The United States Postal Service is one of the most reliable delivery systems in the country.
Federally created and operated, the USPS’s primary function is to deliver mail to all the addresses in the country.
They also sometimes partner with other shipping carriers to finish deliveries and bring packages to homes.
Even something as efficient and fine-tuned as the United States post office can have its share of delays.
That means it can take them a long time to deliver your mail.
Here are 10 reasons the USPS takes so long.
Why Does USPS Take So Long? (10 Possible Reasons)
1. Lack Of Federal Funding Support
Budget cuts are an important reason that the USPS takes so long to deliver mail and packages.
Since the USPS is a federal business, it receives funding as part of federal spending.
Every year, the federal government has to go over a budget plan for the next year.
That budget plan will include how much money they’re allocating to social services, military spending, federal wages, and federal services like the USPS.
Since it’s only given a set amount of money every year, the federal government may find itself needing to allocate money towards one second more so than other sectors.
An example is the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many federal resources and spending went to grants for medical research and stimulus checks to help boost the economy.
That left little money for day-to-day operations like funding the USPS.
The bulk of funding for the Postal Service doesn’t come from the federal government, but it does provide emergency funds when USPS is running low.
Without those emergency funds available due to budget cuts, the USPS doesn’t have the money it needs to pay its workers.
It also means it doesn’t have the money to take care of mail delivery vehicle repairs or fuel.
Without funding, mail delivery stalls.
There are fewer workers to sort the mail and deliver it.
That means only a limited number of pieces of mail can go out in a single day.
If mail delivery is slow in your area, then it could be due to the federal government’s lack of financial support because of budget cuts.
2. Decline In Package Sales And Stamp Sales
The majority of USPS funding comes from selling stamps, packages, and other expedited services.
They sell packaging materials and give people the chance to pay for quick service.
These payments fund the USPS to ensure that they don’t have to use taxpayer money.
The problem is that fewer people are buying stamps, packages, and services from the USPS.
Instead, they use either Amazon or other online retailers.
That means the USPS misses out on that business.
Fewer people mail letters, too.
They use text messaging or send emails to one another.
Before smartphones, one of the main methods of communication was through letters.
Even with corded phones, sending letters to friends and loved ones was a staple of life.
It also ensured that the USPS saw plenty of revenue since everyone needed to buy stamps to send their letters.
With the decline of letter-sending, the USPS lost a large source of their income.
Without funds, they’re unable to operate.
They have to hire fewer workers to ensure they have enough money to operate.
A smaller workforce means a less efficient sorting system and slower delivery services.
Modern technology and online retail shopping are contributing to the reason the USPS takes so long.
3. COVID-19 Pandemic
A recent pandemic, which is still ongoing, is also one of the reasons the USPS takes so long.
When the pandemic started, many people resorted to buying what they needed online.
This resulted in an increase in online sales.
Even as the pandemic receded enough for physical stores to open again, many people continued to use online services.
They enjoyed the reliability and convenience.
The problem is that this hurt the USPS even more.
It drove away even more people from using their services.
Those who did continue to the USPS as their main source of package delivery also overwhelmed them.
The USPS was already facing financial problems before the pandemic.
When it hit, many offices had only a handful of workers.
As more people started ordering online and sellers worked with the USPS on package deliveries, they quickly became overwhelmed by the capacity.
With too few staff to handle all the sorting and deliveries, packages became delayed.
This is a problem that they’re still facing since many are still ordering online packages instead of shopping in person.
The USPS takes a long time because they weren’t prepared for the pandemic to bottleneck some of their services.
4. Large Routes
Another reason that the USPS takes a long time is that they use long and large routes.
A shipping carrier like UPS or FedEx only has a single route to do.
They have a truck full of packages and a route in which to deliver them.
Very few of those addresses are a part of their route every day.
This is different from the USPS because they deliver both mail and packages.
They have a set route they follow every day.
It covers tons of addresses.
Instead of visiting only a few houses in a given area like FedEx, the USPS usually ends up visiting every home.
Even if the house isn’t receiving mail, they’re often receiving marketing and advertising materials.
The USPS has to deliver those on top of any packages that they have.
It takes them longer because they have more stops than UPS or FedEx.
They also have to handle both mail and packages whereas UPS or FedEx only handles packages.
Both these instances force the USPS to take longer than other shipping carriers.
5. Shorter Delivery Hours
Another difference between the USPS and carriers like UPS and FedEx is their delivery hours.
The USPS is a federal business.
As such, they’re subject to federal hours.
Normally, they don’t operate past five o’clock PM.
Some circumstances may extend their hours, but traditionally, they only operate until five.
This means their delivery window is short.
Not all of their hours go towards delivering mail either.
They need breaks, fuel-ups, and they need to sort mail as well.
Once they’re finally loaded up and on the road, they have a few hours to deliver the mail they have before they need to stop.
This is different from a company like FedEx which sometimes offers delivery services after 5 PM.
It allows a company like FedEx to finish up its deliveries by working later.
The USPS doesn’t have this luxury.
They do their best to deliver everything they have the same day it’s sorted, but that isn’t always possible.
If they find themselves with some mail when five o’clock hits, then they have to return it to the office.
It will then undergo sorting into the next day’s delivery batch.
Due to their limited delivery hours, it can take the USPS a little longer to deliver mail and packages than other companies.
6. Incorrect Packages
While the USPS is effective with its sorting system, mistakes can happen.
Sometimes a package goes to the wrong person, or it gets lost on the truck.
When this happens, it creates a delay.
The postal worker has to figure out what address the package went to.
Then they need to collect it and send it to the right person.
If the package becomes lost, then they need to figure out where its last known location was.
From there, they can attempt to trace its current location.
Mail and package delivery is a fast-paced business.
It’s easy for things to move around and become lost among other packages or pieces of mail.
It costs the USPS more money to find lost or incorrect packages since they have to allocate time and resources towards finding and correcting the problem.
Since the worker has to fit that into their delivery schedule, it may take a few days before they’re able to finally track the package down and get it to the right address.
When mistakes occur and a package goes missing or goes to the wrong address, then it can take the USPS a while to amend the problem.
7. Unable To Deliver Heavy Packages
One major difference between the USPS and other shipping carriers is that they’re unable to deliver heavy packages.
In some circumstances, you may be able to have them deliver a heavy package, but it will experience delays.
That’s because delivering heavy packages isn’t very profitable.
Since heavy packages are usually larger in size, they take up a lot of space.
That means the carrier must carry fewer boxes.
That also means the value of their shipments decreases because they’re unable to deliver as many packages as usual.
The USPS primarily delivers mail and other priority shipments.
They’re not able to fill their mail delivery truck with as much mail, priority shipments, or even smaller packages if they’re carrying a large package.
They have less space in their delivery vehicles than larger logistic companies like UPS or FedEx.
Since they have less space, they have to be smarter about how they use the space to earn the most profit.
Heavy and large packages take up too much space which keeps them from earning a higher profit.
This means that it can take them a long time to deliver larger packages if they accept the task to deliver yours.
They have to work the package into their daily delivery route to ensure it doesn’t take up too much space to ensure they’re making a profit.
That might mean they delay your package by a few days until it fits their vehicle financially.
8. Increased Ground Deliveries
In an effort to reduce costs and bring the USPS out of debt, the Postmaster General chose to cut air deliveries down and increase ground deliveries.
Delivering mail via the air is an expensive venture.
Jet fuel costs more than car fuel and a lot more of it is required.
There are also human labor costs associated with it.
Instead, they’re increasing the number of ground vehicles they have.
They believe that this will cut down on costs and delays because the ground vehicles can deliver during bad weather situations whereas air delivery cannot.
If there’s bad wind or storms, then planes can’t take off.
It isn’t safe for them to do so.
Instead, they have to wait for the weather to clear.
In the meantime, the mail inside of the plane is sitting there.
The problem with decreasing air deliveries is that it does mean that some mail will move slower.
Mail that needs to travel across the country, for example, will be slower with ground delivery than with air delivery.
It takes longer for a car to make the trek than it does for a plane.
Those who are receiving their mail from local sources might see a slight increase in the speed it takes to deliver their mail.
That’s if the USPS has enough funds to pay additional workers.
Otherwise, their existing workforce will face even more work with less time to do it.
As a result, mail could face even more delays.
These changes come with another policy change that extends the time it takes to deliver mail.
Instead of holding workers to two or three days in which to deliver mail, they’re now extending it to five days.
While this doesn’t mean you can always expect your mail to be delivered five days later than normal, it does mean that it’s a possibility.
Due to the switch of relying on ground delivery instead of air delivery and other policy changes, you can expect the USPS to take longer to deliver mail and packages.
9. Third Parties
Many carriers partner with the USPS to finish up deliveries for them.
UPS, FedEx, DHL, and even Amazon will drop off packages at the post office.
The office will then sort the package into their existing mail pile.
The problem is that some people will think it’s the USPS taking a long time when it’s actually a third party.
When you buy something online, it’s up to the seller to process the shipping information and send it to a carrier.
It can sometimes take up to 30 days to do this.
Meanwhile, the buyer believes that the carrier is to blame.
It’s a good idea to keep a close eye on your tracking information or order confirmation.
It will tell you when the seller has finally sent the package off to the carrier.
At this point, the carrier will either deliver the package themselves or give it to the USPS.
Some carriers do this to save money.
It’s less expensive to bring a bunch of packages to the USPS and let them finish the last part of the delivery than to spend fuel and time and make each individual delivery themselves.
Sometimes it takes these carriers an extended amount of time before they arrive at the USPS office.
Bad weather, road congestion, or even vehicle problems can delay them.
Once they finally reach the office, then the USPS workers have to sort the packages and put them on the right delivery truck.
It’s one more step that can delay your package.
The USPS may seem like it’s taking a long time to deliver a package, but the problem may actually be that of a third party.
10. Mistaken Mail Classes
When using USPS, you have several different classes of mail from which to choose.
Each class comes with its own rates.
The more expensive rates mean faster service.
A reason the USPS office is taking so long to deliver mail is that you’re paying for the slowest service.
The fastest mail class that the USPS offers is their Priority Mail Express class.
They’re able to deliver mail in one to two business days.
Priority Mail is the second-fastest.
You can expect your mail to arrive in one to three business days.
Standard mail is first-class mail.
This type of mail delivers in as short as one day or as long as five days.
The type of mail that they’re delivering also determines its class and the amount of time it takes to deliver it.
Packages, for example, fall under the Parcel Select and Parcel Select Lightweight class.
It takes two to nine business days for packages of this class to be delivered.
Periodicals like journals and magazines have their own class, too.
They tend to deliver in three-to-nine business days.
Understanding which classification your package or mail falls under can give you a better idea of when to expect it at your home.
You can also choose a more expensive mailing class to have your mail or package delivered faster.
How To Make The USPS Deliver Faster
If you don’t want to wait for the snail mail to reach you, then there are a few things you can do to make it arrive at your home faster.
The first is to invest in more expensive mailing classes.
When buying something from a seller, you’ll want to choose a shipping preference that uses Priority Mail or Priority Mail Express.
This will make your mail or package arrive at your home within a few days.
Another way to make the USPS deliver faster to your home is to have them hold packages for you at the office.
Instead of waiting for them to sort it and deliver it to your home when it’s convenient for them, you can pick up the package yourself at the post office.
This saves them money and saves you both time.
Finally, the best way to help speed up the USPS is to support them financially.
Buy stamps and packaging supplies through them.
When given the option, have the USPS deliver to your home instead of other carriers.
Funding problems and a small workforce are some of the reasons behind the delays in USPS deliveries.
Consider the reasons and tips above to help support the USPS and enable them to deliver faster to your home.