Postal service

Postal Service website for ordering free at-home COVID-19 tests hits a snag

The federal website where Americans can request free at-home COVID-19 test kits launched Tuesday and quickly reported a case of hiccups as some apartment dwellers or others living in multi-unit buildings were unable to place their orders.

The Biden administration has touted COVIDTests.gov, where the free tests can be ordered through the Postal Service, with no shipping costs, but with a limit of four tests per address.

Before long, social media was filled with complaints from people unable to order anything because the website didn’t recognize their apartment number. Instead, the website would show that an order had already been placed for that address, presumably for a neighbor in another apartment.

Postal Service spokesman David Partenheimer said the agency sees a “small percentage of orders” affected by the issue.

“The Postal Service is seeing very limited instances of addresses not being registered as multi-unit buildings, which could cause difficulties ordering COVID test kits,” Partenheimer said. “For assistance with the ordering process, the USPS recommends filing a service request at https://emailus.usps.com/s/the-postal-store-inquiry or by contacting our help desk at 1-800-ASK-USPS, to help resolve the issue.

Partenheimer said he didn’t know how many households were affected by the issue and insisted it was only a limited number of cases.

Julian Randall lives in a two-flat building in Garfield Park and said he was among those who had problems placing an order. He said his neighbor who lives above him placed an order.

“I’ve tried everything under the sun and every combination. I wrote ‘Apartment 1’, ‘Apt. 1, ”Unit 1” and every other way you can think of. None of this worked. Randall said. “I just wished they put a drop down list for the apartment number like the Postal Service did for everything else.”

Others online suggested just adding the apartment number to the main address line and leaving the apartment box blank, but it wasn’t clear if this worked consistently. Randall said he tried that too, with no success.

The Postal Service’s website for ordering free COVID-19 test kits has a place to enter an apartment number, but some condo and apartment residents said their orders were rejected. The Postal Service said the problem is that testing is limited to one order per address and some street addresses are not registered as multi-unit buildings. A Postal Service spokesperson said the issue only affected a “small percentage of orders.”
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Randall said the hotline was also a frustrating maze. He waited almost 45 minutes before he could speak to a representative — who was very nice, Randall pointed out — but in the end, for now, the problem remains.

“The wait was a hell of an experience and it lasted about an hour but nothing was resolved,” Randall said. “They said they would open a ticket issue and said it might take a few days to resolve, but that’s not really a timeframe.”

Randall said he was mentally prepared for trouble placing an order, but believed it would come in the form of a shortage of supplies – not something as simple as an apartment number.

Still, he’s not surprised at the results.

“One thing that might have been helpful if the federal government knew we were going to do a nationwide deployment, why isn’t there a postal hotline for inquiries regarding this specific deployment?” Randall said. “It’s silly that we’ve been through this for almost three years and still can’t effectively distribute things en masse,” Randall said.

While this rollout has been somewhat botched for even a small number of people, Randall said, he’s worried about how the Biden administration is going. effectively distribute 400 million N95 masks start next week.

People in difficulty can also file a complaint with the Post Office by scanning this QR code: