’Tis the season to send holiday mail

Story courtesy of Fort Jackson

COLUMBIA — Turkey day kicked off the busiest season for the United States Postal Service.
Fort Jackson post office representatives have some advice on how people in South Carolina can ensure their packages arrive to their destinations safely and on time.

The mass flow of packages and inclement weather throw curveballs at postal workers during the holiday season.

Sending parcels securely, by USPS deadlines and to the correct address is key.

“There’s a cutoff date for everything,” said Charles Barbee, installation official mail manager.

Packages aren’t considered “late” unless they arrive more than 30 days past the postage date, he said, even though their expected arrival may be within a five-day window. No claims can be filed until after that 30-day period, he added.

Packages shipped late may not arrive in time for the holidays. “The faster you send it out, the faster it will get there,” Barbee said.

Those shipped Dec. 20 can’t be expected to show up in time for Christmas, Barbee added. Only parcels sent via Express Mail are guaranteed to be delivered by a certain date.

Understanding the different types of mail is pivotal this time of year, Barbee said.

Kenneth Salley, a clerk working at the Fort Jackson office Nov. 26, advised shoppers to keep in mind that overseas shipping takes longer. Shopping online and having packages sent directly from the source can speed up the process for late-starters, Barbee advised.

Making sure the address is complete and correct can determine whether the recipient gets the package, Salley said. When applicable, including the apartment number is of utmost importance.

Especially during this jam-packed time of year, “(mail carriers) are not going to go around door-to-door” trying to find the person the parcel is addressed to. It will be returned to sender, Salley said.

Ensuring items are properly packaged is pivotal to getting them to their destinations.
“Secure your package,” Salley advised.

The box should be sturdy and well-taped. There should be little wiggle room.

Keeping tracking numbers is key to determining when packages will arrive. That information can be researched on the USPS website, Barbee added.

Until Valentine’s Day, the post office will be inundated with packages, he said.

Though the flow at Fort Jackson was still slow the Monday after Thanksgiving, other post offices in the region weren’t so fortunate. Salley said one had received six pallets from Amazon that morning. In comparison, post had only seen a couple of packages dribble in Nov. 26.

The influx generally starts Nov. 1, Barbee said; “smart people” start sending things then.

“A lot of us are not (so) fortunate” to start that early, Barbee said.

USPS enlists extra manpower for this time of year, hiring seasonal help, but other than that, “it’s business as usual,” Barbee said. “We do the same thing we always do.”

Senders need to do their part. “Customers need to be more aware for themselves,” Barbee said.

Following the post office deadlines and advice facilitates the process.

Author: Rachel Howell

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