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Behind-the-scenes with USPS during the holiday delivery rush

Posted at 6:04 PM, Dec 15, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-15 18:04:02-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Lizbeth Viruet has spent nineteen years as a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service, and some days still feel like Christmas morning. 

“A lot of people don’t have families,” said Viruet. “So they look after me, because they say I am their family.”

Contact 5 was invited to walk along with Viruet during one of her routes on Friday. Even though this is the busiest time of year for postal employees, Viruet keeps a smile glued to her face. 

This holiday season, USPS expects a ten percent increase in packages, and UPS is excepted to ship over 750 million packages. 

“My doorbell rang at 7:00 o’clock yesterday morning, and I was like, ‘who is ringing my doorbell?’ When I answered the door, there was my mailman with a huge smile on his face and a package in his hands,” said USPS spokesperson Curlita Rogers-Saunders speaking as both an employee for the postal service, and a customer.

To keep up with demand, Rogers-Saunders says USPS letter carriers will make deliveries from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm during the holiday season.

However, the job is not over even after a package arrives. According to a recent study by InuranceQuotes.com, almost 26 million Americans had a holiday package stolen from their front porch. Statistics like this are just one reason why the post office created a new feature: informed delivery service. 

“Informed delivery is a service customers can sign up on usps.com,” said USPS manager Andrew Moir. “It allows customers to see what mail they are going to receive that day on their phone.”
Customers get alerts for both letters and packages, via email or text. 

Below you will find numerous ways to protect your packages, courtesy of USPS, UPS and FedEx.

USPS: 
1. Avoid sending cash by mail.
Checks and money orders are safer than cash and may be cancelled or reissued in the event of theft.
2. Don’t leave delivered mail and packages unattended. Just as wallets and purses shouldn’t be left on the front seat of an unlocked car overnight, mail and packages shouldn’t be left uncollected in mailboxes or on front porches for any length of time.
3. Consider an alternate shipping address. Customers can arrange to have packages delivered to neighbors who are home during the day or get packages delivered at work, if permitted.
4. Change the package’s address — while it’s in transit! Customers who know they won’t be home when their package is delivered can try USPS Package Intercept. Prior to delivery, most domestic package shipments can be redirected back to the sender, to a new address or to the Post Office to be held for pickup.
5. Customize the delivery. If the package doesn’t fit in the mailbox and the customer won’t be home to receive it, the customer can provide delivery instructions online and authorize the carrier to leave it in a specified location. Visit usps.com, enter the tracking number and select Delivery Instructions. Customers can also request their packages be left with a neighbor or held at a Post Office for pickup.
6. Plan ahead. Ship using Hold for Pickup. When shipping packages, customers can choose the Hold for Pickup option and the recipients can collect the packages at their local Post Office. For customers receiving packages, they can redirect incoming packages to their local Post Office by selecting Hold for Pickup using USPS Package Intercept.
7. Going out of town? Hold mail at the local Post Office. Instead of risking leaving a package unattended for an extended period of time, customers planning on being away from home for a few days are encouraged to take advantage of the Request Hold Mail service. Letters and packages will be held securely at the local Post Office until the customers return.
8. Secure the shipment using USPS Signature Services. Signature Services help ensure the package ends up in the right hands by requiring a signature at the time of delivery.
9. Choose the most secure form of delivery. For the most valuable packages, customers can opt for Registered Mail service. Registered Mail receives special handling from the time it’s mailed until it’s delivered, documenting the chain of custody.
10. PO Boxes might be the answer. Customers concerned about the security of their mail can consider renting a Post Office Box at their local Post Office. The mail remains secure within the Post Office, accessible only when using the right key or combination. Many Post Office lobbies are open 24/7, allowing customers to retrieve mail on their schedule.
11. Contact the OIG. If you notice an unfamiliar vehicle following behind the USPS truck or unknown persons loitering around mailboxes, immediately report the activity to your local police department and then call the U.S. Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455. The package you save may be your own. If you feel that you are a victim of a crime involving the mail, you may submit an online complaint, by visiting usps.com, and selecting the Postal Inspectors link.

UPS: 

  • Have the shipment sent to where they are – not where they aren’t. In other words, if they are at work during the day they can have packages delivered to where they work. They can also choose to have things sent to a relative or neighbor who is home during the day.
  • They can tell our driver where they would like UPS packages left, for example, in the shed in the back yard, or behind the garage, etc. UPS drivers can enter that information into their handheld computers for future deliveries.
  • Consumers can sign up for the free UPS My Choice® service that gives consumers more control over their residential deliveries. UPS My Choice sends a text message or email when their packages are on the way.  With the UPS My Choice mobile app, package recipients can redirect their packages to nearby UPS Access Point locations for pick-up at a more convenient time. UPS My Choice members can even set a preference to have all their packages delivered directly to a UPS Access Point location, instead of a UPS driver attempting a delivery to their home.
  • UPS Access Point locations are convenient retailers such as delis, grocery stores, dry cleaners, florists and The UPS Store locations with evening and weekend hours. Nearly 9,000 UPS Access Point locations throughout the U.S. provide about 78% of U.S. consumers an alternative to home delivery that’s within 5 miles of their residence.
  • People can also consider using mailbox services at their local The UPS Store. These centers can serve as a “mailroom receiving agent” and offer a real street address, secure 24-hour access (at participating locations) and email or text notification when you have a package waiting. Unlike the Post Office, The UPS Store can accept packages from all carriers.    

FEDEX:

  • Consider an alternate destination. When you order something online, consider sending the package to your workplace or to a family member, friend or neighbor who is home during the day to accept delivery. 
  • Send it to your nearest FedEx Office location. You can have your deliveries sent to the nearest FedEx Office location, and we’ll hold it for you for up to five business days. FedEx provides this service at no added cost. If it’s a FedEx Express package, you can also have your package sent to one of our FedEx Express stations. Find the location nearest you at fedex.com/locate. 
  • Request a signature. Many packages today are sent without requiring a signature for delivery. If you’re shipping something of high value — or you just want to be sure items aren’t left unattended — you can require a signature for packages to be released. Only the shipper can make this request.
  • Sign up for FedEx Delivery Manager, which gives customers more power to customize home deliveries to fit their schedules. Sign up is free at fedex.com/delivery. With FedEx Delivery Manager, a customer has the following options: 
    • Request to hold your delivery for pickup at a FedEx location.
    • Request special delivery instructions for the delivery driver such as leaving your package at the back door or a side door.
    • Reschedule your delivery time. 
    • Request to reroute your package to deliver to another address.
    • Sign for a package remotely.
    • Request a vacation hold. Taking a holiday trip to visit family or friends? You can request a vacation hold on all shipments for up to 14 days. 
    • Receive a delivery notification.