I just spent the past 20 minutes on the phone with USPS – or I should say, an automated voice at USPS.
I have an APO customer whose package was mailed by Media Mail from Florida almost a month ago. It hasn’t arrived yet. Military mail can and does take longer than regular domestic mail, but a month is a long time.
I wanted to ask a real, live human if they could at least confirm if it had entered the Military Mail system. That’s all I wanted. A quick “Yes”, “No” or “I don’t know” would make me happy. I got that… after 20 long minutes of saying ‘agent’ and pressing the number ‘0’ repeatedly.
I was quickly becoming a disgruntled postal worker without actually being a postal worker – and a full five miles from the closest Post Office at that!
I very rarely need to talk to a real, live human, and I realize 99% of the calls USPS gets can be handled by automated voices, but I knew I needed a real, live human. I wasn’t someone asking how much a .41 cent stamp was. I had a serious life-or-death matter to deal with (Editor: slight exaggeration)!!
The automated voice told me repeatedly, “There is no information about this package.” I keyed in the tracking number again and again. “There is no information about this package.” “There is no information about this package.” This was odd considering the website at least said it left Jacksonville, Florida.
Finally I keyed the magical combination of zeros while saying ‘customer service’ and ‘agent’ enough times. * I heard the defeated automated voice whimper, “Please hold while we transfer you to an agent. Your call may be recorded for…” It was a nailbiting battle, but in the end the human won.

After a few minutes of reflection, I suppose today’s struggle can be considered analogous with Chess Master David Levy beating the computer in the 1970s. A Similar situation with only slightly different details.

Oh, but if I had only written down that combination. Such alchemy would go for big $$$ on Ebay! (Of course I would have posted it here for free)