This is The Story of Two Packages, both sent to our small business by international shippers.
One came from India and was shipped via Federal Express. The shipping charge was $35. We received a Fedex tracking number from the shipper.
The other came from Hong Kong and was shipped through the EMS service, which in our country is called Express Mail International and arrives via the US Postal Service. It was a little smaller and lighter than the India Fedex package. The shipping charge was $40. We received an Express Mail International tracking number from the shipper.
The Fedex package landed at Fedex's hub in Memphis, Tennessee, and cleared US Customs in about four hours. We had the package within three days of its having been shipped and were able to follow it every step of the way, right up to being put on the truck for delivery and finally being delivered. Bravo to Fedex.
The Express Mail International package landed at JFK International Airport in New York, where it was held up in Customs for three full days. Strike One for using the USPS (not our choice, incidentally - the shipper's choice).
But our REAL objections to USPS come AFTER the package cleared customs.
We're about two hours' drive from JFK Airport, but we're told it will take an additional THREE DAYS for the package to arrive here after being cleared. As I said to the customer no-service supervisor at USPS: if the US Customs inspector who cleared our package sent an Express Mail package to his brother-in-law in Los Angeles from his location in NYC, it would be there the next day. Yet our "Express Mail" package, having already sat in Customs for three days, would take an ADDITIONAL THREE DAYS to arrive at our location, two hours' drive away. Why the difference?
"Because it's an International package," came the reply from Customer No-Service.
When I asked what the practical difference was between an Express Mail International package that had already cleared Customs, and a domestic Express Mail package leaving from the exact same location, the resply was: "I'm not going to speculate as to the difference, sir."
In other words: there is no explanation, so why bother offering one.
There is no escalation that can be made by phone. The Postal Service has a Consumer Advocate, but - ready for this? - THEY DON'T TAKE PHONE CALLS OR EMAIL COMPLAINTS. Lick a stamp, put it on an envelope, and send your complaint into The Black Hole that is the US Postal Service.
I've told the shipper that from now on they should use Fedex, DHL or (any!) other private courier service in lieu of anything that puts a package into the paws of the US Postal Service. And so should you.