World Stamps

Mail delays abound, but seem to be improving

Jun 22, 2020, 3 PM
This cover sent in early April to Grand Cayman was returned to sender nearly six weeks later because of mail service suspension. Two labels were affixed, one indicating a refund could be obtained for the postage.

Philatelic Foreword by Jay Bigalke

I have seen a recent uptick in the number of notes I have received from collectors about mail service times. Some areas of the United States have experienced more mail delivery disruptions than others.

While things aren’t back to normal because of the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, I have noticed some improvement and changes.

In early April, I posted a letter to Grand Cayman, days after the U.S. Postal Service announced a service suspension. Six weeks later, I received the cover back with two yellow labels affixed to it. The first was a return to sender label. The second label said that the cover was returned because of the mail service suspension and also gave information on how to request a refund for the postage. I did not request a refund from my local post office, so I don’t know how that worked.

I have noticed that delivery times for purchases I have made from online sellers that use first-class mail have varied from about three to five days. Some items have taken as long 10 days to arrive. In the last few days, though, the time window has been getting shorter.

Items I have purchased from overseas sellers online have started to arrive in large groups. This past weekend, I received packages from eight different countries on one day, all having been posted within the last 60 days. Some only took a week in transit.

One reader, Donn Pearlman of Nevada, experienced a delivery delay unrelated to the pandemic. He told Linn’s it took 19 months to return a letter he sent from Las Vegas to San Diego, Calif. The letter was mailed and postmarked Oct. 1, 2018. The return to sender label was dated May 30, 2020, and he received the returned cover on June 1.

Who knows where that letter could have been for that amount of time?

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