Local businesses say outgoing packages stuck for ‘weeks’ at USPS distribution center in Indianapolis

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INDIANAPOLIS —  Many viewers have reached out to FOX59, reporting a significant delay in their mail service.

For small businesses like Esmeralda Valague’s online consignment shop, Sweet Emerald on eBay, those delays have caused her to stop online sales temporarily.

“We have a bunch of packages starting with the week of Thanksgiving that haven’t left the – or appear to not have left the Indianapolis hub,” said Valague.

At Smith’s Coins in Lafayette, online sales manager Michelle Davis said they are experiencing similar issues.  According to Davis, the significant delays didn’t begin until sometime around Dec. 1.

“There was a couple that got scanned in in Indianapolis, but nothing since. They simply say in transit,” said Davis. “I understand those delays but unfortunately our customers don’t. They’re trying to get stuff for family and themselves for Christmas and whatnot, but nothing’s moving.”

Valague said there are packages that have been listed at the Indianapolis distribution facility for ‘weeks.’

“Some things have come in and out of there,” she said. “It’s taking significantly longer than normal so if the package is supposed to take two to three days it’s now taking up to two weeks.”

For online sellers like Valague, she said the frustrating part is the United States Postal Service (USPS) delays are causing her to reimburse customers out of pocket.

“The biggest frustration is, sometimes when the customers are filing claims with eBay or with others, if they get reimbursed for it and the item shows up two or three days later, not only do I have to pay them back, but I can’t file a postal claim at that point because it actually was delivered,” she said.

“By the time they answered my claim they might not take into consideration that I had to refund the customer,” she said. “It does look like I’m probably gonna lose a lot of money on those kinds of merchandises.”

Both Valague and Davis said they pride their businesses on excellent customer service and quick turnarounds but are worried about what this could do to their business’ reputations.

“It’s extremely frustrating because right now I’ve got a hundred percent feedback rating on the online hosting service we use for our online store,” said Davis. “Nearly 100 percent of the comments are fast shipping, excellent service and to have delays now that are a week and a half old, I’m afraid on the feedback it’s gonna kill us.”

“It’s all out of our hands. You know, there’s nothing we can do,” she said.

“What’s frustrating to me, because again the blame gets put on me, you know, Sweet Emeralds took my money and didn’t send my package,” said Valague. “That’s not what happened.”

Both women said they are having difficulty getting answers from the United States Postal Service on what they will do about the delayed items.

“I really was hoping that the postal service would be forthright because if you look on their website right now, it still says mail your packages right now to get them in time for Christmas,” said Valague.

“So, when my customers look on their website and see business is normal, they’re gonna think it’s me that didn’t ship their package and that’s not what’s happening.”

She said her biggest concern is the lack of communication from USPS despite her ongoing efforts.

“I keep asking to speak to the Indianapolis hub to get some sort of an idea of what’s going on there. I can never get to them. I even tried consumer affairs and they don’t call me back either.”

“If I try to call our local post office, you can’t get anybody to answer over here. It just doesn’t happen,” Davis said.

Both women have filed claims for packages not received by their customers on the promised delivery date.

“I file a claim on any package that’s late, so I’ve literally got dozens going right now,” Valague said.

Davis said, “For the eight that had been missing I just started filing missing package claims. Usually when I do that they start moving. Not always.”

According to Davis, one of her packages out right now was being shipped to a coin grading company, except she has no idea where it actually is.

“It was a time-sensitive package that was sent out priority and it’s languishing somewhere in Indianapolis.”

The two said they know these issues are out of the control of the hard-working men and women of the USPS, and they want their customers to know they are doing everything they can.

“I do hope that those postal workers that are working so hard know I’m not blaming them,” said Valague. “It’s just about that accountability that matters to us, not the frontline workers that are working hard.”

“This is a sideline business for me. It’s just a fun hobby business. I don’t like losing the money, my life is not on the line,” she said. “But then I started thinking about people’s medicines, people’s hearing aids, other things that are in the mail lost. Those can be much, much more dire consequences, or people in business full time and this is how they’re paying their bills.”

“I have closed. I’m not gonna continue to send packages at this time because I’m afraid I’m gonna be reimbursing a lot of people,” Valague said. “I’m not sure how those claims are gonna go with the postal service so I’m not taking that risk anymore.”

“We know there’s postal delays. Please be patient with us. We know it’s out of our hands,” Davis said.

The Postal Service has experienced a considerable increase in package volume. In response to this, we are utilizing our available resources to match the workload created by the impacts of the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We appreciate the patience of our customers and the efforts of employees as conditions change on a day-to-day basis. We apologize for the inconvenience of late arriving packages and are working to minimize the impact to our customers.

When mail service issues occur, we take steps to quickly resolve customer concerns.  We gladly work to address any specific issue from the community when brought to our attention and we encourage customers to reach out to their local Post Office. Customers can also go to our website usps.com and click on “Contact us” at the bottom of our homepage.  Every email will be carefully documented, and appropriate action taken to strengthen service. In addition, the official Twitter account of the United States Postal Service, managed by the Social Media staff at USPS HQ, can provide help. For customer service, please tweet @USPSHelp. The Postal Service will diligently continue to investigate customer’s concerns and correct deficiencies to improve service to our communities.

UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE RESPONSE

FOX59 asked the USPS whether COVID-19 or cases among staff have impacted operations at the Indianapolis facility.  This is the response provided:

As you may know, under the Rehabilitation Act and the Privacy Act, specific employee medical information must be kept confidential and may only be shared in very limited circumstances. The Postal Service is continuing to monitor the circumstances around the novel coronavirus, also known as “COVID-19.”  We are sharing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidance regarding the COVID-19 epidemic to our employees via stand-up talks, employee news articles, messages on bulletin boards, and internal messaging inside USPS workplaces.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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