We were recently notified by our Post Master at the Post Office that Express packages with live birds in them are not eligible for the same service commitments as a regular Express package. Previously, we had been able to request a refund for the shipping charges if the package did not arrive by the date given by the Express Mail Service Commitment web page. If the USPS site said the package would arrive in one day and the package arrived in two – we could request a refund of the shipping charges. Then, we could contact our buyer and return the money to them.

However, the word came down to our local Post Master that he should not refund our postage as the official Post Office rules say that live birds are exempt from those delivery times. Apparently, one is only allowed to request a refund if the package has not been delivered for 3 days! (That means delivery is on the FOURTH day!) If the Commitment Page says Overnight, but it takes two days for the package to arrive, no refund of shipping charges is due. The same thing applies to 2-day delivery. Here is an excerpt of the official paperwork…

It was explained to us that animals travel on a special pressurized airplane and if that special plane is full, the remaining animals are held over until the next day. There is a limited amount of those special planes so if the number of packages exceeds the plane's holding capacity, they can't put those packages on a regular non-pressurized plane so they just hold them until a plane is available. The guidelines say, “The customer should expect a 2-3 day standard.”

I have scanned in the pages that I received and turned them into a PDF file that you can download and read yourself. The PDF also reviews the acceptable boxes that are allowed and other live bird shipping guidelines.

The interesting thing is that not every post office plays by the same rules. On a recent shipment where the birds took two days to arrive, instead of the promised Overnight Delivery, the Post Office at the destination told the buyer that their shipping charges were refundable, as long as the shipper (me) requested it. Now, how can this be? How can the policy differ so much from one location to another? Furthermore, why is this policy not stated on the official USPS website when someone sends a package, if this is, indeed, official policy, as it apparently is? This policy has the potential to create a lot of discord between buyers and sellers using USPS Express Shipping.

Whew! Sorry for the rant, but it really irks me to have such a discrepancy in the postal system! I always include food and watermelon for my birds being shipped, just in case it takes longer for them to arrive at their destination, at least they'll have something to eat and drink during their journey. This information will now be posted at my For Sale page when I have birds available again.