As we all continue to adjust to the “new normal” recent changes at the United States Postal Service (USPS), have caused the U.S. postal system to experience major disruptions and delays in mail processing and delivery. While these delays have become a hindrance to the U.S. population as a whole, small businesses have been hit with particular severity.

Small businesses have long relied on USPS for their shipping needs, and with an increase in online shopping, those needs have only increased. To help you navigate the "new normal", we’re answering the most common questions you have asked about shipping.

How Have Mail Delivery Services Been Affected by Coronavirus?

As the Coronavirus pandemic has seeped into every aspect of the world, it has affected mail delivery services heavily. With the health and protection of the population as the number one importance, mail delivery services, such as USPS, UPS, and FedEx, have instituted best practices to protect against the spread of infection. This also means that they have decreased their delivery capacities and transportation capabilities.

While mail delivery times have experienced delays, these postal services have worked to minimize the disruptions and deliver mail and packages as close to the expected delivery dates as possible. They have prioritized delivery of top priority packages, such as medicine and express orders, and ensured these deliveries arrive by the exact expected date.

Frequently Asked Questions to VirtualPostMail

Customer support specialist, Laura, helped answer the most commonly asked questions when it comes to your shipping and mailing status with VirtualPostMail (VPM).

Q: My mail shows that it's still not picked up by USPS - can you give me a status update?

A: Unfortunately once the shutdown happened in March and since this pandemic USPS has reduced the amount of times they scan the shipments at the sorting facilities. Before the shut down, mail was picked up from our office, and you'd see "Shipment Received, Package Acceptance Pending" - this tracking status scan happens when mail is picked up from our facility. Within the same afternoon/evening, the items used to reach a sorting facility where each of the physical items were accounted for via scan on site by the postal service.

We have been receiving an increasing number of reports from clients letting us know that the tracking status is not updating as fast. If and when the tracking status updates, it occurs days or even weeks later. If you do not see any tracking updates, please do not worry. It does not necessarily indicate there is an issue with your shipment. Send us an email and we will gladly contact USPS to submit an inquiry.

If the order is taking over 3 months for arrival internationally, please have mail re-issued.

Should you notice that there is no tracking movement on your order 2 weeks after we've processed it, please notify us so we can initiate an inquiry with the courier service for you.

Q: I shipped my mail with UPS / FedEx but it didn't arrive on time! Can I get a refund?

A: Due to the spread of Coronavirus, transportation has been reduced and hence couriers are not able to provide guarantee delivery time frames for shipments now. For this reason, couriers have disabled all guarantees for delivery. This means that if mail is delayed, we cannot get a refund at this time.

Q: What's the best way for me to ensure that I get my mail?

A: If it's time sensitive, and your capacity to track mail is something you consider essential, we recommend that you ship via UPS or FedEx at this time. We cannot guarantee that UPS / FedEx/USPS would work better than another since we see strains on all courier services at this time.

The best thing that you can do with the mail you've received in your account right now is to get the item scanned first. This way you can obtain a digital copy of mail prior to shipping it to yourself.

What is USPS Doing in Response to Coronavirus and Delivery Times?

A few months ago, USPS released an update about expected delivery changes in light of Coronavirus. Such changes include temporary delays in deliveries of Postal Service Priority Mail products and First-Class packages due to limited transportation availability as a result of the pandemic. The expected delivery times were extended by two to three days for Priority Mail and First-Class Package Service. However, USPS ensured that delivery of Priority Mail Express (overnight deliveries) would not change and that delivery of medication would remain a top priority in all parts of the delivery process. They have also identified adjustments to their delivery locations and alterations to Global Express Guaranteed Services, which can be found here.

USPS has a web page that lists all international service disruptions. You can access a detailed list of countries and their respective service disruptions at the following link.

What is UPS Doing in Response to Coronavirus and Delivery Times?

UPS made similar adjustments as USPS due to the pandemic. While they announced that the majority of their services will continue to be delivered within the expected timeframes, they have suspended their Service Guarantee to account for possible complications and delays caused by Coronavirus uncertainties. Additionally, UPS has taken measures to protect against the spread of infection by following the guidance provided on Coronavirus best practices.

UPS continues to maintain its delivery operations, except in locations that are limited by government restrictions. Country-specific UPS service impacts can be found here.

What is FedEx Doing in Response to Coronavirus and Delivery Times?

FedEx has announced its continued commitment to making sure everyone receives the items they need when they need them. This applies to items needed for health reasons, home necessities, and business resources. However, delays are inevitable and as such, FedEx released an update that FedEx Ground services can expect delays in various parts of the U.S. Due to government restrictions around the globe, FedEx has also suspended its money-back guarantee for all Express, Ground, Freight, and Office services.

In an effort to limit the spread of Coronavirus as much as possible, FedEx has also suspended signature requirements for FedEx Express and FedEx Ground deliveries to both commercial and residential customers in the U.S. and Canada. FedEx provides a full list of service adjustments and the areas they apply to here.

Impacts on VirtualPostMail and What to Expect

Luckily, the shipping related issues with Coronavirus have dwindled. The question that comes up the most often now is related to status updates.

Small businesses and individuals alike seem to be most concerned when the tracking status remains, "Shipment Received, Package Acceptance Pending". This happens for domestic shipments too (USPS First Class Mail and Priority Mail).

USPS is the only courier that offers a guarantee delivery method right now under their Express Mail Service.

The issue is that this method requires the item to be accepted by a certain time at an actual post office in order for the guarantee services of Next-day delivery.

Due to the pandemic, VPM employees are restricted to make in-person drop-offs at a local Post Office. So if guarantee delivery is important, it is available; however it would be a 2-day delivery guarantee instead of 1-day, as our facilities will have to wait for mail to be picked up by a Postal Employee at the end of the day for outbound mail. Our Henderson and Claymont locations aren't close to the Post Office. So, if we process shipments with this shipping method, we must wait until our USPS postal worker stops by our facility. In most cases, it is after their shipping deadline for Express methods meaning that they will likely not arrive on time.

To combat such issues, we recommend that you scan your mail first so you can obtain a digital copy of your mail and packages before shipping it to yourself. VPM provides mail scanning services that can help you do just that.