I caught the USPS getting it.

Well, the shipping and mailing frenzy is over for another year.

I kept a close eye on vendors this year, as we intentionally had one of those fashionable “small but meaningful” Christmases this year, so the blur was less blurry. For what it was worth, the “small but meaningful” actually worked out nicely.

Highlights from this year’s Christmas vendors:

Amazon: Solid. I ordered several books later than I should have (morning of Dec 21), didnt pay for overnight delivery – and Amazon had them there by the Friday before Christmas. Their promised delivery date? Dec 27-29. Underpromise, overdeliver.

UPS: I have never been a big UPS fan. I think this stems from the residential side of their service, because their business to business address service over the last 6 months with me has been spectacular. Would I like Worldship to just update itself and not annoy me with 37 messages every time it needs to download a new fuel surcharge table? Sure. But thats minor compared to their peak season Christmas performance this year. I dropped off 2 fairly large packages at UPS (actually, the UPS store here in Columbia Falls) on the evening of Dec 21. Both were shipped UPS Ground. Both were promised on Dec 27. Both arrived on the Friday before Christmas (one to Missouri, one to Cincinnati).
Montana Day Spa: Bought a gift certificate for a massage for someone at 415pm on the Friday before Christmas. Busy time. Despite that, I was treated with care, a touch of humor (in response to mine) AND with the closing line of “We’ll take special care of her for you.”. Now, they didnt need to say that, but they did. Nothing major, but a little touch that I still remember over a week later. How many little things does YOUR staff say that a client remembers a week later?

And the surprise? The United States Postal Service, at least the Columbia Falls branch.

Since Christmas fell on a Monday, that made incoming package delivery a little worrisome for many. At our local post office on Saturday morning before Christmas, we had a pretty good line of people with package slips (rural areas have a much higher PO Box use rate for residential customers than do urban areas). I spied a sign taped up in several places that quite simply blew me away. “We will be open for PACKAGE PICKUP ONLY from 830am – 1030am on Christmas Eve, SUNDAY Dec 24”.

Now that was a nice, considerate touch. Something they clearly didn’t have to do.

Where you are, the USPS may not have the level of service you’d like to see, but out here in Rural America – its pretty good. I can routinely drop a letter in the mail on Day 1 before 5pm, and will find out (via the response) that it was delivered in Billings or Wolf Point (ie: at least 400 miles away) or such on the very next day. Its a dirty little secret. Direct mail works, if you know what you are doing.

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