The USPS Is Not Good at Email

They do commission some fine-looking stamps though.

Over the past few months, I’ve been trying to find the USPS’s “Star Ribbon” stamp designed by Aaron Draplin. I looked for it in multiple local post offices, and when I was traveling, I’d check in at their post office as well. Each and every time I was met with blank stares and a complete lack of knowledge about this product.

Eventually, I decided to place an order via the USPS website.1 This process was fast and easy, and I didn’t have to talk to anyone at all. To top it off, the shipping rate was a measly $1.30, and I’d easily pay much more than that to avoid another trip to the post office. I ordered on August 1st and quickly got an email receipt with a status of “Order Placed”. Just four days later, on August 5th, I received my stamps. They actually shipped via Priority Mail, which should cost about $7, so the Post Office is cutting themselves some kind of deal on shipping. I suppose they can get away with that.

Hey, Good Lookin’
[Photo courtesy of P. Kafasis]

As you can see, I had my stamps, and I was pleased. I also assumed our transaction was complete. As such, I was quite surprised to wake up a full 12 days later to email from the USPS:

Yes, on August 17th, I received a notice via email that my order had shipped. I was very much aware of that, as I’d received the package almost two weeks prior.

I really can’t fathom what happened here. Is this how their system always works? That would be preposterous, and yet, not out of the realm of possibility. Worth mentioning, I actually received two identical copies of this email. That may point to a server issue which got overzealously corrected days later. Regardless of how or why this email was sent, though, it was more than a little confusing.

Perhaps because of this sort of thing, the email includes this footer:

A footer reading: This is an automated email, please do not reply to this message. This message is for the designated recipient only and may contain privileged, proprietary, or otherwise private information. If you have received it in error, please delete. Any other use of the email by you is prohibited.

That’s quite a catch-all at the end there:

Any other use of the email by you is prohibited.

I imagine “sharing this email to mock the post office’s bizarre handling of online ordering” might fall under that prohibited use, huh? Well, I hope you’ll all visit me in mail jail.

Previously in strange USPS status tracking: Make a Copy for Yourselves Too


  1. As I write this, only coils of 3,000 or 10,000 stamps are available, for thousands of dollars each. Fortunately, when I ordered, it was possible to buy sheets of 20.↩︎