When you’re sending mail, working out when it’s likely to arrive and how to ship it is one of the most important elements, but it’s also often one of the most complicated ones. If you’re struggling to make sense of the different mailing options, we’re going to cover these today and talk about how quickly you can expect them to arrive.
Mailing is often a headache, but if you can’t tell your recipient when to expect something, it is even more frustrating, particularly if you run a business. Both you and your recipient need to know how long it is likely to take for something to arrive with them, so they can plan to be in, or at least know when they should have the item by.
Are There Any Guarantees On Mailed Items?
It is important to note that only a few forms of mail come with a guaranteed delivery time. Almost all are based on estimates of how long it usually takes.
This means that you can give your recipient an estimate of when they will receive their package, but it will just be a “best guess” scenario. You can’t guarantee when it will come, because USPS does not guarantee when it will come.
You will be able to let your recipient know when it was mailed and what mailing form you used, so that they can at least have an idea of when it is due and organize their life accordingly. This is particularly important if you are using a signed-for service that they will need to be at home for.
If you need a guaranteed delivery time, talk to the post office about this. Most guaranteed services are expensive and pretty limited about what time they will deliver for, but they are a solution if your recipient really needs to know when to expect the parcel.
Be aware that some shipping methods can have far more varied delivery estimates than others, especially for certain states. For example, the USPS retail ground service might only take two working days, but could take a full eight – which is a very big difference, especially when you take weekends into account.
It can be a challenge to work with delivery estimates, but by understanding how long your parcel should take to arrive, you can at least get a good idea of how your mail should behave. This will help both you and your recipient out.
Does The Mailing Time Depend On The Shipping Method?
Yes, the amount of time it will take for your package to arrive is very heavily dependent on the shipping method that you use. If you choose one of the cheaper shipping options, it will almost invariably take longer to ship than if you select one of the most expensive ones. Very few shipping methods are both fast and cheap.
If you need your package to travel quickly, you will have to pay a higher cost for it. If you don’t mind when it arrives, choose one of the economical and slow mailing options, but warn your recipient that they will need to wait for it to reach them.
Do Holidays Count As Mailing Days?
No. USPS does not deliver mail on US federal holidays, and these do not count toward the shipping estimates provided. If your package is supposed to take eight working days to arrive, a holiday does not count as a working day.
This is important to remember, especially if you are mailing parcels for Christmas. You need to mail them a couple of days early to ensure that they arrive before the holiday officially starts, or you will find that your gifts don’t arrive until work resumes after Christmas.
Do Saturdays Count As Mailing Days?
Yes, they do. USPS delivers on Saturdays and treats them like any other business day. That means there are six business days in a week, according to USPS’s terms.
If, for example, you mailed a package on a Wednesday and it should take four business days, you would count Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Monday, and it should arrive on the Monday.
Because USPS counts Saturdays, you need to do so as well when working out when a package will arrive.
What Happens If My Parcel Is Late?
Many services allow you to claim compensation when something goes wrong. However, a late package will rarely get you compensation. This is because USPS’s delivery times are only estimates, and not fixed dates.
You may be able to claim some compensation if you have paid extra for a guaranteed delivery slot, but otherwise, there is rarely any point in complaining about late parcels; they do happen, and it’s just seen as an acceptable part of the service.
With USPS delivering around 700 million packages every day, it’s no surprise if they sometimes do end up arriving later than expected – it’s almost bound to occur.
Why Do Mailing Times Matter?
If you are only sending packages to friends and family, it may not matter very much when they get delivered. This is especially true if there is often someone in at the recipient’s home, or if they can easily collect a parcel from the appropriate location if it does get missed.
However, if you are an eCommerce merchant, it is far more important to have an accurate assessment of when a package should arrive. You don’t want to be dealing with irritated customers, wondering why their parcel has not yet shown up and what you’re going to do about it.
This can happen even if the parcel isn’t actually late, so it’s important to understand shipping estimates and communicate these very clearly to your customers. You may also want to outline your policy for what happens if an item is not delivered as expected, so customers know what to do next.
What Are The Mailing Times For Different Kinds Of Mail?
So, let’s look at the mailing times and estimated costs for the most popular kinds of mail that USPS offers. Note that this is in the US, and does not apply to mailing packages abroad.
First Class Mail Letters: 1 – 3 business days (from $0.55)
First Class Large Envelope: 1 – 3 business days (from $1.00)
First Class Package Service: 1 – 3 business days (from $3.80)
USPS Retail Ground: 2 – 8 business days (from $7.50)
Priority Mail Regional Rate: 1 – 3 business days (from $9.98)
Priority Mail Flat Rate: 1 – 3 business days (from $8.30)
Priority Mail: 1 – 3 business days (from $7.50)
Priority Mail Express: Overnight delivery (from $26.35)
Parcel Select: 2 – 8 business days
Media Mail: 2 – 8 business days (from $2.80)
You will notice that the mailing times can vary enormously, from anywhere between overnight delivery to eight business days. The prices also vary between $0.55 and $26.35. That means you need to assess your shipping options and needs carefully, and find the delivery service that suits you and your recipient.
If you are a business, the price of shipping is likely to be very important to you, because expensive shipping can take away your margins. Look at the low cost options, and make sure you show your delivery times very clearly on your site. It also helps to offer a fast shipping option, but pass the cost on to the customer.
This makes your products viable for last minute birthday and Christmas shopping, but means you don’t end up paying extra (or making your products more expensive) by using fast shipping when it isn’t needed. It is, however, a bit more complicated and requires more website design and more administration and care when mailing.
This is usually worthwhile, but you will have to make this decision based on your understanding of your business and your customers’ needs.
If you are mailing privately to friends/family, you might feel that priority mail is not worth it, but it is worth considering when your item needs to reach the recipient, and choosing based on this factor.
How Does USPS Deliver So Much Mail?
If you’re stunned by the sheer logistics of getting all that mail to the right places, it’s no surprise. USPS is absolutely massive, and it’s hard to comprehend how complex the job can be. However, it is also a big company with many hands, hard at work.
USPS has over 30,000 retail locations. This makes it very much easier to streamline the mailing service and get packages to where they are supposed to be quickly and efficiently. However, even with their incredible network and the thousands of staff they employ, they still have a big challenge on their hands to get mail to the right places every day.
What Time Of Day Does Mail Arrive?
If you are waiting in for a parcel, you may be wondering how long you should wait and what time USPS delivers until. Unfortunately, it is not possible for USPS to guarantee delivery times, or even estimate them in most cases.
This is because carriers are given routes to follow, and they simply deliver packages as they work their way through the route. A route might take several hours, and if your house is two thirds of the way along, they are unlikely to know when they will reach you.
It is also possible that your mailman will get diverted, or that they will have to pick up another route because of sickness or vacation time.
USPS does employ a lot of staff, but the point at which the mail actually has to reach get to individual homes is the least efficient part of their whole service. This means that they need a lot of staff to sort a small amount of mail, which is costly. In consequence, there are often fewer mail drivers than would be ideal for a route.
In general, mail is delivered between seven in the morning and eight at night. Your mailman may have done multiple other routes before yours, in which case your mail will not come until late. Alternatively, yours may be the first house on the first route.
There is no way to know in advance, and while this system can be frustrating for those waiting in for a package, it is just how it is run.
You might be wondering why other delivery companies can offer time estimates and delivery slots, but bear in mind that these drivers are delivering to very few houses overall.
USPS cannot handle the logistics of delivering mail at certain times, because they are delivering to so many houses – almost every property in the USA. It would not be feasible for them, and drivers would quickly end up out of sync with the expected delivery time, leading to frustration for customers waiting for mail.
You may occasionally get mail delivered after eight in the evening, although this is quite rare. It will usually only happen if your mail driver has been delayed while en route to your house, and drops the mail off rather than returning it to the depot.
This delay could be caused by bad weather, traffic issues, breakdowns, etc. However, it is unusual for mail to arrive later than eight, so if you have not received your package by then, it probably will not come until the following day.
Waiting in for mail is a serious issue for some people, and USPS’s somewhat vague delivery estimates do not help. If you can’t book eight days off work just to wait for something sent by Media Mail or USPS Retail Ground, what are your options?
You may want to consider getting a Virtual Mailbox from US Global Mail. This allows your mailman to deliver packages at any time of day, on any day of the week, without you needing to be present.
You can then collect them whenever it is convenient for you, ensuring that you don’t have to wait at home for hours on end, only to find your package isn’t delivered until the following day. Virtual mailboxes take all the logistical challenges out of having mail delivered, making it a breeze and saving you time.