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this isn’t just the USPS being overwhelmed – this is some kind of shady shit

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This item was a shrine/ornament – no prep work involved. No extended handling time or anything. I took it off its altar, blessed it, wrapped it up in tissue paper, boxed it, paid the $35-something for the shipping label because the customer paid for Priority Mail Express, and sent it out that same day for Mike to drop off at the post office. *Which he did, before C.O.B.*

Here’s what the tracking says:

December 13, 2020, 3:58 pm
Shipping Label Created, USPS Awaiting Item
GRAND BAY, AL 36541 

December 23, 2020, 5:09 am
Arrived at Post Office
GRAND BAY, AL 36541 

December 23, 2020, 7:42 am
GRAND BAY, AL 36541 

December 23, 2020, 1:33 pm
GRAND BAY, AL 36541 
Your item was refused by the addressee at 1:33 pm on December 23, 2020 in GRAND BAY, AL 36541 and is being returned to the sender.

Ok, for starters, it was not refused by the addressee. The addressee never saw it ’cause it never left this town of Grand Bay. That’s my town. It was refused by some employee at the local post office, AFTER IT SAT IN A BIN IN SAID POST OFFICE FOR TEN DAYS.

The 10 days is one thing. I don’t live under a rock (anymore). I know what’s going on and I wouldn’t be furious about a package sitting somewhere for days given everything going on around the country.

But the packages being refused by the USPS – that’s something else entirely.

The fact that they may or may not approve a refund request depending on somebody’s whim in a system that’s totally opaque to me is yet another.

Now I’m thinking they’re sitting on these packages for however long because they’re overwhelmed, and by the time the package gets scanned, it’s days or even a week or more past the label ship date, and they’re refusing them for that, maybe.

Except that doesn’t have anything to do with me, so they have no business refusing my packages. If it wasn’t scanned on the label ship date, that’s not my fault. But they’ve got it looking to the customer like I sat on my ass for 10 days and didn’t take their package to the post office for over a week, which is just totally fucked up.

Now that tracking showing refusal isn’t counting as the label being “used” in the system, so it did let me file for a refund. But there’s no guarantee they’ll approve the refund. They didn’t approve one the other day. And it might be 30 days before I know if it’s approved or not. But I have to solve the problem for the customer today, refund or no refund.

So what happens if I schedule a pickup on a business day and they don’t show to pick it up? When they finally pick up the package, will they refuse it at the local desk because I printed the label for the date they were supposed to show? WTF am I supposed to do? I cannot trust them in this scenario *at all.* And while I can do something like reship most of these via Fedex or UPS and just pay the difference out of pocket, 1. it will hobble me severely, and 2. I can’t do that with $30 and $40 international and express shipments. I mean, this bullshit could put me out of business – AGAIN – in a matter of days.

I’ve been rebuilding and reinvesting carefully and gradually and trying to stay on top of every cent going in and out way in advance so I have a buffer for random crazy shit. I’ve got spreadsheets out the (ahem). Every day I look at my balances, check what expenses are coming up, make a decision whether my next non-shipping cash outlay will be to refund a 2015 customer or order that next batch of packaging or essential oils or whatever. I have only paid myself for mission-critical stuff like being able to turn around and pay the ISP and power bill so I can stay in business.

Aside from that, aside from me paying myself only when I absolutely have to in order to make this thing go and putting back money for self-employment tax, every other cent that has come through my hands has gone right back into this. But considering the hole I started in, I don’t have comfortable margins and buffers here yet. Regardless of how careful I’ve been, I can’t absorb that many international or express shipment SNAFUs before I’m *screwed.*

So to say I’m upset is the understatement of the decade. It’s taking just about everything I’ve got to stave off an epic freakout – whether what’s percolating is straight-up panic or something more akin to road rage I can’t even clearly discern right now. But I have to talk myself off this ledge here ’cause I have to write this customer and ask him what he wants me to do and not sound like a crazy person in my email to him. (And he’s not the only one I have to write.)

I mean, I can’t take this personally – it’s some cosmic shit that doesn’t have my personal name on it and people all over the place are getting hit with crap they didn’t expect that makes them anxious, or worse. But the boot-print, man, it feels really familiar :/

So I just have to keep taking deep breaths and one of them is bound to work here in a minute :/

This *sucks.*

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