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US Postal Service API suffers massive outage

Monday, December 8, 2008, 2:47 PM
Business by John (Article #230)

Call 1-800-344-7779 and listen to the message. It sounds like the type of automated message you hear in movies after the apocalypse.

Somehow, probably volume, the USPS Webtool APIs are almost completely down. The USPS employee I talked to said they expect to have the problem fixed today. Ain't that a reassuring timeframe? 'Today'.

Yup, that makes me feel like they'll get it solved soon.

The WebTools show intermittent success. This strongly suggests their servers got overwhelmed. Of course if this keeps up, I may have explore workarounds. Like UPS.


UPDATE: Fixed around 10:45 PM Eastern time.

Looking back in my server logs for users who had trouble with the API, I'm pretty sure the outage was more than 24 hours long.

Wow. Just, wow. Tomorrow will be spent telling a client that having FedEx as a failover for the Postal Service is a must.

UPDATE #2: Midnight and out again!!?!?! Unbelievable! Someone better lose their job for this. There is no excuse for a major, well-funded organization having this much trouble. There should be backup and fail-over system on stand-by.

Wow. The Postal Service is gunning for me overtly advising future clients against using them at all.

UPDATE #3: Back up and back down again. Wowsers.

Remember this as the day the US Postal Service died. I already have a workaround, basically letting shipping options fail over to FedEx Ground.

But, here's a joke for you: the main client using the shopping cart system is rabidly anti-FedEx!! Ah, good times. Irrational behavior. Money lost. This could be a fun conversation tomorrow.

UPDATE #4: Back up. Who wants to bet this thing is actually running at 10 am tomorrow?

Aw, shit... never mind. Back down. Man, I wish I didn't need sleep. This could be fun to watch unfold.

Is there seriously no one as the USPS who can pull the production server offline and replace it? In over 24 hours, I think you could have rebuilt the damn thing from scratch.

Not a real ringing endorsement of the post office, is it?

UPDATE #5: Based on orders, it appears to have been working at least since 5:30 AM Tuesday. Took long enough. Should be interesting to see if the problem repeats aby time between now and Christmas.

UPDATE #6: Up and down, up and down. Gotsta loves it.

Strictly speaking, it was up at 10 am (see update #4). But, again, wow. I just can't wait to hear these words from my clients: 'But it didn't do that in the old system.' Hijinks and shoulder-slapping shall ensue, I'm

Oh, and if you call the USPS number now, you get NO FRAKKIN RESPONSE!!

Try it. It's fun listening to a dead line. I'm pretty sure they're trying to discourage call-ins by just icing their customers. Classy.

UPDATE #7: Up for a full fifteen minutes straight. Now I'm scared.

Gee, who thinks this thing came in two waves? First wave was the initial hit. Second wave was the backlog of unprocessed orders.

UPDATE #8: OK... couple hours of good continuous service. Now I'm really spooked.

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Wonder where to start with your web design business?

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The goal of this blog is to fill in blanks that may be empty as you get your business rolling.

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John Crawford
Pro Content and Design


I highly recommend Art of the Start if you have no idea where to start with marketing.


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