USPS seems to have only one mindset and this is reduce cost. We can greatly reduce cost by investing in the employees. Investing is the best way to cut cost.

    Mar 15, 2020
  • anon

    Had a package coming to our house last Sunday. Scanned TWICE as "No access". Absolutely no obstacles that could result in non-delivery. Look inside the office for the problem. Also noticed with the new "scanning update", the scanner GPS routinely misidentifies how far away you are from a box or address.

    Mar 11, 2020
  • anon

    While working on a Sunday I had parcels that were not in the delivery manifest, which happens often. It was getting late and the supervisor told me to take only a half hour to deliver the non manifest parcels and after that scan them as attempted. I got them all delivered in less than a half hour, but would have refused that instruction even if it took me longer. Maybe look at management trying to make the numbers and those above pushing those numbers.

    Mar 11, 2020
  • anon

    Management wants 100 percent scan so items are scanned incorrectly just make numbers look good.Express times are also played with scanned attempted when still at postoffice or not arrived in till after 12 :00.It's an open secret all this is happening.Management can play stupid but they are the biggest pushers of this.They always say you know what to do.

    Jul 03, 2020
  • anon

    I appreciate the pressure imposed upon carriers by unethical managers and the fear of retaliation. I urge carriers experiencing these things to report to their superiors’ superiors or reach out to the Office of the Inspector General, while seeking whistleblower protection. These problems should not trickle down all the way to the clients.

    Oct 15, 2020
  • anon

    You can't TRAIN integrity !!! Not much of it left in the world today.

    Mar 11, 2020
  • anon

    Not all issues are the fault of the carrier. Twice last week, but on 2 different routes, my scanner inexplicably went into an unknown update mode. The 1st occurrence was @ the beginning of the rte & I was forced to pull over & try to determine the issue. After losing 20 min w/no success @ deciphering the cryptic screen icons, I had no choice but to remove the battery & wait for the scanner creep through the start-up. The 2nd time was @ the end (4:45 PM) of a parcel-heavy rte, one which I was already pressed for time, my attempts at a restart were unsuccessful. After numerous attempts trying a reboot by battery removal were in vain, I was forced to use MY phone’s camera (& MY personal roaming data b/c I had no cell signal) to take pics of the bar codes. After returning to the p.o., I had to waste more valuable time trying to find another scanner & scan the pics of the bar codes. Therefore, the time & GPS location on multiple parcels was incorrect. If this happened twice to me in 1 week, how often is the carrier blamed when in fact it’s faulty equipment??

    Mar 11, 2020
  • anon

    Roaming data... Its 2020 my man, all I hear is wah wah wah, for sub par performance....

    Jul 06, 2020
  • anon

    I’ve had times where the scanner is giving me the annoying low battery alert, so I text my supervisor and tell her I’ll be scanning all my parcels now before the scanner dies, in order to finish my deliveries on time. It would probably help the real time tracking feature if the scanners can get upgraded, or they put chargers in all the vehicles.

    Mar 11, 2020
  • anon

    Management scans at office in order to meet delivery time standards that are impossible for carriers to meet.

    Mar 10, 2020
  • anon

    I agree with the findings of the IG. Often, especially with less experienced carriers and CCA's more prone to fear from management, businesses are scanned as closed/no access. Residences are scanned as attempted (and coordinated 3849's are fudged). There just are not enough people to do the job properly and it is both the customer, and the postal services integrity that take the hit. Experienced management is also lacking, with the Sr managers shunting the job, & the blame on 204B's who are easily manipulated.

    Mar 10, 2020
  • anon

    I am a rural carrier in SC. I properly scan packages at the delivery point. I believe proper scanning is a matter of intergety. Many carrier's have become less responsible because of the pressure being put at the local unit to deliver on time when the process of delivering mail and packages to the local unit have broken down over the last several years. We costantly have a second delivery of packages during the day with packages we will have to come back for or deliver at end of day. This has to drive up cost. The root of the problem never seems to be addressed up the chain. Pressure falls to local units and carriers to make up for failures by others, which leads to apathy over time.

    Mar 10, 2020
  • anon

    You are correct!! The parcel numbers have been brought down to a manageable number and YET I still had to come back to office and take out 2nd trip parcels that "arrived at unit" AFTER 10 am !! I had 4 and there is a point on route where I CAN get a direct rt back to office. This takes me 20 min round-trip with ZERO parcels and there have been times I received 50 plus 2nd trip parcels and I have to sort into 3 tubs. This is the part I already have done, the middle I am doing and my end of rt. It PAYS to be slow. IF I had slowed down in office I might have still been there when 2nd truck came and this would actually have SAVED ME TIME. As rural carriers we are on "salary" so I am not getting paid for this extra time. OH, we "get" 2 min a mile!! What a joke !! I spend 45 min to hr delivering 2nd trip parcels and because the rt is only 20 miles , I avg 10 miles= 20 min of time paid -vs- 45 to hr of actual work paid. We already come in at 8am...are we going to have to start at 10 am because the logistics are "off" ??? and people do not go back to mail box after I have already been there once. So the next day I have all these mail box parcels sitting overnight and customer scratching their head as to why wasnt this here in morning ??? and lets talk about management putting our parcels in scanner as "delivered" AFTER calling me 6pm AT HOME ON MY CELL THAT I PAY FOR , because I missed one scan... the "international " ones kill me. we never ever scanned them before... and nowwwwww its an issue. This IS cheating. Plain and simple. If we miss a scan occasionally then we miss it. On Mondays I re-deliver the parcels that were MIS-DELIVERED on SUNDAY....yes Sunday del by Non-union workers who ONLY work Sat/Sun/Holidays. They could care LESS about delivering correctly because there is no worry about getting fired !! Managers are pressured to "retain" these bottom paid employees.

    Mar 12, 2020
  • anon

    Employees should be given service talks regarding scanning performances in their areas...... I work in a plant and never get service talks..... Employees are moved from area to area ....just told to get a scanner and go.....zero training on the multiple options on these scanners, down to correcting an error.... even our in plant support barely knows these scanners...training is key and repetitive service talks will work..... not the normal routine of "let's discipline the employee right away" which usually is the normal routine......nobody is motivated to succeed when all you hear is dicipline them....

    Mar 10, 2020
  • anon

    You are correct. As a member of management in the Postal Service I truly believe in the importance of engaging my team by explaining the who, what, when, where, why and how of every directive I provide my employees. It is very important for each individual to understand what is expected of them and also to get feedback on how we are performing as a TEAM. Using corrective action for bad behavior or habits is sometimes necessary but a good leader should always evaluate their own performance before they choose to discipline their employees. It is tough to be in management in this environment. But a good leader will motivate a great team of employees who will naturally perform above average. Try to communicate with your supervisors and let them know you want to succeed and ask them to give you the tools and information necessary to do so. Good luck to you.

    Mar 13, 2020
  • anon

    The scan commitment is a joke when at the same time expect carriers, especially new carriers, which is part time, to work more than regular, paid much less, and at the same time, with little to no regulations to managements actually enforced, which managements abuse the ignorance of all carriers about rules and regulations, force all ignorant carriers to work in whatever the way they see fit, even they know from their hearts that those are too abusive to even mention.

    Mar 10, 2020
  • anon

    There was something wrong at USPS when employees and management all seem to know that packages are being scanned as delivered before they even leave the post office. This has been happening for years. every time I've pointed out to the post office manager that the package shows is being delivered before the office has even opened, they just respond with they will tell the carrier to stop doing that. It's like it's not even a serious problem. If the package is marked as delivered, then I consider it stolen if it's not actually delivered to me. Does this mean the mail carrier is temporarily stealing it but then they decide to hand it over when they get time? Management knows this is happening, and they are okay with it. If FedEx and UPS can mark the packages as delivered when they actually deliver them, then why can't USPS? For two years our mail carrier would accidentally deliver about half of our mail to the wrong office. We didn't know that he was doing that at the time. Once we had our business partners refused to send us invoices in the mail, I talked to the post office manager about it. They discovered that the mail carrier didn't bother checking that he had the mail sorted properly. You just delivered whatever was in the bin to whatever office he was walking into. The office that received our mail was constantly sending it back as addressee not known. When I got to the bottom of this on my own, I gave proof to the post office manager, and then he started to supervise our mail carrier for a few weeks making sure that he delivered our mail to our office instead of some other office. This mail carrier had 20 years of experience, and apparently there were no checks to make sure that he actually delivered our mail to us and not to the wrong people. They could not take any kind of corrective action on his inept performance. The manager had to make sure that he sorted the mail properly toward me complaining anymore. They let him do a horrible job for many years, and then just let him retire. When we got our new mail carrier, the mail service became perfect. Perhaps mail carriers need to have evaluation forms filled out from their customers. If USPS management actually cared about the service, they would welcome these surveys and would implement fixes to customer complaints.

    Mar 09, 2020
  • anon

    Every shipping and delivery company lie!

    Mar 11, 2020
  • anon

    I come across this issue daily a simple problem to fix with proper leadership. Are there any plans to get rid of the system generated messages that inform customers that parcels are ready for pick up when in truth they have only been scanned with the PASS machine?

    Mar 09, 2020
  • anon

    The biggest problem the carriers are facing is the outdated scanners. They can't seem to keep up with the increased package workload. The barcode reader freezes or the screen goes black and batteries die before the carrier can finish the route. Carriers are forced to write down the barcode numbers or take a picture with their phone and scan it when they get back to the office. Real time updates are difficult due to slow data connection in rural areas. The sooner the carriers have new scanners the better.

    Mar 09, 2020
  • anon

    Management is actually the ones doing the scans in the office. I see it everyday.

    Mar 09, 2020
  • anon

    Completly true management does most of the false scans so they get there 100 percent.Expresses are also scanned attempted in post office.Or not scanned arrived till after 12:00.

    Jul 03, 2020
  • anon

    The USPS is doomed because you can't fire employees who are trained and refuse to do what they get paid to do. I've never seen a workforce that needs instructions on how to do their job every single day ! These carriers have been trained over and over again on scanning, yet still don't do it correctly.

    Mar 09, 2020
  • anon

    Which is why it may be time to privatize USPS !

    Aug 20, 2020
  • anon

    So these issues are from many years ago and were verified two years ago in an audit. Then, last year, you confirmed that only 16% of your sample conformed to the procedure requirements. You have a widespread culture issue here which comes directly from poor leadership. "Immediate Corrective Actions" does not mean that it will magically change. "Management was receptive to our findings and is implementing corrective action on all the recommendations." I'd like to know exactly what is changing, what the Postal Service is doing about the procedure non-compliance issues, and learn what the IG intends to review to determine the actual extent of condition of non-compliance.

    Mar 09, 2020

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