amazon sunday shippingThe U.S. Postal Service is known for working through rain, sleet and snow, but not on Sundays or holidays, right?

That is changing, quickly, through a deal with Amazon. In many parts of the country, products ordered from Amazon now arrive at your home seven days a week, year-round. As GeekWire reported last week, the rollout is expanding nationally even faster than originally expected.

The change is catching some Postal Service customers off guard, who may find it shocking that an institution of its size can evolve the way it does business. On Twitter, one person said it’s “kind of like magic,” and another person called it a #pleasantsurprise.

As postal trucks start circling U.S. neighborhoods, and customers get knocks on their front door on Sundays, people have become more aware of the service, and naturally, questions have started to arise. So we put together this FAQ to answer some of the most common questions about Amazon’s Sunday delivery service via USPS:

How come I’m seeing mail carriers on Sunday and holidays? What’s up? 

Instagram user embranigan snaps a shot of a postal truck doing its rounds on Sunday.
An Instagram user snaps a shot of a postal truck doing its rounds on Sunday.

In November 2013, Amazon.com announced it was working with the U.S. Postal Service to deliver packages on Sunday and holidays, starting in Los Angeles and New York, and in May, it added 15 more cities. In recent weeks, it has rolled out to even more cities, including Seattle, Portland, Northern New Jersey; San Diego; Fort Worth, Dallas and Houston in Texas; Richmond, Va.; Washington, D.C. (plus Virginia suburbs).

As for holidays, Fourth of July was probably the first time in many markets where people saw postal carriers delivering packages by foot.

Amazon and the U.S. Postal Service plan to continue to roll out Sunday delivery to a large portion of the U.S. population this year. Previously, the U.S. Postal Service only delivered Priority Mail Express orders on Sunday.

Is this a trial, or something more permanent?

It will probably last for at least five years, according to a WSJ report, which tracked down portions of the contract between to the two entities, however, either party can terminate the deal with 30-day notice.

A portion of the Amazon and USPS contract (via WSJ).
A portion of the Amazon and USPS contract (via WSJ).

Is Sunday delivery only for those who are willing to pay $99 a year for Amazon Prime?

No, Sunday delivery is available to all of Amazon’s customers. However, a Prime account holder can order an item as late as Friday and can potentially expect to receive it on Sunday. For example, I placed an order on a Friday recently, and Amazon guaranteed that one of the four items would be delivered on Sunday. To my surprise, it was delivered on Saturday, or just one day after I placed the order.

What can non-Prime customers expect?

Non-Prime members also can receive shipments on Sunday. For instance, a friend ordered an item on a Monday, and picked standard shipping. Amazon promised it would arrive three to eight days later, and it was delivered on Sunday, six days after placing the order.

amazonprimeHow much does Sunday delivery cost?

In both the scenarios explained above, Sunday delivery happened to be free, but generally, non-Prime customers pay standard shipping rates, and it’s free to Prime customers. For either customer looking for something to be shipped faster, expedited rates would apply.

Is it available for all items?

No. Amazon says vaguely that “millions” of items are eligible when available in your region. The most common items include baby supplies such as newborn apparel, books and toys.

How do I know if a package will be arriving on Sunday?

You many not necessarily know until after placing an order. That’s when Amazon provides a summary of items purchased and dates for guaranteed arrival. In my case, a infant toothbrush for $6.99 was guaranteed to arrive on July 13. Amazon did not provide special notice that it was a Sunday.

I ship my Amazon orders to my office, which is closed on Sundays. Is there anyway to opt out?

We have not been able to identify a way to opt out of Sunday delivery. We have reached out to an Amazon spokesperson for the answer, but have not heard back.

Mail truck. Photo via Chase Elliot
Mail truck. Photo via Chase Elliot

Others just feel plain bad that their postal carrier is having to work on Sundays. Should we feel guilty?

The Sunday work is performed primarily by “non-career employees,” which is lingo for part-time employees. A U.S. Postal spokesman said these employees most likely would not receive as many hours as they do if it were not for Sunday delivery. Because of this, you will often see them not in uniform.

Dozens of job openings are listed on the U.S. Postal Service’s website, calling for temporary help on Sunday. Wages are listed at roughly $15.30 an hour, so if you think creating new jobs for people is a good thing, you probably don’t have to feel guilty.

Is this the first unusual relationship that U.S. Postal Service has inked with a private business?

No. The USPS recently contracted with Staples to have some services sold in their stores. The deal received considerable backlash from workers, who claimed it was shifting jobs to low-paying, less experienced workers. The last we heard Staples was abandoning the trial.

If the USPS is considering canceling Saturday service, then why would it add Sunday?

This is a good question with a very long convoluted answer, based on calls I made to people in the postal business. The agency lost $5 billion in its most recent fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2013. The loss was largely attributable to massive healthcare funding requirements. Meanwhile, operating revenue, excluding a $1.3 billion non-cash change, increased to $66 billion compared to $65.2 billion in the same period a year earlier, representing the agency’s first growth since 2008.

The postal service has acknowledged the arrangement with Amazon will represent only “a small percentage of total Parcel Select volume.”

Comments

  • Jfdelman

    I like that they said it will give then more hours, in reality these part time workers already work 40-65 hours a week without Sunday.

    • ajkearney

      That is because they have not hired all the CCA’s they are allowed to under the contract. Once they do these hours will help everyone get the hours they need.

      • Jfdelman

        They have in california, CCA’s are on a hiring freeze.

        • Joose

          I’m a CCA in the San Diego area most of the CCAS have quit and we are left all that work the the remainder of us. I work over 60 hours a week. And the supervisors have us working 7 days a week for a few weeks at times,especially during the end of the year.

          • Pickel Juavez

            Welcome to what every private sector employee goes through. If you don’t like it, find a new job. Our President tells us we have plenty ever since his recovery so you are lying if you say you cannot find a better one.

    • Danielle

      Exactly, I already work full-time plus overtime as a part time employee. What new employees? Ill be working 7 days a week and they keep eliminating routes leaving us with less people to do more work. :(

      • Pickel Juavez

        Welcome to what every private sector employee goes through. If you don’t like it, find a new job. President Obama tells us we have plenty ever since his recovery so you are lying if you say you cannot find a better one.

    • GuyinCA

      Not in my area. I used to be a sub and only worked a couple days a week for years except for the occasional vacation someone would take. Now full time starting 4 1/2 months ago.

    • DA Real Chillz

      A lot of the rural carriers only are guaranteed 1 to 3 days a week filling in for career employees off days

      • Jfdelman

        Rural carriers can’t do Sunday delivery, it would be grieved.

  • Judy from Jersey

    And also many of the part timers quit once they find out that they need to run as well leave tall buildings in a single bound. You think I’m kidding. I’m not

    • ajkearney

      I agree with you. Same thing we went through as a PTF but with less support. The Union needs to protect these people better somehow. Everything with the CCA’s is a work in progress. Both with the Union and Management. The CCA MOU and FAQ on the National web site changes daily. Hopefully we can keep making the job more desirable to them.

      • Pickel Juavez

        Kind of makes you realize the stupidity of paying a union what you earn through your money an labor just so they can ignore you when you call in their services

  • Retired Mailman

    If they haven’t done away with the additional 25% bonus for working on Sundays then these carriers should be happy, at least until football season.

    • joe

      no 25 % bonus for cca’a they are non career

    • CCA

      No bonus for Sundays or holidays. They work us everyday they can giving us full routes with swings. They work us 7 days a week at times especially during the holidays for a few weeks on end. We are getting destroyed.

  • JBM

    Unfortunately, the Postal “Service” of today means that many of the small acts considered part of the job, such as ringing the doorbell to (hopefully) let the customer know that a package has been left on the porch, are no longer allowed. Carriers are now instructed not to waste the time to ring the bell or knock. In a time when theft of parcels from porches is more common, it would seem that the USPS would want to ensure that customers know when they need to come and get their parcel. If deliveries are made on Sunday when people aren’t expecting them, and there’s nothing to signal that delivery, that leaves another 24 hours or more for the package to be stolen or damaged. Combine that with the new USPS practice of throwing or “bowling” packages from the curb or dropping them at a front gate (even into a puddle on a rainy day–my own experience) and the idea of Sunday delivery loses it’s “magic”.

    • JM

      The ringing the door bell is done in our office, we are told to ring bell or knock to let customer know.

  • JD

    If the USPS is considering canceling Saturday service, then why would it add Sunday? – they aren’t considering canceling package delivery on Saturday, just mail. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2013/02/06/u-s-postal-service-to-halt-saturday-mail-starting-august-1/

    • RCA

      The USPS isn’t considering cancelling Satruday service. Congress is considering making that change, because they know so much about businesses and what makes them profitable.

  • Bosco

    CCA program is a disaster purportrated by management and the union. Warm bodies for management, dues paying members for the union. You have to have overtime to keep the minions happy. Once the overtime disappears and the CCA’s are making 20-30 hrs a week(maybe) the words “going postal” will be back in our vocabulary. Not to mention all CCA’s that are being hired ARE KEPT. The only ones not making it are the ones that quit. That means more untrained lousy workers. Over time should be cut back NOT wiped out!!

    • MOONIE$$

      I AM A CURRENT CCA OF NJ AND I FEEL AS IF COMPLAING BOUT THE HARDSHIP WE GO THREW AS BEING CCA IS NOT GOIN TO HELP LETS JUST TRY AND SERVICE CUSTOMER’S WITH GREAT AND PLEASANT SERVICE NO ONE WOULDNT HV TO GO POSTAL STOP BEIN SO JUDEMENTAL BOUT SHIT MAYBE DA WORK WOULDNT SEEM SO HARD GIVE PEOPLE A CHANCE MAKING IT EASIER FOR THE PTF SUM OFFICES SHOULD ONLY HV CCA DO PARCLES FOR AMAZON ONLY ANYWAY WHY DO MAIL AND PARCELS WHEN IT CAN BE SUMONE DOIN PARCLES WE ALL HV LIFE ISSUES AND NOONE WANTS TO BE STRESSED AND OVER EXHAUSTED. ALL JUST A THEORY .WE STILL HV LIVES TO LIVE BEYOND THINKING OF GOIN POSTAL YESS ITS A HEAVY LOAD TO DEAL WITH HW I APPECIATE MY CCA POSITION AND I JUST WANT TO THANK USPS AND AMAZON FOR GIVIN ME WORK TO DO BC IN THIS TIME EVERYONE IS MENTALLY DRAINED SO LETS JUST KEEP FAITH AND POSITIVE THOUGHTS .THAT PHASE GOING POSTAL IS OVERRATED

      • Joose

        I’m a CCA out of San Diego I agree they need to hire only Sunday and holiday workers and keep CCAS that work doing regular routes just focused on that. I’m working 7 day s a week with no time off and it’s killing me. They even call me on my days off that they just managed to give me to come in, it’s ridiculous.

        • BobbieJo

          I agree wholeheartedly, they need to hire people that want to just do the Sunday/Holiday delivery to earn extra money. Just pay them however much an hour and don’t expect them to join the union. I’m sure people would line up to do that. I’m a CCA in the Seattle district and our newest CCA’s, even the ones still on probation keep coming up with excuses why they can’t work Sunday and holidays….

      • Patrick

        And this guy above is the reasoning behind, throwing packages, dropping packages in puddles,(and were wondering why service stinks) the man cant even use proper grammar. And i’m sure there is more like him in management. like so many have said above, all they want are warm bodies to fill the positions, when one quits they have no plan so they panic and hire the first person that can spell there name and read house addresses.

    • purportrated

      purportrated

  • $1.3 billion non-cash change

    What is a non-cash change?

    • uncrushed

      It’s probably non cash “charge”. Congress mandated that the post office pre fund 75 years of health care over a period of ten years. That’s THE major source of red ink. On the upside, anyone who hasn’t been born yet but metaphysically wishes to be able to count on retiree health care at usps, you’re golden!

  • RCA

    I’d like to know how many non-career employees you spoke to in the formation of this ‘faq’. The attitude that clearly we poor, simple CCAs and RCAs will do anything for money, we’re so grateful, massa, isn’t really well considered. Most of us work incredible work loads, very often getting called in our day off, or getting sent out to help other carriers when we finish with no prior notice that we’d be needed. As a single RCA, it’s near impossible for me to plan anything in advance, save for Sundays, which I was able to rely on as always having off. I do not get vacation days, I do not accrue sick leave, there are no benefits, and now I’m on call 7 days a week?

    • Real Carrier

      Cry me a river RCA! You have no idea of what being a real carrier is. All you do are mounted, apt, and business routes. Try walking on your feet all day swing after swing. You rural carriers kill me. It takes at least 20 years in my city to get a mounted/apt/bus route and you guys get that right from the start. You don’t need annual leave….you get it from day 1 with that gravy you get from being an RCA!

      • CCAChris

        I agree with you completely. RCA’s are doing curbside routes all day. Yet here I am as a CCA working an 825 stop walking and dismount route that they forced me on because no one else would take it. And on top of it they expect me to work sundays after doing that kind of a route? Just a freaken joke man.

      • mail carrier

        Every route is different. Every route has it’s obstacles. If we’re all delivering mail, we’re all REAL carriers, regular or associate, city or rural. Disrespect is disrespect. If your significant other, or a parent, or a child was a rural carrier, would you think less of them?

  • sfgiants3535

    Anybody ever think that I dont want to work on Sundays? Thanks a lot Amazon and F YOU.

  • kroyster

    I have been a CCA for a few months. I can truly say that the work is hard and strenuous. Especially in the hot weather. As a CCA I work well over 40 hours and six day a week. Adding Sunday package delivery should definitely call for new employees. I greatly appreciate the money I make and the hours, but we won’t be any good if we are overworked more, customer service will definitely suffer in the long run.

  • privateuser

    As said by a previous post, the temporary employees are already overworked in these big cities and I can’t say there aren’t plenty of complaints.

  • WeezyTheRaccoon

    I’m a CCA in the San Francisco bay area. There are 6 of us at our station, and we all work close to 50 hours a week, with only Sundays off. Today we were informed that our station will begin Sunday parcel delivery this upcoming Sunday. I’ve been unhappy at work, and this may be the final straw that gets me to quit. This is unreasonable!

  • Ellen

    anyone ever think we dont even WANT sunday deliveries????? believe me there are plenty of people that dont want delivery trucks speeding around their neighborhoods on Sunday they dont even want Saturday deliveriies…..

  • Haggy

    It seems strange that the article would ask if people should feel guilty that their letter carrier might have to work on Sunday. Do these people shop at Target or WalMart or eat at Denny’s? The world doesn’t close down on Sunday, and it’s up to any business or agency to offer people jobs for whatever days it wants. If there are more days available, they can schedule employees for whatever hours they want. If they are forcing people to work seven days a week, that’s not related to this specific issue. With any employee at any job, an employer can have unreasonable hours and shifts or reasonable ones.

  • Stephanie Tenz

    You can opt out of weekend deliveries under your settings/preferences on amazon

  • san Ramon ca

    Yes they do deliver on Sunday forcing employees to work seven days a week with no rest and creating stress for their family . My wife works as temporary employee under a contract the work conditions are the worst the any jobs can offer “even the slaves have rest” they work 10hrs a day 7 days
    A week that’s because they don’t want to pay regular employees overtime and can’t force to work 7 days a week they will call the union and one of the respond from one of them was that’s what you cca
    It ‘looks like cheap practice from usps to get more businesses
    Sweatshop usa

  • keha

    I just got a delivery on Sunday – it was nice but not necessary because I was expecting a Tuesday delivery (after the holiday). I see for $12 extra I can have Priority mail delivered on a Sunday too. So this seems to be a push from USPS as well as Amazon.

    I guess it’s a gamble the USPS has to take. As Amazon builds warehouses closer to their customers they certainly don’t want those big boxes sitting idle for 1 or 2 days a week based on the schedule of their delivery services.

    So now my packages from Amazon arrive by UPS on Monday-Friday, Fedex on Saturday and USPS on Sunday/Holidays. Amazon did a good job of spreading the deliveries around and playing the shipping companies against each other.

  • Brittany

    While USPS needs the revenue and this deal was lucrative enough to take it, all the CCA’s in my area, and the RCA’s as well, are already working full-time. My SO had 109 hours on his last paycheck and that’s before Sunday delivery. It’s still cheaper to pay them double overtime than it is to call in any career employees for overtime pay.

    What happens when these hard workers start burning out and getting hurt? How much workman’s comp is going to have to be paid before they realize, oh these guys are human too?

  • Duncan Manuel

    Ya’ll can find your local post office at http://www.uspostmail.org and see if they offer the Amazon Sunday shipping – pretty awesome it just came to New York!

  • uspsWife

    As other have said…..my husband has worked 60+ hours/week over the past 5 weeks with only 2 days off. Management of these non-career (CCA) employeess is very inconsistent. We have friends that hold the same position, but work out of different stations in town and are given at least one, but usually 2 days off each week. Meanwhile, my husband is sent to cover other stations and work 7 days a week!

  • http://batman-news.com dan.c

    Amazon shipping via usps is terrible. The packages never arrive by the “guaranteed” date. Very poor decision by amazon.

  • pgh pse

    On the clerk side of this mess….we are already working 40-65 hours a week as well. 6 days. Now add Sundays at just 2, yes that’s just two, hours on a Sunday. No, don’t feel guilty that I have to get out of bed on my ONLY day off and drive half an hour to and from work too get two hours pay to make sure you get those diapers you ordered. Ooooh I just made 20 bucks. Thank you

  • Tammy

    USPS is garbage. If your not home they just leave your package there. If your in an apartment building where typically usps drops off at the main office that’s open mon-sat then usps “will leave it wherever” (EXACTLY what usps told me) needless to say 3 packages were stolen.

  • Emily

    I work for the postal service and I already have to work 6 days a week, now 7, usually 10 hours a day, so thanks but I already had more than enough hours

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