For as long as I can remember there has been a running joke about how long it can take the USPS to deliver mail. I think this somewhat tarnished reputation may be more due to people procrastinating and not actually putting the letter or package into the mail more than anything. With that said, I dug more deeply into just what the USPS says the American public should expect for standard delivery times. In addition to that I went ahead and did some research on how often they actually hit these standard delivery times as well as how the USPS rates compared to other governmental agencies in terms of public satisfaction scores. You might be surprised by the results.
Standard Delivery Times
One of the most important points that can’t be over-stressed is that for STANDARD mail, the USPS doesn’t make any guarantees at all (even that the letter or package will be delivered). That does not mean they won’t try to deliver every package in a timely fashion at all it just means that the sender doesn’t have any service guarantees to work with for standard mail.
|Class of Mail||Estimated Delivery Time||Trackable||Guaranteed|
|Express Mail Service||Items will make it to their destination by 3:00 PM the next day or second day if that option was chosen.||Yes||Yes|
|Priority Mail Service||In the U.S. your delivery should arrive in 2 to 3 days.||No||No|
|First Class Mail||In the U.S. your delivery should arrive in 2 to 3 days.||No||No|
|Standard Mail||The delivery times for standard mail vary wildly from 2 to 9 days.||No||No|
|Periodicals||These are simply not guaranteed to be delivered at all.||No||No|
As with most things in life and certainly in business, the responsibility lies with the sender to understand the levels of service and to plan properly to get things delivered in a timely manner. For instance it is not reasonable if you live in San Francisco, CA to send a birthday card to your mother in Cleveland, OH via standard mail and expect it to arrive the next day. The smartest thing to do would be to plan to the outside window for standard mail which is 9 days and make sure you send Mom’s birthday card 9 days early.
As promised early on in the article, I did some research on how often the USPS actually meets their stated delivery times and the answer was 96% of the time for overnight express mail and no worse than 93% of the time for express mail. In addition, according to a recent study by GfK Roper Consulting, 92% of the American public is very happy with the service provided by the USPS (92% of the respondents rated the service very good). You can read more about this at National Association of Letter Carriers website (nalc.org). The bottom line is that the USPS does deliver on their service promises and most people do recognize their commitment to service. Here is a quick breakdown of public perception of the USPS versus other governmental agencies: