The power of money and corporations

July 18, 2014

I had to send three tax waiver certificates from the New Jersey Division of Taxation to a brokerage firm office in N.J.  I’m up in Massachusetts.  I sent them by overnight express mail from the Post Office (and I used the street address for the firm, not a Post Office Box).  That service claims it guarantees delivery the next day by noon.

I didn’t need the speed of express mail as much as I wanted the tracking, and I also wanted the documents to spend as little time in transit as possible, to minimize the opportunity for their getting lost.

So I expected the item to show up on the tracking as having been delivered by noon the next day.

Well, it didn’t and it wasn’t.  But what really surprised (and frustrated) me was that the USPS thinks this is okay.  Their claim is that it’s all up to the brokerage firm;  the firm has paid the Post Office a handsome fee to pick up its mail at the Post Office at will, as many times a day as it wishes to send a runner.  Apparently this means that the USPS does not deliver to the firm’s door, even overnight express mail.

So my piece of mail arrived at the Post Office on the day following my mailing of it, at 10:44 a.m.  It was “available for pick up” at that time, and, apparently, that fulfilled the Post Office’s duty on this delivery, from their point of view.  Didn’t matter that that wasn’t my arrangement with them, they allow this corporate arrangement to mean that the firm can decline to pick up the mail until they decide they want to.  Of course, the particular recipient of the mail could probably have requisitioned a pick-up by noon if they had wanted to — they did receive a call that the item was there at the Post Office, although I am not sure exactly when — certainly by early afternoon.  As it turned out, the item was picked up the day after the guaranteed-by-noon day, at 8:00 a.m., and this wasn’t posted on the tracking until the day after that.

Next time I may try UPS.

I am surprised that the arrangement with this corporation was allowed to trump my control over how I wanted the mailed item delivered.  I thought that in many situations, people and institutions depend on the delivery mechanism, and timing, being as advertized at the point of purchase.  Instead, it looks as if the Post Office has outsourced this decision to the recipient corporation, if they are willing to pay.  With all this technology, I might have thought the clerk at the counter where I mailed the item could have been alerted to the fact that this service would not be implemented as advertized, for this recipient.  In any event, there needs to be better communication.  (There also needs to be better handling — one of the clerks at the receiving Post Office told me that the item had been flung onto the counter and no one could figure out what to do with it for some time.)

I’m glad the tax waiver certificates arrived, and I hope to be able to distribute the remainder of the account to my mother today, to close the account for my father’s Estate, and to, for all intents and purposes, have finished administering my dad’s Estate.


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