Boise, ID

Why Does the Mail to and from Boise Take Such Mysterious Routes?

Stuart Gustafson
Gemma Evans/Unsplash

Do you remember last year, in the last few months leading up to the November elections, when there was such a furor over the U.S. Postal Service and its mail delivery? Without going into all the details (which I don’t have) of the policies and procedures that the generous donor-turned Postmaster General had recently put into place, it was clear that the delivery of letters and packages had slowed down. Service was definitely declining.

The purported intentions of those new policies and procedures were to delay deliveries of items, mail-in ballots in particular. Whether those ballots were delayed enough to have any influence on election outcomes is not known, but there was a clear slowing down of service.

I can cite several examples of how the mail was slowed down after I mailed them here in Boise, Idaho. I wanted to mail an anniversary card to my son and daughter-in-law who lived in Southern California. I took it to the Post Office and chatted with a friendly counter clerk. First Class mail, certainly the cheapest at [I think] 53 cents, but might take up to 5 days. I didn’t want to wait that long. Priority Mail ($7.5) was going to be 4 days -- that certainly didn’t seem like it was Priority to me.

Can’t guarantee overnight service, but will charge for it

How about overnight Express Mail ($16.50)? The same 4 days. What’ The response was that there were service irregularities and they couldn’t guarantee overnight delivery. Can’t guarantee it but would be happy to charge me for it? I went with Priority Mail, and it was there in 3 days. And just to check, I also mailed a First Class letter the same day -- it arrived the same time as the Priority Mail.

Does make you wonder, doesn’t it?

New [less-efficient] routing, perhaps?

The anniversary card situation was in November, right as the election was peaking. That would all be over once the election was over; right? Ha-ha-ha.

I mailed a Christmas package to my son and family in December, again using Priority Mail. That’s a Google map on how I thought the routing would go, if the package went surface instead of air. Quite simple: Boise to Los Angeles to San Diego (and then out for delivery). Not tough, is it?

Do you think it went that way? Of course not!

What sticks out, but is hard to tell what is happening, is that the package went from Boise to Los Angeles (so far so good). And then from Los Angeles, it was sent to Santa Barbara -- huh? After sitting there for a day, possibly enjoying the beach weather, it was sent back to the same Los Angeles processing facility! And after another day there, it went down to San Diego, and then out for delivery.

Is it everywhere, or just from Boise?

Unfortunately I don’t have that answer, and no one at the Post Office wants to tell me anything about what is happening with t mail service and delivery. But with rates increasing, service levels declining, it’s no wonder that Fed Ex and UPS are gaining business. And then you now also have all of these Amazon trucks with their smiling face and PRIME written on the side making their own deliveries.

Okay, one more example -- this one being sent to Boise. Below is the actual tracking history from

I ordered something that was shipped from Scottsdale, Arizona. a reasonably normal person would think that the surface routing might look something like this:

But, why should we expect it to be so straight-forward? Below is the actual routing:

If you can tell me that makes sense, I think we need a discussion.

I’m not going to move from Boise just because items from and to here seem to take mysteriously strange routes, but it does make you wonder -- does the U.S. Postal Service know something that we don’t know?

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Articles on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday about travel, relevant local/regional items, some finance. Always with a slant to ask you to think.

Boise, ID

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