Instead of persisting in their misguided drive to eliminate Saturday delivery, the United States Postal Service seems to have quietly pushed that agenda aside (for the time being) and is now actually in the process of adding Sunday as an additional delivery day. As with everything else the Postal Service attempts, it seems to have encountered stumbling blocks along the way to implementing this exclusive Sunday package delivery service for Amazon.
At the moment this new scheme is being tested in the San Diego District, and apparently in other districts as well, or at least would be in the testing process if the implementation date had not been pushed back twice already. An official announcement has not been made to employees in my station, but the supervisors informally mentioned to certain carriers that Sunday delivery was supposed to start on October 20th. This did not happen, of course, and the date was changed to October 27th. Yesterday my supervisor informed me that the roll out has now been switched to an undisclosed date in November.
Being a long suffering postal employee of 20 years who has had to deal with the horribly backward and inefficient ideas this organization rolls out on a regular basis, my first assumption was to automatically point the finger at the post office for the delays in the roll out. One of the reasons I am quick to believe this is because in our district a sizeable portion of the CCA (City Carrier Assistant) work force has quit, either from unwillingness to work themselves to sheer exhaustion for low wages, or because they are not being given enough hours to make a living on. Therefore, the first idea that popped into my head after the date was changed again was that local management is not able to scrape together enough CCAs to make Sunday delivery viable. Since CCAs work for significantly lower wages than regular carriers do, they would naturally be the employees selected to provide this service.
But one of my Facebook friends who appears to be in the know has informed me that this is not the case. She claims that the delay is on the Amazon end. Whether this is true or not, it still begs the question of why Amazon would delay the roll out, when it seems that the multi-billion dollar corporation would derive considerable benefits from having packages that would have previously waited until Monday arrive at their destinations a day earlier now, on Sunday.
There is very little credible information to be found on this matter in the news media. The only item I came across was from back in February; at the same time the push to eliminate Saturday delivery had reached its apex. On this occasion Postmaster General Pat Donahoe made an announcement to the press that the postal service would start delivering packages on Sunday. When pushed for a time frame, he responded “It’s going to happen soon. I’m not telling you anything else. Just watch for your letter carrier in your neighborhood.”
Well, unless you’re talking about the geological time scale, in which the Paleozoic and the Mesozoic are separated by a few ten millions of years or so, I’m not sure that the time period between February, when the announcement was made, and November, when the “test” roll out is supposed to occur, qualifies as “soon.” When I do the crude postal math on my fingers I come out with a total of nine months in between these two dates. During this seemingly endless time period I have been patiently watching for my letter carrier on Sundays, just like the PMG told me to do, but to date I don’t see anybody out there except the usual Jehovah Witnesses and a couple kids trying to maneuver their skateboards around them.
The question I have is why Amazon would be delaying the Sunday delivery roll out. Letter Carriers here were told very explicitly, in a series of stand-up talks, that the new delivery contract with Amazon was contingent upon our scanning success. Is it possible that Amazon is getting cold feet because they have serious questions about the postal service being able to provide the state of the art scanning that they require?
Back in May, I think it was, the postal service implemented a system here in which a cell phone carried by the Letter Carrier would provide a Bluetooth link with the Carrier’s scanner, so that scanning data could be uploaded to the web in real time and customers would be able to see that their package had been delivered moments after the delivery had occurred.
This system has been a mess in our office. Most of the charging cradles for the Bluetooth phones are now non functional. In order to charge the phones, the charging cables have been unplugged from the cradles and are wound together in a tangled mess at the back of the cradle that looks something like the fabled Gordian knot. Look at the picture above that I took back in May, when most of the charging ports were functional, then multiply it by one hundred, and you will get an idea of what it looks like now, when the majority of the charging ports are kaput. At the present time Carriers in our office spend about five minutes in the morning huddling around the phones, desperately looking for a live one. To add to our misery, by late afternoon most of the cell phone batteries are dead. It is a pathetic, sloppy, and certainly unsafe mess, and local management is doing absolutely nothing to fix it.
So is it possible that Amazon is having second thoughts about our ability to successfully provide this Sunday delivery service because they are aware of our laughable, hopelessly outdated scanning equipment? How can we give real time, up to the minute scanning when most of the cell phones are dead by late afternoon and the results won’t be available until after the scanners download in the evening anyway, just like before? I am sure that Amazon execs shake their heads and chuckle to themselves when they lay eyes upon this travesty, and the only thing that keeps them hanging on is the fact that we can provide this service cheaper than the other guy.
Anyway, Sunday package delivery remains a mystery for now. Since San Diego seems to be one of the proving grounds I will make every effort to update Letter Carriers and the general public on this matter, which will certainly affect us all, sooner or later.