On October 2nd I ordered an item via Ebay and paid through Paypal. The seller shipped it Priority Mail through USPS with Delivery Confirmation and promptly provided me with the tracking number. This guy was totally on the ball, so I have absolutely no complaints about his part of the transaction.
The tracking information estimated the delivery to be by October 5th, which was incredibly fast coming from Iowa to California, but I watched the tracking information as it was updated until the 5th came. The 5th comes, I get the mail from the mailbox, but no package is present, not even a slip to pick the package up at the post office. I check the tracking information later to see what might have happened, and the only new status update I see is that the package is "Out for Delivery" with a timestamp of 9:04am. Mind you, I received this update at around 4:13pm that day, so I get a little concerned and decide to screenshot the tracking information along with my Windows clock, just in case.
Afterwards, I went down to the post office to see if they might have more information than I did, and I arrive there a little before closing time; while I'm still in line, they lock the doors to prevent the line from expanding further.
I speak to a woman at the Customer Service portion of the counter, explain my concern, and provided her with a tracking number. She pulls up the same tracking information I had seen on the USPS website. She explains to me that it's not actually out for delivery, despite what the tracking information says. At this point, I'm confused since there's clearly a discrepancy, so I ask, "Why does it say "Out for Delivery," then, if it's not?" She responds, "That's just something we do. Maybe you'll get your package tomorrow." Sounded a little fishy to me, but seeing as there was a slim hope of seeing my package the next day, I thanked her for looking and left. I continued to check the tracking information for updates to my package's status up until I went to bed; no change, it was still "Out for Delivery."
The next morning, today (10-06-11), I checked the tracking information, but this time I was met with an unpleasant surprise. My package's status had changed, sure, but not for the better; now, the status read "Delivered" with a timestamp of 10:11am on October 5th. I took a screenshot of this, just as I had done previously, and printed the two screenshots out. I waited for the mail to come, between 10-11am, usually, and hoped that my second trek to the post office wouldn't be necessary. There was normal mail, but, again, no package and no pick-up slip.
I drive down to the post office with all my relevant information and printed screenshots handy and speak to the supervisor at the Customer Service portion of the counter where I was the day before. He seems friendly enough at first, even remarks that he remembers me from the previous day. I explain my situation, give him the information, and he tells me he'll be right back after he checks for me.
When he finally returns, which was a good 10-15min, he doesn't have any helpful information for me. Instead, he has me write down my name and mailing address on a printout that looks like it has my tracking information on it; he tells me he's going to investigate this, so he starts asking me questions. No problem.
Once I've answered his questions, I decide to ask him about the oddity regarding the whole "Delivered" status of my package, when it wasn't delivered. This is where he switched gears on me, starting to act defensive and a bit rude. He explains in a condescending manner about how the tracking information is received and updated, shows me the device that the carriers use, etc. I nod and tell him I understand, because I do, but that still doesn't explain how an undelivered package could be updated to "Delivered" if it hasn't been.
He's getting upset with me asking now, I can see that, but he's still trying to keep a calm outward demeanor. That being the case, I move on to a different line of questions, which just seemed like a logical progression to me. I asked what my options are if I never receive my package. He tells me that since I purchased whatever it was through Ebay and Paypal, that I can force the seller to issue me a refund. This option is unacceptable to me as the seller did nothing wrong, and I say as much; he repeats himself again, stressing that this is the option I have available to me. I tell him that this is not the seller's fault, but that it's the fault of USPS. At this point, I'm very frustrated, because it's clear that logic as well as right and wrong don't make a difference here.
So the supervisor asks me, "Was it insured?" He knew the answer before I said anything, but of course I answered 'no.' "Then we're not responsible for it," he says. I'm not just frustrated at this point, I'm angry, and I can't completely hide it any longer. "So you're not responsible for mail in your care safely reaching its destination?" I asked him. He says nothing, so I repeat the question. He answers that they aren't responsible for it unless it's insured. Wow, what a loophole and great opportunity for blameless theft.
At this point, I can't reasonably expect he's going to make good on his "investigation" into the whereabouts of my package. This guy's irrational and became very defensive when I called the professionalism of his organization into question by asking how a package can be marked as "Delivered" when it wasn't. With that, I decide to ask about other options.
I explain that if I don't receive my package, that I'll need to find a claim. "Oh, you gonna jump there already?" he says to me, clearly upset by the thought. I tell him I'll go that route if I have to, because at this point I'm out $75 as well as my package, and something on their end is clearly the problem.
He's angry, not yelling, but he's pissed with having to still deal with me, and insists once more than I go through Ebay and/or Paypal to get my money from the seller. I say again that I won't go after the seller because it's not their fault, it's the fault of USPS, period.
We exchange a few more words, much of the same that's already been said, and he slides the little 'Window Closed' sign between us. I look at it, then back at him. "So that's how it is, huh?" I asked, but he says nothing, just looks at me. I say, "Good day, then" and walk out.
First off, I apologize for the long read, but I really needed to explain the situation and get it out there. Personally, I can't believe the kind of unprofessional attitude I received both times I went into the post office. And, frankly, after the exchange the supervisor and I had, I can't expect he'll really do anything about it, now, if he was really going to do anything in the first place.
However, I refuse to lie down and take this, but I'm at a loss on what I can actually do. It's a Federal organization, so it would require taking it to Federal Court. I don't have that much money to begin with, so I certainly can't go paying a lawyer to fight this for me. Although, the idea of just accepting a loss of $75, as well as the loss of the package, because of the shady business practices of USPS is just unacceptable to me.
How can they defend fraudulently changing the package's status like that when, by their own admission, "Out for Delivery" isn't out for delivery and "Delivered" certainly hasn't been delivered? I imagine it's probably regarding some kind of quota that they're expected to meet, so they fudge the numbers by changing the tracking information. As a customer, though, that's the only thing I have to go on when I'm looking to see where my package is and when it'll arrive.
The worrisome thing, other then the way they acted towards my inquiry, is that it would have to be the carrier themselves who changed the status to "Delivered," so what really happened to my package?
The bottom line is this, I won't make Ebay/Paypal punish the seller, because he hasn't done a thing wrong. He shipped it out Priority Mail and provided me with a tracking number. Once that package was in the hands of USPS, I can't rightfully blame him.