2020-03-17 Our Response to COVID-19

CURRENT Operational Level: 4 (See Below)
Effective Until: April 30th, 2020
COVID-19 is having a dramatic impact on our lives, work, and businesses.  It's causing us to rethink the way we go about our everyday lives right now.
I want to take this time to share some updates and answer questions on what VPM is doing to keep our customers and our people safe while continuing to service your mail needs.
Will you be shutting down or closing?
As you may be aware, some states have begun to enforce mandatory shutdown of non-essential businesses at this time.  
I am pleased to say that we will not be shutting down during this period as we are one of the exempted businesses.  Along with all transportation couriers ( USPS, UPS, and FedEx), all our locations will be open during this period of time so you can continue to receive important mail and essential packages that may be needed for you to get through this critical period.
What safety measures have you put in place?
VPM is following the guidelines of global health experts at the World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus. We are reminding our employees about frequent hand washing and regular cleaning of our equipment.
The WHO and CDC have stated that the likelihood of catching the COVID-19 virus by touching cardboard or other another shipping container is low.  Additionally, in most cases, the virus will not survive across the changing temperature and the amount of time during transit.

We have implemented measures to ensure that we continue to provide the same quality of service to you.  In that regard, we have done the following:

  • Reduced the number of people at the office by having many of our people work remotely from home.
  • Require all personnel who show any sign of flu symptoms to stay at home.  
  • Implemented distancing for people who are working at the office.
  • Forbid all flight travel.  If travel occurs, personnel are required to self-quarantine for 14 days before they can return to the office.
Will my mail service with VPM be affected?

Our goal is to ensure continuity of mail delivery to our customers.  With that, we have implemented a 4-level defensive strategy to ensure that we minimize any service disruption.

Level 4 (Operational - Some Restricted Services)

At this level, operation continues to run normally with no service degradation.  Everything works according to our normal processing times.   However, certain services will no longer be available at this time effective March 19th:

  • No in-person physical pickups
  • No shipping services that requires us to head to the post office counter.  This means no COD, no priority mail shipments to countries requiring in-person mailing, no registered mail service, etc.

Level 3 (Partial Outage)

At this level, it's likely that some of our operational staff is sick or may have contracted COVID-19.  This will reduce our processing capacity and will cause service degradation, but all locations will still be operational.  Service will continue but request processing will be slower.

Processing time at this level is expected to take longer.  We may also begin to tier our service level by prioritizing request processing based on the following:

  • Higher level plans will have higher priority in the processing queue.  This means that Business Plans and higher will continue to have the normal processing times while Starter Plan will experience higher processing delays.
  • Special handling shipping upgrades (UPS/Fedex upgrades, USPS Express Mail, etc) will have higher precedence over normal shipments that are less time sensitive.

Level 2 (Full Outage - Single Site)

At this level, it means that a single location must be shut down due to either mandated government closures or that everyone must be sent home to ensure that COVID-19 does not spread.  If we get down to this level, we are looking at the following procedure:

  • All measures introduced in Level 3 will be in effect, including request processing prioritization.
  • We will attempt to arrange mail to be collected and shipped to our other locations to do the physical scanning of the mail.  This will introduce around 3-5 business days of delay  in mail induction.
  • Packages will NOT be shipped, scanned or forwarded to other locations.  Instead, it will stay on-site and wait for at least one personnel to recover to scan the packages.  This may introduce at least a minimum 7 days of delay to package induction, but we will likely be looking at around 14 days.

Level 1 (Full Outage - All Sites)

At this level, we are effectively looking all our locations being shut down either due to mandated government closures or all operations personnel were sent home.  At this point, our primary procedure is the following:

  • Have mail held for the time being by the couriers.  
  • Ensure that our operations personnel are taken care of and recovering.  
  • As individuals recover, we will begin to get them back to the office.  We may also implement single-person shifts across the day to begin processing mail.  
  • Depending on recovery speed, we may also ship mail to other locations for processing should other centers have people coming back to work.  
  • All mail and package processing is expected to be delayed by at least 14-30 days in this situation.

Can I still pick up my mail? 

With COVID-19, people can be asymptomatic while still infecting others. To reduce the amount of contact that our staff has as well as for your safety, we will no longer allow physical in-person pickup until the end of the effective date listed at the top of this article.

You will need to ship mail to yourself or wait until the entire situation is over.

What about check deposits?

We do not expect check deposits to be affected other than by the possibility of slower-than-normal mail transit time.  Banks will be open and we expect their lockbox processing partners to also be operational. Therefore, we do not foresee any issues on this front.

Will you store mail for more than 60 days?

Our service guarantees physical mail storage for 60 days, but we actually store them for up to 6 months whenever possible and when our warehouse allows.

We continue to stick by this and can guarantee 4 months of storage until the effective end date.

You won't have to pay extra storage fees.  Additionally, our timeframe should provide you with sufficient wait time until this situation is over.

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