ePacket is just so ridiculously fast it’s unbelievable

Ever since I first read about the cooperation amongst China Post, Hong Kong Post and the USPS to make the ePacket service possible a couple of years ago, I’ve been trying, whenever possible, to buy from eBay and Aliexpress sellers who use ePacket for customers in the United States.

Prior to ePacket I would get lots of parcels from China, Hong Kong, and Singapore sent by ordinary air mail, which would take between 2 and 3 weeks to arrive. Of course, even back then it was a bit faster to the U.S. than to many other countries, but 2 to 3 weeks is still enough of a wait to make it so that, price being equal, I used to buy from U.S. sellers because it was faster.

With ePacket though, as long as price is equal, there’s absolutely no reason for me to buy from a U.S. seller rather than a seller in China or Hong Kong. If I get an item sent by first class mail from, say, California it would take about 3 to 4 business days to arrive here in New York. That’s assuming the seller ships immediately. Now let’s compare with this parcel sent by ePacket that I ordered just recently:

ePacket to the U.S. is at least as fast as EMS.

ePacket to the U.S. is at least as fast as EMS.

ePacket is not always this quick, but it’s not at all unusual for the item to make it here to NY in just a few days. I remember the first time I ever had something sent to me by ePacket it wasn’t much better than ordinary air mail. But over the past year or so it seems to have gotten much faster, at least to my location.

Two neat things I’ve noticed by tracking ePacket parcels is that, at least according to the tracking info, they seem to get sorted at the EMS sort facilities. The other thing, which may or may not be mere coincidence, is that I’ve never had ePacket parcels held up at customs. With ordinary air mail it’s rare for my packages to be held up at U.S. customs for more than a few days, but I’ve had items shipped to me occasionally that have been stuck for up to 14 days yet never opened or inspected in any way that I could detect. With ePacket I never even see a scan at customs. The first scan I see after the origin sort facility is always a local sort facility, rather than ISC New York. I guess ePacket must still get processed through customs like any other package, but it sure is a lot faster.

I really do wonder if I’m blacklisted by the USPS

Today I had the 5th consecutive parcel I’ve attempted to have delivered go straight to the post office instead of to my home address. None of them have had signature confirmation. They’ve all been either priority mail or parcel post. Most had DC. There was one that didn’t. Either the USPS has blacklisted my address or they’ve put a new carrier on my route who is consistently doing his job terribly wrong.

It really adds insult to injury when, in addition to having to travel every single day to pick up junk mail and letters, you also have to travel to the post office to pick up parcels. There’s no reason to pay extra for signature confirmation if the recipient has to travel to the post office in person and show I.D. in order to get a parcel that doesn’t even have DC on it.

Maybe I’ll stop defending the USPS now. In the past 2 months they’ve destroyed one parcel, sent 3 to the wrong city, and decided to send these 5 parcels to the post office for pickup when they should have been delivered by a carrier.

Stupid USPS keeps wasting my time

Normally I’m the first person to defend the USPS. I’ve generally had good experiences with them. I’ve only had a few packages permanently lost in my entire life. This time, however, I must complain.

When I send and receive parcels I nearly always use delivery confirmation. The way this works is that the carrier scans the package using a handheld scanner when it’s delivered. This way the seller can confirm that the item arrived at the destination. This is useful in situations where the buyer claims the item was never received and asks for a refund or a re-shipment. With DC you can just point to the confirmation of delivery on the USPS website and the would-be scam artist gets shut up.

Signature confirmation is like a much more extreme version of delivery confirmation for more paranoid sellers. It’s more or less the same as what happens with any UPS delivery. The carrier must give the parcel to a human being at the address and get the signature of the human being. If there’s no human being to accept and sign for the package, it doesn’t get delivered. With DC it’s possible that someone other than the intended recipient will steal the package (eg. it’s left by the mailbox and the neighbor steals it before the addressee arrives home). Signature confirmation is a pain in the neck if you’re the recipient for obvious reasons: you must physically be at the address and answer the doorbell when the mail carrier arrives. When you’re like me and your mail carrier arrives anywhere between 1:30 pm and 5:30 pm depending on the day of the week, it’s a terrible inconvenience to wait around all day.

Registered mail is about equally inconvenient as non-registered signature confirmation parcels if you’re the recipient. It’s better for the seller though because supposedly registered mail is handled in a more secure manner than non-registered mail while in transit. I don’t know the details, but registered mail automatically requires a signature so for the recipient it’s more or less the same hassle as non-registered mail with signature confirmation, regardless of class.

Anyway, I always try to use only ordinary delivery confirmation. Regardless of whether we’re talking about media mail, parcel post, first-class mail or priority mail, I always try for just delivery confirmation when ordering packages. Ordinarily my mail carrier just leaves the DC parcels outside the mail box and I pick them up when I get home. The last three parcels I’ve ordered with DC, however, have all gone straight to the post office and I’ve had to go pick them up. I find that very annoying. DC is DC. There’s no requirement, as far as I know, for a human being to physically accept the parcel if it’s just got DC. That’s the point of the handheld scanner, if I’m not mistaken. That’s also why signature confirmation (which ensures a human being accepts the parcel) is more expensive. If DC required a human being to accept the package, there wouldn’t be much use for signature confirmation since it wouldn’t add any protection that DC didn’t already provide other than the name of the specific human being who accepted the package.

Anyway, it’s just annoying that the USPS would suddenly start requiring a human to accept parcels at the exact time that my apartment was destroyed. It’s enough of a pain in the neck having to travel to the remnants of what was once your home to pick up the mail without also having to travel to the post office, wait in line, and show an I.D. every time a piece of mail with delivery confirmation is sent to you. I’m starting to wonder if maybe the USPS started blacklisting addresses of destroyed homes.

In defense of USPS, I do understand how some people might see this as a an upgrade to the DC service, since requiring the addressee to travel to the post office and show identification makes it much more likely that the intended recipient gets the package, rather than some neighbor or even somebody else (such as a family member) who lives at the same address. Of course, it doesn’t stop an impostor from picking the package up using a fake or stolen I.D. card, but it’s still much more secure than leaving the package at the mailbox.

I don’t see it as an upgrade though. That’s because I’m not ordering any sensitive materials. If I were, I’d use registered mail with signature confirmation or maybe FedEx.

Anyway, hopefully this is just bad luck I’ve had on my last three parcels and not an indication of an actual change to the way delivery confirmation works.