Monday, July 09, 2012
Why packages seem to “disappear” into the Richmond, California sort facility
by Larry Geller
It took a while, but I think I got the answer today on what happens to packages sent to Hawaii that are routed through the Richmond, CA sort facility.
I wrote about packages disappearing into the black hole of this facility in three articles:
- This stuff may be organic, but it’s no longer green (3/27/2011)
- The Richmond, CA, USPS sort facility still out of sorts (12/20/2011)
- Indefinite detention: the post office Richmond California Sort Facility (12/23/2011)
- The Richmond, CA, USPS sort facility still out of sorts (12/20/2011)
Together, they have receive more comments than anything else I’ve posted. It seems many people have been frustrated by losing packages that go through the Richmond Sort Facility.
Typically, it seems that packages are tracked going in. And they stay there ‘way past the expected delivery date. Calls to various post offices to find out what happened to the packages don’t yield any information. And time passes. Senders are frustrated because the expected delivery date has long passed.
Here’s what I found out today from a postal employee who shall remain nameless.
Yes, packages are scanned as they enter the sort facility. But they aren’t scanned when they leave. Inside the sort facility they are sorted, of course, and packages destined for Hawaii (or Guam, etc.) are loaded into containers.
Clearly, containers can’t be sent out with only a couple of packages bouncing around on the bottom. So the container stays until it gets filled. Then it is loaded on a boat.
There is no outgoing scan because the package is inside a container when it finally exits the facility. Now, in this computer age you’d think they could scan it going into the container and have the computer remember to post the scan when the container finally moves out, but no, they don’t do that. It just doesn’t get scanned.
The package is next scanned after it reaches the next sort facility (in Hawaii, etc.). I suspect that scan could occur on the same day it moves out for delivery, they are pretty efficient here.
I thanked the employee for the explanation (simple, isn’t it?) and remarked that the Richmond Sort Facility has seemed like a black hole to many people. She said “it is a black hole.”
So you see why I’m not mentioning her name.
Bottom line, it seems that “expected delivery dates” for packages headed into a container at Richmond are pure fiction. They could do better.
Thank you for the explanation. The method used is terrible, and I cannot wait until the whole of this sh*44y enterprise is shut down. I once had a very pro-USPS stance, but over the past 15 years, every ounce of favor has been eroded from my heart.
I would love to see FedEx or UPS take on the traditional mail role. I'm sure they would increase the rates for commercial mail(junk mail flyers, adverts, etc) and even increase the cost for shipping a single "postcard" or simple letter to upwards of $1. Even so, the amount of junk mail shipped would be greatly reduced, and with that, the delivery load would be cut drastically. This would allow for either company to take on the job with far less worry.
Privatize postal handling, then price crapmail out of the system. If the gov't can sin tax tobacco, why not similar for junk mail? If there is a good reason as to not promote this, I am very open to suggestions.
Thanks for the information. . . I am one of those "Hawaiianites" who use Ebay a lot and had become aware of the black hole in the Richmond USPS Sort Facility awhile ago. . . the packages that are superdelayed and apparently just sitting at Richmond for weeks, if not months, are usually books, although on one occasion is was some valuable materials. There is a book sitting there now while it's co-ordered companion made it through somehow, it probably didn't go through Richmond. Aloha. . .
There are so many other cities that ship out of California into Hawaii and they never have this problem, I think Richmond is the reason why so many sellers on ebay refuse to sell to people in Hawaii. Ugh, bastards.
Never had this issue when I have something shipped PRIORITY MAIL! If you live in HI, GU, AL, Priority mail is sent on a plane, not a boat. I have even had some priority mail packages reach me (GU) within 3 days of shipping, usually 5-7. Parcel post is surface mail, and will almost always take 6-8 weeks.
i have something coming from great britain and it's been tracked to new york, new hampshire then to richmond ca and it's been there for 5 days. not sure what the deal is but normally it comes from the new york facility straight to me.
The reason your package is stuck in the Richmond hub is because employees there are going through the contents. 11/8/2012 I received what I thought was the box of books I ordered from Hilo, Hawaii. It was filled with golf balls. The mailing label had been cut off the original box and stuck on the box of golf balls. The tracking # led to Richmond. Inside the box was wadded shrink wrap, obviously taken from a larger item from another box. Also inside, a sheet of paper from a New Jersey company taped to the shrink wrap. Also inside, a note from the golf ball vender, who said one of his customers had called earlier to report that he'd gotten a box of books, instead of the golf balls he'd ordered. The vender gave me the contact info, and we're supposed to do an exchange this week. ABSOLUTELY no help from USPS. They have more than enough complaints about this station to mount an investigation.
I'm having that same problem with that facility. I had placed an order on bestbuy and it was shipped out on October 18, 2012 and haven't received my package. Have made orders from bestbuy and others never had a problem with shipping. And never had it shipped though Richmond, CA. Called bestbuy and said that they apologize for the wait and said that the hurricane had lots to do with the shipping. IDK..something sounds fishy. I'm already thinking of canceling my order.
I am waiting on a large, oversized package shipped from another part of CA to Hawaii via Parcel Post (slow boat). It too, went through Richmond, CA and has been stuck there since Oct 31. The order is business/shipping supplies for my business and this happens to be my busiest season, so I am very concerned. I have had the same vendor shipped to me many times from CA for the last couple of years, and Parcel post has always been about 1-1/2 to 3 weeks from the sender's address to my place here. They always went through Richmond and/or Bell Gardens facilities. On a few occasions, the large package arrived in 3-4 days, much to my surprise... my guess is it must have been loaded onto a plane, perhaps by mistake and so it arrived so quickly, OR there was room in the outgoing aircraft, so they just had my package sent by airmail. Whatever the reason, I had always been happy with the USPS, especially since I run a online retail & shipping business and have to use the USPS to ship my orders everyday, for the past 11 years... until now. One of my latest orders has been stuck at Richmond for over 2 weeks and when I called the USPS yesterday, my own PO just told me there was nothing much they could do. The supervisor also said the same thing that Larry mentioned above. The employees there either have to wait for enough packages to fill up the container or they need to wait until the next ship-out date to send out all the packages bound for Hawaii. I really need the business supplies and just placed ANOTHER order with my vendor last week. Right now, the second order is ALSO sitting at the Richmond sort facility and there is no scan of it leaving. There are probably two large packages of mine sitting in that container right now, waiting for the boat to set sail! I am frustrated and may call the Richmond PO soon.
If the explanation is correct--that is, parcel post gets loaded onto a container without a scan and just sits there until the container is full and gets loaded on a ship--then no one can locate a package or do anything about it. Consider the container to be a temporary black hole. No one knows where something might be inside.
At least, they could scan it so shippers know the situation.
I received something quickly once or twice as well. But it seems that if a package is sent via parcel post to Hawaii, Guam, etc., it's a significant risk that it could be delayed considerably.
There seems to be another issue with the "estimated delivery date." I have a package that's at an Illinois sort facility way past its estimated delivery date. I just checked and it's now at Honolulu Airport, but it sure stayed in Illinois a long time. I don't know how it was sent, but I can guess. The expected delivery date was November 7 and perhaps I'll get it today or tomorrow. So that "expected" date may not be worth much, in practice.
An update for those interested. I posted yesterday about a large oversized package coming from CA. I finally received my package yesterday. It took 3 weeks and 1 day to receive. Though there's no scan of the package leaving Richmond, it did leave that sort facility and the package arriving in good shape. So the package seemed to have sat in Richmond for 2 weeks when in actuality, it was there for only about a week and then set sail for Hawaii afterwards which took another week or so.
Thank you for posting a followup.
Incidentally, I have a first-class package that's gone from the east coast to Illinois and back to the east coast. Nothing to do with the Richmond Sort Facility. When it finally gets delivered I may post the saga here because I think it may shed light on problems more extensive within the USPS than just this one facility.
I too am waiting for three items from three different vendors purchased through Ebay. The items arrived at the Richmond, CA facility between 5 and 10 days ago. I thought hurricane Sandy slowed down the mail but this sort facility REALLY slowed down the mail.
Yes, if you choose to have the postal service ship your mail to you by boat it may take a long time because it won't ship until the container is full. I thought most Hawaii residents knew this fact of life. I recall being told this over the counter by a Post Office clerk long ago.
THanks for posting this, at least now I have an idea what happened to 3 packages I ordered through Best Buy the week of Black Friday. They were shipped the same week, estimated delivery date was the 1st of December, so it's almost three weeks ago since that day. Just great, hopefully it comes before xmas or some people are going to get delayed presents :/
I wish I had known this before hand! I ordered from ebay 'Santa' presents for my daughter...now I'm trying to think up a way to explain why Santa may be late. Talked to USPS a week and a half ago and that person said that 2-8 day parcel post even though I said I was in Hawaii...spoke with someone different on Saturday and they said it's highly unlikely I'd be seeing them before Xmas. This is not fun at all!! =(
Let's just hope that all us in Hawaii that mistakingly used parcel post for Xmas shipping have helped each other out by getting that boat loaded up today and shipped out... maybe we can get our Xmas gifts delivered by Xmas Eve!!!
I am losing hope. Mailed 2 packages on Nov 26 parcel post (obviously will NEVER do again) that were swiped Nov 30 to Richmond (and I am in So, California!) and nothing has arrived to Maui yet. I have called the 800 USPS # and they say they will 'check into it' and see 'if they can get them moving' !! when i mentioned boats she said they don't go by boat. wow, the system is very broken. have had good results always with priority, including packages sent last week that have arrived. she said someone would call me withen 24 hours with info.....i will update
Uh, oh, now I'm more than a bit worried (and I'm not in Hawaii). Although my Christmas package to my son in Texas (from Nevada)is just a couple days late, I have concerns. I mailed it Parcel Post (all I could afford) in Sparks, Nevada, on the 13th. Estimated delivery on the 19th. Tracking information says it left the Richmond, California, sorting facility on the 18th. So far, nothing, and there's only one mail day left (Dec. 24) before Christmas. Where on Earth does a package go after it leaves Richmond? What facility has it gone to? It's too big to be lost and hopefully not stolen by a postal employee! I failed to insure it, but at least I paid for signature confirmation. That's good, right??? Hopefully, that would mean it can't be delivered to his front porch without him there to sign for it...right? So maybe there is still hope that he'll eventually receive it.
package sent parcel post from NY to hawaii on Dec. 5th....went through richmond and still has not been scanned into Hawaii and received :-/
package sent parcel post from NY to Hawaii on Dec 12th, Arrived at Richmond on Dec 17th and it has not been seen in Hawaii since... So frustrating.
also have a package being shipped to maui from richmond, ca sort facility and its very irratating that It takes usps so long to ship out everyones items. When I checked the tracking info it said depart usps sort facility december 30, 2012. Its been about 8 days and havent seen any updates. I figure that maybe either the boat is on its way here, or the boat is still being loaded up with packages. I thought the holidays would bring around alot of packages to be shipped here to hawaii, but i thought wrong. Hope usps can step up there game and expedite there shipping.
Package sent from Japan to Los Angeles CA.
Stuck in SF Customs for 4 days.
Now stuck at Richmond, CA indefinitely.
And the solution to the problem? Raise Income TAx and Raise Sales TAx so these goons can get more pensions and benefits.
I hope they send their next shipment out soon, I ordered a school book on Dec 26th to my home in Hawaii. It's been in Richmond since the 30th. It's Jan 10 now. I don't know if I should cancel my order, if that's even possible.
Ordered package from eBay which was shipped Dec 28. It's January 15 today and still no package, but it did go through Richmond, California post office according to the tracking. After reading all the posts here, I'm starting to get a little angry. I didn't realize the sorting facility was in such a bad area. So I'm sure there's lots of packages getting stolen. Man, this bites. From now on, whenever possible, I'm only going to order via UPS/Fedex.
I ordered textbooks on December 22, 2012. It is now January 17, 2013, and I am still textbook-less. I've been managing my textbook situation with taking pictures of the pages on my phone, but I seriously need my books to grow legs and walk of out the Richmond facility.
I sent a Christmas package out on Dec 5 to Hawaii and it still hasn't gotten there! Last known stop was Richmond, Ca. I have UPS and USPS checking statis from South Bend, IN and Kapaa, HI but still no results oither than it has left Richmond. They deefinitely need to close that facility. I also feel soooooo sorry for the military families who have to use this facility to ship items to loved ones serving oversees. This is disgraceful.
My 3 packages arrived at Richmond, CA on January 10. It is now February 13. I believe someone has stolen my boxes. What recourse do I have?
Debbie Carlson, Okinawa, Japan
I would like to update and add a small correction to the story.
I think they do scan when packages leave the richmond facility.
I used https://tools.usps.com/go/TrackConfirmAction.action
the tracking tool and was happy to learn my package only sat 1 day in richmond
sorting and was scanned out. what i didn't know was that it was to go by boat
from there. i wish they would have upgraded the shipping to priority because I called the local post office and they said it took 6 weeks from after leaving Richmond! when I thought it would be a few days and I would have it. total let down for me.
@Anonymous from April 2: Can you tell me where you package was going that they said another 6 weeks and if it was ever received? 2 of my packages left 3/18 and made it to destination 4/1. The third package left 3/19 and is still not there. I am pulling my hair out over this fiasco. There has been no tracking since then, so I have a feeling it is on a very slow boat or missed a full container and was therefore pull in another container that had to wait a loooooong time to ship out. Will never ship anything to Japan again that large and will pay for priority next time. I just wish someone out of the dozen or so people who I have spoken to and emailed with would have explained how Richmond works. I am very thankful for this blog for explaining it to me. It actually makes me feel better to know the process.
A package was mailed from San Marcos, Texas, on 4/5/13 and was supposed to be delivered to San Francisco yesterday. I have been anxiously awaiting this as it was to be a surprise to my son. Now I read all this jargon about the crappy delivery from Richmond, California. My package said it had been sorted through the Richmond, California, sorting facility and it all stops there. This is ridiculous!! I paid $30.21 just to have this happen? The automated system is enough to make you VOMIT. Whatever happened to REAL PEOPLE helping you. Dammit.
Anon from April 12- you are lucky- I have been waiting since 3/9. My carton left Richmond 3/19 and is now in the black hole known as 'on its way to Japan' - USPS won't help, Military Post won't help. I am giving up hope that this carton will ever arrive. So, now I will owe my sister 180 dollars worth of cookies and shipping. Never again.
I really wish we could get updates on all the above shipments...especially the ones going to Hawaii and Japan. I hope prior posters revisit with updates on your shipments from Richmond Sort Facility.
Another Oahu resident waiting for an eBay item that is lost in the Richmond black hole. I purchased it on 3/28 and the estimated delivery date was 4/1-4/9. Is there any way to make sure packages destined for Hawaii do not get sorted through Richmond??
Attaching tracking data for an Ebay package to Hawaii:
Arrival at Post Office
2013-04-17, 05:23:00, HONOLULU, HI 96817
Processed through USPS Sort Facility
2013-04-07, 19:47:00, RICHMOND, CA 94804
10 days from Richmond-Honolulu for this one.
I have been told that I need to wait until 5/3 to determine package (the one that left Richmond on 3/19) is 'lost' on its way to Japan. They are telling me 5 weeks is the standard. Crazy.
FYI- took a month, but I finally have movement on my carton again:
Processed through USPS Sort Facility
April 22, 2013, 2:38 pm
FPO, AP 96347
USPS Tracking / Delivery Confirmation
Last track before this was 3/19 - so it really can take a month to go overseas.
I have the same thing but with the West Sacramento sorting facility. Tracking shows that a package coming to me processed and left that facility on three different days at different times. It's been five days now since the last update and nothing. I'm in Southern California, it shouldn't take this long. Nobody at USPS is helpful. They lie and are rude. I hate USPS.
11 days from arrival in Richmond to Honolulu delivery (eBay purchase)
Out for Delivery
May-14-13, 08:06 AM, HONOLULU, HI 96817
Arrival at Post Office
May-14-13, 06:07 AM, HONOLULU, HI 96817
Processed through USPS Sort Facility
May-03-13, 06:27 AM, RICHMOND, CA 94804
Waiting on a package to come through Richmond as well, I'm in Guam. It was mailed April 26th from Texas, and the last update was April 30th, Richmond, CA. Contacted USPS, and they said 6-8 weeks. I'm seeing things that shipped after my package arriving already in places like Hawaii. My guess is it just takes longer to fill up a container for Guam? The box is full of bottles, and this baby is due July 5th. Hopefully they get here before then!
It sounds like it's going to be close. Hope the bottles arrive in time, and congratulations on July baby!
Anyone think I should be worried? Package departed 05/08 from Richmond, Ca going to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii....
I am also having a problem. I shipoed a large package parcel post April 30th and it is stuck in Richmond. Calling ups for help is like trying to win the lottery.
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