I've pretty much spent the last two days that I wasn't doing chores or sleeping trying desperately to figure out what is going on with these packages the USPS has returned to me. Turns out you cannot just call somebody at the USPS and ask them lol, and my local carrier has no idea.
One of them was scanned, made it to the East Coast, and then came back to me with nothing in the system to indicate why. It was international. I cannot get a refund because it was scanned, so the label was "used." Now I have to eat that cost and pay for a new label - but since I don't know why it was sent back to me, I have no confidence that shipping it again will even work. So much of the last day has been spent investigating USPS alternatives, and it looks like my choices are either to roll the dice on shipping again and risk losing another $24 or to go with another shipper which will cost me at least $43 and that is with every commercial/volume discount I could finagle out of any company I could get hold of.
I can't afford to do business like this. And I don't want to fire the USPS as my carrier, esp. not right now. But they are not giving me a lot of choice. There have been several of these over the past month where *nothing hits the system for a week* and then it turns up back in my mailbox. In almost 15 years of shipping exclusively with USPS, hundreds of dollars worth of postage every month during most of those years, I have never, ever seen anything like this.
One of them said "refused" in the system. The customer said he didn't refuse it. He called his local branch and they said it looked like it had been returned to me for postage due, that the system saying "refused" was an error. I have a digital scale here, but ok, maybe it's messed up, so I'll get new batteries and test it. So I waited for it to come back and in the meantime made him a replacement order and reshipped out of pocket.
It never came back to me. It came all the way back to my town, spent almost a week here, and then went BACK out to his town, where it was eventually delivered, over a month after the label ship date.
Yesterday, in desperation, I contacted the company that makes the software that I use to ship, that mediates between my website platform and USPS's system. The person I talked to, looking at the international package, hazarded a guess that the USPS thought the oils I was shipping were flammable. I said, "Well, they aren't. What can I do?" They said if it were domestic, I could choose ground shipping, but since it's international, I have to pick a different carrier. I'm like, "What? But they aren't flammable." But there's nothing the company can do about it and there's nobody they can recommend I call.
I have no idea what the actual hell is going on. Or what I'm going to do about it yet. But that's where my attention has been for the last two days.
If your package has come back to me, I will be in touch hopefully tonight with a new tracking number.
If it's out there in the system but looks like it's heading in the right general direction making progress towards you, however slowly, I'd ask that you be patient - the USPS is experiencing delays in delivery and system updates pretty much all over the country due to COVID and personnel issues on top of budgeting/funding issues on top of it being the holidays. They're calling it "unprecedented volume." If you've been living under a rock lately, just Google it - every major news source is talking about it.
If it is doing something weird or in a location it shouldn't be in, I will know about it soon because i'm in the process of going through the records for every single package I've shipped in the last month to look for anomalies. I'll be keeping an eye on them. Remember that shippers have no secret knowledge about package whereabouts - all they can do is look at the same tracking info online that you can look at. So writing to ask where your order is doesn't actually do anything but slow your sellers down - your sellers know what you know, which is what the USPS is telling them via that tracking number. And right now, this is affecting everybody all over the country - well, I guess all over the world.
I'm really sorry about this, and if you're upset, please know that it's massively stressful for me, too, and I share your feelings. I'm working on solving these problems and I appreciate your patience. Trust me, I am NOT here to rip anybody off. I don't want my customers to be upset. This sucks. But I'm going to figure something out.