In postal facilities across the country, workers sort and track the movement of packages with a handheld scanning device. The screen lists mail that a carrier is responsible for delivering that day.
As they work their routes, they scan the bar codes of the mail pieces they deliver, and the list on the scanner gets shorter.
Packages that remain in facilities or are returned by letter carriers are supposed to go unscanned until they are delivered. If they miss on-time delivery windows, customers can demand a refund. Lateness also hurts a facility’s performance metrics, which are linked to compensation increases.
To avoid that, the workers and former executives told The Post, supervisors sometimes direct employees to scan packages while they are sitting inside the post office at the end of the day. Sometimes supervisors scan the packages themselves to artificially improve performance rates, the employees said. Inspector general reports say the most common false scan is simply to mark a package as “delivered” while it is in the post office, followed by scans that driveways were blocked, mailboxes were full or businesses were closed, among others.
“Human nature is, the systems break down to what’s easiest for the person working, not what the policy is. I think there’s a natural degradation toward that,” said one former executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they are still involved in the mailing industry.